Food can be used for many things. At weddings, there's a meal to celebrate a happy day and at funerals, there's food to comfort you through the sad times. Food is a big part of our everyday life, it's also more than being used to fuel our bodies. Food can be full of history and culture. Each country has a few dishes that's been around for years. You can learn a lot by understanding the popular dishes in Canada. You may even be surprised by the stories each dish is able to tell.

We'll list a few of Canada's popular dishes below.

Canada has great traditional foods.
Canada has great traditional foods. Source: Andre Furtado, Pexels


Poutine is a dish Canada is known for.  Poutine has been around since the 1950s and is still relevant in today’s culinary world. It’s a dish that can be seen in every type of restaurant from fast-food chains to fine dining. The poutine consists of fresh-cut fries, cheese curds and gravy. 

The poutine was created in Quebec and is believed to be created in stages. It became a popular dish among many diners in Quebec and soon spanned all over Ontario. In 1985 the poutine was sold at its first restaurant chain. McDonald's offered to put the poutine on their menu in 1990 which began the poutine's popularity all over Canada. 

The poutine is a delicious dish that can be enjoyed by so many. There is one key ingredient that makes poutine what it is and that’s cheese curds. Any poutine dish with regular cheese isn't original poutine. Poutine is a great dish and incredibly simple to re-create. You don't need to visit a restaurant to enjoy Canada’s dish. Try it out yourself. 

Montreal Smoked Meat

Montreal Smoked Meat is rich in Canadian history. It's been widely popular since the 1900s. Montreal smoked meat is a cross between beef and pastrami. The meat is usually served on rye bread with zesty mustard. It's a classic in Canada but was influenced in New York City. The origins of the Montreal smoked meat are not exactly clear but a familiar story is the meat recipe is from an old family brisket curing recipe. Another familiar story is Aaron Sanft became the first kosher butcher in Montreal and he began selling Montreal smoked meat.

There are a few recipes out there to try and re-create the Montreal smoked meat, but for this dish, the option may be visiting Montreal and get to experience the dish in its traditional setting.

Montreal is home to the Montreal smoked meat.
Montreal is home to the Montreal smoked meat. Source: Lachlan Ross, Pexels

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup has been around in Canada for 400 years. The dish has a lot of Canadian culture behind it. The dish makes for a good starter or main course. It’s made from easy to preserve ingredients which is one of the reasons it’s been around. The soups main ingredients are yellow split peas, ham hock, vegetables and thyme. 

The soup is believed to come from Canada's first settlers. On their travels to Canada by ship they would most likely have these ingredients on board. These ingredients eventually became local to Canada and people continued to make the dish. The dish was perfect for hard winters because it had everything they needed to survive. The split pea soup has had many different recipes since it was first created. It’s been a classic in a lot of Canadian households with each family adding in their style. A traditional split pea soup has ham hock. This can be hard to find so ask your local butcher. 

Nanaimo Bars

They make for the perfect treat to sit back and enjoy. Nanaimo bars are found in any Pacific Coast town. It's a layer of custard between a rich chocolate ganache and a coconut-graham crust. It's a dessert that melts in your mouth with every bite. The first time the dessert appeared was in 1952 in a cookbook. A few years later the Nanaimo bar was published again in another cookbook. The history of the bar has an unclear road. There are a lot of stories around this Canadian classic treat.

In 1986  the mayor of B.C launched a contest to find the best Nanaimo bar recipe. The bar has been growing in popularity ever since. The bars are easy to make at home. You can even add your own twist on the bar.


Tourtiere is a Canadian dish that dates back to 1600. It’s believed to be a popular dish served around Christmas time. Tourtiere meaning meat pie was always a staple meal for feasts during a celebration. The original recipe would call for wild game such as rabbit, pheasants or moose. Nowadays the tourtiere could be used with beef. The tourtiere started in Quebec has made its way across Canada

It's a simple yet tasty dish that everyone can enjoy. The traditional recipe calls for meat, a pastry shell and vegetables. It can be a great main course for your next dinner.

There are a few single food items we had to add to this article. Canada has been able to create top-notch food that is not only enjoyed in Canada but around the world. We'll list a few food items that started right here in Canada.

Peameal Bacon -It's known as the perfect breakfast food. It's a cured pork loin that is rolled in cornmeal and rich in flavour. Peameal bacon is known all over the world. It's not like regular bacon it's often much leaner and juicer. It's actually hard to overcook compared to regular bacon. Much like other foods, the story behind peameal bacon isn't clear but is believed to be created in Toronto.

Ketchup - It's not exactly a food more of a condiment. Ketchup isn't exactly Canadian either, but it's something most Canadian use. A study found that more than 87 percent of Canadians have a bottle of ketchup there fridge. Canada uses more ketchup than any other part of the world. Although ketchup wasn't created in ketchup it's a classic for most families in Canada.

Canadians love ketchup.
Canadians love ketchup. Source: Erik Mclean, Pexels

Try To Create These Dishes

Try these dishes out yourself. You can always go to a restaurant and order these meals, but we recommended getting in your kitchen and making them yourself. At your next dinner party or gathering, you can cook any one of these dishes and teach others about the history behind the food. There's also a good chance someone will have a relatable story to these dishes. If you're missing out on the cooking skills needed to create these dishes we hiring a cooking tutor. Your cooking tutor can teach you everything you need about cooking.

Superprof has 100s of cooking tutors all over Canada that are ready to help you. They have the knowledge and experience to teach you cooking skills in the best way possible. Superprof offers lessons online and in-person giving you the freedom and flexibility to learn the cooking skills when you want to learn. They've worked with so many other students. Now it's your turn.

Once you try to re-create these dishes the first time, try adding your own special twist on things. You can make your own Canadian recipe. You just need to make that first step and start cooking. You can also explore other traditional Canadian dishes.

For more information on the culinary world check out these articles:

The Best Chefs Who Ever Lived

The Best Chefs in the World

Canadian Cooking Shows

Introduction to the Culinary World

Need a Cooking teacher?

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You can usually find me writing at a cafe sipping on coffee or working out at the gym. I fell in love with writing a few years ago and have never looked back. I love being able to share my words with the world.