sliced bread on brown wooden chopping board

Montenegro’s cuisine is a delightful blend of Mediterranean and Balkan influences, reflecting its geographic diversity from the Adriatic coast to the rugged highlands. This blend creates a rich culinary tapestry that includes a variety of seafood along the coast and more hearty, meat-based dishes in the mountainous regions. The use of local ingredients such as olives, cheeses, and meats, complemented by Mediterranean herbs, defines Montenegrin cooking, which often features grilling and slow-cooking techniques.

The Top 10 Dishes in Montenegro

Cooked Shrimp and seashell dish
  1. Kačamak – A comforting porridge made from cornmeal and potatoes, often enriched with kajmak (a creamy dairy product) and served with sour milk or yogurt.
  2. Njeguši Prosciutto – A dry-cured ham from Njeguši, known for its delicate flavor, which is a result of the unique air-drying process influenced by the mountain climate.
  3. Burek – A flaky pastry filled with either cheese, meat, spinach, or potatoes. It’s a popular snack or meal throughout Montenegro.
  4. Cicvara – Thick stew made of cornflour, often combined with cheese and kaymak, enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or a comfort food.
  5. Sarma – Cabbage leaves stuffed with a mix of minced meat and rice, cooked in a savory broth, common in many Balkan countries but especially beloved in Montenegro during the winter.
  6. Brav u Mlijeku (Lamb in Milk) – A traditional dish where lamb and vegetables are slow-cooked in milk, softening the strong flavor of the lamb and creating a tender, creamy stew.
  7. Njeguški Stek – A steak stuffed with Njeguši cheese and prosciutto, showcasing the rich flavors of Montenegrin livestock and dairy products.
  8. Priganice – Small, fried dough balls similar to doughnuts, often served with honey, sugar, or cheese.
  9. Palačinke – Thin crepes that are a versatile part of Montenegrin cuisine, commonly filled with jam, chocolate, or fruits.
  10. Buzara – A seafood dish, typically made with shrimp or mussels, cooked in a sauce of white wine, garlic, and herbs, reflecting the coastal influence on Montenegrin cuisine.

These dishes represent the core of Montenegro’s culinary heritage, offering a taste of both its cultural diversity and regional flavors.

What Foods, Flavors, and Ingredients is Montenegro Most Famous For?

Montenegro’s cuisine is celebrated for its diversity and rich flavors, heavily influenced by its Mediterranean and Eastern European heritage. Here are some key ingredients and flavors that are quintessential to Montenegrin cuisine:

  • Seafood: Along the Adriatic coast, seafood plays a crucial role, with dishes often featuring fresh fish, mussels, and octopus. Local preparations like “Buzara,” a method of cooking seafood with garlic, herbs, and white wine, highlight the freshness of the catch.
  • Meats: Inland, the cuisine shifts to heartier fare, with lamb, beef, and pork taking center stage. Njeguši prosciutto, a dry-cured ham with a delicate flavor from the mountainous region of Njeguši, is particularly renowned.
  • Dairy Products: Dairy plays a significant role, particularly in the form of kajmak (a creamy dairy product) and various local cheeses, which are often incorporated into dishes like Kačamak and Cicvara.
  • Olive Oil and Mediterranean Herbs: Reflecting the Mediterranean influence, olive oil is used liberally, and dishes are often seasoned with herbs like oregano, basil, and rosemary, adding fragrant notes to both meat and vegetable dishes.

These ingredients not only define the everyday meals of Montenegrins but also contribute to the distinct flavors that make Montenegrin cuisine unique.

What is the National Dish of Montenegro?

prosciutto, meat, cutting

Montenegro’s national dish is Njeguši Prosciutto. This exquisite dry-cured ham is named after the village of Njeguši, where it’s made using traditional methods that date back centuries. The unique flavor and texture of Njeguši Prosciutto come from the combination of sea air and mountain winds, which perfectly cures the meat. It’s often served as part of a mezze platter with local cheeses, olives, and homemade bread, providing a true taste of Montenegrin hospitality and culinary heritage.

What is the Most Famous Dish in Montenegro?

ćevapčići, ćevapi, minced meat

While Njeguši Prosciutto holds the title of the national dish, Burek and Ćevapi stand out as two of the most famous dishes throughout Montenegro and the broader Balkan region.

  • Burek: This savory pastry is made from layers of thin dough known as phyllo, filled with a variety of ingredients such as minced meat, cheese, or spinach. Burek is deeply embedded in the region’s culinary traditions, often enjoyed as a quick snack or a substantial meal, especially for breakfast with yogurt. Its popularity is a testament to its deliciousness and versatility, making it a staple in Montenegrin diet.
  • Ćevapi: These are small grilled meat sausages made from a mix of minced meats. They are a beloved street food and a common feature in the cuisine of many Balkan countries, including Montenegro. Ćevapi is typically served with flatbread, onions, sour cream, or a red pepper sauce called ajvar, providing a flavorful and satisfying meal.

