In this post: This poutine recipe is a savory, messy, irresistible dish of fresh french fries, topped with brown gravy, and cheese curds. We’ve also got yummy dairy-free and gluten-free options too.


Authentic French Canadian poutine is made from delicious french fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds. And it is heavenly! This poutine recipe will show you how to make that yummy poutine the old-fashioned way. Plus I’m sharing a few options if you’re gluten or dairy-free as well that are so tasty too. 

Canadian poutine on a fork

Where did poutine originate

Poutine originated in Quebec (Canada) in the 1950s. It didn’t become popular across Canada and beyond until the 90s though. Now you can find it at all sorts of restaurants from McDonald’s to much fancier establishments. 

For a more in-depth history of poutine see here

Why is it called poutine?

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “the word poutine is commonly believed to have originated from the English word pudding (or as it were in French, pouding) used to describe a mixture, typically messy, of various foods. In Québec, the term poutine is slang for mess. More than a dozen other explanations have been offered, including the root of the French words potin (pâté) and poutitè (potato ragout).” 

poutine with curds and gravy on a white plate

Why we love it

Because it’s tasty!

But also because this poutine recipe:

  • can be made with homemade deep-fried french fries, air-fried french fries, even store-bought oven french fries 
  • is full of cheesy, rich, and delicious goodness
  • can be customized and topped with so many variations like pulled chicken, or taco seasoned beef (although not traditional, these are soooo good!) 
  • is cheap and easy to make – our 21-year-old son makes it at least weekly for his lunch! 

What potatoes are best for poutine?

Did you know that there are different kinds of potatoes? And some work better for certain types of cooking than others?

I’ve been cooking for our family for more than twenty-five years and this is only something I paid attention to recently when making homemade french fries for Super Bowl weekend! 

Russet potatoes are best for french fries because they are a little harder and denser and less moist than other potatoes. This means they won’t fall apart or turn to mush when cooked.

They may be labeled as Idaho potatoes or baking potatoes. Yellow potatoes are definitely not your best bet for making french fries. 

What oil is best for poutine?

Technically the best oil for making french fries is peanut oil. But I’ve never used that. 

Instead, I always use vegetable or canola oil for making homemade french fries. 

Don’t use olive oil or any other oil with a low smoke point or a strong taste of its own. 

What kind of cheese should I use?

Technically you can use whatever cheese strikes your fancy. But traditional poutine uses cheese curds – or “squeaky” cheese. 

What are cheese curds?

Cheese curds are small pieces of curdled milk about the size of peanuts in a shell. They have a mild cheddar flavor because they are actually young, unaged cheddar. 

Substitute for cheese curds in this poutine recipe

Every once in a while I feel a little bit deprived because of generally avoiding dairy products and gluten. I certainly feel better being gluten-free and dairy-free, but there are just those foods that I miss.

Like Poutine.

Mmm, ooey-gooey Poutine. 

Okay, so it’s not exactly health food. Or an everyday food. But it sure is nice for a treat. 

That’s why I decided to tweak the traditional poutine recipe at home so it can be gluten-free and dairy-free – and a little healthier than the typical restaurant version. See below for options. 

Vegan or Non-Dairy Cheese curd substitutes

While nothing will be exactly like cheese curds, there are some fabulous options if you need to avoid dairy. 

  • Daiya non-dairy cheese shreds. Made with tapioca starch, arrowroot, coconut oil, and potato protein isolate, Daiya melts really well under the hot gravy and tastes great hot. 
  • Violife vegan grated cheese. Made from Water, Coconut Oil (24%), Modified Starch, Starch, Sea Salt, Mozzarella flavor, Olive Extract, Colour: B-Carotene, Vitamin B12, it’s another great option if you don’t want to use soy cheese. 
  • Earth’s Island makes a cheese block that will work when shredded too. Made from Filtered Water, Coconut Oil, Modified Food Starch, Potato Starch, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor (Plant Sources), Olive Extract, Paprika Extract, and Beta Carotene for Color.

