With a diverse population and varied landscapes that produce a vast array of ingredients, Canada offers a wealth of delectable dishes from coast to coast to coast. Join us as we embark on a cross-country tour of the country’s most iconic meals and treats.
Peameal bacon sandwiches
Peameal bacon sandwiches are an iconic breakfast in Canada. But what, exactly, is it? First, there’s the peameal: lean, boneless pork loin, cured in brine and rolled in finely ground cornmeal. Stack a few slices on a soft country bun and add a touch of mustard if desired for a classic, yet delicious meal. One of the country’s most famous sandwiches can be found at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Ontario at Carousel Bakery — which has been serving the sandwich for over four decades.
It goes without saying that maple syrup is ubiquitous in Canada — in fact, the country produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup. For a true Canadian experience, visit one of Québec’s many cabanes à sucres, or sugar shacks, to enjoy the treat in all its glory.
A signature Québécois dish, tourtière is a double-crusted meat pie filled with savoury spices like nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, ground meat, potatoes and onions — and often served with an accompanying dip like chili sauce or homemade ketchup. Although it’s traditionally served around the holidays, many people can’t help but enjoy the comforting dish all year long. For a traditional tourtière, make a trip to the Aux Anciens Canadiens in Québec City, which serves French-Canadian fare.
A classic Canadian dessert with a soft, flaky pastry and sweet, gooey filling made of sugar, butter, syrup and eggs, the butter tart has it all. These sticky tarts are known to spark a heated debate when it comes to the age-old question: raisins or no raisins? If you’re eager to try one (or perhaps a few), check out the infamous Wellington County Butter Tart Trail in Ontario, which boasts 17 stops — along with a variety of attractions along the way.
Montréal smoked meat sandwich
It may be simple, but this legendary sandwich packs a powerful punch of flavour. Two slices of rye bread are stuffed with layers of tender smoked brisket, slathered with mustard and then served with a pickle on the side. Every year, scores of people flock to Schwartz’s Deli in Montréal, Quebec, arguably the most iconic place in the country to get the sandwich.
This delicious, dense flatbread has long been a staple dish among several Indigenous peoples across Canada. It’s made with ingredients like flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, water and lard, and then shaped into a disc and baked, fried or cooked over a fire. Head to the Thunderbird Café at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in British Columbia for fresh, traditional bannock.
Nova Scotia Lobster roll
Boasting some of the planet’s most fertile lobster fishing grounds, it should come as no surprise that the crustacean is the star in one of Nova Scotia’s most iconic dishes: the lobster roll. Take lobster meat, mix in some mayonnaise, lemon, spices and diced celery or onions for crunch and serve it on a buttered hot dog bun with chips for the perfect lunchtime treat.
Saskatoon berry pie
Saskatchewan is famous for its abundance of berries, which make some incredible pies. Case in point: the Saskatoon berry pie. A classic prairie dessert, this sweet and jammy pie is made with flour, pie pastry, butter, eggs and then filled with a generous amount of purplish-blue berries called Saskatoons — and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Head over to the Berry Barn in Saskatoon for one of the best pies in the country.
Halifax is renowned for its donair — so much so that it was dubbed the city’s official food in 2015. A popular late-night snack, the wrap consists of shaved spiced beef that’s slow roasted on a vertical spit, served on a warm pita with tomatoes and onion, and doused with a sweet garlic sauce. As the story has it, the Halifax donair was first invented at the King of Donair in the 1970s.
Named after a Vancouver Island city, Nanaimo bars are a staple treat across Canada. This decadent, no-bake dessert is made up of three layers: a crunchy brownie base, creamy custard middle and a chocolate top. Try a mix of traditional and innovative Nanaimo bars on the Nanaimo Bar Trail, a self-guided tour with over 30 stops.
From sweet tarts to smoked meat sandwiches and savoury pies, Canadian cuisine truly does run the gamut.