Here in Canada, we are fortunate to be a melting pot with so many incredibly diverse cultures, languages, beliefs and (most importantly)… foods!
We have gone through and found the top dishes from each Province for you to try the next time you’re looking for something new and fun to make in the kitchen.
Ontario – beaver tails
Home to many things, Ontario is a bustling place home to Canada’s capital, Ottawa. In fact, a great many things were invented in Ontario including Hawaiian pizza to butter tarts! But one of the more famous treats is the Beaver Tail, named right after our emblem of Canada!
- ½ cup warm water
- 5 tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 1 cup milk
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- oil for frying
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon for dusting
- Mix ½ cup sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon, for dusting and set aside in a large bowl.
- Mix the yeast, warm water and ¼ teaspoon of sugar in a large bowl. Allow to stand a couple of minutes for yeast to swell and dissolve.
- Add sugar, milk, vanilla, eggs, oil, salt, and more flour to the yeast mixture.
- Knead for 5 to 8 minutes using a dough hook, adding flour as needed to form a firm smooth, elastic dough.
- Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover.
- Place in a warm spot and let rise for 1 hour.
- Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough. Roll out onto a floured surface into an oval and let rest, covered with a tea towel, while you are preparing the remaining dough.
- Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 375F (190C).
- Add the dough pieces to the hot oil one at a time. Turn the beaver tail once to fry until both sides are deep brown.
- Lift the beaver tails out with tongs and drain on paper towels.
- While warm, toss the beaver tails in the sugar mixture, coating both sides and shake off the excess.
British Columbia – nanaimo bars
Over the years, this delicious treat has gone by many names. In fact, the first recipe actually originated in the 1952 edition of the Women’s Auxiliary Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook where it was simply named “chocolate square”. A similar recipe was later published in a 1953 edition of the Edith Adams’ Cookbook with the name “Nanaimo Bar”. In fact, the recipe clipping still hangs in the Nanaimo museum!
A no-bake dessert bar, this mouth-watering treat consistent of three main layers: graham wafer crumb and shredded coconut for the bottom, a custard-flavoured butter icing in the middle, and a chocolate ganache on top.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup fine coconut unsweetened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp custard powder
- 3 Tbsp milk room temperature
- 8 oz good quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate chopped
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Grease a 9 x 9″ pan and line with parchment.
- Place 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 3 Tbsp cocoa powder into a large, heatproof bowl over a pot with simmering water. Whisk until combined.
- Slowly pour in egg while whisking vigorously. Add vanilla. Continue whisking over simmering water until mixture has thickened and resembles a pudding.
- Remove mixture from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs and coconut.
- Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of your 9×9 pan. Press down firmly to pack in. Chill in fridge while making custard.
For the Custard:
- Cream together butter and powdered sugar, add in custard powder and milk and beat until smooth.
- Spread evenly over base layer and return to fridge. Chill for 30mins.
For the Chocolate:
- Place chopped chocolate and butter in to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate has melted.
- Spread evenly over custard layer. Chill in fridge until set (about 1 hour).
- Cut with a hot serrated knife.
Alberta – grilled steak
Alberta produces 44% of Canada’s cows and subsequent beef so it is no surprise that a favourite dish for this province would be a grilled steak!
- 4 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch-thick boneless rib-eye or New York strip steaks (about 12 ounces each) or filets mignons (8 to 10 ounces each), trimmed
- 2 tablespoons canola or extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (or your choice of steak spice)
- Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and allow to sit (covered) at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Heat your grill to high.
- Brush the steaks on both sides with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper (or your choice of steak spice).
- Place the steaks on the grill and cook until slightly charred – approx. 4 to 5 minutes.
- Turn the steaks over and continue to grill 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium or 8 to 10 minutes for medium-well steaks.
- Transfer the steaks to a cutting board or platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Saskatchewan – saskatoon berry pie
Did you know? The berry is actually so important to Saskatchewan that they gave Saskatoon its name? The city of Saskatoon takes its name from the Cree word for berries! While you can find their berry jams and berry muffins delicious, nothing quite showcases the essence of summer like the Saskatoon berry pie.
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups fresh serviceberries
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 (14.1 ounce) package double-crust pie pastry, thawed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Combine sugar and flour in a bowl.
- Simmer berries and water in a large saucepan for 10 minutes.
- Stir in lemon juice and then stir in sugar mixture.
- Press one pie pastry into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.