Where to buy cheese curds for poutine

Some larger grocery stores sell cheese curds in the deli section of the store. Or you can get cheese curds at your local farms, cheese shops, or even butchers. 

french fries with cheese curds and gravy

Poutine Recipe Variations to Try

No matter where you live the main ingredients in any poutine recipe are always the same fries, gravy, and cheese. 

But you can also play around with other ingredients too: 

Try replacing the regular fries with waffle fries, potato wedges, sweet potato fries, baked potatoes or tater tots (for kids).

For an even more fun dish, try topping your poutine with:

  • pulled chicken or pork
  • crumbled bacon
  • sauteed mushrooms and/or mushroom gravy
  • thinly sliced smoked meat
  • taco fixings like ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream
  • leftover turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy
  • sliced steak 
  • crumbled ground beef, onions, dill pickles 
how to make canadian poutine

How to Make Poutine

Even though it seems like a decadent dish, this poutine recipe is super easy to make. For full instructions and printable recipe see below. 

Step 1: Make the Poutine Gravy

Gravy is pretty easy to make once you get the hang of it. 

I make my gravy using the same steps no matter whether I’m using vegetable stock, beef stock, or chicken stock. First, I create a roux from butter and flour. Then I slowly mix in broth until the gravy is the right consistency. 

Homemade poutine gravy ingredients

  • butter
  • flour
  • broth

How to make gravy for poutine

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1-2 tbsp of butter slowly over low heat. 
  2. After the butter is melted, slowly stir in flour until you make a past – also called a roux. 
  3. Once you have a paste, slowly whisk in your broth of choice a little at a time until you have a nice hot, thick gravy. 

Go here for our regular gravy recipe

Step 2: Make the French Fries

If you’re making homemade french fries:

  • Cut the potatoes into approximately 1/2 inch thick “fries.”
  • Soak the potatoes in a bowl of cold water. Add a tablespoon of sugar to the water for extra yummy fries. The longer you soak the potatoes, the crispier the fries will be. 
  • Scoop out handfuls of fries and let them dry on paper towels on the counter. Dab them with more paper towels so they’re fairly dry. Repeat with all the fries. 
  • Either fry the fries in batches in hot oil (I test by dropping a tiny bit of water in – if it sizzles it’s hot enough) in a deep pot, air fry or bake in the oven until light brown and crispy. 
  • If frying, drain on paper towels to soak up some of the greases. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. 

Step 3: Assemble the Poutine

  1. Place the fries on plates. 
  2. Top with cheese curds (or cheese of choice) and pour on the hot gravy. Make sure the cheese is well covered in gravy so it melts or gets soft. 
poutine recipe with cheese curds and beef gravy

How to Eat Poutine

Eating poutine is a messy business. You will definitely want a fork! But you can add salt and pepper if you want. 

Tips for This Poutine Recipe

  • Use russet potatoes for nice crisp potatoes.
  • Cut the fries uniformly for the best results. 
  • Soak fries immediately after cutting them so that they don’t oxidize and turn brown.
  • Thoroughly dry the potatoes after soaking them so they don’t spit at you in the hot oil!
  • Use a large deep pot if you’re frying the fries (as opposed to baking or air frying)
  • Safely keep an eye on the cooking fries. The first batch will take longer to cook than subsequent batches. Use a strainer or slotted scoop to scoop the fries out of the hot oil. Soak up excess oil on paper towels. 
  • Allow the cheese curds (or your cheese of choice) to come to room temperature while you prep the fries and gravy. They’ll melt better that way. 
  • Make sure the gravy is quite warm so that it melts the cheese. 
  • Serve right away after assembling the poutine. And enjoy! Yum!
how to make canadian poutine

How to Bake French Fries for Poutine

After you cut and soak the fries as above, pat them dry. Then toss with equal parts melted butter and vegetable oil. 

To cook, place fries in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so they don’t touch. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir the fries around a little. Then put them back in the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. 

How to Use Store-Bought French Fries

Although some purists will balk at the idea of using store-bought frozen fries, sometimes you just need the convenience they provide. So don’t feel bad at all if that’s what you use in this poutine recipe. 

But promise me you’ll try it at least once with fresh homemade french fries. There’s nothing quite like it!

