Croatia Essentials – Food

Heading to Croatia for your summer holiday? Over the coming weeks I’ll be giving you the run down on food, nightlife, accommodation and transport. Today I bring you your one page primer on Croatian Food!

Hrvatska Hrana
Croatian food is a fusion of Italian pizza & pasta and Balkan meat & potatoes. Seafood is of course abundant and always fresh & delicious, even in the inland cities. Meal sizes are usually on the larger size. Be warned – you probably won’t lose any weight in Croatia!

Croatians don’t really eat breakfast. If you’re a fry-up-in-the-morning type person you may need to stay in one of the bigger hotels or get an apartment with a kitchen; having breakfast out usually means a coffee and a burek.

spinach burek
Breakfast of champions

Supermarkets stock a small selection of cereals and muesli but, if you have a particular favourite, consider bringing it from home. Fresh fruit, milk, yoghurt and cheese are widely available.

Coffee is practically the national drink so you won’t have any problems finding a good cup. Kava generally comes black, so if you like milky coffee ask for bijela kava.

Tea is usually of the fruity variety. Black tea (crni čaj) is often served with honey and lemon.

Lunch & Dinner
You’ll mostly find yourself eating pizza and pasta, meat and onions, and of course seafood. You can easily find popular & well-made dishes such as odrezak (steak), pommes frites, hamburgers and sandwiches. Croatia is famous for its truffles and Pag cheese.

But more importantly, here are a few of my faves:

  • ćevapi – these sensational little sausages are found everywhere. Usually served with raw onion and bread.
  • lignje – squid! Croatians really know how to cook squid. I’ve never had a bad squid experience. No matter where you are it’s always superb.
  • ajvar – a type of salsa made from roasted red capsicums (peppers)
  • sarma – cabbage leaves stuffed with pork and rice and cooked in a tomato and paprika sauce. Delish!
  • pršut – always take the opportunity to get a plate of local pršut i sir (prosciutto and cheese). The perfect way to start (or end) any meal.

Croatians love sweets and every town has its slastičarnica. Different regions have their own specialities, but make sure you don’t miss out on kremšnite (a kind of custard slice), rozata (creme brulee) and my absolute favourite palačinke (pancakes). These thin crepes are served with either Nutella, jam, walnuts or chocolate. Or all of them, if you like.

Some fancy palačinke L got for her birthday

Croatia benefits from its proximity to Italy and has sensational ice cream. The variety of flavours of sladoled is amazing.

For meals on the go, pop into any pekara (bakery) and grab a sandwich, sweet pastry, burek (meat or cheese pie) or slice of pizza.

Why you’d want to drink anything other than beer is beyond me. Beer is cheap, cold, fizzy and delicious! The two main lagers are Ožujsko and Karlovačko and you can also try beers from the smaller breweries such as Velebitsko and Medvedgrad.

Here we are enjoying a Karlovačko in Karlovac!
Here we are enjoying a Karlovačko in Karlovac!

Local wines are abundant and although they can vary in quality you should hit more than you miss. On a nice hot day, refresh yourself with a gemišt (white wine and mineral water) – the perfect breakfast drink!

Croatians have a fondness for a drink called Cedevita which is a packet of crystals that you add to water. I’ve never tried this but it looks just like Tang. It’s weird – but they love it!

Do you have any favourite dishes, restaurants, food experiences from Croatia? I’d love to hear about them!

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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