It’s cold up in Canada for a good portion of the year, so all their best foods are comfort foods. How can you go wrong?
Canadian dishes are delicious, and if you haven’t tried them yet, or maybe you’ve visited without trying ALL of the below, you’ve missed out. Travel to Canada for a Working Holiday Visa and do try these treats:
1. Poutine: The crowning jewel of Canadian cuisine. The perfect savoury food combo. And arguably the best late-night eat you’ll ever find. Fries, cheese and gravy. Poutine is our proudest culinary invention of Canadians and popular with tourists.
2. Butter tarts: Perfect for sweet tooths, butter tarts are basically a sugar pie or a pecan pie without the pecans. Flaky pastry with a sickly buttery, sugary filling; they’re a Canadian essential and a tiny personal-sized bit of pie heaven.
3. Peameal bacon: Also known as Canadian bacon, peameal bacon is lean, flavourful, thick-cut, and the star of many an Eggs Benedict.
4. Montreal smoked meat: As far as lunch meats go, there’s no comparison to this Canadian classic. Essentially, a form of spiced and sliced brisket, the Montreal spice really makes this a sandwich above all others.
5. Timbits: Coffee shop chain Tim Hortons is one of the most iconic Canadian brands ever. It’s the reason that ‘donut holes’ don’t exist in Canada – and instead they’re called ‘timbits’. Everyone has their favourite and least favourite flavour, but you can bet that any potluck, work meeting or road trip in Canada will include some timbits. Best consumed with a coffee, try chocolate-glazed, birthday cake and sour-cream glazed for (arguably) the best of the bunch.
6. Caesar cocktail: The combination of vodka, tomato juice, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce may sound like the absolute LAST thing you’d ever want to drink, it somehow works. And now it’s Canada’s national cocktail. It’s definitely not for everyone, but the elaborate garnishes are enough to make you order one at least once in your life.
7. Montreal bagel: A Montreal bagel is like a regular bagel, but just better in EVERY way. Baked in a wood-fire oven, they’re denser, thinner, sweeter and again, just better than a regular (ahem, New York) bagel. And the perfect vessel for any topping.
8. Lobster rolls: A Nova Scotia specialty, this delicious meal puts fresh Maritime lobster meat on a hotdog bun and creates a boss of a sandwich made for seafood lovers.
9. Chalet sauce: Swiss Chalet is a beloved and affordable family chain restaurant in Canada that’s famous for its rotisserie chicken. But the real shining star is the sauce you dip your chicken and fries in.
10. Canada Dry: Is there any other acceptable brand of ginger ale? We think not. It’s the perfect balance of ginger spice and soda sweetness, and one of the best soft drinks in the universe.
11. Nanaimo bars: Dessert squares are a beloved-yet-underrated food group, hands down. Nanaimo bars specifically are a combo of a coconutty crust, custard middle layer and chocolate ganache top. They’re simple, sweet and truly beloved in every Canadian bakery or coffee shop.
12. All-dressed chips: All-dressed chips are similar to the concept of combining every type of pop or soda at a kids’ birthday party to create swamp water. This uniquely Canadian flavour is a combination of sour cream and onion, barbecue, salt and vinegar and ketchup – all in one chip! They’re salty and sweet and savoury all at the same time, with a tangy flavour that is unlike any chip outside of Canada.
13. Tourtière: Few foods are as comforting as a meat pie, and the French-Canadian tourtière is an elite variation. It’s essentially minced meats and potatoes in a pie shell. And it’s exactly what we want for dinner on a cold winter’s night in Canada.
14. Coffee Crisp: It may seem like a weird choice for a Canadian chocolate bar, but Coffee Crisp is a coffee-flavoured, wafer-filled treat. It’s the bar that a lot of parents go for when it’s left at the bottom of the candy bag after trick-or-treating. Enough said.
15. Bannock: This delicious flat bread is a significant part of indigenous culture and cuisine in Canada. It can be eaten plain or topped with sweet or savoury toppings, but it dates back to the 18th century and became popular due to its filling nature and how easy it is to transport in the wilderness.
16. Maple syrup: It’s one of our biggest exports, and seeing as we produce most of the maple syrup worldwide, both you and your pancakes can thank us for eternity. Try it on pretty much any breakfast food, incorporated into baked goods or in taffy / fudge / lollipop form.
17. Ketchup chips: Canadians love ketchup. There is NO better condiment in our opinion, and there isn’t much that we won’t put it on. So, to make ketchup-flavoured chips was a no-brainer. Do they really taste like ketchup though? That’s questionable. But they’re a unique, sweet yet vinegary chip that will leave your fingers red, indefinitely.
18. BeaverTails: This snack literally resembles a beaver tail. This donut-pizza crossbreed takes a ‘bannock’ (see number 15), makes it sweet and covers it in whatever delightful dessert toppings your heart desires. Popular options include Nutella, cinnamon sugar and various crushed-up candy bars and icing combos. It’s messy and delightful regardless.
19. Donair: The East Coast of Canada is famous for many things, but this late-night food might be one of the tastiest of all. Essentially a pita filled with shaved beef, onions, tomatoes and special sauce, donair is the pride and joy of Halifax and is a Canadian take on a gyro.
20. Crown Royal: The Canadian whisky that comes in a fancy purple velvet bag is smooth and easy to drink. Plus it’s actually affordable and a quintessential part of many Canadians’ introduction to hard liquor. Crown Royal has somehow become popular in the USA and other parts of the world as well, and although it’s a good drink, we’re betting a lot of it has to do with the velvet bag.
21. Saskatoon berry pie: Saskatoon is not only a city in Canada, it’s also the Cree word for a specific sweet Canadian berry – the crucial and unique element in this pie. Saskatoon berries are sort of like a hybrid blueberry/apple and are an awesome superfood. You’ll likely find this pie in the Prairies of Canada.
22. Bagged milk: So yeah, in Canada we drink milk out of a clear plastic bag, stored in a reusable pitcher in the fridge. It IS a strange experience that should have been replaced by cartons or jugs years ago, but some say it tastes fresher this way!
23. Ice wine: Remember that cold weather we talked about? It’s the key ingredient in creating ice wine. The sweet dessert wine is made from frozen grapes, which Canada is world-famous for. It’s super sweet, hard to make and a source of Canadian pride nationwide.
24. Canadian pizza: Everyone agrees there’s a need for a Hawaiian pizza. But the classic Canadian pizza is pepperoni, bacon and mushrooms, and who can object to that? Try it, it’s a great combo.
25. Salmon Jerky: Why have beef jerky, when you can take your omega 3s on the go instead? Salmon is a staple Canadian food, and turning it into smoked jerky is the convenient and versatile snack you never knew you needed. Try it flavoured with teriyaki, hot sauce, maple or peppered