- Pour berry mixture into the pan and dot with butter.
- Place second pie pastry over top; seal and flute the edges.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake until crust is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes more.
Manitoba – perogies
Did you know? One of the most emblematic foods from Manitoba are perogies! I mean, who doesn’t love a pierogi!? Make them even more Canadian with a touch of bacon and onions!
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cups water (approx.)
- 12 oz russet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 bacon strips
- 2 onions finely
- Melt 2 tbsp of the butter.
- Whisk flour with salt in a bowl and add in egg, water and melted butter
- Stir into flour mixture, adding up to 2 tbsp more water if necessary to make dough soft but not sticky.
- Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth.
- Divide dough into 2 balls; cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook potatoes until tender in a large saucepan with boiling water and salt for approx. 15 minutes. Drain and return to pan; mash well. Stir in pepper and salt.
- Cook bacon, turning occasionally, in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel–lined plate and blot dry.
- Chop bacon finely; add to potato mixture.
- Drain all but 1 tbsp fat from skillet; cook onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until deep golden and very soft, about 12 minutes.
- Stir into potato mixture.
- Working with 1 ball of dough at a time and keeping remainder covered, roll out on lightly floured surface to about 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness.
- Using 3-inch (8 cm) round cutter, cut into rounds.
- Place 1 tsp filling on each round.
- Lightly moisten half of edge of round with water; fold over filling, gently stretching as needed to fit. Pinch edges to seal.
- Place perogies on flour-dusted cloth; cover with tea towel.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling, rerolling scraps, to make 36 perogies. (Make-ahead: Freeze in single layer on baking sheet. Transfer to airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Increase boiling time to 5 to 7 minutes.)
- In large pot of boiling salted water, cook perogies until floating and tender, about 4 minutes.
- With slotted spoon, transfer to colander to drain.
- In skillet, melt remaining butter over medium heat
- Cook perogies, in batches and turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes.
Quebec – poutine
Fries, cheese AND gravy!? Does it get any better?! Poutine is a Quebec original that has become a classic Canadian favourite! It first came about in the late 1950s. While there are many explanations for the name, did you know? The word “poutine” is slang for mess in Quebec? A delicious mess that is!
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 20 oz beef broth
- 10 oz chicken broth
- Pepper, to taste
- 2 lbs Russet potatoes, (3-4 medium potatoes)
- Peanut or other frying oil
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds, (Or torn chunks of mozzarella cheese would be the closest substitution)
- Prepare the gravy: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown.
- Add the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in about HALF the cornstarch mixture and simmer for a minute or so. If you’d like your gravy thicker, add a more of the cornstarch mixture, in small increments, as needed, to thicken. Season with pepper. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, to taste. Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.
For the Fries:
- Prepare your potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-thick sticks. Place into a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to stand at least one hour or several hours. When ready to cook, heat your oil in your deep fryer or large, wide, heavy cooking pot to 300° F.
- Remove the potatoes from the water and place onto a sheet of paper towel. Blot to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
- Add your fries to the 300°F oil and cook for 5-8 minutes, just until potatoes are starting to cook but are not yet browned. Remove potatoes from oil and scatter on a wire rack. Increase oil temperature to 375°F Once oil is heated to that temperature, return the potatoes to the fryer and cook until potatoes are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined bowl.
To Prepare Poutine:
- Add your fried or baked fries to a large, clean bowl. Season lightly with salt while still warm. Add a ladle of hot poutine gravy to the bowl and using tongs, toss the fries in the gravy. Add more gravy, as needed to mostly coat the fries.
- Add the cheese curds and toss with the hot fries and gravy. Serve with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
Newfoundland – toutons
Newfoundland feels very different from the rest of Canada, but their food is just as exquisite! A great way to ease yourself into Newfoundland cuisine is with one of their provincial favourites – toutons. For those who don’t know, a touton is essentially a cross between a pancake and a flatbread and can be served in a variety of ways with berry jam and butter or fried up in pork fat! You can even use them in place of an English muffin for your eggs benedict!
- 4 Cups of white flower
- 1 Tbsp, fast rising or traditional yeast
- 1/2 Tsp sea salt
- 1 Tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cups, or more, of warm water
- 1 tbsp, melted butter or margarine
- Combine 4 cups flour and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a large bowl and mix together
- In another bowl, add 1 tbsp dry fast rising or traditional yeast with 1 1/2 cups warm water and 1 tsp sugar. Let rise for about 5 minutes.
