Categories > Guides and Tips

Our Top 20 Must-Try Canadian Dishes

Our Top 20 Must-Try Canadian Dishes

Have you ever had those days of waking up void of cravings, so you skip breakfast? You’ll have to find something to eat in a pinch if you’re running late.

For a quick bite, you may settle for a convenient option. But what dish can you find practically everywhere in Canada?

What is Canada’s most famous food?

Poutine is the most famous dish in Canada. It is a fries, cheese, and gravy combination invented in the 1950s and is usually referred to as “Canada’s national dish.”

Its popularity is closely followed by butter tarts, lobster rolls, and Montreal-style smoked meat. But the list doesn’t stop there.

Hop on this mouth-watering ride of the top 20 must-try Canadian dishes with us!

1. Poutine

Poutine

Poutine can very much be one of the best Canadian inventions in the world. It’s a hot fusion of potato fries and cheese curds smothered in delicious brown gravy, and you can even top it with some smoked meat, bacon, or pulled pork. 

If you’re in Montreal, just make a quick stop at Ma Poule Mouillée for one of the best poutine in town. 

P.S. Best served piping hot with ‘cheese that squeaks’ a.k.a. cheese curds.

2. Nanaimo Bar

Nanaimo Bar

Last-minute dating has never been this easy, thanks to the no-bake Nanaimo bars. Three-layered goodness of crumb mixture, custard or butter icing, and melted chocolate. 

You get to enjoy an explosion of flavours and textures all at once!

And if you stop by different shops, you can also see a variety of Nanaimo bars like pistachio, mint, peanut butter, and more. 

Some of our favourite spots are in Nanaimo; you can check out Red’s Bakery and Hearthstone Artisan Bakery.

3. Beaver Tails

Beaver Tails

Beaver Tails are deep-fried dough shaped like a – you guessed it – beaver tail! These flattened pastries are topped with butter, Nutella, maple syrup, powdered sugar, bananas, and even something savoury.

It’s a creation made by Graham Hooker’s family, who soon blessed the public by opening multiple BeaverTails outlets.

4. Ketchup Chips

Ketchup Chips

It might not be close to what you think a “dish” would look like, but Ketchup Chips have found their place at the top. Crispy potato chips coated in ketchup seasoning and a total must-try since this chip variant is an enigma outside Canada.

Grab a bag of Lays Ketchup Chips and enjoy a tangy-sweet zing in every bite you take.

5. Butter Tarts

Butter Tarts

Butter Tart is just as delicious as it sounds — it’s got a creamy filling of butter, sugar, and egg mixture, all housed in a flaky pastry shell. It’s a traditional Canadian food that dates back to the 1900s and continues to live on.

No one really dislikes butter tarts, and it’s easy to eat — the perfect pastry for a gathering or an event. We think you’ll like the ones at Belwood Country Market, Doo Doo’s Bakery, and The Maids’ Cottage.

6. Montreal-Style Smoked Meat

Montreal-Style Smoked Meat

This one’s for sandwich lovers, Montreal-Style Smoked Meat is cured and marinated in a spice mix for a week, then smoked to perfection. It’s commonly served in a rye bread sandwich with pickles and mustard.

You can try some at Lester’s Deli or Dunn’s Famous, but explore your area, and you might just find the best Montreal smoked meat sandwich place.

The possibilities are endless with Montreal smoked meat! You can also top it on poutine or eat it as is — whatever satisfies your palette.

7. Peameal Bacon

Peameal Bacon

Peameal bacon is not like other pig’s belly bacon out there. Instead, it’s made of lean pork loin rolled in cornmeal (it used to be rolled in yellow peas). 

To step it up a notch, we introduce the Peameal bacon sandwich, where the bun soaks up the bacon juice to add that extra kick of flavour. It’s a great Canadian snack for parties and something to look out for on catering menus.

You can stop by your local grocery store for some peameal bacon or buy a sandwich at Carousel Bakery or Paddington’s Pump.

8. Donair

Donair

Donair is a pita bread with shaved meat, mixed veggie, and a sauce ensemble. Plus, it’s nowhere near bland, thanks to the well-seasoned beef and zesty sauce.

Don’t forget to have some for yourself at Tony’s Donair or Randy’s Pizza & Donair.

And for quick trivia, this dish was declared the official food of Halifax in 2015. This fact is enough reason to believe that this Donair is a must-try.

