Even though Croatia is a small country, its gastronomy is rich and diverse
. Croatian cuisine differs from region to region
, which makes it one of the most diverse regions in Europe. In the past, fresh ingredients available to the inhabitants of these areas were used in the preparation of delicious traditional dishes. Today, Croatia has many autochthonous dishes that you can find in many top restaurants and taverns throughout the country.
From Slavonia and Baranja to Medimurje and Zagorje, Lika, Kvarner and Istria, Dalmatia and Dubrovnik, Croatia's culinary offer is rich and it is difficult to single out just one top dish. Therefore, we will introduce you to the best local dishes in all Croatian regions
. So let's get started:
Slavonia - Fish stew
Slavonia is the easternmost Croatian region, known for its endless, fertile fields and welcoming locals. Its role throughout history has been to feed the Croatian people, which required the hard work and toil of its inhabitants. Over time, many traditional dishes developed, such as fish stew, cobanac, kulen and cvarci
, to fortify the hard-working farmers after a hard day in the fields or woods.
In addition to the fertile fields, Slavonia is surrounded by 3 major rivers
: the Sava, Danube and Drava, and many other rivers and streams rich in fish and crabs.
The most famous fish dish is fish stew, better known as fis-paprikas
. It is believed to have been brought to this area by the Hungarians
who inhabited the area of Slavonia and Baranja. The fish stew is prepared in a copper cauldron hanging over the fire
. It is prepared with pieces of river fish such as catfish, pike, carp, various spices such as red ground hot and sweet peppers, tomato sauce and white wine, which give the stew a characteristic colour and spiciness. The fish stew is served with homemade wide noodles and bread.
Medimurje and Zagorje - Strukli
is a region bordering Hungary to the north, Slovenia to the west and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east. Because of its geographical location, but also of its historical influence, the gastronomy of this region is simple
. Today, its dishes are prepared in top restaurants all over the country.
This region is known for its traditional cow's milk cheese, salami, duck with mlinci, but also for desserts like kremsnite and kukuruzna zlevka.
The most famous dish of northern Croatia is certainly Zagorje Strukli
. This dish is excellent as a starter, as a side dish to soup, as the main course or as a delicious dessert. Strukli is made of dough filled with fresh cow cheese.
To make strukli, you have to knead the dough made of flour, salt, eggs, lukewarm water, a little vinegar and oil, and then let it rest a little for 30 minutes. After that, you have to roll it out into a thin dough and fill it with a mixture of cow's milk cheese, salt and sour cream. With the help of a tablecloth, the dough is skilfully rolled and cut into small pillows, which can then be boiled in salted water or baked in the oven. There are also many variations of this dish, such as sweet strukli with sugar, blueberries, apple and cinnamon and strukli with truffles.
Lika and Gorski kotar - game goulash with bread dumplings
These two regions are the least populated regions in Croatia
and connect the north of Croatia with the Adriatic Sea. They are characterised by untouched nature, numerous national parks such as the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the North Velebit National Park and the Risnjak National Park. The regions of Lika and Gorski kotar have a long hunting tradition, so you will often find game on the menus
of many local restaurants. One of the most famous dishes in central Croatia is game goulash with bread dumplings.
It is prepared by leaving deer or wild boar meat in a marinade for a few days, then cooking it over a low flame and serving it with homemade bread dumplings. In addition to game specialities, these two regions are also known for the production of a range of natural products such as jams and honey.
Kvarner - Rab Cake
Kvarner is located in the northern Adriatic, between the regions of Istria in the east, Gorski kotar in the north and Dalmatia in the south. Part of Kvarner consists of the largest islands in the Adriatic, the island of Krk and Cres in the north and the island of Rab in the south. Kvarner gastronomy is the most diverse gastronomy, precisely because it lies on the border between the land and the sea
. In this region, you will find many delicacies such as mushrooms, wild berries and game, but also various first-class fish, seafood and the best Adriatic prawns.
