Croatian Cooking: Croatian Recipes in English – Made Easy
Our Croatian Recipes are in English (of course!), and as with all traditional Croatian recipes, they vary slightly from the ones you may know. Each recipe is shared by either local chefs, family, or friends here in Croatia.
Popular Croatian Recipes
Looking for a tasty stuffed peppers recipe? Stop looking, you've found a simple & traditional Croatian recipe, known in Croatia as punjene paprike.
The Peppers & Stuffing
- 8-10 medium-sized peppers (I use all colors, though many say red are best)
- 1 kg of minced meat. I prefer 1/2 veal and 1/2 beef (2.2lbs)
- Pinch of salt
- Cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of smoked ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon of hot ground paprika (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of mixed dried herbs (optional)
- 1 cup of uncooked rice
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of soda water or a pinch of bicarbonate soda
- 2 large cloves of chopped fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley
- 200 grams finely diced speck (7 oz) You can cut this back if you do not like too much of a smokey flavor
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 finely diced medium onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 liters stock (or water) (8.5 cups)
- Pinch of Vegeta (optional)
- Salt & pepper
The Peppers & Stuffing
- Take 8-10 medium-sized peppers, and carefully cut out the top and set aside the as you'll use this as a lid for the pepper later. Scoop out the insides and be sure to remove all of the seeds and any stringy pieces. Wash the lids and peppers and allow them to dry upside down on paper towel while you make the stuffing
- To make the stuffing, add all the ingredients to a large bowl and use your hands to lightly mix until combined. Make sure the bowl is big enough for you to be able to use your hands to mix it well without spilling it all over the floor (trust me, it happens)
- Flip the peppers over and fill them with the stuffing until they are almost full. But do not overfill them. The rice expands during cooking and they'll burst leaving you a hideous mess in your saucepan. Leave the lids off for the moment
- Arrange the stuffed peppers in the saucepan. It's better if they are gently packed in so they don't flip over & don't squeeze them in so tight, as they'll bust open when they expand. This may take you several minutes to do, but trust me it is well worth it at the end when your peppers are not split open
- Add in 2 bay leaves and a stick of celery. No need to chop this, as it's just for flavour. Set aside, while you make the sauce
- In a separate saucepan on medium heat add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and fry 1 finely diced medium onion
- Once onions are transparent, add in 2 tablespoons of flour and fry until light brown. Add into the pan 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 litres of homemade stock (or water) along with a Pinch of Vegeta and add salt & pepper to your taste
- Stir continuously, until the sauce comes to the boil. Turn off and slowly pour over your peppers. Be sure to pour the sauce over each pepper as well as around each one. The sauce should cover the peppers. If it doesn't, and this can happen, just add in a little more stock or water. If you are adding in smoked bones, pop them in now
- Place the top of the pepper back on, it acts like a mini lid. If you didn't keep it, it's okay, nothing bad will happen
- Shake the saucepan just a little, you want to be sure that the sauce is evenly spread. Bring to the boil, and then turn down to a gentle simmer. Cook for approx 2 hours, occasionally shaking the saucepan. This is important to keep the sauce evenly spread and to stop the peppers from sticking & burning. Add in more water as they cook if you need
- Once ready, allow them to cool a little. They'll taste better if you can resist the temptation. Serve with mashed potato or rice - and if you don't manage to eat them all in one sitting, you can keep these in the refrigerator for a few days. I can't say how many days, as they never last that long in my house
You can't miss trying burek when in the Balkans - and you'll fall in love. So, here is an easy to make Croatian burek recipe.
- 500g all-purpose flour (3.5 cups)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 300-350mls lukewarm water (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups)
- Vegetable oil
Burek Cheese Filling:
- 150 g cottage cheese (2/3 cup)
- 100 g crumbled feta cheese (2/3 cup)
- 1 large beaten egg
Meat And Potato Filling:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 medium, diced onion
- 300 g lean beef mince (10 oz)
- 1 potato, boiled cut into small cubes
- 2 grated garlic cloves
- Half teaspoon chopped rosemary, fresh is best
- Half tablespoon smoked paprika
- Half tablespoon salt
How To Make Burek Dough:
- Take a large bowl and combine the flour and the salt
- Add the water bit by bit, mixing until the mixture forms a dough
- Knead the dough for around five minutes, until it turns quite stretchy
- Split the dough mixture into batches of four and press down to flatten
- You need to find a bowl or a pan which is large enough to hold the dough when it is piled up on top of each other
- Add a little bit of vegetable oil to the pan or bowl and put the first flattened piece of dough inside
- Add a bit more oil (not too much), and add another piece of dough – repeat until you’ve done the same with all four pieces
- Add more vegetable oil on top of the last piece and place to one side to rest
- Preheat your oven to around 200°C (390°F)
- Add a little vegetable oil over your work surface (a table is best) – just a little!