9. Caesar Cocktail

Caesar Cocktail

Now, a Caesar Cocktail is a must-have on your brunch to give you the kick-start of the day. This concoction of Clamato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and tabasco is served with a salt-rimmed glass.

Most Caesar Cocktails are garnished with celery sticks, olive skewers, shrimp, and more! It’s also fun and easy to make, and you can keep it in stock in your fridge.

10. Montreal-Style Bagels

Montreal-Style Bagels

Montreal-style bagels have a certain appeal to them, especially with their crunchy outer crust and chewy interior — courtesy of a wood-fired oven. But, unlike a typical New York bagel, it’s sweeter, denser, and thinner.

Plus, you know it’s good when they boil the bagels in a honey water bath before baking.

These bagels are everywhere, but the ones at Fairmount Bagel are one of our favourites.

11. Lobster Rolls

Lobster Rolls

Canadians know what they’re doing with their seafood, and a prime example is the Lobster roll. Fresh chunks of lobster are generously placed in a buttered and mayonnaise-d crusty bun.

So, shoutout to Nova Scotia for these special summer treats! There’s also a good place in Vancouver over at Rodney’s Oyster House.

12. Split  pea soup

Split pea soup

Split pea soup began from the humble beginnings of French Canadian settlers that used only basic ingredients like peas, pork, and herbs. 

Not only is it a staple comfort food of creamy bliss, but it’s also really healthy for you!

13. Rappie Pie

Rappie Pie

The saga of potatoes and meat continues with Rappie Pie from Nova Scotia. It’s basically a layered casserole of grated potatoes and your meat of choice, like chicken, pork, or seafood.

It’s technically not a pie since there’s no pastry, but the golden brown potato exterior makes up for it. But let’s not ponder on this pie debate and try one at La Cuisine Robicheau.

14. Saskatoon berry pie

Saskatoon berry pie

A slice of Saskatoon berry pie lets you appreciate the sweet and nutty flavour of the Saskatoon berries, complemented with a perfect crust. Saskatoon berries are not as sweet as blueberries, but it does offer more health benefits. 

It’s definitely worth a try, especially since the city of Saskatoon was named after these berries. 

We recommend visiting The Berry Barn to enjoy a slice! Also, try it à la mode since it’s one of the best ways to eat the Saskatoon berry pie.

15. Persians

Persians

You may have seen these pastry rolls from social events or fundraisers. Persians are fried oval-shaped pastries with pink berry icing, usually made from strawberries or raspberries.

It’s a filling delicacy from the Northern Ontario town. We highly suggest you get one of these at The Persian Man.

16. Ginger Beef

Ginger Beef

Ginger beef is a Chinese-influenced Canadian dish that began its life in the 1970s. This dish is made with battered and deep-fried slices of marinated beef tied together with a sweet and spicy dark sauce.

The sauce is one of the highlights of this dish since it has an umami flavour profile, from soy sauce to Chinese wine to chilli peppers. 

And what better place to have some than where it was invented — at Silver Inn Restaurant!

17. Timbits

Timbits

Timbits are addicting donut holes that come in different varieties like chocolate, powdered sugar, honey dip, blueberry, strawberry, lemon, and filled. 

Most famously bought at your nearest Tim Hortons, so don’t deprive yourself of this goodness and treat yourself with a box of Timbits.

18. Tourtière

Tourtière

Enjoy a hearty meal with a savoury meat pie called Tourtière. It’s filled with meat, such as pork, beef, veal, or game, with a mix of herbs and spices.

Canadians usually have this on their table during Christmas or the holidays. But it doesn’t stop anyone from having some all year round.

Soak in the holiday vibes on a regular day by having some Tourtière at St. Lawrence Restaurant.

19. Bannock

Bannock

Bannock is a simple flatbread, usually eaten as is or topped with sweet and savoury ingredients. 

And a simple bannock held so much history and controversy, like political conflict entangled with the culture of the Indigenous people.

But one thing’s for sure, bannocks have come a long way and grown in popularity — having different varieties in cafes and bakeries. Try one at Kekuli Café Coffee & Bannock.

20. Hodge-Podge

Hodge-Podge

One way to eat more vegetables is by enjoying a bowl of Hodge-Podge. It’s a thick healthy stew, usually made from carrots, beans, and potatoes in a creamy milk broth or heavy cream.

Hodge-podge is a flexible dish because you can have it with any seasonal produce — a convenient and tasty one-pot meal. 

And that’s the end of the ride! Hopefully, you were able to choose one or two dishes from this list of Canada’s most famous food to figure out which one to eat next. 

Related topics