German Red Herring Salad (Roter Heringssalat)

Pickled herring, apples, onions, pickles and red beets are covered in a luscious creamy sauce with a beautiful pinkish-red hue.  Herring fans will love this traditional German Red Herring Salad recipe!

herring salad recipe roter heringssalat red beets apples dill German Danish Swedish Norwegian Finnish Polish authentic traditional

Red Herring Salad Recipe

I’m originally from Stuttgart Germany but also lived a couple of years in north Germany near Hamburg where I was able to delve into its regional cuisine.  Fish dishes abound in the north where citizens have access to the freshest of seafood from the North Sea.  One type of fish in particular has become almost synonymous with north Germany:  Herring.  Specifically pickled herring.  If you’ve ever visited Hamburg or any other towns in the northern region of Germany you’ve undoubtedly come across pickled herring in the form of Fischbrötchen (crispy sandwich rolls filled with pickled herring, onions, pickles, remoulade or mayonnaise), Rollmops (pickled herring roulades filled with pickles, onions and seasonings) and the dish we’re featuring today:  Heringssalat.  This traditional herring salad recipe is sure to take you on a walk down memory lane.

Herring salad is likewise popular throughout Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, both the standard version and the “red” version.  The recipe I’m sharing with you today is the popular red version made with red beets that give the salad a beautiful pink hue.  Known as German Roter Heringssalat, Norwegian and Danish Rød Sildesalat, Swedish Röd Sillsallad, and Finnish Punainen Sillisalaatti, this Red Herring Salad recipe features the traditional ingredients of pickled herring, onions, apples, red beets, pickles and dill enveloped in a creamy sauce.

hamburg germany

hamburg germany

Hamburg, Germany

Eating Pickled Herring For Good Luck!

In Germany, Poland and throughout Scandinavia it’s traditional to eat pickled herring at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve.  Whether eaten as rollmops or in a salad, with its silvery scales that resemble silver coins, herring is said to bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year.

This Red Herring Salad is traditionally enjoyed both for New Year’s as well as Christmas.  With it’s pretty pinkish-red hue it is especially fitting for the Christmas season.

And whether you know this salad by the name of Roter Heringssalat, Rød Sildesalat, Röd Sillsallad, or Punainen Sillisalaatti, it is a dish that is guaranteed to please and unify pickled herring lovers both near and far.

red herring salad recipe roter heringssalat red beets apples dill German Danish Swedish Norwegian Finnish Polish authentic traditional

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Red Herring Salad Recipe

Red herring salad is super easy to make.


  • Make the cream dressing by whisking the oil, vinegar, pickle juice, salt and sugar together until emulsified and the salt and sugar and dissolved.  Then stir in the sour cream, whipping cream, mayonnaise, mustard and chopped dill.
  • Pour the dressing over the diced pickled herring, apples, beets, onions and pickles and carefully stir it until combined.
  • Cover and chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two before serving.

How To Serve Red Herring Salad

Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with herring salad as are hard-boiled eggs.  To serve, lay some slices of boiled egg on top of a mound of herring salad along with a sprig of dill for an attractive presentation.  You can also add some onions sliced in rings.  Place some boiled potatoes next to it.  Alternatively it is also commonly served spread on crusty bread.


Some Germans like to incorporate the potatoes and eggs into the salad instead of serving them on the side.  To do this simply dice the cooled boiled potatoes and/or hard-boiled eggs and add them to the salad with the rest of the ingredients before folding in the creamy dressing.

herring salad recipe red beets apples dill German Danish Swedish Norwegian Finnish Polish authentic traditional

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