13 TRADITIONAL FOODS IN CANADA, Canada’s favourite culinary traditions are indigenous reliances that stem from a heritage that goes back to the Aboriginal ancestors and Canada’s first European settlers. These days, traditional Canadian foods are blabbed up with fun fresh epicurean twists that have the mouths soddening for a whole new generation of savorer suckers.

Food in Canada has come a long way. Forged from the oldest bedrock on earth in a country where the oldest towers are the ancient Redwoods is it any wonder also that Canada’s finest natural constituents have come fabulous fodder to the new Canadian culinary scene? It also helps that Canada has endured an explosion of rich ethnical dishes from its varied emigrant communities. No longer is the formerly-standard culinary scene of meat and potatoes considered a Canadian savorer chief. Then are the reliances, the definitive Canadian tastes.


By Ilona Kauremszky from Toronto


nanaimo bars are a popular canadian food
Nanaimo bars are a sweet treat and typical Canadian food to try for dessert.

At the top of our Canadian snacks list is the Nanaimo bar.

A creamy chocolate-rich treat invented in Nanaimo in British Columbia, this sweet treat is heaven in a block.

The traditional Nanaimo bar is topped with chocolate and has a chocolate and coconut base with a creamy pastry filling.

The best place to enjoy Nanaimo heaven is the Nanaimo Bar trail in Nanaimo.

These days, there are all kinds of versions including gluten-free, vegan and organic.

There’s a bacon-topped version, deep-fried Nanaimo bar and a Nanaimo bar spring roll.


food-in-canada peameal
Peameal is one of the traditional Canadian foods in eastern Canada.

A carb-heavy sandwich of Canadian bacon rolled in cornmeal pan-fried ‘til the edges are crispy, Peameal on a bun is preferably served with pepper and regular mustard on a buttered Kaiser roll.

Sounds delicious? You’re right! This typical Canadian food is an Ontario favourite.

So, eating peameal on a bun is one of the fun things to do in Toronto.


canadian cocktail
The Caesar is a typical Canadian cocktail you must try when visiting Canada.

It might be mistaken for a Bloody Mary but it’s not.

This spicy tomato juice cocktail is really a proprietary Clamato juice infused with vodka and droplets of salty Worcester sauce served in a celery salt-rimmed glass with a lime wedge.

Best place to taste? Everywhere in Canada but especially in Alberta at the Westin Hotel in Calgary, the old haunt where restaurateur Walter Chell crafted the libation in 1969.


Canada’s liquid gold is served chilled and made from the juice of hand-picked vine-ripened frozen grapes.

Compared to regular grapes, these have a higher sugar concentration and a heftier sticker price.

In Ontario, around Niagara-on-the-Lake, British Columbia, where ice wine was first produced (in the Okanagan Valley) in 1972, Quebec and Nova Scotia.


Canada food - Cedar plank salmon on a grill
Cedar plank salmon is one of the traditional Canadian foods that everyone will love. Photo: Quinn Dombrowski

An old Aboriginal delicacy that’s been reinvented over the generations, Cedar plank salmon has become a favourite staple on either coast.

It involves putting a salmon steak – freshly caught and not farmed – between two slabs of cedar planks over a fire pit or BBQ.

Enjoying a great gab session while the tasty salmon is cooking is all part of the social aspect of dining on cedar plank salmon.

Best place to taste this traditional Canadian food?

Either off the coast of British Columbia, while enjoying sweeping views, or the Atlantic in a quaint Nova Scotia hamlet.


french canadian food
Need some carbs? Poutine is one of the traditional French Canadian foods to put on your tasting list.

A huge carb-heavy favourite, Poutine is really French Fries served over cheese curds topped with gravy sauce and is best consumed after a late-night drinking spell.

A Quebec classic, poutine can be found anywhere in Quebec.


canadian traditional food pancakes and maple syrup
Maple syrup is used widely on traditional Canadian food dishes like pancakes.

This sticky, goopy thick nectar tapped from Canada’s maple trees is highly anticipated every spring when Mother Nature begins the annual thaw.

Sugarbush connoisseurs hit the forest and tap into Canada’s other liquid gold.

