Cultivated or reared on the land following some traditional methods or plucked from the sea, Croatian food such as meat, fish as well as vegetables are mostly prepared with their own extra virgin olive oil on road-site spits, on wood-fire grills, and sometimes they do it under those dome-shaped lids, white slow-roasting the meat.  

And the outcome is something simple yet delicious. Mediterranean cuisine takes most of its recipes from Croatia, and you will find this spread across Istria, Zagreb, and Dalmatia. 

Top Croatian foods to try 

The foreign inferences and diverse regions have left a mark on Croatian cuisine for over centuries. Here are some of the most famous and best items Croatia has to offer. Read through the article and discover the best Croatian foods. 

1. Crni rižot 

You will find this in almost all Dalmatian menus. Black Risotto is a lot more tasty than it looks or sounds. The dish gets its distinctive color from squid ink and gets its flavor from the other meaty ingredients, the seafood and, of course, the squid. 

But make sure that you are quite comfortable with the companion you are trying this dish with. This is going to get your tongue and teeth black; it is not something you should try on the first date. This is something they prepare in the morning and heat up when you order. 

2. Fritule 

Christmas is not going to be Christmas without this dish. These are small battered doughnut balls, along with some powdered sugar on top. They fill the insides with raisins and rum.  

Some households even add lemon zest or orange peel to add some flavor, but everything seems more tasty when you share it with someone. Even though it might seem like a Christmas tradition, that is not the case. Moreover, it is available throughout the year as a special treat. 

3. Gregada 

Grenada is a fish stew that is mostly associated with the Hvar island. However, you will get a dish similar to Dalmatia’s. This dish is mostly prepared with grouper or scorpion fish. 

Anything that is fresh is chopped in large chunks and then added to a pot of sliced potatoes and a good amount of olive oil. However, it depends on the chef what extra ingredient they want to add.  

They simmer the entire thing on slow heat and then shake it from time to time so that the chunks stay whole. Enjoy the dish with a side of wine as the sun goes down with your loved one. 

4. Ispod peke 

When we translate the name of the dish, it literally turns out to be under the bell. This is a classic one on most of the Dalmatian menus. However, this is not exactly a dish; it is more of a slow cooking process. It involves a dome-shaped lid that is covered with hot ashes.  

To get an actual peka meal, you should order the meal a day before or at least in the morning. You can choose any protein, like octopus, veal, or lamb, but you will find some other fish and meat on offer as well.  

The succulent flavors are distinct and unique, complemented with a side of potatoes, so you should prepare yourself as well for a heavy meal. 

5. Istrian truffles 

In Instra, truffles are not just a cottage industry; they are a lot more than that. It is a big business. However, check for those restaurants that have a Tartufo vero sign. It means they are actually successful in meeting Istria’s high standards. 

In Livade, the October weekends are for judging the cookery classes and the best truffles in the truffle auction. Moreover, you will find their most famous truffle in the restaurant Zigante. 

6. Kulen sausage 

They cut this high-quality pork by hand, and with those specially cut pieces, they prepare the fish. These are sourced from mature pigs and take almost nine months to naturally cure.  

It is spicy, and when it is sliced, it has that same color along with a distinctive texture all through. The only ingredients added are red paprika, salt, and garlic.  

7. Kvarner scampi 

Kvarner Bay is known for serving the most famous Scampi in all of Europe. In Kvarnar and Istria, you will get them grilled, boiled, marinated, prepared in sauce, breaded, raw, spit-roasted, wrapped in Istrian ham, or embellished in some first-class olive oil. 

8. Olive oil 

Similar to wine, the cultivation of olive oil dates back to the Roman times. Again, similar to wine, the industry was standardized and nationalized for decades to increase quantity over quality. 

Particularly in Istria, a new independent generation has started developing the production in small batches. They are formulating high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.  

The tourist board of Istria has produced a route map to make their travel route easy to these family-run groves. The map is going to take you to the small villages and hamlets, and most of these are set in picturesque landscapes. 

9. Oysters 

The oysters in Croatia have a lot more flavors than their Atlantic counterparts. The most renowned varieties are found in Ston on Peljesac and the Limski Kanal in Istria. 

Both these are places that are not as popular as you would think they are. So, if you plan to visit, you will be rewarded with divine oysters served by casual vendors by the roadside or from any makeshift outlet. 

10. Pag cheese 

The local sheep here graze in the salty air on the vegetation that particularly grows on pag, producing milk that has a special flavor to it. This is something that you will only find in Northern Dalmatia. They have been producing sheep cheese for centuries here. 

They have years of experience and generations of expertise that go through every distinctive wheel that would be noticed on the shelves of the stone house by the fields. These are matured for almost 18 months, and the texture is quite similar to parmesan. They sell these cheeses to different restaurants and markets where pass sir is served as dessert or starter. 

11. Pag lamb 

Sheep inhabit the island of Pag more than humans. The residents of this island prepare a special kind of lamb delicacy that is lean and pale pink in color. For best results, they often spit-roast it. 

