Top 20 Canadian Foods & Dishes You Need to Try Out w/ Recipes
From the far west coast of British Columbia to the east coast of New Brunswick, from the Prairies to the mountains, from the Maritimes to metropolis Toronto, and everything in between, Canada has a vast array of weather, language, religion, politics, and of course, food!
As the second largest country in the world, Canada is home to hundreds of different foods and traditions. The 10 provinces and three northern territories each have their own signature dishes and ethnic influences. Here’s the 20 dishes and ingredients that stand out as Canada’s most popular foods!
1. Butter Tarts
The first butter tart recipe in Canadian history dates back to the year 1900 – and since then, they’ve stood the test of time. Although butter tarts consist of just a few simple ingredients, there is always a lively debate in Canadian households over whether to include nuts or raisins.
Butter tarts can be found in home kitchens from coast to coast, with recipes often passed down from generation to generation, making the butter tart one of Canada’s most prolific desserts!
2. Montreal Smoked Meat
This kosher-style deli meat is a staple of Quebecoise cuisine – you really can’t go to Montreal without trying it!
Montreal smoked meat is a cured meat, marinated in a spice blend for over a week and then hot smoked. Although it is similar in taste and texture to corned beef or pastrami, the process and cut of meat is very integral to Montreal smoked meat. Typically served on rye bread with mustard and pickles, every sandwich lover should head to Schwartz’s deli in downtown Montreal to try this delicacy.
3. Ketchup Chips
In England, they’re called crisps. In Canada, wispy, fried potato slices are called chips and they’re often covered in ketchup seasoning! Ketchup chips are something you can only find in a Canadian grocery store, and they are as delicious as they sound.
They’re tangy, slightly sweet, with a hint of sour and all that tomato-y goodness that goes along with everyone’s favourite condiment!
Since water surrounds Canada on three sides, you can imagine that seafood and fish are a huge part of our costal life.
British Columbia is famous for its salmon, and Canadians love their cedar plank Pacific salmon. But it doesn’t stop there. In the Maritimes, sockeye salmon is popular and is used for cold-smoked salmon, gravlax and salmon jerky… which is another Canadian delicacy!
5. Nanaimo Bars
Nanaimo, BC is such a beautiful place it has a dessert named after it! Original Nanaimo bars can be identified by their pale yellow custard center surrounded by a coconut and nut wafer base and a layer of chocolate ganache on the top.
But many renditions of this popular dessert have been attempted, including peanut butter, pistachio, mint, and more.
Another dish you can’t miss when you go to Quebec is poutine! Many people would say that this is the most popular Canadian dish, and what’s not to love?
Fresh cut fries, piping hot gravy, and melty cheese curds! A good poutine should have ‘cheese that squeaks’, which indicates real cheese curds – which is very integral to a proper poutine. They eat this dish year round and countrywide in Canada – at food trucks, greasy spoons, high-end restaurants, festivals, cafes, and fast-food chains.
Many people would say that this is the most popular Canadian dish.
Although the ingredients of poutine generally stay the same (potatoes, brown gravy, and curds), chefs around the world have adapted the humble poutine to include things like lobster, oysters, curry, and more.
Canadians eat over 1 billion doughnuts a year – which wont surprise if you’ve driven through any major Canadian city as there is a doughnut shop on almost every city block.
The most popular of which is Tim Hortons – a household name for certain! If you’re Canadian, you have no doubt been through a Tim Horton’s drive-thru, tasted a double-double, known someone who has worked at Tim Hortons, and probably ordered at least one box of Timbits.
These classic doughnut holes come in chocolate, powdered sugar, honey dip, old fashioned, and more, and they are a staple of Canadian culture.
Tourtéire is both the name of this dish and also the name of the vessel it is made in. Some version of Tourtéire is made all over Canada, with various different ingredients used depending on where you are. This meat pie is typically served over the holidays and almost always has a double crust made of a savory, flaky pastry.
In Quebec, where it is most well known, it is generally made of pork, beef, and/or veal flavored with clove and cinnamon. In Acadia, it is often made with just pork, sometimes baked in smaller, individual portions, and is called Petits Cochons (Little Pigs).
9. Lake Fish
Canada is famous for its beautiful coast on both the east and west, but it is also the home of several of the Great Lakes, most of them in southern Ontario.
