Croatian food is heterogeneous and is known as a cuisine of the regions, since every region of Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition. Its roots date back to ancient times. The differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those in mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier Slavic and the more recent contacts with neighboring cultures – Hungarian, and Turkish, using lard for cooking, and spices such as black pepper, paprika, and garlic. The coastal region bears the influences of the Greek and Roman cuisine, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine, in particular Italian (especially Venetian). Coastal cuisines use olive oil, and herbs and spices such as rosemary, sage, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon and orange rind. Peasant cooking traditions are based on imaginative variations of several basic ingredients (cereals, dairy products, meat, fish, vegetables) and cooking procedures (stewing, grilling, roasting, baking), while bourgeois cuisine involves more complicated procedures and use of selected herbs and spices. Charcuterie is part of Croatian tradition in all regions. Food and recipes from other former Yugoslav countries are also popular in Croatia.
Croatian food can be divided into a few regional cuisines (Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Lika, Gorski Kotar, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Slavonija) which all have their specific cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well known in other parts of Croatia. Most dishes, however, can be found all across the country, with local variants.