23 Croatian cakes and Cookies You Must Try

Croatia is a beautiful country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, and this geographical diversity is reflected in its cuisine.

With influences from neighboring countries like Italy, Hungary, and Austria and its own unique traditions, Croatian food offers a delightful blend of flavors, textures, and ingredients that differ from region to region.

23 must-try croatian cakes and cookies, illustration

Regarding desserts, traditional Croatian cakes and cookies also offer a diverse and rich culinary landscape, from creamy custards and nutty cakes to sugary cookies and fruity jellies.

Coastal regions favor lighter, fruit- and nut-based desserts such as Rafioli from Trogir and Kotonjata from Dubrovnik.

Inland areas like Slavonia are known for their rich pastries like Salenjaci, while Central Europe-influenced regions offer cream-filled delights like Šamrolne.

Some of Croatia’s most popular cakes and cookies include Paprenjaci, a spicy honey biscuit; Krempita, a creamy custard slice popular in Samobor; and the universally beloved Orahnjaca, a walnut roll.

Best Croatian Desserts

Whether you’re a tourist visiting Croatia, a foodie on a culinary adventure, or a baking lover, this guide will introduce you to 23 must-try Croatian cakes and cookies. From decadent tortes to delightful cookies, here’s a deep dive into Croatia’s sweetest treasures.

1. Rozata (Caramel Custard Pudding)

Croatian desserts, Rozata, Custard

Rozata, pronounced “roh-ZAH-tah,” is a creamy caramel custard pudding that resembles French crème brûlée. It’s made from a simple mixture of milk, sugar, and eggs, flavored with rose liqueur for a unique twist.

This dessert is not difficult to make, but it has its tricks. The main one is to whisk eggs lightly, just as you would when making scrambled eggs. Whisk together eggs, sugar, and milk. Then, cook the mixture in a water bath in a caramel-lined mold for 45 minutes before transferring it to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.

Origin of rozata: Dubrovnik region

Best Places to Try: While many restaurants in Dubrovnik and its surroundings serve this popular dessert, for an authentic Dubrovnik experience, visit Gradska Kavana Arsenal (location). There, you can savor this traditional sweet while enjoying some prime people-watching.

Availability: Found year-round in most pastry shops and restaurants in Dalmatia, Dubrovnik region, and Zagreb.

2. Palačinke (Crepes)

Palacinke, Croatian thin pancakes, Croatian crepes

Croatian crepes—Palacinke, pronounced ” (pah-lah-CHEEN-keh)—are thin pancakes often filled with sweet ingredients like jam, chocolate, nuts, or cheese. They’re a versatile dessert that can also be enjoyed as a savory dish.

Made by mixing flour, eggs, and milk to create a thin batter. It is then cooked on a hot pan and filled with desired toppings.

Origin: Widespread across Croatia

Best Places to Try: Slasticarnica Nutelino in Zagreb (location) and Bajamina in Split (location) are well-known for their crepes, but you’ll find delicious pancakes throughout many restaurants and pastry shops across Croatia.

Availability: Available year-round, easy to find in cafes and restaurants.

3. Arancini (Candied Orange Peel)

Arancini, Croatian dessert

Arancini, pronounced “ah-rahn-CHEE-nee,” are candied orange peels that offer a delightful combination of sweetness and bitterness. They are perfect for snacking or garnishing other desserts.

This simple Croatian sweet treat involves finely chopping orange peels and soaking them in water for several days. After that, they are boiled in sugar and water until they become candied.

Origin: Dalmatia

Best Places to Try: Local markets in coastal Croatia

Availability: Commonly found in markets, especially during the citrus season. Arancini can be taken home as a souvenir.

4. Usecereni Bademi (Candied Almonds)

candied almonds, usecereni bademi, and kotonjata (quince cheese)

Usecereni Bademi, pronounced “oo-SEH-tseh-reh-nee BA-deh-mee,” is another popular Croatian treat found at markets and fairs. These crunchy, sweet almonds make a perfect snack or a tasty topping on ice cream or cakes.

To make Usecereni Bademi, the almonds are cooked in sugar and water until they become crispy.