The main ingredient that actually adds to the flavor is the milk used to rear the lambs. The best time to have this dish is during early summer or late spring. To prepare pag lamb, marinate the meat in thyme, rosemary, and some other natural herbs. 

 12. Pašticada 

A popular Dalmatian dish that links its culinary expertise to the southern part of France, pasticada is a kind of stew made from marinated beef, figs, prunes, alcohol of some kind, prosecco, or wine. 

To make an actual pasticada, almost 24 hours are needed to prepare it. This includes soaking the meat in vinegar overnight, along with bacon and garlic. They mostly plate it with gnocchi. They even serve it at weddings and some saints’ days as well. 

13. Pljeskavica 

There is a current global trend for the infamous hamburgers. Pljeskavica is the Balkan form of hamburgers and has become quite popular in European cities. This is going to satisfy your cravings for a hamburger. 

This is actually a large patty with minced meat and a spice mix of lamb and beef. They serve it similar to cevapcici, along with large dollops of pepper relish and a small mound of raw onion. It is served with flatbread, but tourists mostly prefer it with chips. 

14. Pršut 

If you want to try some real Croatian prosciutto ham in the home setting, then you should definitely go to Konavle in Dalmatia or the village of Duba, which produces prsut.  

The dry winter wind of Bura and the deserted karst hills make the perfect conditions for production. You will get the finest air-dried hams from those small family estates, and the cost ranges from 100 kn to 140 kn per kilo. 

15. Rožata 

This unique Dalmatian dessert is a lot similar to creme caramel. This is a custard pudding made with the local rose liquor. It is the key ingredient, and this is where it gets its name. 

In restaurants that are not so popular, you might get the inferior version of this made with some vanilla extract, but in Dubrovnik, you will get the traditional version. However, maraschino cherry liqueur offers an equal kick. 

16. Sardines 

When in Croatia, you cannot miss the sardines. And if you get the opportunity to try one prepared by star chef Anthony Bourdain, then nothing like it. These are freshly caught and perfectly grilled.  

The best way to serve this white meat-filled flavorful dish is with a little oil and lemon. They prepare brodetto stew with sardines, some herbs, potatoes, and a little bit of wine. 

17. Štrukli 

Zagreb and the places around Zagreb and Zagorie are some of the places where you will find this dish. And it continues to the border of Slovenia. You can call strukli the cousin of strudel. These are stuffed pillows of dough and served as desserts.  

Sometimes as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon treat. Boiled or baked, these small portions of food are quite hefty and filled with cottage cheese and glazed in cream. 

18. Wild mushrooms 

Even though wild mushrooms are not as celebrated as their sought-after cousins, these truffle wild mushrooms are delicious and way more versatile. In particular, in autumn, after wet spring in Istria, you will find them by road. The vendors sell it by the road and will give you some essential cooking tips as well. 

Some families even make plans for an entire day around the weekend for mushroom picking. Though you can go out on your own, make sure you are picking the right ones. 

19. Burek 

Well, if I am being honest, then you will get the best burek in Bosnia and not in Croatia. Most of the burek you find in Croatia are greasy and disappointing. But there are some bakeries that take a lot of time to prepare these mouth-watering, flaky layered pastries and fill them with cheese, meat, or apple. 

Spinach and cheese are also popular fillings. If the hotel or hotel where you are staying is not serving breakfast, burek is the ideal filler that you can get. It is not very costly and is going to give your morning an amazing turn. 

20. Ćevapčići 

Cevapcici, or cevapi, is a Balkan stable. It is prepared with little sausages of minced meat, mainly lamb/beef. You will get these as street-side food as well as in domestic restaurants. This is mainly ordered in three, five, seven, or ten portions. 

This delicious, savory favorite comes with blanket-sized flatbread lepine. If you are dining in, you might get it on the side. But if you have to take it home, they wrap it around the meat. 

21. Njoki 

Noki is the Croatian food, which is its own version of gnocchi. This is a type of dumpling made from potato dough. It is mainly popular in the coastal parts of Croatia. It is sometimes served as the first course or as a side dish with braised beef or pasticada. 

22. Fuži 

Pasta is also a popular Croatian food. Ravioli, pljukanci, pasutice, and lazanje are some of the commonly found pasta in Croatia. However, Fuzi is the best place for you to get there. 

Fuzi is an international pasta that is shaped like a tube. Made from thin diamond-shaped sheets of pasta dough, they are folded and then pinched together to look like small spindles or flutes. 

They serve this along with various other Croatian dishes. This is sometimes paired with chicken goulash or a mild veal sauce. But it is often served with various Croatian stews or different types of sauce. 

23. Abšmalcane Mahune 

Absmalcane muhane is a traditional Croatian food. It is prepared with boiled green beans and then braised with breadcrumbs and butter. They prepare this delicacy with or without bacon. They serve it as a side with fish or meat dishes. 

Bon Appetit 

With so many dishes to try and so many sides to taste, it might get a little difficult to choose from. There are a lot of other dishes that you will also find interesting. Try a little of everything while you are staying there, but definitely try the authentic traditional Croatian food. 


Subhasree Nag

Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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