Russian Borscht Recipe

This Russian Borscht Recipe is a traditional Ukrainian/Russian red borscht soup loaded with meat, potatoes, vegetables, cabbage and beets. This hearty soup is so healthy and all the vegetables come together and taste wonderful.

In most Slavic homes, this soup is served on a regular basis and for a good reason – it’s phenomenal.

A bowl of Russian borscht with sour cream and fresh herbs. With dill and bread slices next to the bowl.

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Traditional Ukrainian Red Borscht Recipe-

Borscht is probably one of the most popular and staple dishes in the Ukrainian and Russian cuisine. There are so many different variations of borscht recipes and all terrific in their own way. The combination of ingredients in red borscht are so unique. Fresh shredded cabbage, meat, potatoes, beets with vegetables and herbs combined is Ukrainian comfort food defined!

Borscht in a pot with a ladle of borscht made with beets, cabbage, potatoes, and meat.

How to season meat for borscht and soup-

The uniqueness of this Borscht is that the meat is seasoned and becomes so tender, flavorful and melts in your mouth. Once you try seasoning the meat, you’ll never want unseasoned meat in your soup again.

If you season the beef, pork or chicken, it will sit in the meat drawer of your refrigerator for days (up to a week), thanks to the salt preserving it. (Add less salt to chicken meat if seasoning chicken.)

Seasoning the meat with garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper just adds so much flavor to the meat itself but also the soup.

TIP: You want to season the meat at least one day in advance. Rinse the meat before adding to the soup to remove the bay leaves and garlic.

Step by step picture of how to make this Russian borscht recipe.

TIPS How To Make Red Borscht Soup Recipe-

  • Most cooks add kidney beans to their red borscht but my husband and the kids strongly dislike them, therefore, we leave them out. If you are a fan of kidney beans, add them to your soup.
  • Be sure the potatoes are all cut into even pieces or they will be unevenly cooked.
  • You can leave out the meat if you are looking for a vegetarian soup recipe.
  • Use a SLICER for the cabbage, it’s much easier shredding this way.
  • Be sure to continue removing scum and fat that rises to the top until nothing floats to top when cooking the meat.
  • Red Ukrainian Borscht tastes even better the following day when reheated. Make a large pot and enjoy the soup all week long (keep refrigerated).
  • We love the seasoning Vegeta and add some of it to the soup. If you don’t have Vegeta, taste the soup and add additional salt if needed (but order some Vegeta and try it, we use it for everything). 🙂

An up-close picture of Russian borscht in a bowl with sour cream, grated pepper, and fresh herbs.

What kind of meat to use for Borscht?

You can use your favorite meat for borscht. In classic Red Borscht recipes, the beef or pork has a bone on it. You can either add meat with or without bones.

My family loves chicken most so that is what we use most often.

Can I use canned beets?

Yes, you can substitute canned beets for fresh beets. Keep the juices of the canned beets as well.

A bowl of Russian Borscht with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill with a spoon.

Try these other SOUP recipes:

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5 from 3 votes

Russian Borscht Recipe

Russian Borscht recipe with meat. potatoes, carrots, cabbage and beets. Seasoned meat gives the soup so much flavor and is an amazing addition to the traditional recipe. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Russian
Keyword: borscht
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 262kcal
Author: Valentina's Corner


meat & seasoning-

  • 1 lb pork meat, cut into chunks
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 bay leaves, crushed


  • 14 cups water
  • 5 cups water, for beets
  • 3 medium beets, quartered
  • 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 head of medium cabbage, shredded
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 medium red pepper, cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar or 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-5 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3-5 Tbsp fresh dill
  • sour cream, to serve


