Croatia has a long and rich history of food culture, with many traditional Croatian foods developed over centuries of influence from the Mediterranean and Central European regions. The country is known for its Mediterranean-style cuisine, heavily based on fresh produce, olive oil, fish, and meat. The country is also known for its abundance of locally produced wine and cheese, a staple in many Croatian homes. Additionally, the country is home to many regional variations of traditional dishes, as well as dishes influenced by its neighbors in the Balkans, Italy, and Hungary. All these elements have helped create the country’s delicious and varied food culture.
As we traveled through Croatia, we aimed to try as many of these dishes as possible. We hope you can experience the joy of this hearty cuisine as you travel the country.
List of the 17 Must-Try Croatian Foods
- Ćevapi – grilled ground beef or lamb sausages served with flatbread, often with onions and sour cream
- Peka – a traditional one-pot meal made with meat and vegetables slow-cooked in a bell-shaped pottery lid
- Strukli – a cheese-filled pastry served either as a savory or sweet dish
- Istrian Fuži – a type of pasta made from flour, eggs, and white wine
- PršUtah – thinly-sliced smoked ham
- Roštilj – a type of charcoal-grilled meat
- Burek – a flaky pastry filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables
- Palačinke – thin pancakes with a variety of fillings, served with a dollop of sour cream
- Orahnjača – a walnut roll filled with cream, raisins, and rum
- Kremšnita – a custard-filled puff pastry served with whipped cream
- Čobanac – a stew made with beef and pork
- Pljeskavica – a large spiced beef patty
- Sarma – stuffed cabbage rolls
- Crni rižot – squid risotto
- Žganci – a type of porridge
- Pašticada – beef stew
- Kotlovina – a kind of stew made with pork and sauerkraut
Ćevapi is a type of grilled dish of minced meat popular in the Balkans. It is made from a combination of beef, lamb, and pork and is usually served with onions, sour cream, and flatbread. It can be served as a platter with sides or in a sandwich and is traditionally a very flavorful, juicy, and comforting dish.
Croatian Peka is a traditional cooking technique in a covered pot or skillet over an open fire. It is a method that has been used in the country for centuries. The ingredients are typically placed into a cast iron pot or skillet, covered with a heavy metal dome, and placed over embers of an open fire. The dome seals in the flavor, moisture, and aromas of the food, resulting in a unique, smoky taste. Commonly prepared dishes include chicken and potatoes, fish, and meat dishes. The slow-cooking process of Peka can take several hours and is usually done in the presence of family and friends, as it is a communal and social activity. Peka is a popular dish throughout Croatia and is a great way to experience the culture and cuisine of the country.
Strukli (Our Favorite Croatian Food!)
Zagorski strukli is a delicious traditional Croatian dish from the Zagorje region. It consists of a filling of fresh cheese, cream, and eggs, wrapped in a thin dough and baked in the oven. The result is a creamy, cheesy, and fluffy dish that is a favorite among many Croatians! The dough is usually made with a combination of wheat and buckwheat flour, and the filling is often flavored with nutmeg and other spices. This dish is traditionally served as a side dish or a main course. This was our favorite of all the delicious Croatian foods we tried.
Croatian Istrian Fuži is a traditional type of pasta originating from Istria, Croatia. It is made with a mixture of flour and water and is usually served with a sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, and either olive oil or butter. This type of pasta has a unique shape, with a flat, ribbon-like structure and the ends pinched together. It is a versatile dish that can be served as a side dish or as a main course. It is a popular dish in Istrian restaurants, as well as in many other parts of Croatia.
Croatian Pršut is a traditional dry-cured ham, similar to Italian Prosciutto. It is made from the hind leg of a pig and is cured with salt and air-dried for at least 12 months. Pršut has a unique flavor that is distinctively salty and smoky, with a slight nuttiness. It is often served as an appetizer with various accompaniments ranging from olives to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Croatian Roštilj is a unique and delicious tradition passed down through generations. It’s a type of grilled meat marinated in a mix of spices, herbs, and oil before being cooked slowly over an open flame. The meat is typically served with a variety of side dishes, such as potatoes, onions, and peppers, as well as a variety of sauces. Roštilj is a popular dish in Croatia and can be found in many restaurants and homes around the country.
