101 Tastes of Croatia: 3. Čvarak/Čvarci

Total Croatia News


Continuing our look at the 101 Tastes of Croatia on December 8, 2017 – a pork favourite from continental Croatia. 


Čvarci (eng. pork rind/scratchings) is currently the thing to eat in Croatia, because December here doesn’t mean only Christmas, shiny lights, presents and mulled wine. It also represents tears, sweat and blood aka pig slaughter, or as we call it ‘kolinje’. Kolinje is a traditional ritual where during the course of one weekend (or week, depending on how many pigs you are killing) a pig is sacrificed in the name of taste (clearly this is not a vegan-friendly article) and is insantly made into the following products: kobasice/sausages, krvavice/blood sausages, špek/bacon, salame/salami, čvarke/pork rind, hladetinu/aspic i prezvuršt/untranslatable. All of the above are amazing, but today I’ll focus on čvarci.


As it goes in Croatia (the continental part, the coast plays with the fish) every family has their own recipe for the best čvarci which is a not up for discussion. Seriously, don’t ever ask or suggest there might be a better product made by someone else (the same goes for olive oil, wine etc.). The process generally comes down to frying the lard cut into 2-3 cm sized pieces in its own fat. Milk can be added for the caramel colour. They’re fried until there’s a little fat or no fat left. After that they are pressed and cooled until you get the best snack in the world. Usually spiced with salt, sometimed garlic and onions.

There’s a variety of čvarci you can get, with or without fat, sometimes super pressed so they are like crisps.


People who refuse čvarci aren’t considered people, while a combination of čvarci and onion/garlic is a national medicine against cold or flu. And who didn’t hear the tale about Grga Čvarak, the good bad boy who makes trouble in his neighbourhood but also takes care of all the sick kids? Clearly the Croatian cultural heritage is made out of čvarci fiber.

As always a traditional recipe is in order. Čvarkuše or krampogače are traditional scones made with čvarci and make a great snack alongside beer. No wonder they are served in pubs across Zagreb.



  • – 500 g of flour
  • – 1 satchet of dried yeast
  • – 200 ml of milk
  • – 1 table spoon of sugar
  • – 1 egg
  • – Salt
  • – 300 g of pork rind
  • – Pepper
  • – Caraway seeds



  1. Heat up the milk until warm, add a table spoon of sugar and flour, mix well aand set aside to rise.
  2. Meanwhile sift the flour with a tea spoon of salt, add the egg and milk mixture and knead a soft, elastic dough.
  3. Cover with a cloth and set aside for 1 hour.
  4. Then punch the air out and knead again. Set aside for 30 more minutes.
  5. Meanwhile in a food processor pulse the pork scratchings until very fine. Add salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper (when you bite the scone you have to taste the firework of pepper sharpness and lard soothingness).
  6. Roll out the dough to 1 cm thick.
  7. Cover one half of the dough with the pork mixture. Cover with the other half and lightly roll with the rolling pin. Repeat the process 2-3 more time (until the pork scratching mixture is done) and you get one big dough cube of many layers.
  8. Then roll it out again to 2 cm thick.
  9. With a cup cut out the little scones.
  10. Place on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
  11. Smear each scone with a beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with caraway seeds and salt flakes.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven at 180 Celsius degrees.
  13. Serve with a good beer. That’s a must.


Although high in sodium and fat, čvarci are low in carbs, so if you’re looking for a healthy-ish source of energy, by all means have a pack of čvarci around. It’s a well-known fact Janica and Ivica Kostelić became world-class skiers due to this delicacy (the story has it that while young and poor, they used to pitch a tent on Sljeme and eat čvarci to boost up their energy levels.) I do believe that the potential of this delicacy is not fulfilled and will do my best to see čvarci as a part of school meals in the future. Viva la čvarak!


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