Simple Poutine Recipe (a Canadian Classic) (2024)

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ByCheryl Avrich Updated on

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Check out this Canadian classic poutine recipe. Baked fries with creamy insides, melty cheese curds, all smothered in a rich beef gravy. I may be a biased Canadian, but I think you will love this scrumptious easy-to-make comfort food.

If you love French fries and gravy – smothered fries – you will no doubt love this poutine recipe.And don’t miss some cool variations to try.

Simple Poutine Recipe (a Canadian Classic) (1)

Poutine is a Canadian classic that originated in Quebec in the 1950’s. It is now served worldwide in diners, on food trucks and even in high end restaurants. The French word poutine is slang for “a mess” and simply means “fries with cheese and gravy”.

In Quebec, poutine is pronounced poo-tin or poo-tsin. The rest of Canada and beyond pronounce it poo-teen.

There are endless variations of poutine nowadays. For this recipe, we’re sticking to a more classic poutine – homemade fries (I prefer baking them), topped with cheese curds and a delicious homemade gravy. If you’re feeling lazy, don’t worry, we have a couple of shortcuts for you.

Ingredient notes – tailored to your taste

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  1. potatoes cut into sticks for fries
  2. gravy ingredients (beef broth, flour, thyme, salt, pepper, oil)
  3. cheese curds

Fries: These can be baked, deep fried or air fried. I find Yukon gold potatoes to be the best potatoes for baked fries (love the creamy insides). Russet potatoes will work fine as well.

Gravy: The flavor in a poutine comes from the rich gravy. If you like the traditional beefy flavor, try to get the best beef broth you can find. You can also opt for chicken gravy, a combination of beef and chicken gravy or a vegetarian gravy (see recipe notes).

Cheese curds: White cheddar cheese curds are used in authentic poutine recipes. We describe below what they are and where to get them.If you can’t find fresh cheese curds, full fat mozzarella torn into little pieces, is the best substitute. Don’t use the shredded mozzarella – it will just melt.

Optional toppings: Bacon, smoked meat, cooked sausage, pulled pork, scallions, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms. Or whatever ever else you like.

Tips for Success

  1. Make sure the gravy is very hot when you pour it on. This helps make the cheese curds get melty.
  2. Don’t obsess with getting the fries super crispy because as soon as you add gravy, they are going to soften
  3. For this recipe, the cheese curds are best at room temperature.

Poutine recipe step by step

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Cut potatoes into sticks (peeling not necessary). Season with oil, salt and pepper.

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Spread potatoes on lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden brown.

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To make gravy, heat oil and flour in a saucepan. Add broth and stir until smooth and thickened. Add seasonings to your taste.

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To assemble, place fries on a plate. Top with cheese curds and pour over hot gravy. Garnish with parsley or chopped green onion if you like. Or other toppings of your choice.


  • Use store-bought frozen french fries
  • Use a store-bought packaged beef gravy. Based on taste tests, Insider says Knorr Classic Brown Gravy Mix is best. Influenster says Club House Organic Brown Gravy Mix is best. You’ll have to experiment here. And keep in mind, our homemade gravy only takes 5 minutes to make.

Make Ahead

  • You can make the gravy several days ahead and keep it in the fridge. Reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
  • The fries can also be made a couple hours ahead. Just reheat them before serving at 400F/204C for 5-7 minutes to crisp up.

How to serve poutine

Serve the poutine as an appetizer, a side dish or even a main meal (with an extra topping or two). I, for one, am happy to eat poutine as a meal 🙂 To balance the meal, a simple salad or tomato soup will work.

Or how about a poutine bar! Set out the fries, cheese curds, hot gravy in a coffee thermos – and several toppings. Let guests make their own.

Different variations of poutine to try

The sky is the limit. Here are a few variations to get your imagination flowing.

  • Chicken pot poutine – scoop chicken pot pie filling over fries and cheese curds
  • Root vegetable poutine – for the fries, include various root vegetables with potatoes e.g. carrots, turnip, parsnip, sweet potato.
  • Seafood poutine – use lobster bisque as the gravy (thickened a little with cornstarch if you like)
  • Gnocchi poutine – instead of fries, use gnocchi
  • Butter chicken poutine – pour butter chicken sauce over the fries instead of beef gravy.
  • Vegan poutine – try it with miso gravy and vegan cheese. Vegetarians can substitute vegetarian gravy for the beef gravy.
  • Greek poutine – sprinkle with cooked shredded lamb and feta (instead of cheese curds)
  • Sausage poutine – you guessed it – use sausage gravy instead of beef. And top with some cooked sausage.
  • Potato variations: – instead of homemade french fries, try tater tots, potato wedges, waffle fries or sweet potato fries.

Recipe FAQ

What are cheese curds?

Cheese curds are just cheese, usually cheddar, that hasn’t been aged. To sell it legally in the US, the curds have to be aged at least 60 days to kill the bacteria.

Cheese curds have a mild, salty taste and springy texture. They don’t melt completely in a poutine recipe, just slightly. They are most flavorful right after they are made and squeak against your teeth when you bite into them. Only when super fresh though.They will last for a few weeks in the fridge and can even be frozen.

Where can I find cheese curds?

Finding white cheese curds in a local grocery store – especially outside of Canada – may be a challenge depending on where you live. Other than farmer’s markets where I get mine, an online search shows that they should be available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Walmart. Get this – you can buy a frozen poutine kit at Trader Joe’s which includes the fries, curds and gravy!

