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Top 5 Winter Canadian Foods You Must Try

 

Everyone has a favourite thing about winter. Even if your favourite thing is when it ends. But, even if the leaving of winter is what sparks joy in your heart, chances are you have another favourite part of winter… comfort food!

 

Warm, fragrant, comforting dishes, often with crispy golden crusts, melty cheese, aromatic spices, or sticky sweetness are one of the best parts of winter. Even better if you can enjoy it with people you love, or snuggled up on the couch with cozy socks and a whole lot of Netflix.

Here are the best Canadian Comfort Food Dishes to Get You Through the Winter

So without further ado, here are 5 foods to eat in a Canadian winter that’ll warm your heart, comfort your soul, or even bring loved ones together:

 

  • Swedish meatballs

    Swedish Meatballs

    Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

    Winters are typically cold, dry and dark in Sweden, but the Swedes are known for embracing the season by enjoying outdoor activities, chilly walks, and even commuting by bike year round. There is even a Swedish saying that “there is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes.” So they bundle up and head outdoors! But, they also fully embrace the coziness of being indoors on a frosty evening. While this is obviously not a Canadian dish, it’s one Canadians should really embrace… beyond the infinite walls of Ikea.

    Swedish meatballs are hearty, comforting and even a bit festive with a hint of allspice and nutmeg. Paired with a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce, it almost feels like Christmas dinner.

    The Recipe Critic has a fantastic, heartwarming recipe for Swedish meatballs. Although making meatballs from scratch instead of using frozen can be time consuming, these are totally worth it. You can even make them in large batches and freeze, then make the gravy on the day you plan to serve them.

    If you want to make a vegetarian (though not vegan) version, add a pinch of allspice to cooked or canned lentils, then make just the gravy for the meatballs and add in the lentils. Add a diced carrot and a few handfuls of fresh or frozen kale, simmer slowly until carrots are tender and serve over creamy mashed potatoes. Yum!


  • Butter tarts

    These classic Canadian cups of decadence are to die for with a cup of coffee or milky tea, or dare we say… a little spiced nog? Despite the name, they don’t have a whole lot of butter in the tart filling (plenty in the pastry though), but they do have a buttery, caramel-y yumminess that just seems to melt in your mouth.

    Adding chopped pecans to the filling is AMAZING. Raisins are optional, and if pecans are too pricey, chopped walnuts are great as well. Some recipes suggest chocolate chips, but as far as we’re concerned, that’s a big no-no. It just makes them overly sweet. So, if nut allergies are a concern, just leave out the nuts altogether. Sans nuts they’re still delicious and if you aren’t used to that nutty flavour, you probably won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

    The Food Network has a great roundup of 26 butter tart recipes with a few unique takes including butter tart squares, pinwheels, cheesecake (totally non-traditional, but very yum), bacon butter tarts (intriguing) and more.

    butter tart

    Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


  • French Canadian baked beans

    Not to be confused with Boston baked beans! Which are also good, but nothing beats slow cooked baked beans flavoured with maple syrup, thick sliced bacon (or not, for a veg version), molasses and brown sugar. Even better, beans are insanely nutritious, wallet-friendly, and as a cultivated crop they have a pretty low carbon footprint. What’s not to love?

    Traditionally, baked beans were simmered with chunks of fatty, salted pork to add flavour and much needed calories in those early days of our country’s colonization when food was about survival. Today, you can skip the pork without skipping on flavour. Just be sure to keep the maple syrup and molasses to get that hearty flavour unique to the French Canadian style of baked beans.

    Now, if you’ve had canned baked beans and you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well, trust us when we say they just don’t hold a slow cooking candle to homemade!

    This is a great recipe to try that includes a dash of worcestershire sauce to give a delicious depth of flavour. These are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, are amazing as a side to fried eggs, baked ham, tourtiere or even sauteed greens. They reheat amazingly and even freeze well. Enjoy!

