Cruise Croatia
Opening Times - Mon to Fri: 9am to 5pm

Best Croatian Food and Dishes You Need to Try

When in Croatia, eat like a Croatian…and we promise you’ll be richly rewarded!

Croatia is a gourmand’s dream, with one of the best – and most underrated – cuisines in Europe. With its many miles of coastline, seafood is an obvious highlight of Croatian food, but you’ll also find succulent meats and hearty stews across inland destinations. A Mediterranean climate sees Croatia produce high-quality ingredients, with wine, olive oil, and truffles all noted as staples of Croatian cooking.

From traditional meals to the best seafood dishes in Croatia, there are so many culinary wonders to experience on your visit. In this guide, we’ll showcase the best Croatian food and dishes that you need to try. So read on for our run-down of the very best traditional Croatian food you’ll find during your luxury tour or small ship cruise.

Strukli, Zagreb
Black risotto, Croatia

Traditional Croatian Food


As the ultimate Croatian comfort food, it’s no surprise that strukli is a signature northern dish, widely consumed in the Zagreb and Hrvatsko Zagorje regions. Inducted into the list of the country’s intangible cultural heritage, it’s the perfect choice for a cold, winter day but enjoyable anytime. It’s a staple of Croatian street food and consists of thin pastry filled with cottage cheese, eggs and other delicious additions.

In Zagreb, nearly every restaurant has Strukli on the menu. La Struk, less than a 5-minute walk from Zagreb Cathedral, serves only this dish, offering traditional strukli and creative modern interpretations like sweet variations with blueberries and cheese, or with decadent truffles. A 5-minute walk from Park Gric will bring you to Stari Fljaker, another favorite, evoking memories of old fairytales where you’ll feel as if you’ve been welcomed to a family table during a feast. While you’re in the capital city, enjoy the mix of old and new that includes the thousand-year-old Upper Town, home to iconic St. Mark’s Church.

Black Risotto

This popular and unique dish is one of the most popular foods in Croatia. Its characteristic dark colour comes from the inclusion of squid or cuttlefish ink, which infuses the dish with a delightful savory flavor. This creamy Croatian dish also includes squid or other seafood which helps to bulk out the meal.

While black risotto can be enjoyed throughout Croatia, particularly in the coastal regions, the dish is best sampled in the small town of Ston on the Peljesac Peninsula. The most unique local dish to try here, it has a well-deserved reputation for the highest quality seafood in Dalmatia and perhaps beyond, resulting in the tastiest black risotto you’re likely to try in the country.

While you’re here, don’t miss the fresh oysters and mussels. The high concentration of salt and minerals in the water is said to be at least in part responsible for the delicious taste. An oyster-tasting experience will bring you into unspoiled Mali Ston Bay where you’ll be surrounded by striking natural beauty while sailing around the islets where the oysters are grown. You’ll learn about the process of cultivation and how they’re gathered, then open them up in the middle of the oyster farm, sampling straight from the sea.

Brodetto fish stew, Croatia
Buzara (mussels in white wine sauce), Croatia

Seafood in Croatia


With northern Croatia most significantly influenced by Italy, this is where you’ll want to try brodetto. This hearty stew draws its origins from Venice, likely appearing sometime between the 14th and early 16th century. It was supposedly invented by fishermen who would use the leftover fish that was damaged or had no commercial value otherwise to make a filling stew.

Brodetto typically includes a variety of seafood such as different fish, shellfish and sometimes squid. The stew also includes fragrant aromatics like onions and garlic that infuse the broth with savoury notes. Some variations of Brodetto may include additional ingredients such as potatoes or rice to make it heartier.

Brodetto is very popular along the Adriatic coast and is a favorite among local Istrians, which is the northern coastal area shared with Italy and Slovenia, as well as the Kvarner Gulf that lies between the two. Venetian influences are strongly felt in Rijeka, a port city on Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic, a gateway to the Croatian islands. That includes architecture, culture, the language, and the cuisine. In fact, annually in the summer, the city hosts the Brudetijada which brings cultural teams who cook up huge pots of it right on the beach, served with polenta and wine, to raise money for charity.



Another example of popular Croatian food is Buzara, which is a technique specifically used when preparing seafood. It involves cooking the fish in a rich and flavorful sauce made with garlic, wine, and tomatoes. Mussels are the main ingredient in this Croatian dish but you will find some variations that include clams, shrimp and other shellfish. It is often accompanied by fresh bread, allowing visitors to soak up every last drop of the flavorful sauce.

The key to this typical Dalmatian dish is the mussels, which must be fresh. Of course, with Mali Ston Bay offering the freshest and tastiest around, this is the area you’ll want to try it. Hodilje village in the municipality of Ston is worth venturing out to. It’s just a couple of miles from the town of Ston and an hour’s drive north of Dubrovnik.