To use store-bought french fries, simply follow the cooking instructions on the package. And then follow the serving instructions in the recipe. 

Can I Prep Poutine Recipe in Advance?

You can, but this poutine recipe is best served and eaten as soon as it’s ready. 

But you can make some of the individual components ahead of time:

  • The gravy can be made and stored in the fridge for up to two days in advance. 
  • The fries can be cut and left soaking in the fridge overnight. 

How to Store and Reheat Poutine

Poutine will get soggy as time goes by, but the taste will still be quite good if stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

To reheat, either microwave for about a minute on a microwave-safe dish or place on tin foil on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees f for about 15 minutes or so.  

Can You Freeze Poutine?

Once you put the poutine together, it’s not really advisable to freeze it. 

What to Serve with Poutine

Poutine is really filling on its own, so you can eat it as a meal. But if you want some ideas for what to serve it with, here ya go:

Printable Poutine Recipe

Canadian poutine on a fork

Poutine Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This poutine recipe is a savory, messy, irresistible dish of fresh french fries, topped with brown gravy, and cheese curds. We’ve also got yummy dairy-free and gluten-free options too.

Ingredients

Gravy

  • 1 tbsp butter (or vegan substitute)
  • 2-4 tbsp rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth (or broth of choice)

Fries

  • 2-4 lbs russet potatoes
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste
  • cheese curds or cheese of choice

Instructions

Make the Gravy

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1-2 tbsp of butter slowly over low heat.
  2. After the butter is melted, slowly stir in flour until you make a past – also called a roux.
  3. Once you have a paste, slowly whisk in your broth of choice a little at a time until you have a nice hot, thick gravy.

Make the French Fries

  1. Cut the potatoes into approximately 1/2 inch thick “fries.”
  2. Soak the potatoes in a bowl of cold water. Add a tablespoon of sugar to the water for extra yummy fries. The longer you soak the potatoes, the crispier the fries will be.
  3. Scoop out handfuls of fries and let them dry on paper towels on the counter. Dab them with more paper towels so they’re fairly dry. Repeat with all the fries.
  4. Either fry the fries in batches in hot oil (I test by dropping a tiny bit of water in – if it sizzles it’s hot enough) in a deep pot, air fry, or bake in the oven until light brown and crispy.
  5. If frying, drain on paper towels to soak up some of the greases. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Assemble the Poutine

  1. Place the fries on plates.
  2. Top with cheese curds (or cheese of choice) and pour on the hot gravy. Make sure the cheese is well covered in gravy so it melts or gets soft.

Notes

If you are vegan, you can substitute the beef broth with veggie broth. Although the flavor won't quite be the same. 

Tips for This Poutine Recipe

  • Use russet potatoes for nice crisp potatoes.
  • Cut the fries uniformly for the best results.
  • Soak fries immediately after cutting them so that they don’t oxidize and turn brown.
  • Thoroughly dry the potatoes after soaking them so they don’t spit at you in the hot oil!
  • Use a large deep pot if you’re frying the fries (as opposed to baking or air frying)
  • Safely keep an eye on the cooking fries. The first batch will take longer to cook than subsequent batches. Use a strainer or slotted scoop to scoop the fries out of the hot oil. Soak up excess oil on paper towels.
  • Allow the cheese curds (or your cheese of choice) to come to room temperature while you prep the fries and gravy. They’ll melt better that way.
  • Make sure the gravy is quite warm so that it melts the cheese.
  • Serve right away after assembling the poutine. And enjoy! Yum!

How to Bake French Fries for Poutine

  • After you cut and soak the fries as above, pat them dry. Then toss with equal parts melted butter and vegetable oil.
  • To cook, place fries in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so they don’t touch. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and stir the fries around a little. Then put them back in the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

How to Store and Reheat Poutine

  • Poutine will get soggy as time goes by, but the taste will still be quite good if stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, either microwave for about a minute on a microwave-safe dish or place on tin foil on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees f for about 15 minutes or so.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1183Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 235gFiber: 22gSugar: 10gProtein: 32g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily via Nutrifox.

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shannon photo and sig oct 2022