29 Canadian Foods to Try Before You Die
Having lived my entire life in Canada, I consider myself fairly versed when it comes to the Canadian food scene. Everyone has heard of poutine and maple syrup, but there are so many other iconic dishes that you need to try if you happen to find yourself in Canada on a school trip or or vacation. In no particular order, I've listed 29 Canadian foods that you'll want to add to your bucket list.
There's no surprise that poutine is the #1 recommended Canadian food you need to try. In fact, nearly all Canadian fast food restaurants (even McDonalds and Tim Hortons) have some version of poutine on their menus. A generous base of salty fries is topped with giant cheese curds and savoury gravy.
2. Maple Syrup Everything
Put it on your pancakes, throw it in some snow to make taffy, use it as a sweetener instead of sugar, chug it straight from the bottle, pour on ice cream—the possibilities really are endless. Once you go maple, you'll never go back to the fake plastic bottled stuff.
3. Canadian Bacon
Also called Peameal Bacon, this classic breakfast item is cured as opposed to smoked and comes from the loin of a pig. The wet cured bacon is rolled in cornmeal, which is where the "pea-meal" term comes from. Compared to typical bacon, Canadian Bacon is lower in fat and higher in protein. It's great to eat on its own or in a breakfast sandwich. Top it with maple syrup for extra style points.
4. Beaver Tails
Beaver tails are the absolute most delicious Canadian food to ever exist. Fried pastry topped with a combination of Nutella, banana, caramel, and maple syrup. And guess what? The Beaver Tails chain also makes poutine.
Tim Hortons is just about as Canadian as it gets. Embrace your inner Cannuck and order a "double-double." No clue what that is? No worries, it's a phrase pretty much only used in Canada. A double-double will get you a coffee with two sugars and two creams. To really top it off, order a Maple Dip or Canadian Maple Donut, because we've already established that maple is life.
6. Saskatoon Berry Pie
This is a recipe every single Canadian grandma knows how to make. I have so many fond memories of picking Saskatoon berries with my siblings during the summer and enjoying fresh baked pie that night. Hit up local Canadian cafés and bakeries for a slice of this iconic pie.
5. Nanimo Bars
Continuing with the name theme, we have these decadent chocolate and coconut bars that originated in Nanimo, British Columbia. The bottom layer is a combination of cocoa powder and coconut, the bright yellow layer gets its colour from custard powder, and the whole sugary concoction is topped off with a sweet milk chocolate layer. This Canadian food is incredibly filling, so stick with a small portion.
6. Montreal-Style Bagels
Move over NYC, because Canadians are fiercely proud of their bagel recipe. Montreal bagels are smaller and chewier with a crispy exterior and sweeter dough compared to their American counterparts. If you're looking for some bagel fillings, consider tracking down some Montreal Smoked Meat to make a mouthwatering sandwich.
7. Butter Tarts
A classic Canadian holiday treat. Some butter tart recipes also call for pecans, which add a nice crunch to contrast the buttery-flakiness.
8. Flapper Pie
This iconic pie originated on the Canadian Prairies (i.e. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) during the Great Depression. Starting with a graham cracker crust, the middle layer is a sweet combination of egg yolks, sugar, and milk. To make sure the egg whites don't go to waste, the top layer is a meringue
9. Cow's Ice Cream
If you're lucky enough to find yourself in the Maritimes, you need to get yourself to a Cow's Creamery. The homemade ice cream is made with local ingredients in small batches. Did I mention it was voted best ice cream in the world?? Personally, I'd recommend the Mooey Gooey or Moo Henry flavour.
For those of you who don't speak French: Meat Pie. This savoury Canadian food was first made in Québec during the 1600s in celebration of Christmas Eve. Back then, the meat came from wild game meat. Nowadays it's typically made with beef, veal, or pork. The chances of finding Tourtiére are slim, so you'll probably have to make your own!
11. Split Pea Soup
It may not look appetizing, but split pea soup is hands down my favourite type of soup. There are tons of variations out there—some with ham, others with potatoes and carrots. Regardless, this dish is the perfect way to warm up during Canadian winter.
12. Kraft Dinner
As a child, you knew it was going to be a great day when mom made KD with hotdog pieces. Canadians refer to macaroni and cheese as Kraft Dinner or simply KD. Canadians love their KD so much that dressing up as a box is a popular Halloween costume.
