September 20, 2020

Traditional Canadian foods you need to try

What we know today as "traditional Canadian food" is mostly a unique combination of foods and ingredients from other cultures. After all, Canada is a melting pot in every sense, where you can synthesize something new from conventional elements. Some of the traditional Canadian foods are more regional than others but are known and appreciated all over the country. If you're visiting the Great White North, make sure you try them all, you won't regret it.

Traditional, signature dishes that can make Canadians proud are

  • Poutine
  • Saskatoon berry pie
  • Peameal bacon
  • Split pea soup
  • Bannock
  • Pemmican
  • Nanaimo bars
  • Donair
  • Tire d’érable / Maple taffy
  • Tourtière
  • Butter tarts
  • Montréal Bagels
  • BeaverTails


An authentic Canadian dish originated in the late 1950s, poutine is a simple mix of fries and cheese curds topped with beef gravy. Named after Quebec slang for "a mess", poutine is celebrated as a symbol of its cultural pride. To eat this traditional dish, you don't need to visit one of Montreal's unique restaurants; you can find it everywhere in Canada.

Saskatoon berry pie

At first sight, this dish looks like a typical American blueberry pie. However, there's nothing ordinary about Saskatoon berry pie. Even the city of Saskatoon, in the province of Saskatchewan, is named after the berry (not the other way round), which in the Cree language is called mis-sask-quah-toomina. This classic Canadian treat has a sweet, nutty almond flavor and is often served with vanilla ice cream.

Peameal bacon

Found mainly in Southern Ontario, peameal bacon is a wet-cured, back bacon rolled in cornmeal. The lean and juicy peameal bacon got its name from crushed yellow peas that were originally used instead of cornmeal. This unsmoked bacon made from boneless pork loin is often confused with its smoked counterpart popular in the States and (wrongly) called Canadian bacon.

Split pea soup

This hearty and filling soup is one of the tastiest and oldest Canadian recipes. Made of yellow split peas, ham hock, and vegetables, seasoned with thyme today, the soup's origins date back 400 years, when the first settlers brought dried peas and mixed them with local ingredients. So, if you need to start over in a completely new city in Canada, know this: you won't suffer from a lack of delicious traditional foods.


Bannock is a simple bread that can be baked in a frying pan over a fire. It was most likely brought to Canada and introduced to indigenous peoples by the first Scottish fur traders called Selkirk. This flat, round quick bread is made of flour, lard, salt, and water, and is still popular at family gatherings.


Pemmican is a mixture of shredded dried meat and dried berries held together with fat, invented by North America's indigenous peoples. It's a high-energy food that doesn't spoil quickly and is ideal for early explorers and modern-day trekkers and survivalists. Once made with elk, bison, or deer meat, today it's made with lean beef. Traditional Canadian foods can't get more traditional than pemmican.

Nanaimo bars

Trust us; you wouldn't be the first to call Number 1 Movers Hamilton Ontario to help you move closer to where they make this delicacy, which is practically everywhere in Canada nowadays. However, the city of Nanaimo in the province of British Columbia is its home. This wonderful dessert doesn't require baking and consists of three layers: a biscuit base, nuts and coconut crumbs, custard icing in the middle, and chocolate ganache on top.


Brought to Canada and perfected by a Greek immigrant in the 1970s, donair is a Canadian version of a fast food delicacy. Also known as gyros or döner in Europe, donair is made of spiced beef (instead of pork, chicken, or lamb), placed in pita bread and garnered with tomato slices, raw onions, and a sauce made of evaporated milk, garlic powder, vinegar, and sugar. A juicy and messy dish but delicious nonetheless.

Tire d’érable / Maple taffy

Tire d'érable, or tire sur la neige, or maple taffy, or maple toffee, or sugar on snow; a simple Canadian sweet with all of these names is made in an enticing way. Thick, boiling maple syrup is poured over clean snow, quickly hardening into a taffy. The sweet can be rolled and picked up with a popsicle stick and should be eaten fresh. A perfect treat for a winter party!


A double-crusted meat pie, Tourtière is a Canadian pie usually made with minced pork, veal, beef, or game meat. Seasoned with onions and spices, this traditional savory dish originated in Quebec and has as many versions as there are cooks. However, you don't have to go to a popular restaurant in Canada to try it; it can be found throughout the country.

Butter tarts

A uniquely Canadian dessert, butter tarts consist of a crispy pastry shell with a creamy filling of butter, syrup, eggs, and sugar. Small and sweet, chewy, flaky, and gooey, these popular traditional sweets can be enjoyed with or without raisins.

Montréal Bagels

Montreal-style bagels are boiled in water sweetened with honey or maple syrup and cooked in wood-fired ovens. The result is a gold-colored bagel with a rich and sweet taste and crunchy crust. In comparison to the famous NYC bagels, they are smaller and thinner but equally impressive as breakfast.


Ever since 1978, BeaverTails pastries have been satisfying Canada's sweet tooths. This fried wheat dough pastry is stretched by hand to represent a beaver's tail (hence the name), and is topped with a variety of sweet flavorings. The restaurant chain with the same name has been making these so-called Canadian donuts for 42 years, and counting. This sweet delicacy is a symbol of Canada as much as its mascot, the beaver. 

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