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A Taste of Tradition: Croatian Easter Recipes to Try This Year

A Taste of Tradition: Croatian Easter Recipes to Try This Year

A Taste of Tradition: Scrumptious Croatian Easter Recipes to Try This Year

Ah, Easter – a time of joy, renewal, and scrumptious feasts with loved ones. If you're looking to shake things up at your Easter table this year, look no further than the world of Croatian Easter cuisine. From succulent mains to tempting desserts, Croatian Easter recipes are a feast for the senses, guaranteed to leave you craving more. So, buckle up, culinary adventurers, as we dive into some mouthwatering dishes that will make your Easter celebration one for the books!

The Perfect Start: Traditional Croatian Easter Appetizers

Šunka u kruhu (Ham in Bread):

A classic Easter dish, this delicious ham is baked in homemade bread, adding a unique twist to the usual Easter ham.


  • 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) piece of cooked or baked ham
  • 600 gram of all-purpose flour (1.3 pounds)
  • 25 grams fresh yeast cube or 1 pack dried yeast (7g)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 400 ml of warm milk (1.7 cups)
  • 150 ml of Croatian olive oil (1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg for coating


  1. If you have ham that is not already cooked, cook it first. Cook the ham in a large pot so that the whole ham is covered with water. Once the water has boiled, cook the piece as long as the ham is heavy. For example, 1 kilo of ham needs to cook for 1 hour. Turn off the flame and leave the ham to cool in the water in which it was cooked to retain its juiciness. Once the ham has cooled completely, take it out of the water, drain and dry well with a towel.
  2. For the bread, heat the milk in a pot. Prepare and mix all the dry ingredients in a larger bowl and add in the yeast and some of the warm milk. Let the yeast rise for about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the yeast has risen, add the olive oil and the rest of the warm milk and knead the leavened dough. Be prepared to knead the bread with strong effort for at least 10 minutes to make it light and soft after baking.
  4. Flour the kneaded dough on all sides and leave it covered in a warm place to rise and double in volume, which takes about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Coat the cooled and dried ham well on all sides with a beaten egg. Transfer the raised dough to a floured work surface or parchment paper, roll it out into a rectangle about 2 cm thick. Place the cooked ham, which you have previously coated well with a beaten egg, in the middle of the rolled dough.
  6. Wrap the ham in the dough over all sides so that it is completely wrapped and push the dough with your palms to the ham as much as you can. Make sure that the dough is at the bottom of the ham to prevent it from dissolving during baking.
  7. Place the ham in the dough in a baking pot covered with baking paper. The dimensions should be only slightly larger than the ham itself to keep its shape during baking.
  8. Pierce the dough with a fork all over and coat it with the rest of the egg wash.
  9. Bake the ham in a preheated oven set to 180ºC (350°F) for 20 minutes until nicely baked.
  10. Take it out, cover it with aluminum foil or a lid and continue baking for a further 35 minutes. Just before the end of baking, take out the ham again, remove the lid/foil, and bake it a little longer, so that the bread forms a nice golden crust. 11. Cool the baked ham in bread wrapped in a kitchen cloth so that the crust does not harden too much. Serve the ham cut into slices with boiled eggs, spring onions, and horseradish sauce or cottage cream.

Serving Note:

Serve the Šunka u kruhu sliced, accompanied by traditional Easter sides such as boiled eggs, spring onions, and horseradish sauce or cottage cream. The combination of flavors and textures creates a harmonious and satisfying meal that celebrates the joy and renewal of the Easter season.

A bowl of traditional Croatian Sir i vrhnje, made with fresh cottage cheese and sour cream, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and garnished with chopped fresh herbs. Served as a creamy appetizer or side dish, the dish is presented with slices of bread on the side.

Sir i vrhnje (Cottage Cheese and Cream):

A simple yet delightful appetizer, this creamy dish is served with crusty bread to whet your appetite.


  • 1 cup fresh cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: chopped fresh herbs (such as chives or parsley) for garnish


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh cottage cheese and sour cream. Mix well until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  2. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper, according to your taste preferences.
  3. If desired, garnish the mixture with chopped fresh herbs for added flavor.
  4. Serve the dish immediately, or refrigerate it for a short time to allow the flavors to meld. Sir i vrhnje can be served as a dip with bread or crackers, or as a side dish with grilled meats or vegetables.