Yellow perch and pickerel are two of the most common fish from the Great Lakes, but there are plenty of types that are fished year round in the north, via ice fishing.
Lake fish is sometimes salted, cured or smoked, and in summer is often found on patios, lightly battered or breaded.
10. Peameal Bacon
William Davies, a Canadian pork packer from England, is credited for popularizing peameal bacon in Canada. Peameal got its name because it was originally rolled in ground yellow peas to extend shelf life, although it is now almost exclusively rolled in corn meal.
A peameal sandwich on a dinner roll is a popular Canadian snack, especially in Toronto, Ontario.
11. Lobster Roll
Lobster is to the east coast of Canada as cheeseburgers are to America. The Maritimes consist of four provinces, each one with their own seafood industry.
Prince Edward Island is famous for its lobster – often boiled or steamed in sea water and served with butter, or on a crusty bun with mayonnaise.
Hailing from the Inuit communities in northern Canada, Muktuk is made from the blubber and skin of a bowhead or beluga whale, or sometimes narwal.
Muktuk is something many Canadians have never tried, but if you live in one of the territories or in a northern region of the country, then this is likely a staple of your diet. Muktuk is often served raw, but sometimes is fried and served with soy sauce.
13. Hawaiian Pizza
Although you may be surprised to see this Italian food on a list of popular Canadian foods, Canada has two claims to fame when it comes to pizza! First, the Hawaiian pizza (pineapple, cheese, and ham) was invented in Chatham, Ontario!
Also, we have our own pizza topping named after us: Canadian Pizza… which consists of cheese, bacon, pepperoni, and mushrooms!
14. Montreal Style Bagels
While it is true that New York City is much more famous for them, Montreal has certainly made a name for itself in the world of bagels!
Montreal style bagels are smaller, thinner, and often more dense than a typical bagel, and sometimes sweeter. This is because they are often boiled in a water bath sweetened with honey or malt before baking, and then they are always baked in a wood-fire oven (often in full view of the customers!), which gives them a crunchy outer crust.
A typical donair is made from shaved meat in a pita, with vegetables and some kind of zesty sauce. The east coast Canada donair, made famous in Halifax, is made with a signature sweet sauce: garlic, vinegar, sugar, and condensed milk!
This dish is so popular in Nova Scotia, it has been named their official food since 2015.
16. Flipper Pie
This national treasure is made in households all over Newfoundland in the months of April and May, when the annual seal hunt takes place. Flipper pie varies based on who you ask, but for folks from Newfoundland and Labrador, this is a dish that cannot be missed!
17. Beaver Tails
These fried pastry pockets are named after their resemblance to a beaver tail! They are usually sweet and come with maple syrup or powdered sugar, but are sometimes savory. There is a whole chain that originated in Killaloe, ON called BeaverTails, where that’s all they sell!
18. Foraged Food
So much of Canada is covered in forest, it is an excellent place for foraging: mushrooms (famous in BC and Ontario!), berries (Saskatoon berries, wild strawberries, juniper, and more!), ramps and fiddleheads. All these foods are staples of the Canadian food landscape.
Also, game meats are incredibly popular in Canada – especially in northern parts and in the Prairies. Venison, moose, and duck… and of course… caribou stew!
19. Caesar Cocktail
Although not technically a food, the Caesar cocktail often has enough accompaniments to be considered a light lunch.
This iconic Canadian cocktail is typically vodka based, but sometimes contains gin or tequila. It is topped with Clamato juice and served in a celery-salt rimmed glass. Garnishes include celery sticks, bacon strips, pickles, olive skewers, pickled onions, hard-boiled eggs, seafood, onion rings – sometimes even a mini hamburger or ribs!
20. Maple Syrup
We’ve saved the best, most popular Canadian food for last! Maple syrup is what Canada is best known for, and there’s no surprise why! Home to millions of maple trees, the maple syrup industry thrives in all areas of the country. Locals use this to top pancakes, waffles, and French toast, or to sweeten just about anything. Pretty sweet, eh?!
Maple syrup is what Canada is best known for.
If you enjoyed our story on Canadian foods, check out our article dedicated to the best Canadian sweets and desserts.