  • Cut meat into bite-size pieces. Slice the garlic cloves. Break the bay leaves into smaller pieces. Season the meat. Combine everything. Refrigerate meat for at least 2 days. 
  • Peel and quarter beets. Add beets and 5 cups water to a saucepan,  bring to a boil. Cook 20-25 minutes, until beets pierce easily with a knife. Once cooked, remove them from water and setaside cool. KEEP WATER.
  • In a large pot, bring 14 cups water to a boil. 
  • Rinse seasoning off of meat. Add the meat to the boiling water. Remove scum and fat that accumulates and floats to the top of the water. It’s very important to keep removing the scum frequently. Turn heat down to low/medium, cook meat about 35-40 minutes or until meat is tender.
  • While meat is cooking, peel and cube the potatoes. Add to a bowl and cover with cold water so they don’t turn color. Set aside.
  • Shred the cabbage. Set aside.
  • Chop the onion finely. Add to a large skillet with 2 Tbsp butter and saute 3 minutes on medium heat.
  • While onion is cooking, grate carrots.
  • Add carrots to the skillet with another 2 Tbsp butter, mix. Cook about 5-6 minutes or until carrots are tender. (If the skillet begins to get dry, add a bit of oil.)
  • Take the cooled beets and grate them. Add to the skillet with onion and carrots.
  • Cube red pepper or cut into small thin strips add to skillet. Add minced garlic to skillet. 
  • Chop tomatoes and add to the skillet. Add the water leftover from cooking the beets to skillet with sauteed veggies. Turn heat down to med/low and cook about 5 minutes.
  • Once meat is tender, add potatoes and cabbage. (If you like the cabbage a bit crunchier, add about 5 minutes after potatoes are added.) Cook 15 minutes.
  • Transfer all of the ingredients from the skillet to the pot. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, bay leaves, parsley and dill. Cook another 5-10 minutes or until potatoes and cabbage are tender. Taste if additional seasonings are needed.
  • Add fresh herbs of choice.
  • Serve with sour cream.
  • Enjoy.
Nutrition Facts
Russian Borscht Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 262 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 1841mg80%
Potassium 788mg23%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 2915IU58%
Vitamin C 50.2mg61%
Calcium 83mg8%
Iron 3.8mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Show 27 Comments
  • Rasa Martin 01/15/2020, 8:14 am Link Reply

    Recipe looks really good. I am surprised you are still using “Vegeta” Did you look at the ingredients??? Full of MSG. I’m surprise people still use this product with all of the knowledge!!!Otherwise recipe is a keeper

    • Valentina's Corner 01/15/2020, 10:56 am Link Reply

      Vegeta has come a long way and the one we use doesn’t have MSG.
      You can definitely leave out the Vegeta and use your favorite seasoning instead, Rasa. Enjoy the Borscht and thanks for visiting our online home.

  • Joyce 10/28/2019, 11:44 pm Link Reply

    I made this recipe today, and it reminded me of my grams Borscht. It really helped with the homesickness. Loved it! I also felt that pre-seasoning the pork made a huge difference. I think I’ll use your blog for all my favorite Russian dishes. 🙂

    • Valentina's Corner 10/29/2019, 2:06 pm Link Reply

      Joyce, a recipe that reminds you of grams I’ll take as a HUGE compliment. 🙂 And I agree, the seasoning just takes the meat to a whole new level of amazing. Thanks for visiting our online home and trying our recipe. We are so happy to have you become our online family.

  • Liz 08/27/2019, 11:29 am Link Reply

    This was my first time making Borscht and it was delicious! I have had borscht a couple of times and i was unsure if i would be able to make it myself. I made it without meat and my husband who doesn’t think it is a meal without meat loved it!. He had 3 bowls! It is a great recipe. Because i didn’t use meat i put 2 chicken bouillon cubes in the boiling water with the potatoes and cabbage. Fantastic recipe ! Thank you so much!

    • Valentina's Corner 08/27/2019, 7:28 pm Link Reply

      Liz, I’m so so glad you enjoyed the Borscht. If your husband doesn’t care for meat, try this version HERE! Thanks for trying our recipe.

  • olga 07/23/2017, 1:05 pm Link Reply

    Made this borsch and for some reason it was too thick with the ingridents and nobody liked it =(

    • admin 07/24/2017, 5:30 pm Link Reply

      Ahh, Olga. I’m sooo sorry, what a bummer. Lots of things could have caused that. The size of your potatoes and cabbage, the temp you cooked the meat, etc. Did you add the leftover water from the beets? I’ve only had wonderful reviews with this recipe. Sorry no one liked your hard work:/..

  • Julie 01/07/2017, 7:14 pm Link Reply

    Thanks for your reply!!! I’m from Chernivtsi . How about you? Where were you born?

  • Julie 12/20/2016, 10:43 pm Link Reply

    Hi Valentina! Thank you for this recipe! I live in Ukraine and we have 9% vinegar only, not 5%. Could you tell me please how much 9% vinegar i need for this recipe. Thanks!!!!

    • admin 12/21/2016, 10:18 am Link Reply

      Hi Julie, I’m so excited I have visitors from the country I was born in. Where exactly are you from? You can use 2 tsp vinegar. I hope you enjoy it. ☺☺☺

  • Dana 12/07/2016, 3:08 am Link Reply

    So tasty!!! Thanks!!! If i don’t have fresh tomatoes, what can i use instead? Tomato sauce or ketchup? How many spoons?