Locals flock to Seosko Domacinstvo Ficovic restaurant just for its superb version using the freshest mussels straight from the sea. It’s also a gorgeous eatery right along the crystal-clear blue waters for the ultimate dining experience. Don’t miss a visit to the Walls of Ston while you’re in the area. The series of defensive walls were originally nearly 4.5 miles long, protecting the town as part of the Republic of Ragusa with their construction starting in 1358.

Grilled seafood, Croatia
Peka, Croatia

Grilled Fish

This classic Croatian dish is a top favourite and makes up a large part of the local cuisine. You’ll find grilled fish on most menus throughout the country, particularly in coastal towns and throughout the islands. It’s prepared using a technique referred to as gradele, which is also the name of the special metal grill that’s used. The open-fire grill is often used for preparing sea bass, grouper, and bream, seasoned with garlic, parsley, and homemade olive oil.

The smell of grilling fish is a fabulous aroma in Dalmatia and permeates through city squares and cobbled alleys. While it’s hard to go wrong anywhere here, we suggest Old Town Dubrovnik with many traditional konobas and other eateries to dine with a sea and mountain view. That stunning view can also be enjoyed by riding the Dubrovnik cable car up Mount Srd and walking atop the walls that encircle the historic center.


National Dishes of Croatia


One of the most important foods in Croatia is peka, which refers to a specific dish as well as a traditional method of cooking. Peka means bell and is a technique used in Croatian cuisine to slow-cook meals under a domed lid. It draws out the flavors of the ingredients and intensifies the tasting experience. The dish itself is typically comprised of meat such as lamb or fish and is bulked out with root vegetables and tasty bell peppers.

Delicious peka can be found throughout Croatia, but this specialty is particularly memorable in the Konavle Valley. About a half-hour drive from Dubrovnik, the landscapes are spectacular with fertile valleys, mountains, and waterfalls stretching from Cavtat to the Montenegro border. It can be enjoyed at several restaurants with picturesque views as well as part of a food and wine tour for the total experience. You might even join a local family at their farm in a traditional village here, learning how to prepare an authentic peka meal yourself to immerse yourself in Croatian culture while enjoying warm hospitality. Of course, you’ll get to sit down to enjoy your efforts alongside local wine too.

Grah i varivah (bean soup), Croatia
Bean Soup

Bean Soup

Croatia’s hearty version of bean soup can be found just about anywhere in the country and is a winter favorite among locals. The northern regions of Croatia arguably do it best, ensuring a tasty way to warm up from the cold. It can be enjoyed year-round but is best sampled when visiting in the winter months such as January and February.

Sitting at the northern end of the Dalmatian coast, Istria has its own unique version of the typical dish. Manestra is a bean soup that’s prepared only in this region, using fuzi which is a hand-rolled pasta, typical in Istria. It’s influenced by Italian minestrone, as well as Balkan and Slavic cuisines and is as delicious as it is hearty. When in this region, you’ll also want to try one or more of the many truffle dishes it’s renowned for as well as the local wines. Medieval hilltop towns like Motovun and Buzet are ideal, with truffles grown in the thick woods that surround them.

Octopus Salad, Croatia
Octopus Salad, Croatia

Octopus Salad

Octopus plays an important role in many tasty dishes in Croatia, particularly throughout Dalmatia. The cold octopus salad is especially popular to enjoy during the summer months of July and August. It can be found on restaurant menus along the coastal mainland and the islands where seafood is in ample supply. It’s a must-try dish and it’s likely to be different at every eatery, with ingredients varying for creative takes. Additions like olive oil, lemon, and fresh herbs reflect the influence of the Mediterranean region on Croatian cuisine.

We suggest sampling several versions of octopus salad while visiting the Dalmatian islands if possible, such as Konoba Lambik in Milna on Hvar Island, which adds capers and potatoes to the dish. In the port of Korcula along the Petar Kanavelic promenade, Filippi Restaurant does a grilled octopus salad with courgette and cherry tomatoes. Bon Appetite, or, as the locals say, “prijatno”.

Prsut ham, Istria
Fritule doughballs, Croatia

What to Eat in Croatia


Croatia produces some extremely good prosciutto, a type of dry-cured ham, which is known locally as pršut. Typically it is served in thin slices as a cold appetizer or as part of a charcuterie board. Pršut pairs well with various accompaniments such as cheese, olives, and fresh bread and is a perfect addition to any Croatian meal.

The production of high-quality pršut has a long tradition here as one of the most prized delicacies, although four regions have managed to go beyond by protecting it with special certifications of excellence and geographic origin, including Krk Island, Istria, Dalmatia, and Drnis.

