Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

Šporki Makaruli (literally “Dirty Macaroni”) is a traditional Croatian dish originating from the Dubrovnik area. It is a pasta dish with a hearty meaty ragù made with lots of onions, wine, and aromatics.

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Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

Hey folks, how are you doing? I hope this week has been treating you well so far!

Also, I cannot believe it is only one week until Andrew and I will have a vacation (although I must admit somehow it feels a tad far-fetched.) Regardless, I am exited about the opportunity to see three gorgeous European countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg), as well as learn more about their cuisines. And hopefully – eventually recreate and share some authentic recipes on my blog!

In a meantime, I have another recipe to share with you after our last year’s trip to Croatia. Previously, I have stared more Croatian-inspired dishes. Please be sure to check this Pasta with Black Truffle Sauce and Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread. And here we go – another pasta recipe!

Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

What are Šporki Makaruli? This name literally means “Dirty Macaroni”. The dish, as noted earlier, originated in the Dubrovnik area. It is often prepared on the eve of the Festival of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik.

In fact, during our last night in Dubrovnik and before heading back to Canada, I picked this pasta when we enjoyed our meal in a heritage Dubrovnik restaurant.

Basically, this sauce is similar to variations of Italian ragu recipes (thanks to a direct influence of the Italian cuisine) – but of course, with its unique aroma and method nuances.

How to Make Šporki Makaruli

To make the sauce, you will need beef chunks (ideally beef shank), onions, red wine, garlic, and tomatoes. Also, there is an addition of aromatic spices. As it often happens with many dishes, it does not seem there is one authentic way to make this dish – just like in Italy, many families probably have their own favourite recipe. Cinnamon is a must ingredient, with cloves and nutmeg being common, too. While cinnamon may sound a bit like an unusual ingredient, you will love the final result.

I also found a few variations with added prunes. And since I am a huge fan, I thought why not! Again, they do not alter the flavour – maybe just add a little of sweetness and richness. You can skip them, of course.

Traditionally, this dish is made with a pasta type called makaruli in the Dubrovnik dialect; it is a tube kind of pasta. Ziti or rigatoni will be an excellent choice, too.

I hope you like these Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni), and you will give them a try shortly. If you make it, let me know in this post or send me an Instagram message or share your photos adding the hashtag #havocinthekitchen.


Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)
Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

Recipe by Ben | HavocinthekitchenCourse: MainCuisine: Croatian


Prep time


Cooking time



Šporki Makaruli (literally “Dirty Macaroni”) is a traditional Croatian dish originating from the Dubrovnik area. It is a pasta dish with a hearty meaty ragù made with lots of onions, wine, and aromatics.


  • 2 lb. (800-850 gr.) braising beef (i.e., chuck, shank, steak), cut into chunks

  • 3 large onions, sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 tbsp. tomato concentrate or 1/2 cup tomato pure or passata

  • 1 cup (240 ml.) dry red wine

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 25 g. parsley, chopped + more, for serving

  • a good pinch of cinnamon (about 1/2 to 1 tsp., to taste)

  • a small pinch (1/4 tsp.) ground cloves

  • 3-4 pitted prunes, optional

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 500 gr. tube pasta such as ziti or rigatoni

  • Parmesan cheese, for serving


  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over low-medium heat, add the chopped onion and cook until they are soft and translucent, for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Increase the heat slightly. Add the chunks of beef and cook, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, just until seared, 8-10 minutes.
  • Decrease the heat. Add the wine, tomato concentrate or pure, bay leaves, parsley, cinnamon, and clove, as well as the prunes, if using. Also season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered and occasionally mixing, for about 2 hours and longer until the meat is soft and falling apart; I simmered for nearly 3 hours. If the liquid has reduced a lot, add some water, broth, or even wine. Remove the bay leaves when the sauce is ready.
  • When sauce is ready, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain reserving a cup of the liquid.
  • Set aside some of the meat sauce (I personally thought the amount was a bit too much for 500 gr. pasta, so you can reserve a small container with leftovers for other use. Combine the cooked pasta with as much of the ragù you like and cook for just a minute or so, to combine the flavours. Add some of the reserved pasta water, if the sauce is too thick. Try and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  • Serve with more parsley and Parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!

15 thoughts on “Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

  1. David Scott Allen says:

    I love this dish! It has so many wonderful flavors, and is definitely one I want to try. I didn’t realize you were headed to Europe about about the same time we were in France… I hope you had a wonderful time, with great adventures, and lots of incredible food and wine. (And occasional cocktail.) I will definitely look forward to reading about all of your and Andrew’s adventures!

  2. Michelle says:

    Ooh such a catchy name for a dish — and what an interesting combination with the prunes and braised beef! Must be melt in your mouth delicious!

  3. Liz says:

    What flavorful comfort food!! My family will love this. Enjoy your holiday—we’ve been to the Netherlands, but not Luxemburg or Belgium.

  4. Raymund says:

    It sounds like you have an exciting vacation planned, and I can’t wait to hear about your culinary adventures in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. I’ve been to those places several time, not really a fan of their cuisine apart from those with French Influences. In the meantime, your recipe for Dirty Macaroni has me intrigued. The combination of beef, onions, red wine, and aromatic spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg sounds absolutely delicious. I love how you’ve added prunes for a touch of sweetness and richness.
    Raymund recently posted…Aroma Dessert Studio (Albany, North Shore City, New Zealand)My Profile

  5. Eva Taylor says:

    Hope you have an amazing time on holiday. We did those cities a few years back. In Amsterdam, definitely do Anne Frank’s house and the Heineken Experience, in Brussels, go to the Palimentarian, there are self guided tours.

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