Although Canadian maple syrup is another Quebec classic, Ontario and the Yukon have some good spots and you’ll find a sugar shack just about anywhere where there’s snow.


food-in-canada lobster sandwich
A lobster sandwich is a tasty Canadian food found everywhere in Atlantic Canada. Photo: Christina Pfeiffer

There was a time when children of poor Atlantic fishermen used to take lobster sandwiches to school because there wasn’t any meat and codfish was strictly for reselling.

Nowadays, the lobster sandwich is en vogue and can be found in trendy restos around Montreal.

It’s preferably eaten freshly steamed and lightly coated with mayo sandwiched between a heated hot dog bun.

Best place to taste this delicious Canadian food?

Anywhere in Atlantic Canada and Montreal.

Aside from the lobster sandwich, Atlantic Canada has some weird and wonderful food traditions worth investigating.


A baker in Montreal holding bagels, Canadian food
Montreal bagels have become a popular Canadian food to taste when in French Canada. Photo: Christina Pfeiffer

When in Montreal, you need to try the bagels.

There’s a rivalry going on between Montreal and New York as to which city has the best bagels.

The bagels in Montreal are smaller and denser than the bagels made in New York.

Montreal’s bagels come in different varieties and are commonly topped with sesame or poppy seeds.

The two most famous places in Montreal are St-Viateur Bagel Bakery and Fairmount Bagel.


canadian french food - a piece of tourtiere on a plate
One of the famous Canadian food is the tourtiere, which is popular in Quebec.

A traditional Quebecois meat pie usually stuffed with beef, pork or veal, the tourtiere is the quintessential Canadian comfort food with universal appeal.

Best place to taste?

Anywhere in Quebec but for an Aussie twist (and the slight chance of bumping into Hugh Jackman) try Ta Pies in Montreal.


Canada food butter tarts
The butter tart is a sweet Canadian treat. Photo: Ontario Tourism

Butter tarts are a quintessentially Canadian dessert but it inspires madness in the province of Ontario.

The biggest rivalry happens at a stretch famously known as the Butter Tart Trail in the small town of Kenilworth in the Township of Wellington North.

But there’s another area around the Kawarthas Northumberland region that has its own trail too.

Whichever one you choose, sweet tooth lovers can take a self-guided butter tart tour on either trail.

The rich decadently sinful baked goodie is a traditional favourite that many an Ontarian grandma has made for every special occasion.

Believe it or not, there are over a dozen varieties to try.

The best? This summer there was a butter tart bake-off contest in Midland, Ontario. The home baking winner was a peanut butter banana bacon butter tart by Hisako Niimi, an Ottawa based Japan-born home baker who was inspired by Elvis’ favourite food combo.


canadian campfire food
Everyone loves roasting Smores over an open fire so much that it has become a typical Canadian food to enjoy in winter.

S’mores are a delicious camping snack cooked by squashing a campfire-toasted marshmallow between two graham crackers and a few chocolate squares.

This concoction is so more-ish, which is why it’s called a s’more, an abbreviation of the term ‘some more’.

Recipes for smores have appeared in cookbooks since the 1920s, known as the Graham Cracker Sandwich.

The marshmallow has to be gooey but not burnt, and to make it even tastier, wrap the sandwich foil and heat it until the chocolate melts.

Oh, please give me some more!


Beaver Tails are a delicious Canadian fast food loaded with calories and too good to turn down after being outdoors.

The thick dough is hand-stretched to look like a beaver’s tail and deep-fried, so it is soft inside and crispy on the outside.

The dough is topped with garnishings, usually cinnamon, sugar, Nutella, banana slices.

The flagship store to try this treat is in the Byward Market in Ottawa, which was made famous when President Obama dropped to try one in 2009 during his first official presidential visit to the capital.

This Canadian food is so popular that the term Beaver Tail is in the Canadian Oxford dictionary.


Bannock is a type of bread that early settlers and fur traders brought over from Scotland.

It’s also a staple food among Canada’s First Nations and is oval-shaped and flat.

These days, bannock is still a staple food for dog mushers, hunters and trappers because it’s a tasty treat and perfect for eating outdoors around a campfire.

It’s easy to make and lasts for a long while. Check out this bannock recipe in our Yukon food guide.


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