Aspic Recipe (Meat Jelly)

Here’s An Aspic Recipe That Is Perfect for Your Big Gathering!

Aspic is an interesting dish if you’re not used to it! This version is made from a whole fresh chicken and a few simple vegetables and spices.

It is popular in Russia, Ukraine, and a number of other countries in the region where it is often known as kholodets or holodets.

Cooking kholodets can be a laborious and long task. This is a reason why aspic is traditionally prepared for big holidays like New Year’s, Christmas, or Easter.

small silver spoon with mustard sitting on bowl of aspic jellied meat in glass bowls on table.
These kholodets turned out really well!

Recipes for aspic have been around for many centuries (as early as the 10th century, that we know of). Aspic is somewhat similar to head cheese although that is a different recipe.

Eaten as an appetizer or even as the main – depending on the country -, the dish can come in different variations to include pork, fish, or even fruit and vegetables (although additional gelatin is likely needed for these latter two creations).

The jelly itself is a means of preserving whatever is inside – in this case meat – for later use. Aspic is very popular in many other European countries – and also in parts of Asia!

Ingredients

whole raw chicken on plate with vegetables and spices around on counter with labels.
These are the ingredients needed for this meat jelly!

To make this kholodets recipe, here are the ingredients that you will need. There aren’t too many but the time it takes to make it can seem daunting!

  • Whole chicken – A whole chicken between 2-3 pounds.
  • Onion – One yellow or white onion.
  • Carrot – You’ll need one carrot.
  • Bay leaves – To add flavor.
  • Peppercorns – Whole black peppercorn to add flavor.
  • Salt – To add flavor.
  • Garlic cloves – To add flavor; you’ll need three garlic cloves, minced.
  • Parsley – For decoration.

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Before you make this meat jello recipe, read up on these tips so you have some idea of what to expect!

  • If you don’t want to use a whole chicken, you can also use chicken legs. In that case you’ll likely have to use some gelatin to help the aspic solidify.
  • There are different variations of aspic. Instead of chicken, you can also use pork, fish, or even fruit and vegetables (although additional gelatin is likely needed for these latter creations).
  • Do not use meat that is too fatty, since all the fat remains on the surface once the aspic solidifies.
  • Sometimes meat for aspic is crushed, mixed with the broth and then poured into bowls in this form.
  • Often aspic is boiled with different parts of the carcass. When made with pork, it’s often boiled with the legs, ears, and head. Such aspic solidifies perfectly without gelatin.
  • If you have any doubts about whether the aspic will harden, it is better to prepare some gelatin in advance and add it to the broth.

How to Make Aspic – Step by Step Instructions

In this section, you will learn exactly how to make this recipe for aspic. We share all the step-by-step process photos so you can compare every step of the way as you cook at home.

Of course, the complete recipe card is also at the bottom of the post if you want to read through it, too!

raw chicken parts in large pot on stove with vegetables and spices around on counter.
Cut the chicken into pieces.

Using a large sharp knife, cut the chicken into pieces – cut off the legs, breast, and back, also the wings. Put everything in a large pan.

raw chicken in pot with raw carrots and onions.
Add the carrots, onions, bay leaves and peppercorns.

Wash the carrot, then cut it into larger pieces. Also peel the onion and cut it into quarters.

Then add the chopped carrots, chopped onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt to the pan.

raw chicken and onions and carrots in large pot filled with water on counter top.
Pour in water so that the chicken is covered.

Next, pour enough water into the pan so that it barely covers the chicken. Then add the lid and bring everything to a boil.

Once boiling, remove the foam from the surface of the water and turn down the heat to low. Simmer the aspic for 3 hours on very low heat.

The broth in the pan should not boil actively, otherwise it will turn out to be very cloudy.

cooked onion and vegetables and spices in metal strainer over top of a bowl sitting on the counter.
Strain the broth.

After 3 hours, remove the chicken parts from the pan and strain the broth to capture the boiled vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns.

You can discard the onion, peppercorns and bay leaves – but save the carrot.

yellow chicken broth in pot with counter top around.
Pour the broth back into the pan.

Pour the broth back into the pot and add the minced garlic. Bring the broth to a boil on the stove.

Once boiling, turn off the heat and let the broth cool. Then strain again to remove the garlic from the broth. This flavors the broth, but does not make the aspic too bitter.

cooked chicken and carrot pieces sitting in white bowl on counter top.
Separate the chicken.

Separate the chicken meat from the bones. Also cut a few pieces of carrot into thinner slices to use for decoration.

two clear bowls of cooked chicken and carrots with parsley sitting on white counter.
Add the meat, carrots and parsley to a bowl.

Place pieces of meat in small or large bowls, then add slices of carrots and a sprig of parsley on top.

two clear glass bowls of cooked chicken and carrots filled with broth sitting on counter top.
Add the broth.