Origin: Mediterranean region

Best Places to Try: Local markets and street vendors in Dalmatia

Availability: Available year-round in markets and souvenir shops. It can also be made at home as a fun activity.

5. Paradižot (Floating Islands)

Paradizot, Croatian version of floating islands dessert

Paradižot, pronounced “pah-rah-DEE-zhot,” is a delightful Croatian dessert made of meringue floating in a pool of vanilla and chocolate custard. Paradizot is enjoyed well-chilled for the best taste. This old-school Croatian cake is refreshing and light, perfect for hot summer days.

The recipe involves preparing beaten egg whites and briefly cooking them in milk. Then, a vanilla custard is made, half of which is used to make a chocolate custard by adding dark chocolate. The cake is assembled with layers of French butter biscuits, beaten egg whites, and alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate custard, topped with pieces of biscuits.

Paradizot is a Dalmatian take on the “Floating Islands” dessert. A variation of this cake is also made in Continental Croatia, where it is known under the name Snenokle.

Origin: Dalmatia.

Best Places to Try: This Croatian dessert isn’t available in restaurants or pastry shops, but it is prepared at home.

Availability: Limited availability in public establishments.

6. Paprenjaci (Black Pepper Cookies)

Paprenjaci, black pepper cookies, croatian sweets

Paprenjaci, pronounced “pah-prehn-yah-tsee,” are traditional Croatian cookies popular during Christmas. These spiced Croatian biscuits get their name from the generous amount of black pepper used in the recipe, which gives them a unique and unexpected taste.

The dough is made with flour, sugar, butter, eggs, honey, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and, of course, black pepper. It is then rolled out and cut into various shapes before being baked to a golden brown. Black pepper cookies are often decorated with glazes on top or are baked in multi-pattern wooden molds for an extra festive touch.

Paprenjaci cookies are the perfect souvenir to bring home from your trip and are available year-round in souvenir shops all over Croatia.

Origin: The Zagreb region is known for this traditional Croatian cookie, though a variation is also found in Stari Grad on Hvar Island.

Best Places to Try: Deliiicije Shops in all bigger Croatian towns (locations)

Availability: Especially popular during the holidays but can be found year-round in souvenir shops.

7. Kroštule (Deep Fried Pastries)

Krostule, Croatian sweets fritters

Krostule, pronounced “KROH-shtoo-leh,” is a popular Croatian dessert often enjoyed during carnival season.

These deep-fried pastries are made with simple flour, eggs, sugar, and brandy dough. The dough is then cut into thin strips and twisted before being fried to a crispy golden brown.

Krostule are eaten plain or dusted with powdered sugar for a sweeter treat. They are light and airy, with a delicate crispiness that makes them irresistible.

Origin: Coastal Croatia

Best Places to Try: In Istria, many restaurants express their gratitude to guests by offering complimentary krostula sweets at the end of the meal. These delightful treats can also be found as standalone desserts at Bobis pastry shops in Dalmatia (locations).

Availability: Commonly found at festivals and fairs and are available year-round.

8. Fritule (Mini Donuts)

Fritele, a small ball-shaped donuts popular in Croatia

Fritule, pronounced “FREE-too-leh,” are bite-sized fried dough balls that are popular street food in Croatia. This Croatian dessert is often enjoyed during the Carnival season.

Fritule donuts are made with flour, eggs, sugar, yogurt, and brandy. The dough also includes raisins for added texture and sweetness. They are then fried and dusted with powdered sugar or soaked in Nutella or a sweet glaze.

Fritule balls are found year-round at festivals and fairs throughout Croatia, local pastry shops, and street vendors.

Origin: Coastal Croatia

Best Places to Try: Street vendors, local bakeries

Availability: Especially popular during holidays, but available year-round.

9. Štrudel (Strudel)

Apple strudel, Croatian desserts

Štrudel, pronounced “SHTROO-dehl,” is a popular Croatian dessert with Austrian and Hungarian influences. It consists of a crispy, flaky crust filled with sweet filling, such as apples, cherries, or cheese.

The dough for the strudel is stretched paper-thin before being rolled up with the filling inside. It is then baked until golden brown and served warm with powdered sugar on top.