Some variations of the dish may include additional ingredients such as chopped onions, garlic, or paprika.

The Main Event: Croatian Easter Mains to Savor

A traditional Croatian lamb peka roast cooked with Selo Olive Oil under a dome-shaped bell with burning embers, resulting in succulent, tender meat accompanied by potatoes.

Janjetina s ražnja (Roast Lamb):

A true Croatian Easter centerpiece, this succulent roast lamb is seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and olive oil.


  • 1 whole lamb (approximately 18-22 pounds), cleaned and prepared for roasting
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup Croatian olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the lamb for roasting by ensuring it is cleaned and patted dry. If the lamb is too large for your roasting setup, you may need to have it butchered into smaller, manageable pieces.

  2. Using a sharp knife, make small incisions all over the surface of the lamb. Insert slices of garlic into the incisions, evenly distributing them throughout the lamb.

  3. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and chop them finely. Mix the chopped rosemary with the olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.

  4. Rub the rosemary and olive oil mixture all over the surface of the lamb, making sure to coat it evenly and get into all the crevices.

  5. Place the lamb on a spit or rotisserie, securing it properly. If using a spit, position it over a bed of hot coals or wood. If using a rotisserie, set it up according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  6. Roast the lamb slowly, turning it regularly to ensure even cooking. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the lamb and the heat source, but it typically takes about 4-5 hours for the lamb to become tender and golden brown.

  7. Once the lamb reaches an internal temperature of approximately 160°F (71°C) and is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove it from the heat and let it rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving.

  8. Carve the lamb into serving portions and serve it hot with your favorite side dishes, such as roasted potatoes and fresh spring vegetables.

Cooking Note:

Janjetina s ražnja is traditionally cooked outdoors on a spit over an open fire, but this recipe can also be adapted for indoor cooking using a conventional oven.

Serving Notes:

To enhance your dining experience, pair Janjetina s ražnja with a glass of Plavac Mali, a full-bodied Croatian red wine known for its bold and fruity notes. The wine's robust character complements the richness of the lamb, making for a harmonious and enjoyable pairing. Alternatively, a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, with its structured tannins and notes of dark fruit, would also be a wonderful accompaniment to the roast lamb.

Serve the lamb alongside traditional Easter side dishes, such as roasted potatoes, Swiss chard with potatoes (Blitva s krumpirom), or a fresh green salad with seasonal vegetables. The combination of flavors and textures creates a festive and satisfying meal that honors the warmth of tradition and togetherness.

Pisanica, traditional Croatian Easter eggs, intricately painted in vibrant colors as part of an ancient Slavic custom. These colorful eggs are often given as gifts during Easter celebrations, symbolizing affection and admiration.

Pisanica (Easter Eggs):

A symbol of new life, these brightly colored eggs are a must-have for every Croatian Easter table.


  • White eggs (quantity as desired)
  • Food coloring or natural dyes (e.g., beet juice for pink, turmeric for yellow, red cabbage for blue)
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Decorating tools (e.g., wax crayons, stickers, rubber bands)
  • Optional: Croatian olive oil (for shining the eggs)


  1. Start by hard-boiling the eggs. Place the eggs in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the hot water, and let the eggs cool in cold water.

  2. Prepare the dye baths. For each color, mix approximately 1/2 cup of boiling water with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and food coloring (or natural dye) in a small bowl or glass. Adjust the amount of dye to achieve the desired color intensity.

  3. If you wish to create patterns or designs on the eggs, use wax crayons, stickers, or rubber bands to mask off areas that you don't want to be colored. The masked areas will remain white.

  4. Gently lower the cooled, hard-boiled eggs into the dye baths. Allow the eggs to soak in the dye until the desired color is achieved. For deeper and more vibrant colors, let the eggs soak for a longer time.

  5. Carefully remove the eggs from the dye baths and place them on a paper towel or drying rack to dry completely.

  6. Once the eggs are dry, remove any stickers, rubber bands, or wax to reveal the designs.

  7. Optional: For a glossy finish, you can rub a small amount of olive oil over the surface of the eggs using a paper towel. This will give them a beautiful shine.

  8. Display your Pisanica proudly on your Easter table or share them as gifts with loved ones.


Pisanica can be decorated using a wide range of techniques, and creativity is encouraged! Traditional Croatian Pisanica often feature intricate designs, religious symbols, and messages of love and hope.