Next, pour the broth into the bowls. Since it was cooked from meat with a lot of bones, it should be able to thicken and solidify without additional gelatin.

If you have any doubt about whether the aspic will solidify it is better to prepare some gelatin in advance and add it to the broth.

Leave the kholodets on the counter until it cools completely, then put it in the refrigerator for further solidification.

bowls of aspic meat jelly on table with cloth underneath and cutlery behind.
Enjoy this aspic recipe!

You can serve the aspic with mustard, horseradish, or adjika. Enjoy!

Storage Tips

Once you’ve made this Russian meat jello, you’ll want to keep it in the fridge once it has cooled. It will continue to firm up and will be ready to eat cold.

Any leftover meat jelly should continue to be stored in the fridge since you’ve “broken the seal’ and air/bacteria can now get to the meat. Because of this, eat leftovers within 1-2 days.

FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about Aspic:

What is Aspic?

Aspic is the term for meat jelly – a dish created from boiling bone-in meat parts and allowing the broth to solidify due to the high collagen content. It comes in many forms – pork, chicken, fish, etc. – and is eaten in numerous countries across Europe under different names.

How to make Aspic/Kholodets?

To make aspic, boil the meat parts with carrots, onions, and spices for a few hours. Then, separate the meat from the carcass and place in bowls to be covered with the broth. Allow the broth to cool at room temperature before transferring to the fridge. Eat it cold.

What to eat with Aspic?

Aspic is eaten with different things in different countries. As kholodets in Russia/Ukraine, it is most often served with mustard, horseradish sauce (charin), or adjika (a red pepper based dip/spread similar to ajvar)!

Related Recipes

If you’re a fan of this aspic recipe, here are some more Russian recipes that might interest you!

jellied chicken in glass bowl with veggies on counter with towel underneath.

Aspic (Kholodets/Meat Jelly)

Aspic – also known as Holodets/Kholodets – is a delicious jellied meat. Made from a whole chicken, and a few common veggies and spices, this jellied meat looks beautiful and tastes even better!
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, 2-3 pounds
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 3-4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • parsley, for decoration
  • water

Instructions

  • Using a large sharp knife, cut the chicken into pieces – cut off the legs, breast, and back, also the wings. Put everything in a large pan.
    1 whole chicken
  • Wash the carrot, then cut it into larger pieces. Also peel the onion and cut it into quarters. Then add the chopped carrots, chopped onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt to the pan.
    1 yellow onion, 1 carrot, 3-4 bay leaves, 3-4 whole black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pour enough water into the pan so that it barely covers the chicken. Then add the lid and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, remove the foam from the surface of the water and turn down the heat to low. Simmer the aspic for 3 hours on very low heat. The broth in the pan should not boil actively, otherwise it will turn out to be very cloudy.
    water
  • After 3 hours, remove the chicken parts from the pan and strain the broth to capture the boiled vegetables, bay leaves and peppercorns. You can discard the onion, peppercorns and bay leaves – but save the carrot.
  • Pour the broth back into the pot and add the minced garlic. Bring the broth to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, turn off the heat and let the broth cool. Then strain again to remove the garlic from the broth. This flavors the broth, but does not make the aspic too bitter.
    3 garlic cloves
  • Separate the chicken meat from the bones. Also cut a few pieces of carrot into thinner slices to use for decoration.
  • Place pieces of meat in small or large bowls, then add slices of carrots and a sprig of parsley on top.
    parsley
  • Pour the broth into the bowls. Since it was cooked from meat with a lot of bones, it will be able to freeze (thickened) without additional gelatin. If you have any doubts about whether the aspic will harden, it is better to prepare the gelatin in advance and add it to the broth. Kholodets should be left on the table until it cools completely, then put in the refrigerator for further solidification.
  • Most often, aspic is served with mustard, horseradish sauce, or adjika. Enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don’t want to use a whole chicken, you can also use chicken legs. In that case you’ll likely have to use some gelatin to help the aspic solidify.
  • Instead of chicken, using pork is another popular option. Often, people use different parts of the carcass, including legs, ears, and heads. You don’t have to use these parts though – instead you could use gelatin to help the aspic solidify.
  • If you have any doubts about whether the aspic will harden, it is better to prepare some gelatin in advance and add it to the broth.
  • Cooking kholodets is a laborious and long task. Therefore, it is traditionally prepared for big holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s, or Easter.

Nutrition

Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 708mg | Potassium: 408mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2782IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Russian
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This recipe was contributed by
Yuliia Stsepeleva
Yuliia was born in Ukraine and lived in Eastern Ukraine, close to Russia, for many years. Her experience makes her very familiar with both Ukrainian and Russian cuisine. She now lives in England, but still enjoys cooking Ukrainian dishes for her family.

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