Here’s The Dish On Croatian Breakfasts (+ Strukli Recipe!)
In the past, Croatian breakfasts tended to be quite basic. Nowadays, there are many traditional Croatian breakfast dishes that you should definitely try when you pay the beautiful country a visit. From sweet and savory pastries to a hearty traditional breakfast of cold meat cuts, there’s something for everyone in Croatia.
Croatian Food, In General
You’ll discover the varying, tantalizing tastes of Croatia as you explore its different regions. With a vibrant cultural heritage, Croatian cuisine draws influence from many of its neighboring countries, creating a unique and flavorful experience. Croatian cuisine is a combination of influences from the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans, Hungarians, Austrians, Italians, Germans, and the nations that once comprised Yugoslavia.
The geographical landscape of Croatia is equally rich and diverse, which continues to contribute to the different specialties you’ll find in the various regions. Continental Croatia enjoys meaty, hearty dishes that are flavored with an assortment of spices like paprika, garlic, and black pepper. Head to the south along the Adriatic sea and you’ll be greeted with a surplus of seafood and more Mediterranean-style dishes with lots of olive oil and herbs.
Croatians enjoy a standard three meals a day, with an emphasis on lunch. Eating habits will vary whether you’re in Dalmatia, Istria, Continental Croatia, or elsewhere. Locals will opt for a light breakfast in Croatia, usually accompanied by coffee. Lunch is where the real magic happens, beginning with a bowl of soup followed by an entrée and then dessert. Dinner can consist of leftovers or a shred plate of snacks.
Popular Croatian Breakfast Foods
While breakfast isn’t quite the most important meal of the day — in Croatia, at least — there are still a number of traditional Croatian breakfast dishes you should sample during your visit. While a traditional English breakfast consists of crispy bacon, beans, beaten eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and fried bread, a typical Croatian breakfast is going to be much lighter. Locals are satisfied with fresh bread and jam, cereals, yogurt, pastries, and a strong coffee.
If you love pastries, then Bureks might be your new favorite breakfast staple. They’re a traditional Croatian breakfast dish that you can find in almost any bakery, especially in coastal regions. Burek is a savory pastry that can be filled with cheese, minced meat, or spinach. Pair it with yogurt for a tasty, filling meal to start the day. You can also go with another Croatian classic, the bučnica, which is a crispy, strudel-like pastry filled with pumpkin, sour cream, and eggs.
Another traditional Croatian breakfast is an assortment of cold cuts, cheeses, fresh breads, and spreads. You can order something similar at most restaurants across Croatia, or head to the nearest local market and gather the ingredients yourself to make a beautiful Croatian breakfast table display. Try to get your hands on some prosciutto, spiced sausages, pancetta or other cold meats for a truly savory Croatian breakfast.
In the mood for something more hearty? A fritaja with asparagus and truffles is a traditional breakfast you’ll find on most breakfast tables in the region of Istria. Those in Istria also make pancakes or crepes as a breakfast staple, so don’t worry if you haven’t satisfied your sweet tooth cravings yet.
If you really want to live like a local, consider partaking in a Croatian breakfast tradition. Locals often take a shot of rajika before their meals — even breakfast. They’ll drink it with dried figs before their meals, so if you want a true traditional Croatian breakfast, make sure to include this in your lineup.
Traditional Croatian Breakfast Recipe
One of Croatia’s most traditional meals is the famous strukli. Though strukli is heavy enough to be eaten for lunch, you can also prepare it for breakfast for a more filling meal. Traditionally served as a simple dish with cottage cheese, you can now find salty or sweet strukli. Learn how to prepare this dish, and you’ll be sure to impress any Croatian, and your stomach!
- Step 1: Sift flour and salt onto a clean working surface and create an indentation in the center. Place an egg in the indentation and add oil. Using a fork, combine all ingredients. Create a mix of lukewarm water and vinegar and slowly add it to the dough until it is fully combined.
- Step 2: Knead the dough with your hands until it’s soft, elastic, and not too sticky. Once it’s at this desired texture, divide the dough into three equal parts, brush them with oil and cover them with a cloth. Allow the dough to rest in a warm area for 30 minutes.
- Step 3: Make the filling while you’re waiting for the dough. Combine butter that has been brought to room temperature with fresh cottage cheese, then add in eggs, sour cream, salt, and pepper.
- Step 4: Spread some flour on a clean tablecloth and place 1 part of the dough onto it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it is thin. Gently and patiently stretch the dough from the middle with your hands, but don’t worry if it breaks. The dough should be stretched and thin, but not too thin.
- Step 5: Trim the edges of the dough to make them thin and discard any thick edges. Leave the dough for 15 minutes to become slightly dry and then brush the dough with melted butter.
- Step 6: Spread the filling onto half of the dough, then roll it up using the tablecloth.
- Step 7: Divide the dough into equal portions with your hands and then use a plate to cut them. Don’t use a knife, otherwise the filling may leak out of the strukli if the edges aren’t sealed tightly.
- Step 8: Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C). Grease a baking pan with butter and place the struklis in it.
- Step 9: To prepare the topping, mix sour cream with salt, and pour it over the strukli. Place a few cubes of butter on top, and sprinkle some grated cheese on as well. Put the strukli in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until it’s golden. Allow it to cool slightly before serving warm. Now pat yourself on the back, you’ve just made traditional Croatian strukli!
If you want to try strukli — but don’t feel like making it yourself — no worries. Plenty of restaurants across Croatia prepare strukli for a delicious Croatian breakfast. If you’re in continental Croatia, Zagreb specifically, head on over to La Štruk, where you’ll find the best strukli in the capital. They only serve strukli, and on top of the traditional variations, they also offer toppings such as blueberries, truffles, roasted pepper, apple and cinnamon, and many other variations.
Ready to Explore Croatia?
Is your mouth watering yet? When you explore Croatia with Explorer Chick, you get to experience cuisine from all over the diverse country. We’re leaving the french toast at home — now is the time to get adventurous and experiment with a traditional Croatian breakfast and all the different specialties depending on the region. Even though it’s delicious, the food is hardly the star. You’ll hike through national parks, explore the island systems via kayaks and speedboats, and geek out over the phenomenal architecture in Zagreb. What are you waiting for? Sign up today!
Michelle is an avid writer and traveler (who takes her cat along for the ride). Solo travel has allowed her to meet lifelong friends and participate in unforgettable adventures. When she’s not jumping out of a helicopter or climbing the nearest mountain, you can find her curled up with her cat and a good book — and probably planning her next trip. She writes about her travels and her readings on her personal blog, www.frontmatterblog.com.
Favorite outdoor adventures: Hiking and biking! Those two, or long walks, are my favorite way to soak in scenic sights. I also grew up in the mountains, so I’m a skier as well.
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