Classic beetroot salad

Klassisk rödbetssallad

A classic Swedish beetroot salad

Every smörgåsbord (buffet table) includes at least one rödbetssallad (beetroot salad). It is made using inlagda rödbetor (pickled beetroot), which keeps well and so it can be made all the year round.

Although there are many variations on the basic recipe, all use pickled beetroots and gräddfil. As gräddfil is difficult to obtain we've suggested using mayonnaise, crème fraîche and a little lemon juice, which works just as well. However, you can use 100 g (6 tablespoons) of gräddfil instead if you prefer.

Rödbetssallad can be served with hot dishes, such as köttbullar (meatballs), as well as cold dishes and it is always included as part of a julbord (Christmas buffet). John Duxbury


Recipe summary for a classic Swedish beetroot salad


A classic beetroot salad including ättiksgurka (pickled gherkin) and dill
Above: a beetroot salad which includes ättiksgurka (pickled gherkin) and dill.

There are innumerable versions of the basic recipe, but here are a few:
• Many add half a chopped onion, usually red, to the recipe below,
• Omit the vinegar and add a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard,
• Add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped smörgåsgurka (pickled gherkins),
• Replace the chopped chives with chopped dill,
• Add some grated horseradish,
• Replace the mayonnaise and crème fraîche or soured cream with low fat quark,
• Add some of pickling liquid, but take care not to add too much because you are looking for a good creamy consistency.


300 g (12 oz) pickled beetroot
1   small tart eating apple, such as Granny Smith
50+ g (3+ tbsp) mayonnaise
50+ g (3+ tbsp) crème fraîche or soured cream
dash   balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp   lemon juice
    salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp   chopped chives, optional


1. Drain the beetroot and cut into 1 cm (½") cubes.

2. Peel and core the apple and cut into 1 cm (½") cubes.

3. Mix the beetroot and apples in a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, crème fraîche or soured cream, balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.

4. Season to taste and add a little more mayonnaise or crème fraîche or soured cream if you would like to make it a little creamier.

5. Cover with clingfilm (food wrap) and leave to chill for a few hours or overnight.

6. Just before serving, adjust the seasoning, add more mayonnaise if it is too dark and garnish with chopped chives.


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