Canada, a country located in the top half of North America, is the second-largest country in the world after Russia. It occupies two-fifths of the area of the North American continent with part of the country within the Arctic Circle.
When we think of Canada, the first thing that comes to mind is the likely long winter, ice hockey, wild nature, bears and moose. What you likely don’t think about as much is Canadian cuisine. However, not only can you can find a large range of authentic international cuisines in the metropolises like Toronto and Vancouver, but the country also offers its own incredible specialties.
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Most Popular Canadian Dishes
If you dig a little deeper into the culinary history of Canada, you will find out that many European traditions reign supreme in cooking here. And the most “native” are Quebec dishes (in fact – French). Roast beef, steaks, french fries, ham and breadcrumbs, breaded potatoes, mashed soups, transparent broths – all of these are considered national dishes in this region.
Someone may find this strange, but in Canada it is considered the norm. After all, most of the local recipes came from overseas with the great-great-great grandmothers of the current inhabitants of Canada.
People from all over the world come here to taste the delicious delicacies of Canada right to the last bite! So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Canada along with recipes for you to try for yourself.
Nanaimo Bar is a tremendously sweet, no-bake layered bar cookie made up of three layers and is named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. There’s a waffle crumb base, a center topped with custard-topped butter icing and a chocolate topcoat.
Montreal Smoked Meat
Montreal smoked meat is kosher-style deli meat that is usually prepared by salting and curing beef brisket with spices. The major thing that differentiates Montreal smoked meat and New York pastrami is the seasoned blend of spices. Montreal Delis use more broken peppercorns and less sugar.
The smoked meat is typically served on rye bread with yellow mustard. The meat should be stacked about two inches high.
Butter cakes are small, baked sweet treats made from butter, sugar, syrup and an egg filling. The filling goes over puff pastry and after baking, the filling of the tart is crispy and usually firm on top. The pies are essentially Canadian, but their origins are blurry.
When it comes to origin, some people believe the pies are similar to American pecan tarts and Quebec’s sugar pies, whereas some say that the history can be traced back to the 17th century.
Poutine, also known as Canada’s national dish, is a French-Canadian dish usually made with three major ingredients: cheese curd, french fries and gravy.
Though it originated in the 1950s, the dish can be found everywhere today from small eateries to big restaurants. Many restaurants even serve their traditional poutine with added toppings like buttered chicken or pulled pork. If you want, you can prepare this dish at your home as the recipe is very easy.
Beaver Tails are sweet, deep-fried desserts prepared under an open flame. They are flattened like a beaver tail and coated with innumerable flavors. Some of the classic toppings include cinnamon and chocolate hazelnut spread.
They were believed to be founded in 1978 by a couple in Ottawa with the recipe being passed down from the husband’s family. Their chain of stores, which goes by the name of Beaver Tails, now extends across Canada.
Tourtière is a meat pie dish that is believed to have originated from the state of Quebec. It is usually prepared with minced pork, veal or beef and potatoes and often eaten during winters especially on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The main spices used include cinnamon, allspice and clove.
Pea soup is a soup made typically from dried peas, such as the split pea, and is another hearty winter specialty in Canada. Pea soup first appeared in Canada in the 18th century and was said to have been developed by Acadian settlers who lived in the Chignecto region, which covers the current border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The original version of the pea soup contains whole yellow peas, salted pork and herbs.
Donair is a Canadian version of a Turkish kebab native to Halifax, Nova Scotia (the 1970s). It is prepared with spiced ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and topped with an incredibly delicious garlic donair sauce, all wrapped up inside of pita bread.
In 2015, Halifax declared the Donair as the city’s official food. Additional ingredients include pepper, onion and garlic spices, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano.
Stuffed Moose Heart
Stuffed moose heart is exactly what is sounds like. In Canada, Moose are a very populous animal so it may not be surprising that they often become food. A dish centred around the heart may sound slightly more shocking but many other countries around the world have recipes using offal, Canada is just unique in its usage of moose.
A stuffing consisting of onion, sage, garlic and celery is most common along with herbs such as rosemary and oregano.
Saskatoon Berry Pie
Saskatoon berries, also just known as Saskatoon, are purple-blue berries that have a similar look to blueberries. The berries usually ripen in the mid of the year and are grown all across Canada, but especially in British Columbia and in the Prairies. The Saskatoon berry pie is quite simply a sweet dessert pie made from the region’s famous berries.
Montreal Style Bagel
Montreal bagels are small, sweet, dense bagels with two toppings in common: poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Many people compare Montreal-style bagels with New York bagels, but their main difference is the cooking method. Montreal-style bagels are baked in a wood-burning oven whereas New York angels are mostly machine-made and then cooked in a gas oven.
Bannock is a traditional Native American bread that forms a part of many North American indigenous cuisines, including Canadian Inuit and Meitee. Bannock is usually made from white or whole wheat flour with baking powder, sugar, lard, and water or milk.
Jellied Moose Nose Recipe
Jellied moose nose is a fairly niche delicacy made from the snout of a moose, cooked and cooled in a brothy liquid. This forms a block of jelly which can be sliced and served.
In 1834, indigenous people of northern communities used to hunt moose for food, and every part of it was used. It was the time when wives were dependent on what their husbands brought after the hunt and couldn’t let anything go to waste.
Timbits (Doughnut Holes)
Timbits are bite-sized dough balls prepared using sweetened dough fried and covered with frosting or powdered sugar. Generally, spherical in shape, these small balls of dough are sold at the famous Canadian-based franchise Tim Hortons.
Also known as doughnut holes, timbits are usually served at breakfast or snack time, and are often consumed with a hot drink. Having a compact texture compared to a traditional donut, timbits can also be stuffed with strawberry jam, chocolate spread, or custard.