- Remove one piece of dough from the bowl and remove the excess oil
- Flatten the piece of dough until it reaches a thickness of no more than around half a centimeter
- Handle the dough and stretch it outwards, over and over, so that you pull it to around 1 meter in diameter – you might end up with a few holes but don’t worry about it too much. By the end, you should be able to see through the dough
- Take one side of the dough disc and fold it over, towards the center
- Repeat this process until you have a shape that resembles a pentagon
- Repeat with the second piece of dough
- Add your filling (see below for the filling instructions) to the dough piece
- Add the first piece of stretched dough into the middle of the second one, and cut away the thick edge of the second piece – you can throw this away, you won’t need it
- Fold over the edges of the dough, so that you get a pentagon shape once more, and put it into a baking pan or tray
- Put the pan in the oven and bake for around half an hour, until it is a golden color
- Remove from the oven and let it cool down
- Cut into 12 pieces
- Repeat the process with the rest of the dough
- Bake until the pastry turns golden, and serve while warm!
For The Cheese Filling:
- Take a mixing bowl and add in both kinds of cheese, combining together
- Add the egg and combine once more
For The Meat & Potato Filling:
- Take a large pan and heat up the oil over a medium heat
- Add the onion and cook until soft
- Now, add the mince and cook for around 2 minutes, stirring regularly
- Now, add the potato, the rosemary, the garlic, and the paprika, and stir to combine
- Add the salt and continue to cook, ensuring the beef mince is cooked through
- Once cooked, drain the beef with a sieve to get rid of any excess oil and press down to dry it out
Bijela pita is a traditional cake in Croatia and several other countries in the Balkans. Here is an easy to make bijela pita recipe, this Croatian white slice is sure to please.
- 400 g flour (2 3/4 cups)
- 100 g sugar (0.5 cup)
- 120 g lard (2/3 cup)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 tbsp milk
- 500 ml milk (2 1/4 cups)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 150 g sugar (3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence (or 1 packet vanilla sugar)
- 100 g butter (7 tablespoons)
- Mix all the dough ingredients, to make a ball of dough. It should be smooth and soft
- Shape it into a ball, leave it in a bowl, and cover with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour
- Divide the dough into 4 same-sized pieces and, using a rolling pin, roll them out around 3-4 mm thick
- Bake the 4 pieces of dough in a pre-heated over (180°C/350°F) until they are slightly golden on the edges.
- Transfer to wire racks and let the sheets cool down. Hot tip: One trick before baking the sheets, is to use your tray as a template and cut the 4 rolled out sheets to the exact size/shape - this makes the final assembly much fast, easier and neater
- In a saucepan heat, the milk with sugar and vanilla sugar. Add the flour slowly while constantly stirring. Cook until the mixture starts to get thick (it will take a few minutes). Set aside to cool.
- When the filling has cooled down, add in the butter, and with an electric hand mixer, mix until you get a soft cream-like texture
- Now we need to start assembling this delicious dessert. Place the first sheet of pastry put on a tray and cover with 1/3 of the filling. Spread the filling evenly before putting on the second layer of the pastry.
- Continue to do so until you have used all 4 sheets and filling. Simplified: pastry-filling-pastry-filling-pastry-filling-pastry
- Dust with powdered sugar and let it rest in a fridge overnight
- Slice it and serve it the next day
The reason for letting the slice rest overnight is so that the pastry has time to soften and is easier to slice.
Rich in flavor, juicy and sweet, a real calorie bomb that is hard to resist. Here is how to make baklava with walnuts.
