These dainty smoked salmon blinis with cream cheese and horseradish are a simple and delicious canapé, perfect for Christmas parties and entertaining throughout the year. The blinis can easily be made ahead of time, meaning all you have to do on the day is top with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and serve.
Not to be confused with Russian blinis which are more like crepes, these British mini blinis are small savoury pancakes which are especially popular at Christmas and New Year. My favourite way to top them is with smoked salmon which is often on offer around this festive time. I often make them together with my savoury profiteroles with smoked salmon as both are Christmas canapés that can be made ahead, which I find very useful amongst the festive mayhem.
Why we love this recipe
- The buckwheat blinis can be made ahead and frozen, making them a great recipe for entertaining as you can get them made early on and pop in the freezer, then all you have to do is defrost and top with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
- These no yeast blinis get their lightness from whisked egg whites. Mixing milk and lemon juice to create a homemade buttermilk adds the slight tang to these homemade blinis that yeast would give.
- These cocktail blinis are a light smoked salmon canapé, and are a perfect nibble to serve with drinks and cocktails like this Hugo cocktail.
- My 5 year old absolutely loves them! So I can safely say they are kid friendly too!
- The beauty about the blini recipe is that it is vegetarian, so you can make them totally vegetarian with a vegetarian topping or top half with smoked salmon and half with a vegetarian topping to cover various dietary requirements (see the variations section below for some vegetarian blini topping ideas).
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Buckwheat flour – this nutty, earthy flour is delicious in pancakes and crepes, and also makes delicious banana bread. Substitute with extra plain flour / all purpose flour if you don’t have buckwheat flour.
- Plain flour – or all purpose flour.
- Baking powder – works with the beaten egg white to create fluffy blinis.
- Egg – the egg is separated and the egg yolk is mixed into the flour and the egg white is beaten until fluffy to create light and airy blinis without yeast.
- Milk – I use full fat cows milk, but you can use half fat / semi skimmed milk or for a dairy free blini, oat milk is a great alternative.
- Lemon juice – when mixed with the milk the milk curdles slightly to create a quick homemade buttermilk, which provides a tender texture to the blinis. If you don’t have lemon juice, add white wine vinegar instead.
- Cream cheese – you can use ricotta instead, or use mascarpone for a luxurious touch. If you are making dairy free blinis then use a dairy free cream cheese.
- Horseradish – white horseradish, horseradish cream, grated horseradish or horseradish sauce all work.
- Smoked salmon – or hot smoked salmon or smoked trout.
- Fresh dill – this herb goes so well with salmon, I pile it into my smoked salmon pate, and I love to use it as a pretty garnish on the blinis. You can however garnish the blinis with chopped fresh chives if you prefer.
How to make homemade blinis without yeast
For full detailed recipe please scroll down to recipe card below.
- In a small bowl or jug mix the milk with lemon juice and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl mix the buckwheat flour and plain flour with the baking powder, then add the egg yolk and stir.
- Gradually add the milk to the flours, whisking with a balloon whisk as you do to avoid lumps.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg white until fluffy.
- Gently fold the whisked egg white in to the batter with a spoon.
- Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat and spoon ½ tablespoon of batter into the pan, leaving slight room between the blinis as they can spread a little.
- Once you start to see bubbles appear on the top of the blinis and they are lightly browned underneath, flip them over with a spatula. Cook for another minute on this side until cooked through.
- Serve straight away or cool completely then store in the fridge, or freeze.
Yes you can, add the same amount of plain wheat flour instead of buckwheat flour.
Yes you can freeze cooked blinis, without the topping. Cool the blinis thoroughly, then wrap well, placing baking paper in between each one. They will keep in the freezer up to 3 months.
Blinis are best served at room temperature, although they can be served warm or cold too. If served warm they are best served straight away.
My recipe tips
- To avoid a lumpy batter: Add the milk to the flours gradually, and whisk with a balloon whisk inbetween to avoid your batter becoming lumpy.
- Once the blini batter has been mixed, it should be cooked immediately.
- If you have two frying pans, I recommend cooking two batches at the same time as the distinctive holes do disappear if the batter has been left sitting. They still taste good but don’t have that same holey appearance.
- As the frying pans become hotter as you cook the blinis you will need to turn them down slightly by the third batch or so.
Storage / make ahead
- You can make the blinis up to 2 days in advance and keep in the fridge. If you want to serve them warm, wrap in foil and place in a warm oven (160˚C/ 325˚F) for 10-15 minutes.
- You can top the blini with smoked salmon and cream cheese and place in the fridge for up to 5-6 hours.
- Freezer: wrap cooled cooked blinis well to prevent freezer burn, then freeze for up to 2 months. Freeze the blinis without toppings.
- Serve as smoked salmon canapés alongside sausage rolls and this refreshing Hugo cocktail.
- Smoked salmon starter / appetiser – If you don’t want to decorate the blinis individually, you can serve a pile of them on a serving platter next to a bowl of this smoked salmon pate for people to help themselves, or serve 3-4 blinis with a spoonful of smoked salmon pate as a starter / appetiser.
- If you have any leftover blinis, top with jam or honey for breakfast.
- No cream cheese: Serve your smoked salmon blinis with crème fraiche and dill.
- For a starter / appetiser you can make slightly larger blinis (you will get approx 20 from this recipe) and serve with a light salad on the side – this pear and walnut or rocket and pomegranate go well.
- Instead of smoked salmon: Use hot smoked salmon or smoked trout.
- Of course you don’t have to top the blinis with salmon, here are some of my favourite blini toppings:
- sliced roast beef or other cooked meat with horseradish
- ham and cheese.
- Vegetarian blini toppings:
- roasted vegetables and basil
- brie and cranberry sauce
- beetroot with feta and dill
- pesto and goats cheese.
More easy recipes for entertaining
Smoked Salmon Blinis
- 250ml (1 c) milk ($0.40 / £0.15)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice ($0.45 / £0.15)
- 80g (½ c + 3 teaspoons) buckwheat flour ($1.08 / £0.28)
- 80g (½ c) plain flour ($0.10 / £0.04)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder ($0.15 / £0.05)
- 1 egg, separated ($0.35 / £0.18)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, for frying ($0.08 / £0.03)
Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Topping
- 180-200g smoked salmon ($11.80 / £5.00)
- 6 tablespoons cream cheese ($1.05 / £0.45)
- 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt ($0.21 / £0.09)
- 1 teaspoon horseradish ($0.11 / £0.02)
- fresh dill, optional ($0.75 / £0.15)
- black pepper ($0.02 / £0.01)
- Mix the milk with the lemon juice and set aside whilst you prepare the flour.
- Mix flours with baking powder, then add the egg yolk and stir in.
- Gradually add the milk.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg white until soft peaks then fold into the flour/milk mixture a little at a time with a spoon until you have a smooth batter.
- Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil.
- Place ½ tablespoon of the batter into the pan, leaving a bit of room between the blinis to allow them to spread, and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Once you start to see bubbles appearing on the top of the blinis, flip them over with a spatula and cook for another minute more until they are cooked through.
- Serve straight away, or cool then keep in fridge for up to 24 hours, or freeze (see below on how to freeze).
Horseradish cream cheese
- In a small bowl whisk the cream cheese with the yogurt and horseradish and season to taste with black pepper.
- Top each blini with ½-1 teaspoon of cream cheese and a slither of smoked salmon and sprig of dill.
- If serving warm, serve straight away. If serving cold, once the blinis have the topping on you can store them covered in the fridge but serve within 4-5 hours.