- In another bowl, melt butter or margarine.
- In flour mixture make a hole in the middle to pour yeast and warm water and butter, mixing all ingredients together with a wooden spoon or kitchen aid until it thickens, then keep adding 1/2 cup of flour to work dough together.
- Knead dough, add more flour (if necessary), until dough is smooth, no longer sticky and you can hear cracking of the dough when folding. Keep working dough into a ball.
- Sprinkle some flour over the top of dough, then cover with a piece of parchment paper and a towel.
- Let dough rise in a warm place until dough rises for 30 minutes.
- Don’t deflate! Cut small or large pieces of dough about half the size as your hand and pull apart to make a flat dough.
- Pre-heat your frying pan to medium heat and add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil.
- Place about 6 small pieces or 3 large pieces of flat dough in your pan and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
New Brunswick – oysters
Famous for its beautiful Atlantic coastline, New Brunswick has an incredible assortment of seafood. Atlantic oysters (also known as “Caraquets”) in particular are harvested in the province and are the perfect dish for first-time oyster goers due to their more subtle, briny flavour. For those who prefer to grill them, check out the recipe below!
- 12 fresh oysters
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon diced chives
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon finely diced parsley
- Combine the unsalted butter, garlic, white wine, chives, salt and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the grill for direct grilling with lump charcoal at 500 degrees F.
- Shuck the oysters if you did not buy pre-shucked
- Layer a pan with slightly crumpled aluminum foil.
- Place shucked oysters onto the pan and gently press down so they sit well.
- Place one heaping teaspoon of the compound butter into each oyster. Reserve some to top the oysters after they come off the grill.
- Place gently over direct heat and grill for 4 – 6 minutes. The butter will bubble and remove when you start to see the edges of the oyster flesh slightly brown.
- Remove with high heat gloves or tongs. Be careful not to spill what’s left of the liquid when removing the oysters.
- Top each oyster with a little of the remaining compound butter.
- Serve warm on the half shell
Nova Scotia – lobster roll bites
Another seafood-centric province, Nova Scotia is particularly famous for its fresh Atlantic lobster! Did you know? Nova Scotia even has its own way of serving lobster rolls compared to New England-style! In Nova Scotia, we serve them cold with the bun buttered. YUM!
- 1 pound (500 g) lobster meat
- 6 hot dog buns
- 3 oz soft butter
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- Salt and pepper
- 3 oz spinach
- Crack the cooked lobster and extract lobster meat.
- Roughly chop lobster meat into bite-sized pieces
- Finely dice celery stalks
- Butter hot dog buns on both sides and grill them on a frying pan.
- Toast the outside of the hot dog buns until golden brown
- Mix the lobster meat, mayonnaise and celery into a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste
- Open the grilled bun and place 1/2 oz spinach per bun.
- Spoon the lobster mixture onto the center of the hot dog bun. Squeeze lemon juice on if preferred.
Prince Edward Island – potato and leek soup
Did you know? Prince Edward Island grows more potatoes than anywhere else in Canada?! In fact, they represent more than 1/5th of the country’s total acres of potato farms! So, naturally, our provincial favourite includes potatoes. While we’ve chosen just one to focus on, you can find even more on the PEI potato website, here (who knew!?).
- 3 large potatoes
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil or butter
- 2 cups (500 ml) leeks, washed & chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) summer savoury (herb) dried
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) all-purpose flower
- 5 cups (1250 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 tbsp (8 ml) fresh thyme, removed from stems
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat; add oil, leeks, garlic, onion and summer savory.
- Reduce heat and cook stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened; approximately 7-8 minutes.
- Add flour; stir to coat, do not brown.
- Add stock stirring constantly; add potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil.
- Cover and reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Puree in a food processor or blender in small batches.
- Return to pot, add milk and season with salt & pepper
- Heat thoroughly and serve .
Northwest Territories – bannack
The Northwest Territories are most well-known for its variety of traditional First Nations foods such as bison (or other game), fish and wild fruits. One of the more versatile dishes is Bannock, which is a traditional First Nations food that can even be cooked over a campfire!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- Stir flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Pour water and melted butter over flour mixture.
- Stir with a fork to make a ball.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently about 10 times.
- Pat into a flat circle, 3/4- to 1-inch thick.
- Warm a greased frying pan over medium heat.
- Place dough in the hot pan and cook until browned, about 15 minutes per side. Use two lifters for easy turning.