The culinary richness of Croatia is attracting more and more gourmet-lovers to the country. Food tourism is on the rise in Croatia and for a good reason.
From hearty meat dishes to freshly caught fish and savory stews – Croatia has something on offer for all tastes.
Croatia Luxury Rent has presented over 40 recipes on a map with explanations that’ll take the reader on a culinary tour across the country from Istria to Slavonia.
THE VERSATILITY OF THE REGIONAL CUISINES
Croatia’s culinary landscape is shaped by the country’s geographical location and rich history with its neighbours. It’s not unusual to find a Hungarian goulash or an Austrian apple pie on the menu. Croatian cuisine varies greatly from region to region, so it’s no wonder that it’s affectionately called the “cuisine of the regions”.
While the cuisine in the inland and in the east is still strongly characterized by the former Ottoman occupiers, in the north of the country the food has been influenced by Hungarian and Austrian cuisines. Meanwhile, those who like Italian or Greek dishes should travel to the coastal areas and to the south of Croatia – the home of modern, Mediterranean cuisine.
Dig into our culinary food guide and discover the vivid cuisines of the different regions for yourself! Our food map will give you a detailed overview of the most popular and well-known dishes and drinks that you shouldn’t miss when vacationing in the designated area. Let’s go!
A CULINARY TRIP THROUGH CROATIA
The diversity of the Croatian cuisine is especially prominent in the regions of Istria, Dalmatia, and Slavonia.
The largest peninsula on the northern Adriatic is known above all for its Italian-influenced cuisine. With offers from wine to ham, and all the way to pasta, no holidaymaker should miss out on these dishes:
Fuzi: Fuži is a traditional Istrian pasta type that is often combined with red veal sauce and chicken goulash, as well as with the local truffles. The pasta gets its characteristic shape from folding, pinching, and gluing together the two ends of a diamond-shaped pasta sheet.
Istarska malvazija: This is a popular white wine grape that’s grown mainly in Istria. The wine has a fresh and fruity character combined with a sparkling note. The aromas range from green apple to acacia and apricot.
Master: A Croatian version of the popular Italian minestrone soup, this hearty stew soup is made with dried meat, beans and corn. It is particularly popular among Croatians during autumn.
A visit to the historic region of Dalmatia is an absolute must, especially for gourmets! Dishes like black risotto and pickled oysters will make the heart of every foodie beat faster. Make sure to try at least these local culinary highlights:
brudet: Brudet is a true classic of a traditional Croatian cuisine. This peasant stew is prepared with a variety of seafood and eaten all the way along the Croatian coastline. Especially all white meat fishes a very well suited for the brudet. Sautéed with some olive oil, onions, and garlic, the dish is truly hard to resist!
Dalmatinska pasticada: Dalmatinska pašticada is a traditional Dalmatian dish consisting of beef marinated in vinegar and spices. The beef is further braised in red wine with bacon, tomatoes, dried plums or figs and root vegetables. The dish is traditionally served at weddings, together with gnocchi or homemade pasta.
SPECIALTIES OF THE INLAND: SLAVONIA
Slavonia captivates with its very strongly spiced and Hungarian occupancy-influenced cuisine, numerous meat and game dishes, stews and goulash specialties – a clear contrast to the Istrian and Dalmatian cuisine. If you are vacationing in Slavonia, you’ll certainly encounter these local specialties:
Fiš paprikaš: Fiš paprikaš is a traditional, spicy fish stew prepared with various freshwater fish such as catfish, pollock, pike and carp. It’s often served with homemade noodles and spicy ground paprika.
Kovrtanji: The Croatian doughnut. These traditional, ring-shaped desserts usually consist of a dough made with flour, yeast, sugar, milk, eggs, oil, and salt. The donuts are fried in pork fat until golden brown on both sides and then sprinkled with coarse sugar. The kovrtanji are best enjoyed warm.
Croatian cuisine is anything but one-dimensional. But is anything “typically” Croatian? Although each region offers its own culinary highlights, there are two main ingredients that unite them: fish and meat – a fact on which all holidaymakers can all agree. One dish without which a holiday in Croatia is not complete is the well-loved cevapcici. These grilled tubes of minced meat are considered the national dish par excellence in Croatia.
Vegetarians and vegans won’t be left with empty stomachs either. From savory vegetable stews to spinach or potato-stuffed dumplings, Croatian cuisine is a real treat for everyone, and very healthy, too. Steamed vegetables, seafood and lots of olive oil not only help you keep a slim figure but also sooth your mind and soul. There’s no need to feel guilty. In Croatia, most also restaurants get their ingredients from the numerous weekly markets in the area –100% organic!
Seasonal vegetables and fruits from nearby farmers play a central role in Croatian cuisine – freshly harvested just tastes the best!
In spring and especially during Easter, pinca will be found at every single table. The sweet pastry is a traditional, Croatian Easter bread, consisting of a yeast dough made of flour, eggs and butter. The coarse-sugar-coating makes the pinca especially popular with the little ones.
The summers in Croatia are hot. Thus, when the temperature reaches +30 degrees Celsius, the Croatians will turn to light dishes. During the high season, such typical lighter foods include salads and fish dishes. Salata od hobotnice is a traditional octopus salad that has its origins in Dalmatia. Although there are many variations of this dish, it’s most often a combination of chopped octopus, onions, garlic, bay leaves, olive oil, parsley, potatoes, salt, vinegar and tomatoes.
Autumns in Croatia are wonderful, thanks to the mild temperatures and the lack of large tourist groups. Popular dishes among Croatians during this time of year are soups and stews, such as the Istrian Maneštra. Another must-try dish is Grah. This traditional bean stew used to be a common meal for the Croatian army as well as for poorer people. Today it’s a real classic dish, and with its accompanying sausages, it’s impossible to imagine Croatian cuisine without it!
Christmas time turns Croatia to a real winter wonderland. The frozen waterfalls, snow-covered forests, and festively decorated towns make you feel like you’ve just entered a children’s fairy tale. There’s no better way to keep warm during the cold Christmas season than by enjoying hearty dishes such as Sarma or Purica’s mlincma. Sarma is in essence a cabbage roll, although it can also be made with vine leaves.
The filling consists of minced meat, rice or bulgur, herbs, spices, red pepper, paprika, ground sumac and tomato sauce. Similarly, Purica’s mlincma is also a very popular winter dish. It’s roasted turkey served with Mlinci, a traditional thin flat brad.
Check out the recipes to try at home below.
MEAT DISH: DALMATIAN ROAST BEEF
FISH DISH: CROATIAN FISH STEW
VEGETARIAN DISH: VEGETABLE STEW
DESSERT: CROATIAN BEIGNETS