Ensalada Rusa, a Venezuelan Tradition

ensalada rusa

The name ensalada rusa means Russian salad, but for one of our favorite cooks Liliana Hernández, this dish has everything to do with her native homeland of Venezuela. She grew up eating this creamy potato and beet salad several times a month in her home, with a rotating combo of vegetables.

Her mother loves it, she says. So do a lot of people back home. ”It’s a very popular dish in Venezuela,” explains Liliana. This salad is a mainstay of Spanish cuisine—Spain colonized Venezuela from 1512 to the early 1800s—and is still part of the country’s traditional fare 200-plus years later.

”I learned how to make it from my mother. Everyone has their own way of making it, and my mother herself has many versions of recipes for it. She always uses boiled potatoes, roasted beets, carrots, hard-boiled eggs—and whatever other vegetables she has in her refrigerator, like fresh green beans. All mixed with a creamy mayonnaise-mustard dressing, with lots of cilantro.”

Bonus: It’s so easy to make, says Liliana. She loves her mother’s recipe: it’s comforting and filling. When making it, she cautions, boil the different vegetables separately and keep them apart in bowls while they cool, especially the remolachas, or beets. Add them to the salad at the last minute so that they don’t turn the entire dish bright purple. You want to see the other vegetables, too.

How to Serve Ensalada Rusa

Ensalada rusa is typically made as a side to accompany a main course of meat, fish or chicken. Her mother even serves it when she makes Venezuela’s traditional asado negro, in addition to the dish’s must-have white rice and tajadas or fried plantains. This salad is also regularly served as third side to accompany chicken with rice and tajadas (yes, again: ”We eat plantains daily,” says Liliana. ”I joke that Venezelans are like monkeys. We have to have bananas every day.”). Because, she says, there is no such thing as too many carbs in a Venezuelan meal. The more, the better. Which is why she is doing keto right now, she smiles.

That said, Liliana ”loves this salad. I even love to eat it alone, as a meal by itself. Every time I make it, I remember how much I love this dish.” Back home in Venezuelan, her mother makes ensalada rusa almost every week. Here in the Chicago area, Liliana hasn’t made it in a while (sadly, it’s not keto friendly)—and she greatly misses it, says Liliana.

Once she hits her keto goal, she’ll go back to making it every so often. “Me encanta,” Liliana says.

For more of Liliana’s authentic Venezuelan recipes, try her life-changing bienmesabe cake, handmade arepas, and her arepa fillings for reina pepiada and carne mechada. And coming soon: her Christmas hallacas with pork and put-on-everything, bright-green guasacaca sauce for meat and chicken dishes. In the meantime, be sure to check out Liliana on her YouTube channel Mi Show de Cocina, where she is working her way through favorite Venezuelan dishes.

Hungry to try this traditional Venezuelan ensalada rusa?

Ensalada Rusa, a Venezuelan Tradition

Recipe by Liliana Hernández Cuisine: Venezuelan


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 3 3 potatoes, large

  • 2 2 carrots

  • 1 1 beet, whole

  • 2 2 eggs

  • 1/2 1/2 onion, grated of finely diced

  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil

  • 2 Tbsp 2 mayonnaise

  • 1 tsp 1 mustard

  • 2 Tbsp 2 cilantro, finely chopped, or to taste

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 pepper, or to taste


  • Boil the eggs for about 12 minutes until they are hard boiled. When cool, peel, cut into small cubes, and set aside.
  • Peel and dice the potatoes and carrots into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • In separate pans, boil the cubed potatoes, cubed carrots and whole beet until each vegetable is cooked through and al dente. When you put a fork in each, it should easily go through but still feel firm. You don’t want mushy vegetables.
  • When each of the boiling vegetables is ready, plunge into a bowl of cold water with ice to stop them from cooking further. Strain each and set aside to cool.
  • Chop the beet into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the onion, olive oil, mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro, salt and pepper into a creamy sauce.
  • In your serving bowl, place the vegetables and eggs. Gently fold in the creamy sauce to keep the cubed vegetables intact and firm as possible. (Don’t over-mix or mash them into a puree. You want to see and taste all the different ingredients.)
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.


  • Liliana uses extra cilantro in her ensalada rusa, upping the quantity to 3 Tbsp. ”But then again, I always add extra cilantro to my dishes. I love cilantro.“

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