For The Main Part
- 500 g phyllo pastry sheets (1lb)
- 800 g walnuts, whole (6 cups)
- 300 g butter (1 1/3 cups) or you can use or vegetable oil
For The Agda
- 800 g white sugar (4 cups)
- 800 ml of water (3 1/3 cups)
- 3-4 lemon slices
This is one of the few recipes where we don’t start with making our own pastry, as with these we'll use the store-bought phyllo sheets as it’s used in the Balkans. Instead, we'll first start with making the agda.
- Mix the sugar and water in a pot, a place on high heat uncovered
- Once it's boiling, watch the clock - after boiling for approx 6-8 minutes, you can add one or two lemon rings, remove the pot from the stove, place on the lid, and allow the agda to cool completely
- Take the whole walnuts, and grind them in an electric chopper. I prefer this method, as I can easily control the size of the ground nuts. Baklava tastes better if you have both, finely ground walnuts as well as some bigger pieces in it
- Now, we'll need to clarify the butter. If you're using vegetable oil, you can skip this step. Place the butter in a pot and heat it over medium heat. Once the white foam appears on the surface, remove it with a spoon and discard. Do not stir the butter. After a few minutes, the butter will become clear, a white sediment will form at the bottom of the pot. Remove the pot from the stove and pour the yellow, clear portion into another pan and throw away the white precipitate (milky substance) at the base. It's important to clarify the butter to avoid black spots appearing on the baklava while it bakes
- Cut the phyllo sheets to the size of your baking tray. I cut my sheets in half, as I used the smaller tray and therefore had 20 phyllo sheets for layering. If your tray is for 2/3 the size of sheets then you can also use two smaller pieces to make one layer (it doesn’t matter if they overlay)
- Grease the tray with a little butter and put the 1st sheet inside, using a pastry brush, coat the pastry sheet. Repeat this step for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sheets remembering to brush each sheet
- Spread some of the walnuts on top of the 4th sheet
- Add 2 more layers of brushed phyllo sheets, and spread more walnuts over them
- Continue until you're left with 4 sheets of pastry. Grease the 3 last layers - but not the last sheet
- It is important not to grease the last phyllo sheet as this last sheet, will need to be pre-sliced before baking. If you were to grease the last sheet, it would be very difficult to make straight cuts
- Place the last sheet on, and then using a very sharp knife, cut the baklava into strips of the same size. If you are making squares, rotate the tray 90 degrees. If you would rather make rhombuses, rotate it 45 degrees. I made the slices to the pastry by being very careful. You could also use a piece of paper or cardboard to make it easier and precise. Refer to the photos to make it easy to understand
- Grease the top phyllo sheet and place the baklava in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F), and bake for approx 30-35 min
- When the baklava has turned a golden yellow hue, remove it from the oven and pour over the cold agda
- Cover it with a wet kitchen cloth. I suggest you place 2 wooden sticks or wooden spoons across the tray, before placing over the wet cloth to prevent it from sticking to the top layer
- Allow the baklava to soak up the agda and cool overnight
- Once cooled, if the top layer has curled, you can remove the first layer and discard
- Serve with a strong cup of coffee!
Here is how to make Slovenian walnut potica. This orehova potica recipe takes a little time, but the results are well worth the wait! Try it now.
- 400 g (3 cups or 14 oz) soft pastry flour
- 200 g (1 ¼ cups or 7 oz) strong bread flour
- 42 g (1.5 oz) fresh yeast
- 100 g (½ cup or 3.5 oz) sugar
- 300 ml (1 ¼ cups or 10 fl oz) lukewarm milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 8 g (0.3 oz) vanilla sugar
- 1 tbsp rum
- ½ lemon, zested
- 5 g (0.2 oz) salt
- 50 g (1.8 oz) butter
- 300 g (11 oz) shelled walnuts
- 200 ml (¾ cup or 7 fl oz) milk
- 10 g (0.4 oz) vanilla sugar
- 120 g (5/8 cup or 4 oz) sugar
- 100 g (3.5 oz) butter
- ½ lemon, zested
- 2 tbsp rum
- 1 egg white and 15 g (0.5 oz) sugar for whipped egg white
You Will Also Need
- Butter for buttering the mold/potičnik
- Strong bread flour to facilitate the dough rolling process
- Caster sugar and a thin wooden stick
Place the eggs and yeast at room temperature at least half an hour before baking. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl (I prefer plastic bowls) to make it lighter and airier in texture. Mix gently to ensure both types of flour are well-integrated. Don’t use a bowl that is cold to the touch, as it will interfere with the quality of your leavened dough.