What is the Best Dish in Montenegro?

In addition to its famous dishes like Njeguši Prosciutto and Burek, Montenegro boasts a culinary gem known as Njeguški Stek. This dish is especially notable because it combines local flavors in a unique and delightful way, making it a must-try for visitors.

Njeguški Stek is essentially a grilled veal or pork steak, stuffed with Njeguši cheese and Njeguši prosciutto, embodying the essence of Montenegro’s rich dairy and meat traditions. The steak is then expertly grilled or pan-fried, offering a succulent, flavorful experience that highlights the culinary craftsmanship of Montenegro.

What is the Most Unique Food in Montenegro?

Cicvara. Photo Credit: Ivana Sokolović

Montenegro offers a plethora of unique dishes, but one that distinctly stands out is Cicvara. Often celebrated for its simple yet rich flavors, Cicvara is deeply rooted in Montenegrin tradition. This dish is essentially a robust stew made from cornmeal, often enriched with local cheese and a dollop of kaymak, a creamy dairy product that adds a luscious texture.

Cicvara is traditionally prepared in a slow-cooking process that allows the flavors to meld beautifully, resulting in a dish that is both comforting and filling. It is typically enjoyed during the colder months and is considered a staple in the Montenegrin diet, often served alongside smoked meats or sausages for added flavor.

The uniqueness of Cicvara lies not just in its taste but also in its cultural significance, serving as a culinary link to Montenegro’s pastoral heritage. It offers a taste of the rustic, homely cooking that has been passed down through generations.

Popular Montenegrin Breakfast Foods to Try

sliced bread on brown wooden chopping board

In Montenegro, starting the day with a hearty breakfast is customary, with dishes that combine both flavor and sustenance to fuel the morning’s activities.

  1. Priganice: These are small, fluffy dough balls, similar to doughnuts, but less sweet. Priganice are typically served warm with local honey, a sprinkle of sugar, or a savory option like cheese or cured meats.
  2. Burek: Though enjoyed throughout the day, Burek is particularly satisfying in the morning. Often accompanied by a glass of yogurt, this flaky pastry filled with either cheese, spinach, or minced meat provides a fulfilling start to the day.
  3. Kačamak: A traditional porridge made from cornmeal, often enriched with local cheese and served with sour milk or yogurt. It’s both filling and comforting, especially on colder mornings.
  4. Jajca na oko sa pršutom (Fried eggs with prosciutto): A simple yet satisfying dish combining eggs and the famous Njeguši prosciutto, typically served with fresh bread.
  5. Sir i pršut (Cheese and prosciutto): This combination of locally produced cheese and dry-cured ham offers a light, protein-rich start to the day.

These breakfasts not only offer a delicious taste of Montenegrin cuisine but also reflect the country’s culinary philosophy of utilizing simple, hearty ingredients to create satisfying dishes.

Popular Montenegrin Lunch Foods to Try

Sarma. Photo from Flickr

Lunch in Montenegro is a delightful affair that showcases the country’s rich culinary diversity, with dishes that range from light and refreshing to hearty and satisfying. A typical Montenegrin lunch might include:

  • Njeguški Stek: Celebrated for its inventiveness and local flavors, this dish features a steak filled with Njeguši cheese and prosciutto. It is a fine representation of Montenegrin craftsmanship in cooking, often served with a side of roasted vegetables or a simple salad.
  • Sarma: Another lunchtime favorite, Sarma consists of minced meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves. This dish is slowly cooked in a savory broth, allowing all the flavors to meld together beautifully. It’s especially popular during the colder months, providing warmth and a burst of flavor.
  • Riblja Čorba (Fish Soup): Along the Adriatic coast, fish soup is a common lunch dish, reflecting the region’s strong fishing traditions. Made with a variety of local fish and seafood, seasoned with Mediterranean herbs, and thickened with rice or potatoes, it’s both nourishing and light.
  • Pasulj: A hearty bean soup that often includes smoked meats, providing a filling and flavorful midday meal.
  • Risotto with Seafood: Common in coastal areas, this dish combines Arborio rice with a mix of local seafood, seasoned with garlic and parsley.
  • Ćevapi: Small grilled meat sausages served with onions, sour cream, and ajvar, popular across the Balkans and a staple in Montenegrin lunch menus.

These dishes are typically enjoyed with fresh bread, reflecting the Montenegrin approach to meals—simple ingredients, cooked well, to bring out rich, natural flavors.

