One of the absolute best things in the world to eat is poutine.

It has everything: savory deep flavors, hearty carbs, mountains of cheese, and gravy. It’s an absolute beast of a dish, in the best way. I have eaten so many poutines in my life and I don’t regret any of them.

poutine |

What is poutine

Poutine is a classic Quebequois Canadian dish consisting of fries, fresh cheese curds, and gravy. It’s fairly newish, created in the 50s – it doesn’t really have a clear inventor, but there are tons of places who claim they invented it.

It’s insanely popular in Canada and is pretty much known around the world as a classic Canadian snack food. It’s definitely a favorite amongst Canadians: there are poutineries that sell only poutine, high-end poutines at fancy restaurants, snack shack poutines, and even poutine at McDonald’s and Costco.

poutine |

Poutine ingredients

  • Fries: almost always medium thick with creamy, soft interiors, double fried for crunch.
  • Cheese curds: fresh cheese curds are a must. Fresh cheese curds are squeaky, chewy, and melt just the tiniest bit on the outside when drenched in gravy. They’re mild and a little salty and they taste amazing.
  • Gravy: also known as poutine sauce. This is where everyone gets a little inventive. Classic poutine sauce is a brown gravy that is butter and flour roux based. People use a mix of beef or chicken stock and spices. Vegetarian gravy is super common as well and and a lot of the poutinerie in Quebec exclusively serve vegetarian gravy. Poutine sauce is so popular that they even sell poutine sauce packets in the grocery store.
  • Toppings: classic poutine is always just fries, cheese curds, and gravy, but there are loads of toppings you can add on top like bacon, scallions, sausages, pulled pork, mushrooms, peppers, essentially anything you can ever think of.

poutine sauce |

You probably haven’t had poutine

If you haven’t visited Canada, you’ve probably never had real poutine. For me, real poutine MUST have fresh and squeaky cheese curds. They serve poutine in the US, but trust me when I say it’s not the same. The worst contenders use shredded cheese that melts into the gravy making it cheesy gravy and fries. Which is delicious in its own right, but a real poutine needs to have 3 distinct ingredients/textures.

poutine |

What makes a good poutine

In my humble opinion as a lifelong eater of poutine, I love poutine that has golden brown, crisp and crunchy fries with fluffy insides, thick but not too thick umami filled gravy, and loads of fresh cheese curds that have melty edges and squeaky middles. The ultimate expression of poutine that I’ve had was at the Chez Ashton in the food court in the mall where Celine Dion was discovered.

poutine de chez ashton |

Regional differences

A note about poutine in Montreal. I think it’s something you need to grow up with, but for some reason, the poutine in Montreal features soggy fries. I’m not a fan. I just don’t LOVE the style of fries that people in Montreal prefer. I find them oily and limp. I need my fries to hold up gravy and heat. I want them to be crispy and crunchy and fluffy, not soggy and creamy.

Fresh cheese curds

Cheese curds, aka squeaky cheese, are little randomly shaped nuggets of fresh young cheddar cheese. They are mild like mozzarella and are squeaky between your teeth when you chew them. They keep their shape well and and melt slightly when warmed. Cheese curds are essentially baby cheese that aren’t mature and pressed. The have extra air in them which is what makes the squeak.

cheese curds |

Why fresh cheese curds?

Fresh cheese curds are perfect for poutine because you don’t want the curds to melt into the gravy, you want little nuggets of cheese that hold up to the heat. The perfect poutine cheese curd has a blanket of piping hot gravy and is slightly melty and gooey on the outside with a firm yet soft squeaky distinct bite on the inside. The contrast in temperature and texture is what makes fresh cheese curds in poutine amazing.

Where to buy fresh cheese curds

Fresh cheese curds are always sold at room temp and they can be hard to find depending on if there’s cheese being made near you or not. Once you refrigerate fresh cheese curds, they lose their squeak and texture. Even in the West Coast of Canada, it can be difficult to find fresh, unrefrigerated cheese curds. In the East Coast, you’ll find bags of fresh cheese curds, unrefrigerated, near the bakery/deli. In Quebec they’ll also be near the checkouts, like candy.