Crush the yeast into a small bowl, add one teaspoon of sugar, 4 tablespoons of lukewarm milk, and 1 tablespoon of sifted flour. Stir gently, cover the bowl with a dishcloth and allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 10 to 15 minutes. In cold weather, set the mixture in a warm place to expedite fermentation.
Egg Yolk Mixture
Beat the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar, rum, lemon zest, and salt into a fluffy mixture before adding lukewarm milk to it.
Melt the butter and allow it to cool so it’s not too hot when mixed with the flour.
Return to the bowl of sifted flour and form a depression in the center, then pour in the yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to slowly fold the flour from the edges into the yeast mixture.
Now add the egg yolk mixture and stir again before putting in the melted butter.
Please take 20 minutes to knead the ingredients until they form a soft, silky texture that doesn’t stick to your hands or the bowl.
Add some strong bread flour, if necessary. Then form a loaf, cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise to twice its original size—about an hour to an hour and a half.
For best leavening results, keep the room temperature above 25°C/77°F.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. First, grind the walnuts. Add vanilla and regular sugar to milk and bring everything to a boil for the sugar to dissolve. Then pour the milk over the ground walnuts.
Melt the butter in a smaller pan and add it to the walnut mixture while still hot.
Mix the walnut concoction well and allow it to cool before adding lemon zest and rum to it.
Beat the egg white with sugar and a pinch of salt until stiff and mix it carefully into the walnut mixture.
Prepare the work surface by laying a larger dishcloth over it, then sprinkle some strong bread flour evenly across it.
Place the dough on the dishcloth and roll it out to form a square that is 1 finger-width thick (1 cm/0.4 inch).
Once rolled, the dough should measure 55x55 cm (21x21 inches) in size, which is a perfect fit for a 27 cm (10 inches) potičnik.
Spread the filling evenly to the edge of the stretched-out dough. Begin rolling up the dough from one side, gently pulling on the emerging tube to ensure the flat dough ahead is taut.
Use fingers while rolling up the dough to squeeze out trapped air to prevent air bubbles from forming during baking. Pinch in the side edges as you go to avoid filling-free bites. Continue until the dough is rolled up.
Butter the potičnik and use a kitchen cloth to determine the length of the dough to match the circumference of the potičnik.Feel free to cut away the edges as necessary to ensure a proper fit. Place the dough into the potičnik.
Use a thin wooden stick to poke holes through the dough to facilitate air expulsion, then cover it with a dishcloth and set it in a warm place for another one-hour leavening session—Preheat the convention oven to 180°C/350°F.
Perforate the dough again, put it in the oven and bake for one hour. If the crust turns yellow before the end of baking, cover the potica with baking paper; otherwise, keep the oven closed the entire time.
When baked (check by inserting a knife blade into the dough—it’s done when the blade is clean), take the mold out of the oven and immediately flip it over, so it slides out. Allow it to cool, preferably on a wooden surface, then sprinkle caster sugar over it.
Yaprak dolma, yaprak sarma or just simply yaprak are originally a Turkish dish. Yaprak is a Turkish word meaning “leaf” so it basically means it’s a stuffed leaf and in this easy-to-make Balkan recipe we show you how to make stuffed vine leaves.
- 40 vine leaves
- 400 g minced beef meat
- 1 red/purple onion
- 100 g rice
- salt, pepper and red paprika
- 500ml tomato sauce
- 200ml water
- Wash out the vine leaves and cut off the stem
- Season the minced meat and mix it with the rice and finely chopped onion
- Place one vine leaf on a flat surface with the inner side turned up
- Use a spoonful of the meat and rice mixture, shaped into a cylindrical form, and place it onto the edge of the leaf
- Fold in both sides of the leaf and then fold up the bottom of the leaf over the mixture, then roll the leaf upwards, sealing in the mixture
- You will end up with little “vine leaves cigars.”
- Tightly pack the rolls in a deep saucepan (this will help them to stay closed during cooking)
- Cover the rolls with a mixture of tomato sauce and water
- Set a plate on the top so the rolls – this will ensure that they do not move during cooking and unwrap
- Cook for around 30 minutes on a medium heat
- Serve these easy-to-make stuffed vine leaves served with a dollop of sour cream while hot.