Štrudel is a popular treat found in bakeries and cafes across Croatia, particularly in Continental Croatia. The small village of Jaskovo, near Karlovac, hosts StrudelFest, an annual festival celebrating this Croatian delicacy. In 2015, Jaskovo made history by crafting a strudel so long it entered the Guinness Book of Records.

Origin: Continental Croatia

Best Places to Try: Local bakeries and cafes.

Availability: Available year-round throughout Croatia.

10. Bajamini (Almond Cookies)

Bajamini, Dalmatian almond cookies

Bajamini, pronounced “bah-YAH-mee-nee,” are traditional Croatian dry almond cookies. Similar to Italian cantuccini biscuits, they are made with flour, sugar, eggs, lemon peel, vanilla extract, and chopped almonds.

Bajamini are exclusively found in Croatia’s southern region of Dalmatia. They are often served with a glass of Croatian brandy or espresso for dipping. These cookies are also popular during special occasions and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Origin: Dalmatia, Croatia

Best Places to Try: Bajamini cookies aren’t available in restaurants or pastry shops but is prepared at home.

Availability: Limited availability in public establishments.

11. Krempita (Custard Cream Cake)

Krempita, vanilla slices, popular dessert in Croatia

Krempita, pronounced “krehm-PEE-tah,” is a creamy custard cake with layers of puff pastry and a generous layer of vanilla custard. It’s light, fluffy, and utterly delicious. It is a Croatian interpretation of the renowned Mille-Feuille.

The fundamental recipe involves layering puff pastry with vanilla custard. Once assembled, it is chilled until firmly set.

Krempita from Samobor, a small town near Zagreb, is particularly popular. It goes under the name Samoborska Kremsnita. But I must admit that we ate better custard cream cake at other pastry shops in Croatia.

Origin: Croatia and former Yugoslav countries

Best Places to Try: Local pastry shops

Availability: Found in most patisseries year-round.

12. Makovnjača (Poppy Seed Roll)

Makovnjaca, pronounced “mah-KOHV-nya-chah,” is a sweet roll filled with rich poppy seeds. It offers a unique and slightly nutty flavor.

The dough is made from flour, yeast, sugar, eggs, and milk. The filling combines ground poppy seeds, milk, sugar, and sometimes raisins. The dough is rolled into a log and then baked until golden brown.

Makovnjaca is traditionally served during Christmas and Easter celebrations but can be found year-round in pastry shops throughout Croatia.

Origin: Continental Croatia

Best Places to Try: Bread Club in Zagreb (location)

Availability: Popular during holidays but can be found in most pastry shops year-round.

13. Splitska Torta (Split Cake)

Splitska Torta

Splitska torta, pronounced “SPLITS-kah TOR-tah,” is a traditional Croatian cake from Split. It is a layered cake with almonds, walnuts, dry fruit, orange peel, and eggs.

The layers are held together with a rich cream of egg yolks, sugar, milk, and butter. The unique combination of flavors creates a decadent dessert popular for special occasions and celebrations. Split Cake encapsulates the flavors and aromas of Dalmatia in every slice.

Origin: City of Split

Best Places to Try: Ice Cream and Cakes Luka (location), Pastry Shop Stari Brend (location)

Availability: Usually found in pastry shops or restaurants specializing in traditional cuisine year-round.

14. Rapska Torta (RAPS-kah TOR-tah) – Rab Cake

Rapska Torta, Traditional Croatian Cake

Rapska torta, pronounced “RAPS-kah TOR-tah,” is a layered cake from the island of Rab. It consists of thin layers of almond crust filled with a blend of nuts, eggs, sugar, lemon, and Maraschino brandy. It has a moist texture and a delightful aroma.

The recipe for this cake dates back to the 12th century when it was served as a symbol of hospitality to sailors visiting the island. Today, it continues to be a popular treat for visitors and locals alike. The original recipe was written in cursive and is kept in the archives of the monastery of St. Andrew in Rab, but it doesn’t contain the exact measures.