    Baked Beans in Canada

    Photo by Jacob Stone on Unsplash


  • Beaver Tails

    Beaver Tails

    Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B45QBo_gPfq/

     This is the quintessential treat to eat outdoors (always outdoors!) during Canadian winters. If you’ve never had one, what it is is fried dough (roughly in the shape of a beaver’s tail) that’s been dipped in cinnamon sugar. Kind of like a fresh, flat doughnut, Beaver Tails have a crispy outside with a soft, doughy inside. Although they are fried, because they’re fried at a high heat, they aren’t super greasy. Instead, the light frying melts with the cinnamon sugar when you bite into it for pure deliciousness. But it’s not all crispy fried dough and sugary yums. Beaver Tails are classically made with whole wheat flour. So.. you know… fibre!

    There are now several permanent Beaver Tail kiosks around Montreal, but the very best are the pop up stands and food trucks you’ll often find around winter carnivals and skating rinks. On a crisp, cool afternoon, nothing beats grabbing a Beaver Tail along de la Commune in the Old Port and taking a tasty stroll through the old city. For a truly Canadian experience, grab your skates (or rent when you get there) and take yourself to Ottawa to skate along the Rideau while enjoying your Beaver Tail.

    Although getting Beaver Tails to-go is the classic way to enjoy them, if you have a deep fryer at home, you can also try making them yourself!

 


  • Indigenous Foods


    No winter table in Canada should be considered complete without honouring the indigenous people of this land who have known for thousands of years how to thrive during our harsh winters. Indigenous recipes have slowly been working their way into the mainstream spotlight and there is so much deliciousness and powerful history to discover within them.

    From caribou stew and bannock, to three sisters soup and wild rice with mushrooms, winter can be filled with warmth, comfort and discovery.

    Check out these recipes from the CBC for salmon with garlic and sage, wild rice stuffing, and apple, cranberry and wild sage crisp. Make a hearty three sisters soup and share the beautiful story and message of growing together with your family. Or try wild blueberry scones and invite a few close friends for coffee and a catch up.

     


What’s your favourite typically Canadian dish for winter? Please share it in the comments! Recipes are more than welcome ;-)

Looking to go to the outdoors this winter, make sure to check out Best winter shoes brands in Canada and the best winter jackets to keep you warm in a Canadian Winter.

Also here is some general advice on how to dress for winters in Canada.

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Jean Drapreau

Top Parks To Visit on the Island of Montreal This Winter

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Mont-Royal

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Mont-Royal

 

Ah, Montreal parks. The perfect setting for people watching, romantic strolls, picnics with friends, quirky activities like slack-lining, quidditch, extreme frisbee or practicing cartwheels because, why not? At least they’re great for all that (and more) in the summer and fall. But, what about winter?

Don’t despair, folks. The parks stay open year round, and there’s plenty to do at Montreal’s parks throughout the long winter months!

Here are 4 of the best parks in Montreal to visit in winter:

 

1. Parc la Fontaine

Located in le Plateau, Parc la Fontaine is bordered by Sherbrooke, Avenue du Parc La-Fontaine (obvs), Rachel and Papineau. It’s a great park for a stroll, a picnic, chilling by the duck pond or kicking back with a good book. In the winter, it transforms into a snowy wonderland, surrounded by some of the city’s trendiest hotspots.

Why it’s awesome for winter:

The skating! There’s something truly romantic about this park, so while you can definitely take the family skating, or go for a pick up hockey game, it’s a really special spot for an evening skate with your special someone. Don’t have skates? No worries! You can rent skates at the onsite chalet. You can also get your own skates sharpened there if you quite literally had to dust yours off. There’s also a little restaurant onsite to grab a snack or a hot drink, but… 

Kick it up a notch:

In case you weren’t aware, you can drink alcohol in Montreal’s public parks! The catch is, you have to be consuming a meal if you’re drinking. Ah, but there’s another catch! There’s really no definition of what constitutes a meal. So, if you were to bring a few yummy pastries or holiday baking alongside your thermos of spiked hot chocolate or egg nog, you’re probably good to go! If that isn’t the perfect budget-friendly, yet romance-packed date night, we don’t know what is!

More awesomeness:

Though the park is known more for its beautiful skating rink in the winter, you can also use the cross-country skiing or snowshoeing trails throughout the winter. Even just a snowy stroll through the park can be pretty special.

