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Herring Salad With Beets (Sillsallad)

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Herring salad with beets, also known as sillsallad is made using herring, beets, potatoes, onions, apple and dill pickle. Everything is tossed together with a simple vinegar marinade, and then topped with a delicious dill sour cream sauce.

Herring beet potato salad in a white bowl with a spoon. Dill sprinkled on top.

Herring Salad Recipe

  • This herring beet potato salad (also known as sillsalad) is traditionally served at Christmas or new year as an appetizer, side dish, or with a smorgasbord. It can be accompanied with crusty bread, butter, cheese, cold meats, hard-boiled eggs and smoked fish.
  • This salad is savory using pickled herring, potatoes, and pickles in a vinegar marinade. Hints of sweetness come from crisp chopped apples and pickled beets. A simple dill cream sauce is added on top to serve.
  • Ingredients can be chopped into smaller pieces which is how sillsallad is traditionally served. Or served in larger pieces like we did, whatever you prefer!
  • Many people know herring salad in cream sauce. This recipe can easily be mixed with the dill sour cream dressing to create that delicious consistency.
Recipe ingredients on a table including jars of herring and pickled beets, red potatoes, onion, pickles, small bowls of vinegar, sugar, sour cream, milk, fresh dill, salt and pepper.

Recipe Ingredients

HERRING: Look for a 12 oz jar of herring fillets in wine sauce. I buy them from Costco in the refrigerated section near dips and spreads. These can be served in chunks or chopped into smaller bite-size pieces. If onions come with the herring, those can be added too.

VEGETABLES: A variety of sweet and tangy vegetables including a jar of pickled red beets, an apple, a couple of dill pickles, chopped raw onion and a few potatoes complete the salad.

MARINADE: White vinegar (or red wine vinegar), granulated sugar, water, salt and pepper are mixed together to create the marinade tossed with the salad.

CREAM SAUCE: Sour cream, milk and dill are mixed together for the creamy sauce that’s served on top of the salad.

VARIATIONS: Add 2 or 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs. Substitute sour cream for yogurt, mayonnaise or whipped cream. Add extra fresh chopped dill to the salad for garnish.

Four images together: A pot of boiled potatoes in water. Chopped onion, apple and pickles with a knife. A bowl with chopped herring, onion, apples, potatoes, beets and pickles. And mixed ingredients with a pinkish hue from beets all in a white bowl together.

How To Make Beet Potato Herring Salad (Sillsalad)

  1. Chop then boil potatoes in a small pot until tender. Drain and rinse.
  2. Add beets, herring, apple, pickle, onion and cooked potatoes to a large bowl.
  3. Mix vinegar, sugar, water, salt and pepper together. Drizzle overtop of the salad and toss together.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate salad for 2 hours according to the full recipe card instructions below.
  5. Mix together sour cream, fresh dill and milk. Spoon on top of salad while serving.

Leftover herring salad can be stored in the fridge up to 3-4 days. Toss the salad ingredients before serving. Store the dill sour cream in a separate container.

Close up of sillsallad with all ingredients having a pink hue from the pickled beets. Chopped fresh dill is sprinkled on top.

Recipe Tips

  • The beet pigment will turn all ingredients a lovely pinkish hue. This is normal.
  • Traditionally the ingredients of this sillsalad are chopped into small bite-size cubes. This can be done during the prep stage (don’t forget to chop the herring fillets and pickled beets and well). You can also keep the ingredients a little larger depending on preference.
  • If possible, use a jar of herring fillets in wine sauce versus canned herring fillets for maximum freshness. I was able to find mine at Costco.
  • Leave the dill sour cream in a separate bowl near the salad for guest to add themselves to their serving plate.
  • The vinegar sauce can be made sugar free using monkfruit sweetener or stevia.
Two small bowls with herring salad with beets and pickles. A dollop of dill cream sauce on top and a small sprig of fresh dill. Forks and a large bowl of salad surround the bowls.

More Scandinavian Recipes

Herring Salad With Beets (Sillsallad)

Traditional Christmas dish served as an appetizer or on a smorgasbord.
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


Dill Sour Cream Sauce:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped - or 1 tsp dried dill


  • Chop the potatoes into small bite-size pieces. Add to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Drain from liquid and set aside.
  • Chop the onion, apple, pickles, herring, and beets into bite-size pieces.
  • Mix together the marinade: add white vinegar, sugar, water, salt and pepper to a bowl.
  • Add cooked potatoes, chopped herring, pickled beets, apple, pickles, and onions to a large bowl. Pour the marinade over top and toss everything together.
  • Cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • Mix together sour cream, milk and dill in a small bowl.
  • Top chilled herring salad with a dollop of dill sour cream. Serve chilled and enjoy!


Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 237mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutritional information provided is an estimate and is per serving.

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