Origin: Island of Rab

Best Places to Try: Confectionary Vilma in Rab (location)

Availability: Rab Cake is found year-round, often as a souvenir, in Rab Island bakeries or Deliiicije shops throughout Croatia.

15. Makarska Torta (Makarska Cake)

Makarska torta – Makarana, pronounced “mah-KAHR-ska TOR-tah,” is a traditional Dalmatian cake from the coastal town of Makarska. Handcrafted according to a centuries-old recipe, it reflects the ancient flavors of warm Dalmatian tradition.

This dessert features almonds, eggs, sugar, orange, lemon, rose liqueur, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors.

Locals have enjoyed this cake since the Middle Ages, and it continues to be a popular dessert in Dalmatia.

Origin: Makarska

Best Places to Try: Pastry shop Romana in Makarska (location)

Availability: Often found in pastry shops in Makarska year-round.

16. Rafioli (Almond-Filled Cookies)

Rafioli and isleri, traditional Croatian cookies

Rafioli, pronounced “rah-fee-OH-lee,” are popular almond-filled cookies from Trogir. These soft, half-moon-shaped treats are made with a sweet dough folded over a filling of almonds, lemon and orange zest, sugar, eggs, and aromatized grappa.

Traditionally served during special occasions such as weddings and holidays, rafioli has become a staple in Dalmatian cuisine. They can be found at local bakeries and markets year-round.

Origin: Trogir

Best Places to Try: It’s recommended to try the homemade rafioli. However, if you can’t find homemade rafioli, try the Trogir rafioli from the Bobis bakery. Remember that Bobis makes this traditional Dalmatian dessert on a large scale. However, during the Storije O’Spize event in October at the Split Fish Market, you can taste homemade Trogir rafioli.

Availability: Available year-round in Bobis bakeries.

17. Cukerancici (Sugar Cookies)

Istarski cukerancic, traditional Croatian cookies
Photo credit: Antica Bakery

Cukerančić is a traditional Istrian sugar cookie, especially popular in central Istria, around Pazin. These cookies are a staple of every celebration in central Istria, from family celebrations such as baptism, communion, and confirmation to weddings. They are also indispensable at the Christmas table.

These simple yet delicious cookies are made with flour, butter, eggs, milk, sugar, and lemon and orange zest. The cookies are pointed at the ends, dipped in malvasia, sprinkled with coarse sugar, and risen with ammonia.

Since 2018, the art of preparing Pazinski cukerancic has been included in the national list of intangible cultural goods.

Origin: Istria

Best Places to Try: Antica Bakery in Pazin (location)

Availability: Commonly found at bakeries, fairs, and markets in Istria, year-round.

18. Međimurska Gibanica (Medimurje Layered Pastry)

Medimurska gibanica, traditional Croatian cake

Međimurska gibanica, pronounced “meh-djee-moors-kah ghee-BAH-nit-sah,” is a popular layered pastry from the region of Međimurje in northern Croatia.

This multi-layered pastry features 4 fillings, including poppy seeds, walnuts, cottage cheese, and apples, creating a complex and satisfying dessert.

It is exceptionally moist, and the blend of diverse flavors creates a fascinating, rich, and genuinely delectable delicacy.

Origin: Međimurje

Best Places to Try: Restaurant Mala Hiza (location), Terbotz (location), and Stari Grad (location)

Availability: Available year-round at local restaurants and bakeries in Međimurje.

19. Pinca (Easter Bread)

Croatian Easter bread, Pinca or Sirnica

Pinca, pronounced “PEEN-tsah,” is a traditional Easter bread in Croatia’s coastal regions.

Also known as Sirnica, this sweet and fluffy bread is made with flour, eggs, butter, sugar, raisins, lemon zest, and rum. It is typically braided and topped with almonds or sugar cubes before baking.

Pinca is a popular dessert enjoyed during Easter celebrations.

Origin: Coastal regions of Croatia

Best Places to Try: Local bakeries during Easter. Check Korica Bakery in Zagreb (location) for the best pinca.

Availability: Primarily available around Easter.