One of the most special local desserts
in this area comes from the island of Rab
. This delicacy with a long tradition was first served to Pope Alexander III in 1777, during his visit to the island of Rab. This dessert was originally made by the nuns of the monastery of St. Anthony of Padua and later by the nuns of the Benedictine monastery of St. Andrew. The original and at the same time secret recipe for this delicacy is known only to a few women from Rab, who sparingly pass on their secret to younger generations. The cake was baked on particularly festive occasions and today it is the most original souvenir from the island of Rab
that will delight all lovers of sweets.
Istria - Fuzi with truffles
This Croatian region is one of the most beautiful parts of Croatia, known for its unspoilt nature, beautiful historical towns on the coast as well as in the hinterland, and an excellent gastronomic offer
. For many years, Istria has been one of the top gastronomic destinations where you can try both the Mediterranean and the continental cuisine
. You have probably heard that Istria is the home of the best truffles
. This mushroom is one of the main ingredients of the most famous Istrian dish - fuzi with truffles
. For this dish, you will need homemade smoked ham, pasta and cooking cream. Pour a little olive oil into the pan and cook the smoked ham pieces until they start to smell. Add cream and already cooked fuzi to the pan. Serve this dish with grated fresh truffles, which give this dish an irresistible flavour. Other dishes, such as frittata or gnocchi with truffles, are prepared very simply so as not to spoil the wonderful aroma of this mushroom.
Northern Dalmatia - Pag lamb under the bell
Dalmatia is divided into Northern, Central and Southern Dalmatia. Northern Dalmatia consists of the area around the cities of Zadar and Sibenik and their islands
. In this region, you will find the healthiest and at the same time most delicious gastronomic offer, which consists of fish, various crabs and mussels but also lamb of the highest quality.
The best lamb meat comes from the island of Pag
and is characterised by its diet of Mediterranean herbs. You can find authentic Pag lamb during the winter months, and it is most often served with potatoes
. This dish is prepared in the traditional way using coals placed on the bell covering the meat and potatoes. Besides Pag lamb, one of the most appreciated Croatian delicacies recognised in the world of gastronomy, is the Pag cheese.
Central Dalmatia - Pasticada
The Split islands and its hinterland
form a beautiful Dalmatian region characterised by its minimalist gastronomy
, which has been enjoyed for hundreds of years by the inhabitants of Dalmatia, but also by its visitors. In this region, a simple way of preparing fish dishes
is respected, so as not to alter the unique natural taste. Even complex dishes that required several days of preparation
, such as Dalmatian pasticada
, have been perfected over the years.
In the first stage of preparing this interesting dish, the beef must be soaked in a marinade, which is then roasted, in one piece. The roasted meat should simmerin a sauce of wine and dried fruits, such as plums, and seasoned with nutmeg, bay leaf and pepper. To give the dish an irresistible aroma, tuck pieces of bacon into the meat. According to old recipes, the dish should not be eaten right after cooking but left to cool down slowly. Then cut the meat into cubes and roast it again. After cooking for several hours, serve the dish in its strained sauce with homemade gnocchi.
Southern Dalmatia - Dubrovnik sporki makaruli
This Croatian region is the southernmost region
, where the most famous pearl of the Mediterranean is located, Dubrovnik. Throughout history, Dubrovnik was a trading centre where various goods from all over the world were exchanged. Sailors brought back seeds, plants and spices from their journeys that influenced Dubrovnik's gastronomy. Today, these local recipes are an integral part of the menu of Dubrovnik's best restaurants.
We recommend to try the finest oysters from Mali Ston Bay, Zelena Menestra from Konavle, and for dessert, Kotonjata
or candied lemon and orange peel. The favourite dish of many locals is sporki makaruli
or pasta with meat sauce. It is traditionally prepared on the eve of the feast of St. Blaise, who is the patron saint of Dubrovnik. To prepare the meat sauce, fry onions in olive oil and add sliced beef or veal, a clove of garlic, spices and cooked tomatoes. Add red wine and lukewarm water to the pot and simmer covered. Serve the sauce with homemade pasta and freshly grated hard cheese.
If you are staying in one of our beautiful villas in Croatia
, we recommend you try some of these local Croatian dishes... or try making them yourself and impress your friends and family. Enjoy the diverse Croatian gastronomic offer! We are convinced that everyone will find their favourite dish. We wish you bon appétit :)