Croatian Burek is a delicious traditional pastry made from thin layers of flaky phyllo dough filled with a savory combination of ingredients such as cheese, spinach, potatoes, and ground beef. This dish is commonly served as an appetizer or snack and can be found in many bakeries in Croatia. It’s an excellent option for a quick meal, as the individual pastries are easy to transport and can be eaten without utensils. The dough is light and flaky, and the filling is flavorful and satisfying. Burek is a popular dish in Croatia, and it’s definitely worth trying if you have the chance!
Croatian Palačinke is a type of crepe-like pastry that is traditionally served as a dessert or snack. They are made from a thin batter made from eggs, milk, flour, and a bit of sugar and cooked in a pan. They are usually filled with jam, cheese, fruit, or chocolate, then folded into a triangle shape and dusted with sugar. Palačinke is a popular dessert in Croatia and is often served with a cup of coffee or tea.
Orahnjača is a traditional Croatian pastry that is made of dough and filled with a creamy walnut or poppy seed filling. The pastry is then rolled up in a spiral shape and baked until golden brown. Orahnjača is often served at special occasions and is a popular dessert during the Christmas season. It is also a great snack to have with a cup of coffee or tea. The combination of the sweet, creamy filling and the crispy, flaky crust make Orahnjača a delicious treat that you won’t soon forget!
Kremšnita is a delicious Croatian dessert that consists of layers of puff pastry filled with a creamy vanilla custard and topped with a layer of whipped cream. It’s a popular dessert that is often served at weddings and birthdays. The puff pastry is often homemade and is made with eggs, flour, butter, and water. The custard is a combination of milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. The whipped cream topping is made from heavy cream and powdered sugar.
Čobanac is a traditional Croatian stew commonly made with beef or lamb, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and various herbs and spices. It is usually served with bread, rice, or potatoes and is a popular dish in Croatian cuisine. The stew can be made with red or white wine and is often cooked with paprika, black pepper, and bay leaves. Čobanac is usually served with a side of sour cream or yogurt and may be garnished with fresh parsley.
Pljeskavica is a popular dish in Croatia, made from ground meat mixed with spices and herbs. The mixture is then formed into a patty and fried in a pan. It is often served with a variety of condiments such as kajmak (a cheese product), ajvar (a roasted red pepper spread), and onions. It is typically served with a flatbread or lepinja, a type of traditional Croatian bread. Pljeskavica is a popular dish in Croatia and can be found in many restaurants and stands throughout the country.
Croatian sarma is a traditional dish consisting of cooked sauerkraut, minced meat, and a variety of spices wrapped in cabbage or grape leaves. It is a popular dish in Croatia and the surrounding Balkan countries and is often served with a side of mashed potatoes. The sauerkraut is usually cooked in water with garlic and bay leaves, however, the minced meat is typically a combination of beef and pork. The cabbage or grape leaves are then filled with the sauerkraut and meat mixture and lightly steamed or boiled until the leaves are tender. We ate this Croatian food many times during our month-long visit.
Croatian Crni Rižot is a traditional rice dish prepared with black squid ink. It is a popular dish in the Dalmatian region of Croatia and is usually served with seafood. The dish is cooked with onions, garlic, tomato, white wine, and plenty of black squid ink. The squid ink gives the rice a unique, smoky flavor and pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the seafood. The dish is often served with a side of freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
Žganci is a traditional Croatian food dish consisting of boiled cornmeal or buckwheat groats, which is then fried in oil and served with either a savory or sweet topping. It is often served as a side dish for stews, soups, and other main dishes, but it can also be enjoyed on its own as a snack. Žganci is a staple in Croatian cuisine and is popular throughout the Adriatic region. The texture of Žganci is similar to polenta, but it has a slightly nuttier flavor thanks to the buckwheat groats. It is usually topped with melted butter, sour cream, grated cheese, and/or roasted onions, making it a flavorful and comforting meal.
Pašticada is a traditional Croatian food dish of beef stewed in a sweet and sour sauce, typically served with homemade gnocchi. The sauce is made with a base of onions, garlic, and various spices, including nutmeg, cloves, bay leaves, and black pepper. The beef is marinated in a mixture of vinegar, wine, and herbs before being cooked in the sauce. The finished dish is often served with boiled potatoes or homemade gnocchi.
Croatian Kotlovina is a traditional dish of simmered meat and vegetables. It is typically made with pork, beef, or lamb, along with potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and a variety of spices. The ingredients are cooked low and slow in a large pot, or kotlovina, until the meat is incredibly tender and the vegetables are soft and flavorful. This dish is perfect for serving with various sides, such as mashed potatoes or a fresh salad.
We hope you enjoy all the food of Croatia. Be sure to check out our travel guides below.