Zagorski štrukli, a beloved traditional Croatian dish featuring layers of delicate dough filled with cheese and prepared with Selo Olive Oil. This savory pastry, a specialty of the Hrvatsko Zagorje and Zagreb regions, can be enjoyed either boiled or baked.

Štrukli (Croatian Cheese Pastry):

A traditional Croatian dish, these cheesy pastries are a delicious addition to your Easter feast.


For the Dough:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Croatian olive oil
  • 2/3 cup warm water
For the Filling:
  • 2 cups fresh cottage cheese or quark
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
For the Topping:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, olive oil, and warm water. Mix and knead until a smooth dough forms. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.

  2. In a separate bowl, combine the fresh cottage cheese, egg, salt, black pepper, and sour cream. Mix well to create the cheese filling.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.

  4. On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into a large, thin rectangle. Spread the cheese filling evenly over the dough, leaving a small border around the edges.

  5. Carefully roll up the dough lengthwise into a log, enclosing the cheese filling. Slice the log into 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm) thick pieces.

  6. Arrange the slices in the prepared baking dish with the cut side facing up.

  7. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and olive oil for the topping. Pour the mixture evenly over the arranged štrukli.

  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the štrukli are golden brown and the topping is bubbling.

  9. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Serving Note:

Štrukli is a comforting and savory dish that pairs beautifully with a glass of white wine, such as Malvazija or Graševina. These Croatian white wines offer a crisp and refreshing taste that complements the richness of the cheese pastry. Alternatively, Štrukli can also be enjoyed with a light-bodied red wine, such as Teran, for those who prefer a red wine pairing. Relish in the delightful flavors of Štrukli and your chosen beverage as you celebrate Easter with family and friends.

On the Side: Croatian Easter Side Dishes

Blitva s krumpirom (Swiss Chard with Potatoes):

A popular Croatian side dish, this tasty combination of greens and potatoes is the perfect accompaniment to your Easter meal.


  • 1 pound (450g) potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 pound (450g) Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Croatian olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: a squeeze of lemon juice


  1. In a large pot of salted water, boil the cubed potatoes until they are fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.

  2. In a separate pot of boiling salted water, blanch the Swiss chard leaves for 1-2 minutes, just until they wilt. Drain the chard and set it aside.

  3. In a large skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute or two until it is fragrant and golden brown.

  4. Add the boiled potatoes to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes, allowing them to develop a light golden crust.

  5. Add the blanched Swiss chard to the skillet with the potatoes and garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine, allowing the flavors to meld together.

  6. Optional: Add a squeeze of lemon juice for a touch of acidity and brightness.

  7. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, just until the Swiss chard is heated through and the flavors are well combined.

  8. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.

  9. Drizzle some extra olive oil over the top of the dish to enhance its flavor and richness.

  10. Serve the Blitva s krumpirom hot as a side dish with your favorite Easter main course, such as roasted lamb, grilled fish, or baked ham.

Serving Notes:

To serve Blitva s krumpirom as an entrée, plate a generous portion of the dish and garnish with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or grated Parmesan cheese for an added layer of flavor. The optional squeeze of lemon juice provides a burst of brightness that elevates the dish to new culinary heights.

For a perfect beverage pairing, consider serving Blitva s krumpirom with a glass of Croatian Pošip (~Sauvignon Blanc), a white wine known for its crisp, refreshing qualities and hints of citrus and green apple. The wine's lively character complements the earthy flavors of the Swiss chard and potatoes, making for a harmonious dining experience.

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic option, a chilled glass of sparkling water with a wedge of lemon provides a refreshing accompaniment that enhances the dish's flavors.

Salata od hobotnice (Octopus Salad):

A flavorful seafood salad, this dish combines tender octopus, fresh vegetables, and a tangy dressing for a delightful taste sensation.


  • 1 pound (450g) fresh or frozen octopus, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup Croatian olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 small cucumber, sliced (for additional crunch)


  1. In a large pot of boiling water, add the octopus and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the octopus until it is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. To check for tenderness, pierce the octopus with a fork; it should easily go through the flesh.