Park la fountaine in downtown montreal

 

2. Parc Mont Royal

Pretty much all of the mountain (note to non-Montrealers: it’s more of a large hill than an actual mountain, but to Montrealers it is 100% “the mountain”) is Parc Mont Royal and since that’s a lot of ground to cover, there’s an awful lot to love about it. Montreal's lake - Beaver lake in the park of mont royal

Why it’s awesome for winter:

Snow tubing! There are a few spots on the mountain where you can bring your own sled and coast down the hill, but the groomed tubing tracks overlooking Beaver Lake are hands down some of the most fun you can have in Montreal during the winter!

You rent a tube onsite (prices for this year have not yet been announced, but have always been extremely affordable in the past) and if you bring your own lock, you can make use of one of the onsite lockers so you can whoosh down the hill at top speed without a care in the world!

This is obviously an awesome activity for kids, but if you’re an adult or semi-adult and feeling nostalgic for the days when snow felt thrilling and magical, trust us… there is no joy quite like tubing! So slap on your snow pants and get ready to yeehaw!

Kick it up a notch:

Scrap the office Christmas party this year and take the whole team out to the hills for a day of totally unprofessional fun! When was the last time you fell into a fit of giggles with your coworkers? Forget the team building exercises. Nothing bonds a team together like tubing!

More awesomeness:

Like we said, this is a BIG park. Aside from tubing, there’s also snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching, skating, hiking and more!

 

3. L’Escapade in Rigaud

So this one’s actually outside the city and – bit of a bummer – not accessible by public transportation. It’s about a 45 minute drive away in the town of Rigaud, but it makes our list because… 

Why it’s awesome for winter:

The cross country skiing! L’escapade is a linear park. Yes, that is a boring description, but what it means is that the park is a lot longer than it is wide. Because of that, it’s the perfect layout for trails! There are about 27 kms of groomed ski trails in gorgeous l’Escapade park. The 27 kms are divided into five distinct trails, rated from easy to difficult. Given the length of the trails, you can really make a full day of it.

Kick it up a notch:

Combine your ski day with a little history! Rigaud is a town packed with historic sites and rich in quebecois culture. Sure, there’s plenty of history in Montreal as well, but this is a little different and immersing yourself in the roots of Quebec culture is an experience every Montrealer should have. So, spend a morning skiing the trails, then stop for lunch before visiting one (or more) of the many stops along the heritage and cultural circuit.

More awesomeness:

If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, this might be the perfect opportunity as you can rent the equipment onsite. There are also walking trails open year round, and while dogs are not allowed on the ski trails, they are more than welcome to join you for some furry fun on the walking and snowshoeing trails.

 

4. Parc Jean-Drapeau

This is probably the most action-packed park the city has to offer. Year round, there are all kinds of events and activities happening at Parc JD. Located on Île Sainte Hélène, Parc Jean-Drapeau is surprisingly easy to get to with plenty of parking and access via the metro’s yellow line. In the summer, you can even take a river shuttle from the Old Port. But in winter… 

Why it’s awesome for winter:

Fȇte des neiges! For the 37th year in a row, this event will be bringing the joy of winter to Montrealers for four weekends in a row. This year’s festival will include the ice boat (a giant pirate ship made of ice), snow tubing, a refrigerated skating trail, boot hockey games to join, a human foosball game, an “alpine adventure” activity organized by Cirque Éloize acrobats and much more. There’s even a mini-hill and equipment for kids to take their first shot at downhill skiing or snowboarding!

This is definitely a family friendly festival, with plenty of activities for kids of all ages, but it is by no means exclusively for kids and families. The ice slides are fun for everyone, there are plenty of activities to join in, and last year’s festival had amazing food trucks to sample some of the best cuisine in the city. This year’s food truck lineup is gearing up to be just as delicious.

Kick it up a notch:

Access to just the festival is free, but some activities require a ticket. Opt for the ridiculously affordable pass and you get unlimited access to all activities for ALL 4 WEEKENDS of the festival! Skate one day, go tubing the next, eat yourself silly at the food trucks, take a snowshoeing lesson, join a game of boot hockey, then do it all again!

