How to make poutine

Updated February 21, 2017

Poutine is a popular and authentic French Canadian food that dates back to the 1950s. It is served in restaurants and at hot dog stands throughout the country. Poutine comes in a variety of forms and toppings, but the classic recipe is simple: fries, cheese curds and sauce.

Poutine is made fresh and eaten with a fork. Jokingly referred to as "lumberjack food," it is greasy, calorie-dense and served hot. Characteristics include curds that "squeak" when you bite them, a smooth, thick gravy made from chicken or veal and crispy fries.

Peel and slice the potatoes into medium or medium-thin sized fries. Choose potatoes that are good for frying. Prince Edward Island, Idaho potatoes or new red potatoes are good choices. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or deep fryer. Add the potatoes and fry until a crispy golden brown. Set on paper towels or cloth towels to drain.

Ready-made fries may be substituted as long as they are crisp and not too thick. Bake in the oven at the suggested temperature.

Transfer the fries to a plate and cover with fresh cheese curds. The best curds are real Quebecois or Wisconsin cheddar cheese. In some imitations, mozzarella is used.

Cheese curds should be fresh as they suffer under refrigeration. If curds are unavailable in your area, use shredded cheese--this may deprive the dish of its authentic texture. Choose cheese that will retain its consistency and flavour when softened by gravy. Avoid stringy cheese that melts easily.

Top the cheesy fries with hot sauce. Homemade sauce offers superior flavour, but canned gravy will do. The gravy should be a thick, lumpless chicken base with a rich dark brown colour.

Homemade sauce begins as a roux, in which flour, butter and hot meat fat (pan drippings) are mixed together and cooked for a few minutes. Chicken stock or broth is slowly and continually whisked in until the sauce thickens at a simmer. Salt and pepper is added last.

Serve the poutine immediately and enjoy.


Be sure to serve poutine hot. You may experiment with the toppings to create tasty variations. Caramelised onions, green peppers, mushrooms, roasted garlic, sausage, minced meat, bacon, beans, chilli and marinara sauce are common additives.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy skillet or deep fryer
  • Potato slicer or knife
  • Slotted spatula
  • Paper towels
  • 1 quart canola
  • 6 potatoes
  • 2 cups fresh cheese curds
  • 1 cup gravy
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About the Author

Sarah York has been a freelance writer and editor for five years. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Danforth Review, Pisgah Review and The Renaissance of Teaching and Learning and in various online sources. She holds both a B.A. in English and M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, as well as an M.A. in Literature from Western Carolina University.