Punjene Paprike (Croatian Stuffed Peppers) & Sarma recipe are stuffing vegetables with savory seasoned meat and rice and served with mashed potatoes and bread. You can prepare them if you like as a vegan posne variation and with no meat. You’ll find a different variations and pronunciation across the Balkan countries

Punjene Paprike & Sarma

Punjene Paprike (Croatian Stuffed Peppers) & Sarma is healthy recipe of stuffed vegetables with savory seasoned meat and rice and served with mashed potatoes and bread.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Croatia
Keyword: Beef, Peppers, Pork, Sarma


  • 5 small tomatoes
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 10 sweet peppers
  • 5 large collard green leaves you can substitute chard here
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 cup Arborio rice  for carb conscious eaters you can disregard rice
  • 1 cup of vageta or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 0.5 kg minced pork
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 0.5 kg minced beef
  • 0.5 kg pancetta or soup bone
  • 1 tbsp olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp flour


Seasoned Meat:

  • Dice the parsley, onion, and garlic
  • Dice a quarter of the panceta
  • Combine the vegeta, parsley, onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons of paprika, black pepper, diced panceta, and ground meat. Slowly add .5 cup of hot water to the mix so that the meat is not too dry. Mix thoroughly with hands until evenly distributed throughout. 
  • Now add the rice to the seasoned meat and mix throughout

Stuffed Peppers or "Punjene Paprike"

  • Cut the caps off of the peppers and core the peppers free of seeds. Washing the peppers with water will also help to remove any remaining seeds.
  • Using your hands, stuff the peppers with the meat mix, pushing the meat down into the bottom of each pepper with your fore finger or thumb.

  • Place the peppers in a large pot with the open side facing upwards.

Stuffed Collard Greens or "Sarma"

  • Bring a pan or pot of water to a boil for blanching the collard greens.
  • While water is heating, wash and de-stem the collard greens. 
  • Once water has boiled, add the greens to the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Remove them from hot water and either place them under running cold water. Drain and set aside.
  • Place a collard green vein side down in your hand. Add a 1-2 tablespoons of meat to the bottom center of the leaf. Roll the leaf over the meat from the bottom upwards like you are rolling a cigarette. You should have a cylinder shaped roll with open ends. Now take the open ends and tuck them inside.
  • Stack the stuffed leaves into the pot above the peppers.


  • Add the pancetta and tomatoes on top of the stuffed vegetables.
  • Pour hot water over the contents of the pot, so that they are covered.
  • Take a plate big enough to cover the tomatoes but small enough to fit into the pot and place it upside down on top. Place the pot over high heat. 
  • Once the meat is fully cooked (approx. 1.15 hours), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat in a seperate skillet.
  • Add the flour to the olive oil and stir so that the flour does not burn or stick to the pan.
  • Once the flour starts to come together, add a tablespoon of paprika and keep stirring around
  • Add the paprika flour mix to the pot of.
  • If there is some flour and paprika stuck on the pan, add a little water to the hot pan and then pour the rest of the flour and paprika into the water with the stuffed peppers.
  • 5 minutes after adding the paprika flour mix, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool before serving. Enjoy with some of Eleanora's Croatian bread or mashed potatoes.


The plate ensures that the food stays submerged and that the peppers or greens do not un-stuff.
An easy way to remove the caps off of the peppers is to push the caps of the peppers into themselves and then pull them out.

Inspiration and adaptation: dianashealthyliving.com, therecipehunters.com, one-croatia.com

Explore other recipes from the traditional Croatian cuisine.

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