Although each version is slightly different, all are prepared using traditional techniques with high-quality meat with an artisan undertaking rather than mass production. Try it in Istria as it’s the only prosciutto that’s also been awarded the mark of authenticity, using fresh ham from locally raised animals. It’s spiced with rosemary, laurel, fresh garlic, black pepper, and sea salt. In the small town of Vodnjan near Pula, the Bursis family estate is one of the largest producers and has a tasting room and restaurant for trying pršut and other cured meals along with other traditional Istrian dishes.



Fritule is a traditional dessert of the Dalmatia, Kvarner, and Istria regions and a must-try Croatian dish. These small fried pastries are one of the most popular foods in Croatia and are a staple of the country’s culinary heritage. The ingredients used to make fritule differ from region to region, with some versions including raisins and rum, giving these tasty treats a distinct flavor. They are one of the best Croatian street food dishes to try, especially when visiting during cultural festivals or holidays.

Each village has its own recipe for these fritters that claims to be the original and the best. Makarska in Central Dalmatia claims that the first factory to make fritule, run by the Vukovic family, is here. While that can’t be confirmed, you can decide for yourself when you visit.

Just a little over an hour from Split, it’s the main town on the beautiful Makarska Riviera which features many secluded coves and picturesque beaches for swimming in the turquoise water. Summer brings a carnival atmosphere with many unique events like donkey races and stone-throwing, along with the Makarska Cultural Summer Festival. With fritule often served at many festivals, you’re likely to find some delicious offerings here.

Vineyard, Istria
Red wine, Dubrovnik

Croatian Wine

Croatia’s wine scene is becoming increasingly popular, although Croatian wines aren’t commonly seen outside of the country and the names may not be familiar, mostly because they can be difficult to pronounce. The primary wine regions are Kontinentalna Hrvatska, or continental Croatia, and Primorska Hrvatska, coastal Croatia, spreading northeast from the Dalmatian coast to the Danube River floodplains.

It would be difficult to choose just one, with many outstanding wineries throughout Croatia. Although, the Tuscan-like Istrian Peninsula and the Peljesac Peninsula, home to Ston and its famously delicious oysters and other shellfish, are arguably the top two. Enjoy the bucolic scenery of Istria and a visit to Kozlovic Winery which has been run by the same family for generations and offers a spectacular view of the vineyards from the winery building. A family member provides tours while revealing the winemaking process. In Peljesac, Rizman Winery is popular, famously owned by Croatian football star Igor Stimac.


FAQs about Croatian Food Dishes

Is it expensive to eat in Croatia?

If you are worried about Croatia being expensive, rest assured that when it comes to food you can find some really affordable options. A great way to reduce your expenses is by dining in local eateries in Croatia, where you will also be able to try the most authentic dishes. There is also an array of Croatian street food like Burek and Pide, which are inexpensive and allow you to try local favourites.

Tourist areas in Croatia may have slightly higher prices than less popular locations, especially if you dine at international eateries. That said, even fine-dining restaurants in Croatia are much less expensive than in other European countries, meaning you can taste the very best of Croatian cuisine without stretching your budget.

Is Croatian food good for vegetarians?

Traditional Croatian cuisine is mainly centred around meat and seafood dishes, but there are still some great options for vegetarian travelers. Many restaurants in Croatia will serve pasta and risotto dishes that can be altered to make them suitable for vegetarians.

Some great vegetarian foods in Croatia to try are Soparnik, a flatbread filled with Swiss chars and onions, and truffle-based dishes, that delight visitors with their nutty and earthy flavor. While there are vegetarian options available, particularly in main cities like Dubrovnik and Zagreb, more remote areas may not have as much variety.


Experience Croatia by sampling Croatian cuisine and wine, where the flavors of tradition and culture intertwine. Indulge in the sweetness of Fritule, savor the rich depth of Pršut, relish the refreshing Octopus Salad, and find comfort in the hearty embrace of Bean Soup. These dishes reflect Croatia’s diverse landscapes and culinary heritage. Complementing these delights, Croatian wines present a toast to tradition, offering a range as diverse as the country itself. From the Adriatic coast to the heart of the land, Croatia’s gastronomy and wines beckon travelers and food enthusiasts alike to savor the abundant and unique offerings of this Mediterranean gem.More information on our market-leading Croatia Cruises can be found here. Contact our dedicated Croatian specialists today to begin your journey: email [email protected], or call on +1 844 637 9747 in the USA or +44 203 950 9613 in UK and Australia, to start planning your getaway now!

You may be interested in

"*" indicates required fields

Your contact details