Pašticada: Authentic Croatian Dish

Food & wine

Sample the rich and robust flavours of Croatia with the queen of Dalmatian cuisine — pašticada. Learn how to prepare it with our easy-to-follow recipe.

Croatian cuisine is a delightful fusion of historical influences and regional flavours, offering a tantalizing journey for the taste buds. From the sun-kissed Mediterranean shores to the lush and lively interior, the country’s diverse cultural heritage and varied landscapes are reflected in its food.

Among its culinary treasures, pašticada stands out as a beloved dish, cherished for its rich flavours and cultural significance. Join us as we explore the essence of Croatian cuisine through the lens of this iconic dish.

Welcome to Croatia, where taste buds come alive

Situated at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans, Croatia has been shaped by various conquerors, traders, and settlers throughout its past. As a result, the country’s cuisine boasts a rich diversity of flavours, ingredients, and cooking techniques.

From the coastal regions of Dalmatia and Istria to the inland areas of Zagorje and Slavonia, each region of Croatia offers its own distinct culinary traditions. Coastal cuisine is characterised by fresh seafood, olive oil, and Mediterranean herbs, while inland regions favour hearty stews, grilled meats, and freshwater fish. Despite these differences, one thread unites Croatian cuisine — a commitment to fresh, seasonal ingredients and time-honored cooking methods.

What is pašticada?

At the heart of Dalmatian cuisine lies pašticada — a traditional beef stew that boasts the same abundance of flavour continental dishes are known for, but with a Mediterranean twist. Originating from the Dalmatian region, pašticada is a dish steeped in history and tradition. Its roots can be traced back to the Venetian influence on Croatian culinary culture, with the dish evolving over centuries into the beloved masterpiece it is today.

Pašticada is a labour of love, requiring patience and attention to detail. The key to its exceptional flavour lies in the marinade — a blend of red wine, vinegar, garlic, and Mediterranean herbs — which infuses the meat with layers of complexity. Slow-cooked until tender, Pašticada is often served on special occasions and celebrations, symbolizing the warmth and hospitality of Dalmatian culture.

Dalmatian pašticada recipe

Now, let’s embark on a culinary journey to recreate this iconic dish in your own kitchen.


  • 2 lbs beef (preferably round or sirloin)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves

Step-by-step instructions: how to prepare pašticada

  1. Begin by marinating the beef. In a large bowl, combine the red wine, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, cloves, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Add the beef to the marinade, ensuring it’s fully coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight.

  2. After marinating, remove the beef from the bowl and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the marinade for later use. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and sear on all sides until browned. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

  3. In the same pot, add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

  5. Return the beef to the pot and pour in the reserved marinade and beef broth. Add the bay leaves.

  6. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the beef is fork-tender.

  7. Once the beef is cooked, remove it from the pot and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.

  8. Meanwhile, strain the sauce and return it to the pot. Stir in the sugar and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly.

  9. Slice the beef and serve with the sauce, alongside traditional Croatian side dishes such as roasted potatoes or creamy polenta.

Serving and pairing suggestions

Pašticada is traditionally served as a main course for special occasions and gatherings. It pairs beautifully with a robust red wine, such as Plavac Mali or Dingač, which complement the dish’s rich flavours. For a complete Dalmatian dining experience, serve Pašticada with either a side of gnocchi or Swiss chard sautéed with potatoes, coupled with a fresh green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

The benefits of Dalmatian (Mediterranean) cuisine

In addition to its exquisite taste, Dalmatian cuisine offers numerous health benefits. Rich in olive oil, seafood, fruits, and vegetables, Mediterranean diets like the one found in Dalmatia have been linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. The emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and simple cooking methods ensures that meals are not only delicious but also nourishing for the body and soul.

Start your Croatian culinary journey today

As we conclude our exploration of Pašticada and Dalmatian cuisine, we invite you to savour the flavours of Croatia’s rich culinary heritage. Whether enjoyed in the picturesque surroundings of the Adriatic coast or in the comfort of your own home, Pašticada is sure to delight your senses and transport you to the serene shores of Dalmatia.

Of course, the best pašticada is served right here in Dalmatia. And when it comes to mixing culinary delights with natural beauty, you can never go wrong with a visit to Camping Village Šimuni. To sample the delicious dishes on our menu and explore the wondrous island of Pag, simply reach out to us via our contact form and we’ll handle the rest.