13. Alberta Beef
Unless you're vegetarian, make sure to enjoy some Alberta beef when you're in Calgary. You'll be hard pressed to find tastier hamburgers and steak.
14. Fresh Fruit from the Okanogan
This one is for the vegans, vegetarians, and fruit lovers alike. The Okanogan Valley in British Columbia grows the most delicious fruits. Apples, oranges, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, plums—you name it, they grow it!
15. Nova Scotia Lobster Rolls
The maritime provinces are known for their seafood industry. Essentially, a hotdog has been replaced by lobster combined with mayo and lemon.
16. Halifax Donair
Canadian scientists have proven that the Halifax Donair tastes better when eaten as a midnight snack. Okay, maybe not...but it actually is the official food of Halifax, Nova Scotia. A spin-off of the Greek gyro, this Canadian food is a combination of beef, onions, raw tomatoes, and special tzatziki-like sauce.
Recognize the shape? Bannock was the inspiration for the Beaver Tails mentioned earlier. This recipe dates back to Canada's indigenous peoples and is still popular today. Considered biscuit-like, bannock is often eaten with jam or alongside soup.
18. Oka Cheese
Canadians are incredibly proud of their cheese. I don't know anything about cheese making, but if you do, Oka Cheese is aged 18-21 days and has a slightly fruity flavour.
19. Swiss Chalet Dipping Sauce
You'll only find this mouthwatering sauce at Canadian Swiss Chalet restaurants. And yes, Chalet Sauce potato chips are a thing.
20. Exclusive Canadian Chip Flavours
Ketchup, Dill Pickle, and All-Dressed (my favourite!) are three flavours you likely won't find outside of Canada. You can find them at essentially any convenience store, gas station, or grocery store.
21. Hickory Sticks
Another Canadian convenience store staple. If you're hard pressed to find fries, Hickory Sticks are a suitable alternative. While eating them on their own is amazing, many Canadians also add them to hot dogs, sandwiches, and pizza.
Cheetos have nothing on Cheezies. Go trick or treating in Canada, and I guarantee that at least a quarter of your goodies will be this Canadian food.
The ultimate after school snack. Who doesn't love funfetti icing and vanilla cookies? The USA used to carry Dunk-a-Roos, but they were discontinued in 2012. Luckily, they aren't that hard to make. Just make a batch of sugar cookies and dip 'em in a container of frosting. You're welcome.
24. Canadian Chocolate Bars
Okay here's the low down on popular Canadian chocoalte bars. Coffee Crisp is like a coffee-infused Kit Kat bar. Caramilk, like the name suggests, is a chocolate bar filled with caramel. Aero is a melt in your mouth milk chocolate thanks to the bubbles in the chocolate. Other chocolate bars include Wunderbar, Mr. Big, Crunchie, and Crispy Crunch.
Recently, I learned that Smarties in the United States are what we call Rockets here in Canada. Real Smarties are colour-coated chocolate morsels. They're amazing when incorporated into desserts like cookies, fudge, or ice cream.
26. Glosette Brand Treats
If you love raisins as much as I do, then you need to get your hands on Glosette Raisins. The chocolate melts the instant you put them in your mouth and the raisins are so sweet. For those of you opposed to raisins, Glosette also makes chocolate-covered peanuts.
27. Kinder Chocolate
Kinder Chocolate is available essentially everywhere except the United States because they're illegal due to the potential choking hazard posed by the toy inside the Kinder Eggs. The Bueno variety is toy-less and has a delicious hazelnut filling inside the classic Kinder Chocolate.
28. Canadian Crush Flavours
First off—we call it POP not SODA. Cream Soda, Lime, Watermelon, and Birch Beer are flavours you'll only find here in Canada. Make your next movie night über Canadian by snacking on some Ketchup Chips and Smarties.
Last but not least is the Calgary-based alcoholic drink: the Canadian Caesar. Similar to a Bloody Mary, this popular drink is a mixture of Clamato tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery, and salt. Yum? I'll let you be the judge of that one.
Make sure to stock up on these Canadian foods the next time you decide to venture up north. Canada is filled with delicious eats you need to try at least once in your life.