In America (and western Canada) you can find cheese curds in the cheese section. Outside of Wisconsin, they probably won’t be same day fresh, so they won’t be squeaky, but leaving them on the counter top for 20 minutes at room temp will at least give them a bit of a head start on the melting. You can even buy cheese curds online these days, believe it or not.

cheese curds |

What is poutine sauce?

Poutine sauce is another way Canadians say gravy. I kid, I kid – but really poutine sauce is essentially a brown gravy that’s make from butter, flour, stock, and spices.

Like gravy, it’s rich and hearty, warm and full of flavor. Not all poutine sauces are meat based, in fact a lot of them are vegetarian, but they have a very hearty, rich flavor to them that tastes like the brown gravy you get when you eat pot roast or a roast dinner. The nice thing about it is that unlike brown gravy, you don’t need drippings.

You can buy little packets of instant poutine sauce at the grocery store in Quebec and they also sell jarred and canned versions too.

How to make poutine sauce

If you’ve made gravy before, you can make poutine sauce! This particular poutine sauce is special because it uses both a roux and a cornstarch slurry to thicken. You get the best of both worlds: the richness of a roux based gravy and the silliness of a cornstarch thickened gravy. This gravy is just thick enough to cling to and coat the fries and curds without being goopy.

  1. Melt some butter over low heat and sprinkle on some flour. Cook the butter and flour into a roux, stirring and letting it bubble away for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Slowly stream in beef stock (or vegetable if you prefer) while whisking over medium low heat.
  3. Whisk in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  4. Mix cornstarch with a bit of water to create a slurry and add it to the gravy. Bring the heat up to medium high and simmer until bubbly and thick.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Best fries for poutine

Mike and I almost always turn to frozen fries and our air fryer when it comes to fries at home. Frozen fries exist for a reason. They’re consistent and come out crispier than fresh cut french fried potatoes. The air fryer magically makes frozen fries hot and crisp and just as good (if not better) than fries fried in oil. We like to choose a sturdy straight cut fry and fry it for 10-15 minutes with a couple of shakes in between.

air fryer fries |

What are the best potatoes for poutine?

If you’re going to go the route and make your own fries, I recommend Russets because of their dense high starch content. You want them to be able to soak up as much gravy as possible.

Less-traditional but amazing variations

Traditional is good but life is too short to be just the classics. You can take any flavor or dish and fries, cheese curds, and gravy them up. Here are some we’ve made over the years (warning, throwback posts):

Is there anything better in life than crispy fries, squeaky cheese, and savory, soul satisfying gravy?

xoxo Steph

poutine orange julep |


poutine recipe |

Poutine Recipe

One of the absolute best things in the world to eat is poutine.
Serves 4
4.82 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 lb frozen french fries ~ 1 bag
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups beef stock no sodium preferred
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch made into a slurry with 1 tbsp water
  • 1.5 cups fresh cheese curds


  • Make the frozen fries in the air fryer or oven according to the package.
    air fryer fries |
  • While the fries are crisping up, make the gravy: Melt the butter over low heat then sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Slowly stream in the beef stock while whisking. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire, onion powder, garlic powder, and cornstarch slurry. Bring the heat up to medium high and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
    poutine sauce |
  • When the fries are ready, make the poutine: layer the fries and cheese curds and ladle on the gravy. Enjoy hot!
    poutine |

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Poutine Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 479 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 17.6g110%
Cholesterol 53mg18%
Sodium 1084mg47%
Potassium 499mg14%
Carbohydrates 31.3g10%
Fiber 2.7g11%
Sugar 2.8g3%
Protein 18.9g38%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. Sabrina says:

    5 stars
    no, I haven’t ever had a real poutine, and not even a fake one (grated cheese in this doesn’t seem very appetizing) but love the gravy-cheese curd pairing, my kind of total carb splurge, a great weekend dish for me, so thank you!

    1. Jess M. says:

      I am drooling! Yum!!!

  2. Kara Marx says:

    5 stars
    I love fresh cheese curds! The first time I tried them was in Wisconsin with my husbands Grandma! Great tip!

  3. Amy says:

    5 stars
    My daughter and I love poutine. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I agree crispy fluffy fries are the most important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating