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Vasily & Evgenia Petrenko’s Olivier Salad

Olivier Salad has been the most popular occasion dish in Russia for many decades. No major celebration would happen without it. This famous salad was invented by the French restauranteur Lucien Olivier, who lived in Moscow during the second half of the 19th century. The original recipe was a secret, so this is our best guess as it’s still a mystery for us in late Soviet times. Evgenia remembers going to her grandma’s house for a New Year’s Eve celebration, and amongst other treats, Olivier Salad was always the one she looked forward to the most. There’s always been a debate amongst our older relatives as to what kind of meat brings better taste to the salad: beef, chicken or sausage. I love all three versions, they all taste very different, but all three are amazing. This recipe is with chicken, because you can’t go wrong and everyone likes it.

Feeds a lot of people as part of a large buffet!


4 medium-sized white potatoes peeled and boiled in a separate pan until softened

4-5 medium-sized carrots peeled and boiled in a separate pan until softened

1 200g can of garden peas in water

4-5 eggs, hard boiled

1 jar of ‘Dawtona’ pickled cucumbers, or a Polish brand

4-5 chicken thigh fillets

150g of mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s

1 raw carrot

1 brown onion, peeled

500ml of chicken stock

A handful of fresh parsley

A handful of fresh dill

Hard boiled egg slices, to decorate


Put chicken thighs into the chicken stock along with a pinch of salt, one raw carrot and one peeled brown onion. Cook the chicken thighs on a low heat until cooked through, and put aside the stock for other purposes.

Boil potatoes and carrots until soft (not too soft), and alongside the chicken, leave to cool.

Prepare a large salad bowl.

Very finely chop the potatoes, carrots, eggs and chicken and put into the bowl

Very finely chop the pickled cucumbers and add to the bowl.

Add the garden peas, drained.

Carefully mix everything in the bowl together, but avoid it becoming a mash.

If you feel you have too much in the bowl or want to save some for the next day (this is what happens in our household), put some into a separate bowl without adding mayonnaise and refrigerate.

Add mayonnaise to the portion you are using on the same day you serve it. The amount of mayonnaise therefore depends on personal taste. We prefer a little mayonnaise, as it means you can taste the rest of the ingredients much better, and of course, it’s much healthier! That said, the salad should not feel dry, once there’s mayonnaise mixed in.

Once the salad is mixed, smooth the top layer of the salad to make a desirable shape. Decorate using fresh herbs like parsley and dill. You can get creative, and decorate it using hard boiled egg circles, and can even make some flowers out of the boiled carrot, which is how we’ve always served it in Soviet times.

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