More awesomeness:

If you opt for the festival pass, you also get free admission the Stewart Museum, which has great exhibits and programming for all ages, as well as 25% off admission to the Biosphere. If you’re tired of hearing “I’m bored” from your kids… or partner… or friends… there’s four straight weekends packed with activities!

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Jean Drapreau

What’s your favourite Montreal (or nearby) park to visit in the winter? Share it in the comments!

Read more about some activities that you can do this winter in Montreal.

Also make sure you are all set for winter, and see what we recommend for a Canadian winter Jackets

New to Montreal? New to Canada? Here’s How to Dress for Winter!

Whether you’ve recently arrived from a country without a yearly deep freeze, or you’re from one of those Canadian oases that stays mild (by Canadian standards), your first winter in Montreal can be a little… startling.Girl Wearing Winter Clothes

The ice, the snow, the WIND! Oh, the wind! With wind gusts taking us down to -30℃ (-22 ℉) and below on the reg, just how do Canadians survive winter?

It’s all about the layers! But you need to get strategic and plan for where you’re going and what you’ll be doing.

You also need to put aside any hangups about looking a bit ridiculous. Trust us, you’ll be warm and you won’t care.

Now, if your commute and lifestyle are such that your only outdoor time is getting from door to car and back again, you don’t need to worry as much about blocking out the cold. But, if you have to (or want to) spend more than 15 minutes at a time outside, dressing warmly and smartly is a must. So without further ado…

Here is what Montreal Tips thinks you should wear in Canada in winter:

The Coat

Let’s start with the most basic of Canadian winter essentials – the winter coat.

What type of Coat should you get for a Canadian winter?

You have 2 options, the super warm or the moderately warm. Check below for details on each.

Super WarmGirl Wearing Winter Clothes

If you want something that will keep you warm, even over a simple t-shirt, your best bet is one of the higher end brands. These are brands like Canada Goose, North Face, Arc’teryx, Nobis and Patagonia. They are typically very pricey, but they will do the job and they’re built to last. Many are made with goose down, or another down blend, but there are synthetic animal friendly materials as well.

Many of these coats can run you well over $400 and high price tag isn’t the only downside. If you’re walking around a mall or museum or anywhere heated with one of these on, you’ll quickly end up dripping in sweat. On the other hand, they are oh so very warm and cozy.

Moderately Warm

Of course, there are plenty of winter coat brands that are moderately warm and can be found at stores like l’Équipeur, Winners, The Bay and even places like Walmart and Old Navy.

These coats are usually warm enough up to about -20℃ (with no windchill), but beyond that, you’ll be feeling the cold. That’s where layering comes in. If you opt for a moderately warm coat, ensure the fit allows for a heavy sweater underneath, then look for something in a chunky knit – ideally a wool blend, but synthetic works too. Chunky knits work really well at providing an insulating layer and keeping you toasty. Opt for a cardigan style that does up and you can even use safety pins to attach it to the inside of your coat, making it easier to put it on and take it off as one piece.

Fleece layers can be great as well, but they aren’t as breathable, so if sweatiness is a concern for you, avoid fleece.

See a list of the best jackets to wear in a Canadian winter. 

 

The Boots

What type of Boots should you get for a Canadian winter?

You WILL need good boots. Boots to keep you warm, to give you traction on snow and ice, and to keep your feet dry, especially when slush happens (and it happens a lot).

All that to say, you want to look at three key things when choosing winter boots: temperature rating, treads and waterproof level.

As with many things, the best performing brands also tend to be the most expensive. When it comes to boots, those brands include Sorel, Bogs, UGG, The North Face, Timberland, Columbia and more.

With many of these brands, you can often find an excellent pair for between $150 and $200, which can be a lot upfront, but with proper care, they should last you several years. Proper care means regularly cleaning them (to get rid of road salt, which can be especially damaging) and using protective sprays.

If these options are out of your price range, the Canadiana line at Walmart is also decent, and you can find good options at stores like Joe Fresh, Globo or Winners.