Is poutine unhealthy?

Let’s be clear. This is not diet food. Lots of carbs, fat and calories. But I can assure you that our homemade poutine is way healthier than the ones they sell in the chain restaurants. While not all portions are equal:
– KFC poutine has 720 calories with 40 grams of fat.
– MacDonald’s has a whopping 870 calories with 38 grams of fat.
– Burger King’s is 740 calories with 41 gram of fat.
– Wendy’s is 660 calories and 37 grams of fat.
And they all have a ton of salt.
By comparison, our easy poutine recipe has 382 calories, 25 grams of fat (5 saturated) and half the salt. Much better. Portions matter of course.

How many potatoes do I need per serving?

This will completely depend on what else you are serving with the poutine and how big your eaters are.I typically figure 2-3 people per pound (250g) of potatoes. About one medium potato per person

What other famous Canadian foods can I try?

Poutine often tops the lists, but other great ones are Nanaimo bars, Timbits (from Tim Hortons), maple syrup, Montreal bagels (St. Viateur), butter tarts, Nova Scotia lobster rolls, peameal bacon (also called Canadian bacon) and our Canadian maple cedar planked salmon.

Love potatoes?

Here are a few of our reader favorites. Grilled, roasted, boiled, fried, pressure cooked.

  • fried potatoes and onions recipe
  • mashed potato pancakes
  • herb potato salad
  • grilled veggies and potatoes
  • vegetarian sweet potato hash
  • Indian potatoes
  • basic mashed potatoes
  • best instant potatoes and carrots
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Homemade Poutine (a Canadian Classic)

Check out this Canadian classic – homemade poutine. Baked fries with creamy insides, melty cheese curds, all smothered in a rich beef gravy. I may be a biased Canadian, but I think you will agree it's a scrumptious easy-to-make comfort food.

Prep Time5 minutes mins

Cook Time30 minutes mins

Total Time35 minutes mins

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack

Cuisine: Canadian, Quebec

Servings: 3 (or two large portions)

Author: Cheryl Avrich


Poutine Fries

  • 1 pound (450g) potatoes, Russet or Yukon Gold, Note 1 (2-3 potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon each, kosher salt and ground pepper

Gravy recipe

  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil (or meat drippings or butter)
  • 1 cup (230 ml) good beef broth or beef stock Note 2, 3 if using undiluted, full strength broth, use 3/4 broth and 1/4 water)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: a teaspoon fresh herbs like thyme or chives; a pinch of onion powder or garlic powder, and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.

Cheese curds

  • 1/2 cup (112g) white cheddar cheese curds – or more, room temperature (or substitute torn full fat mozzarella)


  • HEAT OVEN TO 425F/218C. Line a baking pan with parchment or foil, sprayed with oil.

  • MAKE FRENCH FRIES: Peel potatoes if you like (I don't bother). Cut them into sticks of about 1/3 inch or 1 cm wide and pat dry with paper towels. No need to obsess – thinner will take less time to bake, fatter will take more. Optional: For crispier fries, soak them in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes or more to remove some starch. Dry them well in a tea towel. Toss with oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on pan. Bake fries for 30 minutes or until nicely browned, flipping once half way through. Note 4 to fry.

  • MAKE GRAVY: While fries are baking, make the gravy. Put 1 1/2 tbsp of fat drippings or oil into a small saucepan. Heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until it starts to turn a very light brown. (It should be a loose paste. If too dry, add a bit more oil). Add broth and whisk/stir until smooth – about 3 minutes. Gravy will thicken. Add optional herbs and Worcestershire if using. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

  • ASSEMBLE: Place hot fries on a plate. Top with cheese curds. Pour HOT gravy over. Serve immediately with additional toppings (Note 5) or optional garnish if you like. Dig in!

Recipe Notes

  1. French fries shortcut: Use frozen French fries and bake according to package directions.
  2. Beef Broth:
    • For beef gravy (traditional), my personal favorite is a can of Campbell’s undiluted beef broth (30% less salt). It will NOT say ‘ready to serve’ on the can. I use it at full strength without adding water. If I can’t get the lower sodium brand, I use full strength mixed with some water. Otherwise the poutine will be too salty as cheese curds contain a lot of salt. Epicurious wrote an article recommending the best beef broths if you’re interested.
    • You can also use a combination of beef and chicken broth. Or just chicken broth.
  3. Gravy options and shortcut:
    1. Chicken gravy: Instead of a brown beef gravy, you can also make a chicken gravy or combination of beef and chicken.
    2. Shortcut gravy, use a packaged gravy such as Knorr Classic Brown Gravy Mix or your favorite.
    3. Vegetarian gravy: Use vegetarian broth and herbs. I also add green onions for extra flavor (saute them before adding flour).
  4. To fry French fries (instead of baking them), here is a french fries recipe from fifteen spatulas.
  5. Optional toppings: Bacon, smoked meat, cooked sausage, pulled pork, scallions, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms. Or whatever ever else you like.
  6. Make Ahead
    • You can make the gravy several days ahead and keep it in the fridge. Reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. Store leftover gravy in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
    • The fries can also be made a couple hours ahead. Just reheat them before serving at 400F/204C for 5-7 minutes to crisp up.

Nutrition values are estimates and depend on how much cheese curds and gravy used.


Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 663mg | Potassium: 796mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 2mg

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Simple Poutine Recipe (a Canadian Classic) (2024)
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