Russian Buckwheat Blini Pancakes

Russian Buckwheat Blini Pancakes

The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Rise Time: 80 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 24 to 25 blini
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
114 Calories
4g Fat
15g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 114
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 157mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 46mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 111mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Traditional Russian blini (BLEE-nee) are made with yeast-raised buckwheat and/or wheat flour batter that gives them a nutty and distinctive flavor. Eaten on all occasions, and especially during holiday celebrations, blini make a perfect appetizer or cocktail food, as their smaller size can make for easy-to-handle bites that can be topped with anything you'd like, from savory to sweet. Our traditional recipe for blini makes for deliciously fluffy mini pancakes, great with all sorts of toppings, and also perfect for a pretty brunch dish.

Although the traditional recipe suggests blini with salmon roe, caviar, and sour cream, the sky is the limit when it comes to these versatile little rounds. Fresh fruit, ricotta, whipped cream, or chopped hard-boiled eggs are just a few of the things you can put on top. Think of blini as a blank canvas for all the mixtures you can come up with—tradition aside, they're a great base for any meat, cheese, or spread. Served warm or at room temperature, once they're topped, they should be enjoyed right away.

In the Russian tradition, blini symbolize the sun and take center stage at Maslenitsa—also known as Butter Week, Pancake Week, or Cheesefare Week—a spring festival marking the end of winter. For some, it also marks the last week to eat dairy before the fasting of Lent begins, thus the common addition of sour cream on top. Nowadays, blini are prepared in hundreds of different ways, with many types of flours, and their accompaniments have gone beyond the traditional caviar. The batter is made with common pantry staples, so the only different thing you need is the flavorful buckwheat flour, easily found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

"This easy canapé recipe yields impressive, delicious, and crowd-pleasing results with infinite options for toppings. Buckwheat flour adds a delicious nuttiness to the recipe alongside the wheat flour which makes the blinis fluffy. You can dress them before your guests arrive, but my favorite way to serve them is in a ‘build your own’ style." —Cara Cormack

Russian Blini/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon yeast, instant or rapid rise

  • 1 cup warm milk

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 large egg, separated, room temperature

Steps to Make It

Make and Proof the Batter

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make Russian Blini pancakes

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and instant yeast.

    pancake dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, whisking until the batter is smooth.

    pancake batter in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Cover the bowl and let the batter rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

    blini pancake batter in a bowl covered with plastic

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Enrich and Rest the Batter

  1. Stir the melted butter and egg yolk into the batter.

    Blini batter in bowl with egg and a wooden spoon

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff, but not dry.

    whipped egg whites in glass bowl

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. Fold the whisked egg white into the batter.

    blini pancake batter in bowl

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Cover the bowl and let the batter stand 20 minutes.

    blini pancake batter in bowl covered with plastic

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Pan-Fry the Blini

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

    fry pan with oil

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. Drop quarter-sized dollops of dough into a pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form.

    blini cooking in fry pan

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. Turn and cook for about 30 additional seconds.

    blini cooking in fry pan

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Remove the finished blini onto a plate and cover them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm. Repeat the frying process with the remaining batter.

    blini on plate covered with orange towel

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

What to Serve on Top of Blini

Use your imagination when choosing toppings for blini. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Top with the classic smoked salmon, sour cream, fresh dill, and lemon wedges.
  • Use sour cream as the base for a small dollop of caviar.
  • Add smoked or pickled fish and top with a spritz of olive oil and fresh herbs.
  • Use any egg salad of your liking.
  • Top with whipped cream and fresh fruit such as berries or peaches.
  • Add seasoned ricotta or mascarpone and a rolled slice of prosciutto.
  • Make small, deviled eggs and quarter them; top each blini with one quarter.
  • Top with crème fraîche and pickled onions.
  • Use fruit preserves, chocolate spreads, or caramel sauce to make a sweet version.

What is buckwheat flour? Is it gluten free?

Buckwheat flour doesn't come from a form of wheat or other cereal grass but instead from the seeds of a flowering plant. It has been cultivated in Asia for more than 8,000 years and has never been genetically modified. While it was a common crop before the invention of nitrogen fertilizers, it lost out to wheat once those were in use. The bran or grain covering, not the hard outer husk, typically is left on, resulting in a light brown flecked flour that has a nutty flavor and is very nutritious. Buckwheat also is cracked into groats, known as kasha, and steamed or boiled into porridges, puddings, and stuffings.

Buckwheat flour is considered a gluten-free flour, so you can make this recipe using half buckwheat flour and half of any gluten-free flour mix of your liking for texture. You need 1 1/4 cups total, but be aware that most commercially produced flours might have been exposed to cross-contamination. Sometimes, buckwheat flour is mixed with wheat flour as a filler. If you are eating gluten free, be sure to check the labels first.