How to Serve Caviar on Blini: A Step-by-Step Guide

Caviar is one of the most expensive and luxurious foods in the world, with beluga caviar costing up to $30,000 per kilogram according to the 2022 World Luxury Index. The global caviar market is projected to reach $2.8 billion by 2027, driven by rising demand in emerging economies like China.

Blini are thin Russian pancakes made from buckwheat or wheat flour that are often served with caviar. The combination of the salty, briny caviar and the warm, soft blini is a match made in heaven.

What is Caviar?

Caviar refers to salt-cured fish eggs from the Acipenseridae family of fish, including beluga, ossetra, and sevruga sturgeon. True caviar comes specifically from the Caspian and Black Sea regions. Caviar is prized for its subtle, elegant flavor and the way the eggs pop in the mouth when eaten. Good quality caviar should have firm, whole eggs with no broken or deflated ones.

Russia produces approximately 70% of the world’s caviar supply, according to data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The United States is the second largest importer of caviar, consuming over 100 tons per year. Caviar is also increasingly popular in China, which is now the number one consumer globally.

What is a Blini?

Blini are thin pancakes that originated in Russia and other Eastern European countries. Traditional blini are made with yeasted buckwheat or wheat batter and cooked on a griddle or flat pan until lightly browned on both sides. When stacked, blini are soft and pliable.

Blini make the perfect foundation for caviar, as they are neutral in flavor and provide a canvas that allows the briny seafood flavor to shine. The contrast of temperatures and textures between warm blini and cold caviar is also highly enjoyable.

Why are Caviar and Blini Often Served Together?

Caviar and blini have been served together since the days of the Russian aristocracy, when nobility would enjoy decadent caviar feasts. The custom continues today at upscale restaurants around the world.

The combination works so well because the bland, absorptive texture of the blini contrasts beautifully with the saline burst of caviar. The blini soaks up excess moisture from the eggs while lending body and structure.

Blini also provide an elegant presentation vehicle for the extravagance of caviar. Spooned atop individual bite-sized pancakes, each morsel can be savored without utensils or complicated garnishes.

Ingredients Needed for Serving Caviar on Blini

To serve caviar on blini, you will need:

  • Blini (see preparation below)
  • Caviar (beluga, ossetra or sevruga)
  • Crème fraîche or sour cream
  • Minced chives or dill (optional garnish)
  • Lemon or lime wedges (optional)
  • Additional traditional garnishes like hard cooked egg or onions (optional)

When buying caviar, seek out reputable brands imported from Russia or Europe. Prices will reflect quality differences between the three main types of sturgeon caviar:

  • Beluga: The largest, most expensive eggs. Buttery, smooth flavor. Light gray to black in color. $6,000 to $10,000 per kg
  • Ossetra: Medium sized golden brown to dark brown eggs. Hazelnut, nutty flavor. $3,000 to $5,000 per kg
  • Sevruga: The smallest eggs, gray to black in color. Intense, delicate flavor. $2,000 to $4,000 per kg

How to Prepare the Blini

If you don’t have store bought blini available, you can easily make them at home. Here is a traditional buckwheat blini recipe:


  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • Vegetable oil for cooking


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast packet into the warm milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the flours, sugar, salt, egg yolks and melted butter until a thick batter forms.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form then gently fold into the batter.
  4. Heat a flat pan or griddle over medium heat and coat lightly with vegetable oil.
  5. Pour about 2 tbsp batter per blini onto the pan. Cook until lightly browned, then flip and cook the other side, about 1 minute per side.
  6. Transfer to a sheet pan and repeat with remaining batter, stacking cooked blini between parchment paper.

How to Serve the Caviar on the Blini

Once your blini are cooked, it’s time to top them with decadent caviar. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Place a dollop of crème fraîche on the blini. This helps the eggs adhere to the blini and balances their salty flavor. The crème fraîche should be about 1⁄2 tbsp per blini.
  2. Spoon a small amount of caviar onto the crème fraîche. A teaspoon of caviar per blini is plenty. Pile the caviar on top of each crème fraîche mound.
  3. Garnish with chopped chives or dill, if desired. The herbs provide a fresh contrast to the rich caviar.
  4. Repeat with remaining blinis. Make sure all components are cold before constructing the next bite.
  5. Serve immediately. Caviar is best enjoyed straight from the tin, with no oxidation or moisture loss diminishing that “pop” of brininess.

