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Poutine: What is Poutine? Where’s It From? What’s It Made Of?


Poutine is a French-Canadian dish originating from Quebec, and consists of French fries sprinkled with cheese curds and doused with a thick, brown gravy.

Updated: 2018-11-21.
poutine fries cheese curds gravyWe’re about to get started on Canada’s poutine, as we travel the world in search of traditional foods from around the globe.

First up is the poutine definition, and then we’ll talk about how you can make a legit poutine for yourself.

What is Poutine?

Poutine is a French-Canadian dish originating from Quebec (particularly the Centre-du-Québec area), and consists of French fries sprinkled with cheese curds and doused with a thick, brown gravy. Poutine is pronounced POO-tihn.

According to Merriam-Webster, “Some assert that ‘poutine’ is related to the English word ‘pudding,’ but a more popular etymology is that it’s from a Québécois slang word meaning ‘mess.'”

Ever since the 1950s, when this concoction of fries and gravy first came onto the food scene, poutine has shot up in popularity. It is definitely a quintessential part of Canadian cuisine, not to mention Québécois cuisine, and it’s been considered to be a top contender for the national dish of Canada.

Poutine is more than just cheese fries with gravy. Sure, that’s the base of Canadian poutine, along with a generous topping of fresh cheese curds, but that’s not all.

In the last few decades, poutine has become almost another food group, as there are countless variations, from topping it with pulled pork to just adding some spicy hot sauce.

It’s a heavy dish, but that’s part of the allure. Drunk people everywhere love the greasy poutine fries after a night out on the town. Go to Canada, and even Burger King and McDonald’s serve it.

How to Make Poutine?

pulled pork poutine Montreal
Poutine topped with pulled pork. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user 0x010C. [CC BY-SA 2.0].

It’s really quite simple to make this fan-favorite. Here are the steps:

  1. Get some French fries, already cooked, and place in dish.
  2. Pour some hot, brown gravy sauce over it to taste.
  3. Sprinkle a nice helping of cheese curds, which will stick to the gravy.
  4. Enjoy!

Now, for the most legit poutine recipe, the fries should be about medium-sized. Not McDonald’s thin, but not super-thick wedges, either. Also, those French fries should be cooked to a slight crisp on the outside, but no more.

The brown gravy should be a brown sauce, but the typical sauce brune popular in Quebec, based on fond brun, made of veal and/or beef stock. It can also be a chicken or turkey gravy. Add it just before serving so it doesn’t get too soggy!

Cheese curds are the final necessity in a perfect poutine, and they say “the taste is in the squeak.” They shouldn’t be refrigerated (which hardens them), and that’s when the cheese is said to lose its squeak. The highest fat content in the cheese is preferable, for the most flavor.

You’re already downing thousands of calories, so what’s a few more, eh?

Have a look at our collection of over 100 facts about Canada, too!

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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