20. Breskvice (Peach Cakes)

Breskvice, Croatian peach-looking cake

Breskvice, pronounced “BRES-kvee-tseh,” are bite-sized cookies shaped like peaches and filled with jam, ground walnuts, and rum.

These delicate and flavorful treats are typically served during festive occasions like weddings and Christmas. Their appearance irresistibly resembles peaches, so their name comes from that.

Crisp, fragrant, and visually appealing, breskvice are always among the first treats to vanish from any table.

Origin: Croatia

Best Places to Try: Local bakeries and pastry shops

Availability: Available year-round at local bakeries and pastry shops throughout Croatia.

21. Kotonjata (Quince Cheese)

Kotonjata, Croatian quince cheese, in the making

Kotonjata, pronounced “koh-tohn-YAH-tah,” is a traditional dessert made from quince and sugar.

It has a firm, jelly-like texture and is often shaped into blocks or slices. Kotonjata sometimes also contains pieces of walnuts.

Kotonjata can be eaten as a sweet treat or paired with cheese for a delicious contrast of flavors.

To make kotonjata, quince is simmered with sugar and lemon juice until it forms a thick paste, which is then molded into various shapes.

Origin: Dalmatia region of Croatia

Best Places to Try: Local markets and specialty food stores in Dalmatia region

Availability: Available year-round at local markets and specialty food stores.

22. Salenjaci (Lard Pastries)

Salenjak, traditional Croatian pastry
Photo credit: Salo Bakery and Bistro

Salenjaci, pronounced “sah-lehn-YAH-tsee,” are flaky pastries made with lard, flour, sugar, milk, and mineral water and filled with jam. They are a Croatian version of croissants.

They are typically shaped into squares or diamonds and often sprinkled with sugar.

Salenjaci is a traditional Christmas treat in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonija. Lard was used as a substitute for butter in many dishes.

Today, salenjaci can be found in some Croatian bakeries all year round.

Origin: Eastern Croatia

Best Places to Try: Bistro and Bakery Salo in Zagreb (location)

Availability: Year-round in a limited number of traditional bakeries and pastry shops in Zagreb and Slavonia.

23. Šamrole (Cream Horns)

Samrole, meringue-filled tubes, croatian cakes

Samrole, pronounced “SHAHM-roh-leh,” is a popular Croatian dessert featuring tube-shaped puff pastry filled with meringue. The term “šamrole” is derived from the German word “schaumrollen,” highlighting its Austrian origins.

The pastry is typically rolled into tubes or cones, filled with meringue, and then dusted with powdered sugar. Šamrole cake offers a delightful crunch and creamy center.

Origin: Originating from Austria, samrole is a popular cake throughout Croatia today.

Best Places to Try: Local bakeries and cafes

Availability: Available year-round in most bakeries in Croatia.

What are the must-try traditional Croatian dishes?

When exploring traditional Croatian food, a couple of must-try dishes are “Peka” and “Crni Rižot”. Peka is a slow-cooked meat and vegetable dish prepared under a bell-like dome, while Crni Rižot, or black risotto, features cuttlefish or squid ink for a rich, unique flavor.

What Croatian drinks perfectly complement Croatian cakes?

Croatian desserts are often paired with sweet wines or liqueurs, such as Prošek (a dessert wine made from dried grapes), Maraschino (a cherry liqueur), and various fruit and herbal brandies, like teranino (red wine-infused brandy), and orahovica (walnut-infused brandy). Coffee is also a popular choice to enjoy with cakes and cookies in Croatia.

When visiting Croatia, experiencing traditional desserts paired with popular Croatian drinks will provide a comprehensive taste of the region’s culinary tradition.

Is there any unusual Croatian dessert?

Stonska torta is an unusual Croatian dessert that defies the typical expectations of a sweet dish by incorporating pasta instead of dough.

This weird Croatian food hails from the small town of Ston on the Pelješac Peninsula. The dessert is made by layering boiled pasta with a mixture of nuts, dried fruits, and spices, then binding it with a sweet, creamy filling.

The unique combination of sweet and savory ingredients gives Stonska torta its distinctive flavor profile, making it a must-try for those looking to explore the lesser-known aspects of Croatian cuisine.

Croatian cookbooks in English


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