8 must-try classic Canadian dishes 

By: Dru Gary

Published on: November 28th, 2023


Canada has a well-known diverse culture, cold winters, unique wildlife, and boasts a rich culinary heritage. From coast to coast, this vast country offers a unique and delectable array of dishes that reflect its history, traditions, and multicultural influences.  

Poutine 

Starting off with a quintessential Canadian dish. Poutine is a culinary masterpiece that originated in Quebec. The dish is a combination of French fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy. The result is a delightful blend of crispy, gooey, and savory flavors that will leave you craving more.  

Poutine is popular all throughout Canada. There are many restaurants, such as Smoke Poutinerie, that exclusively serve poutine. There are a variety of toppings that can be added to poutine to spice up the dish as well. Some of these toppings include bacon, chicken, chives, mushrooms, and peas.  

Nanaimo Bars 

Created in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Nanaimo bars are a dessert that has become an iconic Canadian staple, especially around the holiday season. These no-bake bars have three unique layers: a chocolate breadcrumb base, a custard center, and chocolate ganache on top. 

The combination of textures and the three signature flavours, chocolate, coconut, and vanilla, makes Nanaimo bars a unique and delectable dessert for those looking for a yummy and eclectic sweet treat.  

Bannock 

Bannock is a traditional Indigenous food and has a notable and important presence in Canadian cuisine. It is a versatile and bread-like dough that can be baked or fried. The dish has a long history of being made and enjoyed by a variety of Indigenous communities.  

Bannock is made from only a few simple ingredients; flour, baking powder, salt, and water. Some more complex variations may include ingredients like berries, herbs, or cheese. Bannock can be served as a side dish, the bread of sandwiches, or even a dessert with the addition of toppings like honey and caramel drizzle, or fresh fruit jam. 

Butter Tarts 

Butter tarts are small single serving pastries that have a flaky pie crust filled with a sweet and sticky mixture made of butter, sugar, eggs, and sometimes filled with nuts or dried fruit. Butter tarts hail from Ontario and tarts have become a beloved dessert all across the country.  

These treats can be enjoyed plain or with a variety of toppings and flavours, like maple syrup or caramel drizzle. Butter tarts are a classic and beloved Canadian sweet that can be found at many Canadian bakeries and dessert spots.  

Saskatoon Berry Pie 

A perhaps lesser-known Canadian classic is the Saskatoon berry pie. Saskatoon berries are similar to blueberries in shape as well as taste, they are both tart and sweet. The pie features a buttery crust filled with Saskatoon berries and sugar, sometimes other additives like cinnamon are included in the recipe.  

With its pretty deep purple colour and unique and delicious taste, Saskatoon berry pie is a more obscure and tasty dessert that is a unique example of the yummy treats that can be made with berries grown on Canadian soil! 

Tourtière 

Originating in the province of Quebec, tourtière is a savory meat pie that is traditionally served during the holiday season. The pie’s filling consists of ground meats, such as pork, beef, or veal, seasoned with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. 

The hearty and warm flavours of tourtière make it a treat that is cherished in the colder months of the year. Sitting at the kitchen table with a warm sweater, the fireplace blazing, and a plate of tourtière is the best way to stay warm during long Canadian winters. 

Beavertails 

Beavertails are a beloved Canadian treat that were first created in Ottawa, Ontario. These tasty pastries, named for their shape being the same as a beaver’s tail, are made from stretched and fried dough.  

Typically topped with a variety of sweet toppings such as cinnamon sugar, Nutella, maple syrup, strawberry syrup, and peanut butter, Beavertails offer a tasty combo of crispy and fluffy dough and sweet flavors. They are often enjoyed as a winter snack at outdoor skating rinks across the country. 

Smoked Salmon 

Canada’s vast coastline and numerous rivers provide an abundance of fresh seafood, and smoked salmon is a true Canadian delicacy. From British Columbia’s renowned Pacific salmon to the Atlantic salmon found in the Maritimes, the country offers a wide variety of smoked salmon options.  

The salmon is cured and slowly smoked over wood chips, resulting in a tender, smoky, and flavorful fish that can be enjoyed on its own or in other dishes such as salads, bagels, and sandwiches.  

Canada has so much to offer in terms of unique cuisine. From sweet to savory, Canada’s cuisine is filled with distinct and delicious flavours. There’s something for everyone to enjoy!  

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