With lower cost options, prioritize waterproofness. Buy them one size – or half a size – larger and you can layer warm socks or even add in thermal insoles which make a world of difference. For traction, you can buy products like GripOns that turn virtually any boot into prime winter wear.

See the best boots for women in a Canadian Winter.

See the best boots for men for winter in Canada.

 

Girl wearing winter boots in canada

The Pants

 

Remember back at the beginning when we said to let go of looking ridiculous? Even lifelong Montrealers struggle with this one, but when that temperature drops and the windchill kicks up, being afraid of looking silly leads to frozen – sometimes literally – legs. Is it too cold in Canada? Well, when your thighs are burning from cold and then start to itch and ache as they thaw out, it sure does feel that way.

So here’s the thing: give snow pants a try. You won’t be among the majority, but you also won’t be alone.

What pants to wear for winter in Canada?

Depending on where you shop – which can be anywhere from Walmart or Aubainerie, to MEC or even L.L Bean, you can pay anywhere from $25 to $200 and beyond. Higher-end pants do tend to be warmer (and a little better looking), but if you’re using these for commuting, picking the kids up from school, running errands or the occasional skating or winter hiking adventure, you don’t need to go high end. If you plan to do a lot of skiing, skating, snowshoeing or any other outdoor activity, you may want to opt for something higher quality and waterproof.

Winter scarfs stacked on a shelf

 

The Accessories

What kind of accessories should you have for a winter in Canada?

Hat, mitts, neckwarmer… you need all three! 

  • Hat

There are a lot of great looking hats out there. And most will be just fine when things aren’t too cold. Even a headband or ear muffs will do the trick. But, when it really gets cold, you’ll want a proper hat – either fleece, or knit with a thermal lining. Pom poms are cool, but they don’t always fit under hoods, so they may limit your coziness factor.

  • Mitts

Mittens are usually warmer than gloves, but with newer materials like gore tex and even tried and true textiles like merino wool, you can get decently warm gloves as well. That said, if budget is an issue, opt for mittens as they will keep you warmer when made with less expensive materials.

  • Neckwarmer

A scarf is definitely an option over a neckwarmer, but for safety’s sake, style it tucked under your coat so there are no loose ends. The safety concern is greater with children, with many schools and daycares outright banning scarves, but the danger doesn’t disappear for adults. Scarves can get caught in bus, metro or even car doors, so make sure those ends are tucked, or opt for a neckwarmer or infinity scarf instead.

Beyond 

If you really want to avoid the cold, or if you’re dressing for outdoor sports, a full-coverage balaclava is great for keeping the frost off your nose and cheeks.

 

Layering

So we’ve got your outerwear covered, but here’s another concern when it comes to dressing for winter in Canada: indoor heating! Or being outside for extended periods! Ugh. So may things to consider.

Layering for indoor heating

If you’re a student or work indoors, odds are your workplace or classroom are heated. Sometimes OVERheated. So you dress warm for outdoors, then sweat half to death throughout the day.

You need to layer. When choosing winter clothing, focus on light fabrics like cotton or thin knits and layer a sweater or cardigan overtop. You can also layer warm socks over tights or thin dress socks for outdoors. Dress for the temperature of where you’re going, then layer on top of that for warmth outdoors.

Layering for outdoor activities

Whether it’s winter sports, long walks, watching your kid’s hockey practice or an outdoor holiday market, there’s no reason to spend the whole winter inside. Instead, layer up and embrace the season!

Thermal long underwear is, hands down, the best way to go. Often called a “base layer”, long underwear is another instance where price range varies immensely. If you’re opting for a lower price range, look for a breathable fabric. Cotton waffle knit is a great option. It will give you the insulation you need to stay warm, but will be breathable enough to keep you from overheating. 

 

Guy and girl standing in the snow

Of course, every Canadian (and every Montrealer) has their own favourite tips for staying warm throughout the winter or for how to pack for a winter trip. What’s your top tip? Share it in the comments! You just might save a tourist or new arrival from the dreaded windchill thigh burn.