    • admin 12/07/2016, 2:56 pm Link Reply

      Hi Dana,
      Hhhmmm, I think you should be fine substituting with like 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, but I’ve never tried it so you may need a little more. Canned diced tomatoes will work as well if you have it. I hope you guys LOVE it:)..

  • Inna 10/14/2016, 8:06 pm Link Reply

    So, I made borscht last night! It’s indescribably good ??probably the best tasting borscht that I’ve ever made in my life!! the color, the flavors…hmmmm!! It’s definitely a keeper! From now on I’m just gonna use your recipe!! Thank you! I was also wondering, the other day my husband got bunch of chicken breast and chicken thighs that were on sale, can I use chicken meat for borscht? Since chicken cooks quickly I will have to throw it in at the same time when I throw potatoes and cabbage, correct? Also, there were quite some water leftover from the beets, that completely covered the зажарка, is that how it’s suppose to be? Because in the photos it looked like it barely covered the зажарка.

    • admin 10/14/2016, 9:59 pm Link Reply

      Oh my Innochka, what a sweet comment, totally made me blush.
      You totally can use chicken thigh or breast. That is the meat we use most. 🙂 Season it the same way but with a little less salt. You will need to add the chicken and let it cook alone for about 10-15 minutes. Then continue with the recipe. Yes, there should be a lot of water left over, pictures may be somewhat deceiving. :/
      Also, have you ever tried this Simple Russian Soup with seasoned chicken. Oh it will become a FAVORITE in your home, you are really able to taste home much of a difference seasoning your meat makes.
      Since you have all this chicken to use up, try
      or THIS ONE
      or THIS ONE
      Thank you so much for visiting and stop by again. Blessings upon you and your family. =)

  • Inna 10/11/2016, 6:21 am Link Reply

    Wow! This is different.. I’ve never heard of seasoning the meat for borscht. My aunt tried this recipe and said her family couldn’t get enough of it. Will have to try making it as soon as we finish our soup.. I’ve also never used vinegar when making borscht, my mama always used freshly squeezed lime juice and that’s what I’ve been using too.

    • admin 10/12/2016, 6:42 pm Link Reply

      So happy to hear your aunt approved. Puts a huge smile on my face ☺☺.. My parents grew up in a very poor village in Ukraine. So my mom did not have lemons to use, and she used vinegar instead. That is such a fond memory to me and that’s why I kept it that way instead of the lemons (either can be used).
      I’m telling you what, once you try seasoned meat and the amount of flavor they have, you will never turn back. ??

  • Tatyana 08/16/2016, 9:59 pm Link Reply

    Sweetie, thank you so very much for this borscht recipe!! This is my dream recipe, I have tried similar in Russian store and wanted to know how they did it but had no luck! It did took me a while since I followed step by step but so worth it!! The only thing I used my regular spoon and a little overdid on sugar:) but still delicious! May God bless you and keep those wonderful recipes coming! Love your taste!!

    • admin 08/17/2016, 5:15 pm Link Reply

      Tatyana, what a beautiful comment. I love that feeling of when you finally find that wonderful recipe you were searching for.. ☺☺ So glad yo hear you approved. Next time you make it, it’ll be so much easier?.

  • Julia 08/01/2016, 6:52 pm Link Reply

    The best borscht ever!!! Thank you, Valentina!!!

    • admin 08/02/2016, 12:29 am Link Reply

      Awww Julia… Thank you soo much.. You put a huge smile on my face, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.. 🙂 🙂

  • alishka 04/27/2016, 10:51 pm Link Reply

    What cut of pork do you use?

    • admin 04/28/2016, 7:33 pm Link Reply

      Alishka, you have such a beautiful unique name. You can use sirloin, tenderloin, stew meat or any meat really (I usually get whatever is on sale). (My mom loves her’s bone in and says bone in makes borscht so much yummier.) The seasoning and boiling really helps any meat become tender and flavorful.. 🙂 Enjoy!! 🙂

  • jessica 08/31/2015, 12:15 am Link Reply

    Will it be still good with a green bell pepper?

    • admin 08/31/2015, 6:39 pm Link Reply

      Sure will:)

  • Alexandra 03/14/2015, 5:30 pm Link Reply

    Mmmm… this looks delicious. I want some now! Question: do you add all of the “leftover beet water” to the pan?

    • admin 03/14/2015, 9:46 pm Link Reply

      Alexandra, Oh I love this borscht and now I have some serious cravings. Yes, you add all the water. If you have never seasoned your meat you are so on for a treat!! 🙂 Meat is soo flavorful and tender..;)

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