Blini (Russian crepes) are thin, delicate pancakes that can be enjoyed both savory or sweet. They are perfect for breakfast or brunch, served with an assortment of toppings.
Hosting a brunch with tons of finger food is always so much fun. One of my favorite things to do, though, is have a Blini breakfast bar with several toppings to choose from. Sort of like a taco bar, but even better!
What is Blini?
Blini are large, thin, delicate pancakes (like the French crepe) with Russian and Ukrainian origin. They are among one of the most poplar foods in Russia and even have an entire week dedicated to them called Maslenitsa (“Butter Week”), which is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent.
What is the difference between Blini and Crepes?
There isn’t a lot of difference between blini and crepes. They are both thin pancakes that can be served sweet or savory, on their own or filled, enjoy for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
Some might argue that traditional blini are made with buckwheat flour and kefir, but even my friend Elena, who is 100% Russian, doesn’t make them that way (although I’m sure those ingredients are also delicious!.)
Blini, Blinis, Blin, or Blinchiki?
Oh my gosh, what do we call these? Basically, they’re all correct, but it depends. In Russian, Blini is plural, while Blin is one singular crepe. Blinchiki is another term used, depending on the region, but also usually refers to when the blini are filled. In English, they’ve been labeled Blinis.
Ingredients you need for Blini
Most recipes for Blini are pretty standard using flour, milk, eggs, and oil. I omit the oil and also add a tiny amount of sugar for some sweetness. A lot of recipes also call for a pinch of baking soda, which creates a lovely lacy texture.
The batter should be quite loose so it pours easily and quickly spreads to the edges of the pan to form thin crepes.
Ideas for Blini Toppings
The possibilities for Blini toppings are practically endless, but they are often served with sweet pairings like jam, honey, smetana (sour cream), and caviar. Or savory options can include sautéed mushrooms, chicken, liver pate, hard boiled eggs, or smoked salmon (my fav!)
Here are some other ideas!
- Homemade whipped cream and fresh berries
- Top with a dollop of homemade raspberry jam or lemon curd
- Spread with a little cinnamon honey butter
- Serve with pan fried honey bananas
- Filled with homemade Ricotta cheese and honey
- Or fill them with the absolute best scrambled eggs!
Recipe Tips for the best Russian Crepes
- The batter should be completely lump-free. Combine your ingredients in a blender, with a handheld mixer, or by hand in a bowl, but make sure the batter is smooth and very loose. It should have the consistency of heavy cream.
- Let the batter rest for about 15 minutes before cooking. Just like when you let bread rise, this helps gluten develop, which results in more tender crepes.
- Use a 10-inch non-stick pan to ensure the correct size, even heating, and no sticking.
- Cook over medium heat. If the heat is too low, the crepes will take too long to cook. If the heat is too high, they could burn.
- Use butter for the pan instead of nonstick spray or oil. Butter adds richness to the crepes and gives them the best flavor.
- Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup so each crepe is the same size and thickness, and they cook at the same rate.
- Tilt and swirl. Unlike pancake batter that gets ladled into the pan and you wait for bubbles to form, crepes require you to immediately start swirling the batter, making sure they’re thin and cook evenly, not just in the center. Don’t let this part intimidate you! Watch the video for help.
How to Store Blini
If you want to make the crepes ahead of time and store them for later, wait for them to cool, stack (with pieces of parchment paper in between to prevent sticking), and place in a resealable plastic bag. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
When defrosting them, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart. To reheat, microwave each crepe for about 10-15 seconds each.
Watch the video for Blini
Blini (Russian Crepes)
- 4 medium eggs
- 1 cup whole milk , room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided, for pan
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Whisk in the salt, sugar, and flour until well combined and no lumps remain; set batter aside to rest for 15 minutes. Whisk once more before cooking.
- Warm up a nonstick 10-inch pan over medium heat. Melt about 1 teaspoon of butter; when it starts to foam, ladle in 1/4 cup of batter in the center of the pan.
- Immediately lift the pan from the burner and swirl it so the batter coats the bottom of the pan. Replace the pan on the burner and cook the crepe until the batter is just set and the underside is lightly golden, about 1 minute.
- Using a spatula or your fingers, loosen the sides of the crepe and gently flip in the pan; cook for another 45 seconds.
- Transfer crepes to a plate. Repeat until all batter is gone.
- Roll up or fold into quarters.
- Serve immediately with a few teaspoons of jam or honey, and fresh berries!
- If you want to make the crepes ahead of time and store them for later, wait for them to cool, stack (with pieces of parchment paper in between to prevent sticking), and place in a resealable plastic bag. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- When defrosting them, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart. To reheat, microwave each crepe for about 15 seconds each.