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  • Writer's pictureWandering Ways

Top 10 Croatian Dishes You Must Try

Updated: May 22

When it comes to gourmet destinations in Europe, Croatia might not be the first country that springs to mind. However, hidden within its borders lies a culinary treasure trove that rivals the renowned cuisines of Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain. In Croatia, food is not just sustenance; it is a source of pride, a testament to family heritage passed down through the generations. So, if you're a foodie planning a trip to the Balkans, get ready to embark on a gastronomic adventure like no other. Join me as we explore the rich and varied world of Croatian cuisine and discover the top dishes you must try on your culinary journey. Here are the Top 10 Croatian Dishes You Must Try!

Split Tower line of restaurants and caffes
Split Tower

1. Peka

In Dalmatia, Peka takes the spotlight as a culinary gem adorning menus across the region. But here's the catch: Peka isn't just any ordinary dish—it's a revered cooking method that involves slow-cooking under a dome-shaped lid, nestled in a bed of scorching hot ashes. To truly experience the magic of Peka, it's essential to plan and pre-order your meal from a reputable restaurant, sometimes even a day in advance. While octopus, lamb, and veal are popular choices, the tantalizing array often extends to include an assortment of meats and fish. Prepare to be captivated by the distinct succulence of flavors that unfold, perfectly complemented by a generous portion of delectably cooked potatoes. Make sure to bring your appetite along for this unforgettable culinary journey.


peka traditional meat dish from croatia

2. Pašticada

Prepare yourself for the ultimate Croatian comfort food experience with pašticada. This delectable dish features slow-cooked meat stuffed with garlic, cloves, carrot, and bacon for an extra burst of flavor. Marinated overnight in vinegar and then roasted to perfection, the meat is simmered in a rich red sauce for hours, resulting in tender, succulent goodness. Traditionally served with gnocchi or homemade pasta, pašticada is a true testament to Croatia's culinary prowess.

Pasticada served with gnocchi
Pašticada with Gnocchi

3. Crni Rižot (Black Risotto)

Indulge your seafood cravings with the famous Crni Rižot, also known as black risotto. This tantalizing dish boasts a rich, intense flavor that will captivate seafood lovers. Made with squid or cuttlefish, garlic, onion, rice, and squid ink, black risotto is a coastal culinary gem that showcases Croatia's affinity for the fruits of the sea. Sample this exquisite delicacy in the coastal regions of Croatia and savor its unique taste.


black risotto with a glass of wine on the sade sea in the background
Black Risotto

4. Brodet

An Italian-Style Croatian Dish Influenced by its proximity to Italy, Croatia offers a delightful fusion of flavors. One such dish is brodet, a fish stew that hails from Dalmatia. Bursting with a medley of fish varieties such as dent fish, sea bass, tuna, and eel, this seafood-infused soup is a true coastal delight. Served alongside polenta or bread to soak up the luscious sauce, brodet epitomizes the marriage of Italian and Croatian culinary traditions.

fish stew with fish scampi served with bread


5. Dalmatinski Pršut (Dalmatian Ham)

Prepare to indulge in the irresistible flavors of dalmatinski pršut, a cured, smoked, and dried ham that will transport your taste buds to the sun-kissed region of Dalmatia. Served in thin, delicate slices, this culinary treasure is often accompanied by bread, cheese, or even the sweet succulence of melon. While its Italian and Istrian counterparts may be well-known, the Dalmatian version of prosciutto has its distinctive character.

thinly sliced dalmatian prosciutto with a glass of wine
Dalmatian Prosciutto

6. Kulen Sausage

Prepare your taste buds for a spicy culinary adventure with the famous Kulen sausage. Handcrafted in the region of Slavonia, kulen is made from specially selected cuts of top-quality pork sourced from mature pigs. This delectable sausage undergoes a nine-month natural curing process, resulting in a dry, spicy delight. When sliced, Kulen reveals a vibrant saturated color and a distinctive texture throughout, with no artificial additives. The flavorful combination of salt, garlic, and red paprika gives Kulen its unique and tantalizing taste.

Kulen sausage on the wooden board with bread
Kulen Sausage

7. Zagorski Štrukli

When it comes to Croatian culinary delights, one cannot overlook the heavenly delight known as štrukli. This traditional dish hails from the region of Zagorje and has gained popularity throughout the country. Štrukli is a savory pastry made with delicate layers of dough, generously filled with a delectable blend of fresh cottage cheese, eggs, and sour cream. Baked to golden perfection, it emerges from the oven with a tantalizing aroma that promises a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Whether enjoyed as a main course or a side dish, štrukli delights taste buds with its creamy texture, subtle tanginess, and hint of spices.

zagorski struli servirani na drvenoj dasci
Zagorski Štrukli

8. Fritule

If you happen to visit Croatia during the festive season or Lent, you're in for a sweet treat. Enter Fritule, beloved fried dough balls that are a Christmas delicacy. Made with eggs, milk, flour, and a hint of citrus zest and rum, these little delights are fried to perfection and then dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit and indulge in the joy of savoring these mouthwatering treats.

fritule covered in sugar in a carton

9. Pag Lamb

This famous Croatian dish boasts a distinct delicacy, with its lean and pale pink meat that is best savored when spit-roasted. The secret to its exceptional flavor lies in the milk the young lambs consume, nurtured by the local sheep grazing on aromatic herbs in the saline-laden surroundings of island Pag. As the late spring and early summer roll around, it is believed to be the optimal time to relish the succulent Pag lamb, its meat marinated in a symphony of rosemary, thyme, and other natural herbs. Prepare to tantalize your taste buds with this extraordinary culinary experience.

Lamb cutlets on a plate in a restaurant
Lamb Cutlets

10. Croatian Oysters

Discover the flavorful allure of Croatian oysters, known for their intense taste. The renowned varieties from Ston in Dalmatia and the Limski Kanal in Istria offer a unique experience. Whether you stumble upon a roadside vendor or a simple outlet, you can savor the freshness of these oysters. Unlike their Atlantic counterparts, Croatian oysters boast distinct flavors. Prepare for a delightful gastronomic journey as you indulge in the captivating taste of these exquisite delicacies.

fresh oysters by the sea with olive oil
Fresh Oysters

In this blog, we've explored just a taste of the incredible culinary delights Croatia has to offer. These ten dishes are a great starting point for anyone looking to indulge in the flavors of this beautiful country. However, it's important to note that Croatian cuisine is incredibly diverse, and countless other dishes are waiting to be discovered.

Compiling this list was no easy task, as Croatia boasts a rich gastronomic heritage with numerous regional specialties. Each region has its own unique dishes and culinary traditions that deserve recognition. From the coastal delights of seafood to the hearty flavors of inland regions, the culinary landscape of Croatia is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

Now, we would love to hear from you! Have you had the pleasure of trying any Croatian dishes? If so, what was your favorite? We invite you to share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below.

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