Popular Montenegrin Dinner Foods to Try

Traditional Slow Roasted Lamb. Photo Credit: Sailn1

Dinner in Montenegro often serves as a culinary highlight of the day, featuring dishes that are both rich in flavor and deeply rooted in the country’s traditions. Some of the most cherished dinner meals include:

  • Buzara: This is a sumptuous seafood dish, typical along the Montenegrin coast. Shrimp or mussels are sautéed with garlic, olive oil, white wine, and fresh herbs, creating a juicy, flavorful broth perfect for dipping bread into. Buzara captures the essence of the Adriatic with its simple yet elegant preparation.
  • Musaka: Similar to the Greek version but with its own local twists, Montenegrin Musaka involves layers of potatoes or aubergines, minced meat, and a creamy topping baked to perfection. It’s a filling, comforting dish that showcases the Balkan love for layered casseroles.
  • Brav u Mlijeku (Lamb in Milk): This traditional dish features slow-cooked lamb in milk along with potatoes and other vegetables, creating a tender, flavorful stew that’s particularly popular in the colder months.
  • Punjene Paprike (Stuffed Peppers): Bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of minced meat and rice, cooked in a savory tomato sauce.
  • Crni Rižot (Black Risotto): This risotto is colored with squid ink and includes seafood like squid and mussels, offering a rich and distinctive flavor.
  • Jagnjetina ispod sača (Lamb cooked under the bell): A traditional method of cooking lamb where the meat is slow-cooked under a metal or ceramic dome, making it incredibly tender and flavorful.

These dinner dishes not only provide a taste of Montenegrin hospitality but also reflect the country’s geographical diversity, from the seafood-rich coast to the hearty, meat-centric dishes of the northern regions.

Best Street Food to Try in Montenegro

photo of a large tray of burek a balkan pie
Fresh Burek. Photo Credit: young shanahan

Montenegro’s street food scene offers an authentic taste of its culinary culture, perfect for on-the-go eating or casual dining. Here are some of the best street foods to try:

  1. Burek: This flaky pastry is a common sight at street food stalls, available with a variety of fillings like meat, cheese, or spinach. It’s especially popular in the morning or late at night.
  2. Ćevapi: A staple in Balkan street food, these small grilled meat sausages are often served in a flatbread with raw onions, sour cream, and ajvar (a red pepper relish).
  3. Pljeskavica: Similar to a hamburger, this grilled meat patty is made from a mix of pork, beef, and lamb, served with onions, kajmak (a creamy dairy product), and sometimes a slice of ham inside a somun (a type of fluffy flatbread).
  4. Priganice: These small dough balls, akin to doughnuts, are a sweet treat often dusted with sugar or filled with honey or jam, making them a favorite snack throughout the day.
  5. Sausage Rolls: Notably found in the coastal areas, these are freshly made rolls filled with a variety of sausages, often flavored with local spices and herbs, providing a quick and satisfying bite.

These street food options not only reflect the rich flavors of Montenegrin cuisine but also offer a glimpse into the everyday culinary practices of its people. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a full meal, Montenegro’s street food stalls and markets have something to offer every palate.

Best Desserts and Sweets to Try in Montenegro

a large tray of freshly cut baklava, to squares of baklava sit on top

Montenegrin desserts blend the sweet traditions of the Mediterranean and the Balkans, offering treats that are both rich and delightful. Here are some must-try desserts and sweets:

  1. Palačinke: These thin crepes can be found throughout Montenegro, served with a variety of fillings from chocolate and fruits to sweet cheese and nuts. They’re a versatile dessert, perfect for any sweet tooth.
  2. Baklava: A staple dessert in Montenegro, baklava is made with layers of phyllo pastry, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It’s a rich, sweet treat commonly enjoyed during celebrations and family gatherings.
  3. Krempita: A popular creamy custard pie made with layers of thin pastry sheets filled with a rich custard cream. It’s often topped with powdered sugar and is beloved for its light but indulgent texture.
  4. Priganice with Honey: While priganice are also a popular snack or breakfast, when drizzled with honey they transform into a delightful dessert. Sometimes they’re also served with fresh fruit or jam.
  5. Slatko: This traditional fruit preserve is made from various fruits like strawberries or cherries and is usually served with a glass of water as a sweet welcome to guests. It’s a symbol of hospitality in Montenegro.

These desserts not only provide a sweet end to any meal but also reflect Montenegro’s culinary generosity and its rich cultural heritage.


Montenegro’s cuisine is a rich tapestry woven from its geographical diversity, historical influences, and the robust spirit of its people. From the hearty, meat-laden dishes of the northern mountains to the fresh seafood delicacies of the Adriatic coast, Montenegrin food offers a journey through flavors that tell the story of the country’s past and present.

Visitors to Montenegro are encouraged to dive into this culinary adventure, exploring the traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations alongside the street foods that pulse with contemporary life. Each meal is a testament to Montenegro’s commitment to using fresh, local ingredients and to maintaining the culinary traditions that define its culture.

Whether it’s enjoying a rich Burek, savoring the delicate flavors of Njeguški Stek, or indulging in a sweet piece of Baklava, the flavors of Montenegro promise a delightful and memorable experience.

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