Show off some Canadian cooking this holiday season with these recipes inspired by our country’s favourite dishes and ingredients. From mini tourtières to tiny lobster rolls, here are appetizing ways to celebrate Christmas.
Lobster Roll Bites
You can cook your own Canadian lobster or buy it pre-steamed for this classic take on crustaceans. The soft bun of the original gets an hors d’oeuvres approach with mini toast cups for a crunchy, creamy bite.
Quebec’s savoury tourtières are an aromatic main course dish, filled with pork, cloves and cinnamon. Bite-sized triangles let guests sample this hearty meat pie without filling up before dinner, while eliminating the need for cutlery.
Mini Hasselback Loaded Potatoes
Potatoes are grown across Canada (we’ve even got our own claim to potato fame, the Yukon Gold). Elevate potato skins with these mini hasselback loaded potatoes. The accordion slices allow whatever filling you desire to be stuffed inside, such as sour cream, bacon, green onions or fresh rosemary.
Ketchup Chip Mac and Cheese Balls
Quintessentially Canadian, the sweet, vinegary taste of a ketchup chip isn’t for everyone — but its fans find it strangely addictive. Turn chips into a more substantial appetizer with these deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls that feature a crispy outer crust and gooey centre. Bet you can’t eat just one.
Hash Brown Poutine Bites
Miniature poutines make a low-key appetizer for a casual get together (or a saucy nod to a late-night snack favourite at a fancy affair). Try to source genuine cheese curds to get that familiar squeak upon biting into it that poutine lovers hold dear.
Tourtiere Spring Rolls
If you can’t wait for the main event, bring your favourite pie to the party with these seasonal appetizers. All your favourite flavours and spices are here for a delectable meat-pie filling, only fried to perfection for a crunchy, savoury bite that’s worthy of celebrating.
Maritime donairs are serious sticky business — meaty and substantial with a delicious condensed milk, white vinegar and garlic-based sauce. This lighter take threads chunks of cubed meatloaf onto a skewer with lettuce, pickled pearl onions and pitas. We can’t guarantee that you still won’t make a mess, but it’ll be delicious fun.
Moose can’t fly, but this Albertan’s take on Buffalo wings soars with flavour. Sriracha, Dijon mustard, soy and apricot jam make a sweet, spicy and sticky glaze for baked chicken wings.
West Coast Salmon Candy
With the saltiness reminiscent of the best bar snacks and a hefty hit of sweetness and smoke, this brown sugar-crusted salmon candy is inspired by a traditional Indigenous preparation.
Cod, potatoes and bacon — what could represent our country better than these salt cod cakes from Nova Scotia? Remember to pre-soak the dried cod fillets ahead of time to remove the salt and rehydrate the fish.
Mini Acadian Meat Pies
Not looking for a full-meal meat pie commitment? These cute mini meat pies are a small taste of Acadian tradition found throughout the Maritimes, especially New Brunswick. Summer savoury and ground ginger pack these tiny pies with a powerhouse punch of flavour.
In Caraquet, New Brunswick, the local oysters are a big deal — so much so, there’s even a museum dedicated to them. This creamy fricot lavishes Caraquet oysters in a bath of mixed seafood and wild mushrooms, with homemade lobster butter to gild the lily.
Succulent scallops from Digby on the Bay of Fundy are sweet tastes from the Maritimes. Patting them dry and searing them quickly leads to a beautiful brown crust — try not to move them around too much once you’ve got them in the pan to get the best results.
Time for bacon (you knew we were getting there eventually, right?). Candied with maple and brown sugar, you can chop these for a garnish or eat them outright as a snack — we won’t tell.
Grandma Mary's Perogies
You can thank Eastern European immigrants for popularizing perogies across Canada. While this recipe, like every family recipe, is rife with tradition, the addition of cheddar cheese gives it a Canadian twist. Perogies are such a part of Canadian culinary history, they were honoured with a statue in Glendon, Alta.
Fried Cod Tongues with Scrunchions
If you can’t make it to a Newfoundland kitchen party, you can cook this East Coast favourite right at home with this simple 5-ingredient recipe. Scrunchions are made from frying pieces of pork fat until the pieces are deliciously crispy and brown.
A beautifully elegant Canadian version of a classic French dish, this venison carpaccio brushed with duck fat and cedar jelly will impress even the most discerning of diners. Sea buckthorn, a tart berry grown in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, adds a splash of colour and brightness to the dish.
Leslie Wu is a Toronto-based food and travel writer, editor and explorer. Follow her on Twitter at @leslie_wu.