China consumes the most caviar globally, having surpassed Russia as the top market according to caviar distributor Lyovochkin. Chinese appetites for luxury foods continue to grow each year. Meanwhile, Russia produces about $290 million worth of caviar annually, according to government trade data.

Should Blinis Be Hot Or Cold?

Blini can be enjoyed either hot or cold when topped with caviar. Hot blini provide a pleasing temperature contrast and help melt the crème fraîche or butter topping underneath the eggs. Cold or room temperature blini allow the crisp texture of the cooked pancake to come through.

According to Russian custom, blini are often served warm or even hot off the griddle. But cooling your blini also makes construction easier and prevents eggs from overheating. Typically caviar service starts with hot blini straight from the pan, which are allowed to cool slightly while toppings are prepared.

Do Blinis Need to Be Heated?

It is not strictly necessary to serve warm blini with caviar. If you only have cold blini available, you can still create a fabulous bite. However, blini are traditionally served hot, and cooking them fresh imparts optimal texture.

If you don’t want the hassle or time of making blini from scratch, high quality pre-cooked frozen blini work perfectly well. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight, then gently reheat by steaming or pan frying in butter before service. Take care not to over dry or brown pre-made blini when reheating.

How To Make Blinis For Caviar?

As described above, classic buckwheat or white wheat blini are easy to prepare at home with common pantry ingredients like yeast, flour and eggs. The yeasted batter comes together quickly then rests prior to cooking.

Key tips for blini destined for caviar service include:

  • Keep them on the small side, around 3 inches across. You want to eat them in just 1-2 bites.
  • Cook until lightly browned but not overly crispy. They should have some softness and density to absorb the caviar.
  • Chill briefly after cooking if serving hot to bring down the temperature.
  • Steam or pan fry leftovers to reheat, rather than microwaving which alters the texture.

Pairings for Caviar and Blini

In addition to traditional garnishes like minced red onion, hard cooked egg, capers or citrus wedges, caviar-topped blini pair nicely with:

Sparkling wines – The effervescence and acidity cut through the saltiness of caviar beautifully. Opt for brut styles of Champagne, Crémant, Cava or other sparkling wines.

Vodka – Fruity yet dry vodkas like rye or lemon complement the distinctive flavors of caviar. Vodka is the quintessential Russian match.

Smoked salmon – For an extra decadent starter, quickly cure fresh salmon with salt and sugar then smoke with applewood. Serve thin slices wrapped around blini and caviar.

Shellfish – Buttery lobster or scallops as a first course moves smoothly into caviar-crowned blini for a luxe seafood experience.

Caviar baked potatoes – Load piping hot baked russet or Yukon Gold potatoes with crème fraîche, chives and generous spoonfuls of caviar. Hearty, comforting and elegant.

According to the Food Network, more unusual yet delectable caviar pairings include using the pearls of seafood to top French toast, omelets, or even dark chocolate truffles and ice cream sundaes.

Storing Leftover Caviar and Blini

Like most seafood, caviar is extremely perishable and needs to be stored properly to preserve freshness. Here are some tips for storing leftovers:

  • Caviar: Transfer any leftover eggs to a clean, airtight glass jar and keep refrigerated for up to 4 days. The eggs must remain surrounded by their juices to avoid drying out.
  • Blini: Cool any remaining blini then place in a storage container or ziptop freezer bag. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat frozen blini by steaming or pan frying in butter or oil.
  • Opened crème fraîche: Keep refrigerated in original container for 5 more days after opening. Discard if any mold develops.
  • Unopened crème fraîche: Stores in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks beyond sell-by date.

Conclusion: The Elegance of Caviar on Blini

That burst of cool, briny caviar against the warm, soft backdrop of a blini is truly a sublime eating experience. Now that you know how easy preparing homemade blini can be and the simple process for topping them elegantly with velvety crème fraîche and jewel-like beads of caviar, you can create this luxe starter at home.

Impress at your next celebration by serving stacked towers of caviar-crowned blinis interspersed with garnishes like citrus, onion and herbs. Or offer individual blini on small plates, allowing each guest to tailor their own creation.

Pair your blini and caviar with ice-cold vodka or dry sparkling wine, toast to decadence, then close your eyes, pop a whole blini in your mouth and relish each delightful pop of the caviar. Savor the moment as you indulge in one of the world’s most luxurious appetizers.