One of the best ways to know a country is to experience its cuisine in all its rich fullness. The food gives you a clue as to the character of the land and of the people. And when you’re in Canada, that means trying out these special treats: 


Any list of uniquely Canadian food items will be a failure without the inclusion of poutine. Just about every poll regarding the favorite homegrown foods of Canada has poutine routinely coming out on top. It’s not actually an old recipe since poutine only came out in the 1950s, but it quickly captured the hearts and stomachs of Canadians. 

It’s actually a rather simple dish, with a base of French fries covered with lots of cheese curds and gravy. It may be a glorious mess to look at, but you’ll find various types of poutines everywhere in Canada. You can visit at a simple Valentine restaurant with its lineup of basic comfort foods (go to Valentine menu page to check out their offerings) or even at a fine dining restaurant, and you’ll find poutine listed. 

Butter Tarts

This is one of the few pastries that have a distinctly Canadian origin. It’s a rather small pastry tart, made from sugar, syrup, butter, and egg, and then filled into a flaky pastry. It’s baked until you have a semi-solid filling, while the top is crunchy. 

While the first published recipe for butter tart appeared in 1900, its origins can be traced back to the mid-1600s. That was when hundreds of French women were sent to Quebec while bringing along traditional European recipes, but they were forced to adapt these recipes to suit available ingredients. They then came up with their own version of the sugar pie, which is a direct precursor of the butter tart. 

You’ll find plenty of butter tarts in Canada, especially in Ontario where they have special competitions and festivals for butter tarts. Try one, and you may understand how it became a particular favorite of Canadians. 


This is a type of bread that was a staple for the indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as the early settlers. It’s made from flour, water, lard, or fat, along with sugar, salt, and milk. The bannock is then made into a large, round biscuit (coincidentally resembling a hockey puck), and then baked or fried. 

If you’re going camping, then bring some bannock along! 


The beaver is the national animal of Canada, and the BeaverTails pastry is one of the country’s iconic foods. It’s a fried-dough pastry made with whole wheat flour. It’s then pulled by hand so that it looks like the long and flat tail of a beaver. 

You then have different versions, depending on the garnishes. The classics include toppings of cinnamon and sugar, although you can find versions with Nutella and whipped cream. It’s probably as popular as poutine and butter tart. 

Montreal-Style Bagels

If you’re an American, you may have encountered the New York-style bagel. But the Montreal-style version is different. It’s smaller and thinner, but it’s denser and sweeter. The hole in the bagel is larger. Also, the Montreal-style bagel is always baked in a wood-fired oven. 

The bagel has malt and egg, but it doesn’t contain any salt. It’s then boiled in water sweetened by honey, before it’s baked. It’s often covered in sesame or poppy seeds. 


This is a French-Canadian meat pie that first came from Quebec, where it’s a traditional part of the Christmas and New Year’s Eve feasts. The traditional recipe calls for minced pork, veal, or beef, along with potatoes, although some versions feature wild game. Plenty of Canadians enjoy this dish all year long. 

In Montreal, this is a rather popular comfort food, almost always made from finely ground pork. It’s then seasoned with cloves and cinnamon. Sit back and enjoy it with ketchup, and it’s just a relaxing meal. 

Canadian Bacon

While American bacon usually comes from the belly, Canadian bacon comes from the back of the pig. You then have thick, round slices of pork loin, and then it’s brined and rolled in finely ground cornmeal. The flavor is actually closer to that of ham. 

You can find Canadian bacon as part of the traditional English breakfast, and it is also a typical ingredient in Eggs Benedict. 

Figgy Duff

This is a tasty pudding that originated from Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite the name, it doesn’t have anything to do with figs. The word “figgy” here refers to the raisins, while the “duff” refers to the dough. 

It’s made with a mixture of flour, molasses, raisins, breadcrumbs, butter, and brown sugar. This mixture is stuffed inside a cotton cloth or bag, and then it’s steamed or boiled in water. 

Final Words

This is just a small sample of the special foods that you can try in Canada. They’re all great in their own ways, and enjoying them gives you a real taste of what it means to be Canadian!