  2. Once the octopus is cooked, drain it and let it cool. Remove the bay leaf and discard it.

  3. When the octopus has cooled, slice it into bite-sized pieces.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced octopus, red onion, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and chopped parsley. If using cucumber, add the sliced cucumber to the bowl.

  5. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to create the dressing.

  6. Pour the dressing over the octopus and vegetable mixture. Toss the salad gently to ensure all the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.

  7. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

  8. Before serving, give the salad a quick toss to redistribute the dressing. Garnish with additional fresh parsley, if desired.

  9. Serve the Salata od hobotnice chilled as an appetizer or light meal. It pairs well with crusty bread or crostini.

Serving Notes:

For pairing with Salata od hobotnice (Octopus Salad), a crisp and refreshing white wine such as Albariño would be an excellent choice. Albariño is a white grape variety primarily grown in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia, Spain, but it is also produced in California and other wine regions in the US. This wine is known for its bright acidity, notes of citrus, and hints of minerality, making it a fantastic companion to seafood dishes, including octopus salad.

Sweet Endings: Croatian Easter Desserts

Pinca (Easter Bread):

A rich, sweet bread flavored with citrus zest, this traditional Croatian Easter treat is perfect for breakfast or dessert.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Croatian olive oil
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten (for egg wash)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the active dry yeast in the warm milk with a pinch of sugar. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, olive oil, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest, and salt. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough forms.

  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

  4. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  6. Once the dough has risen, punch it down gently and shape it into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet.

  7. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, make a cross-shaped cut on the top of the loaf, about 1/4 inch deep.

  8. Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg yolk to create a shiny, golden crust.

  9. Bake the Pinca in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

  10. Remove the Pinca from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.

  11. Optional: Once cooled, dust the top of the Pinca with powdered sugar for a festive touch.

Serving Note:

For a harmonious drink pairing, we recommend savoring your Pinca with a glass of Prosecco. The effervescence and light sweetness of Prosecco beautifully complement the citrusy notes and delicate sweetness of the bread, creating a delightful and refreshing experience. Alternatively, you may also enjoy your Pinca with a cup of Earl Grey tea, as the bergamot aroma pairs wonderfully with the bread's citrus flavors.

Kuglof s orasima (Walnut Bundt Cake):

A moist, nutty cake with a hint of rum, this dessert will surely impress your guests.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup Croatian olive oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and generously grease a Bundt cake pan with olive oil.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil and granulated sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the olive oil and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.

  5. Mix in the vanilla extract and rum until well combined.

  6. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the whole milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and the batter is smooth.

  7. Fold in the chopped walnuts using a spatula, ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

  8. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

  9. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  10. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

  11. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and carefully remove the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely.

  12. Optional: Once cooled, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar for an elegant touch.

Serving Note:

Serve slices of the Kuglof as a delightful dessert or with a cup of tea or coffee. The moist, nutty cake with its hint of rum is sure to be a hit with your guests and will make a wonderful addition to any special occasion. Enjoy!


Q: What are some traditional Croatian Easter recipes?

A: Some popular Croatian Easter recipes include šunka u kruhu (ham in bread), janjetina s ražnja (roast lamb), pisanica (Easter eggs), and pinca (Easter bread).

Q: Can I make Croatian Easter recipes ahead of time?

A: Absolutely! Many Croatian Easter dishes, such as štrukli and kuglof s orasima, can be prepared ahead of time, allowing you to spend more time with your loved ones on Easter Day.

Q: Are Croatian Easter recipes difficult to make?

A: While some Croatian Easter recipes may require a bit of time and effort, many are quite straightforward, making them accessible to home cooks of all skill levels.

This Easter, embark on a culinary journey through the rich flavors of Croatian cuisine with these delectable Croatian Easter recipes. From savory mains to heavenly desserts, your taste buds will thank you for the scrumptious feast you've prepared. So, don your apron, gather your ingredients, and get ready to create a memorable Easter celebration that will have your guests raving for years to come.

By incorporating these traditional Croatian Easter recipes into your festivities, you'll not only treat your loved ones to an unforgettable meal but also experience the warmth and joy of sharing time-honored culinary traditions. And who knows – perhaps some of these Croatian Easter recipes will become cherished additions to your own family's Easter repertoire. So, raise a glass, savor every bite, and enjoy the tastes and traditions of Croatian Easter cuisine. Sretan Uskrs! (Happy Easter!)