Canada is one of the biggest countries in the world and is made up of a mix of many different cultures. Throughout its 150+ years as a nation, they have concocted some pretty spectacular Canadian desserts. These great Canadian sweets and treats have origins all over, but they were fine-tuned to perfection on Canadian soil.
Here are some of the best desserts you should try when visiting – the Canadian cakes, pastries, and sweets will leave both you and your sweet tooth incredibly satisfied.
What Makes Canadian Desserts So Special?
Canadian desserts have origins that stem from all over the world reflecting the diversity that Canada is known for. No matter what type of sweet treat you are craving, you will be able to find that cuisine in Canada.
Many of the old-timey desserts on our list were created in Canada’s early days and these recipes have now been passed down for generations. They are comfort food but with a taste of Canadian heritage and a deep flavourful richness to them.
Some of the desserts really hit the spot in Canada’s freezing cold winters; nothing makes you feel warmer than a freshly baked piece of maple syrup pie straight out of the oven.
Most Famous Canadian Desserts
Nanaimo Bars (Chocolate & Coconut Dessert Bar)
Originating in Nanaimo, British Columbia, this Canadian dessert is known across the country as a national treasure. You can find them coast to coast and they are easily recognized from their visuals. They are a bar of distinct dark chocolate with a streak of bright yellow custard throughout.
Mixed with the perfect amount of shredded coconut, graham crackers, and cream, these chocolaty bars actually melt in your mouth. Nanaimo bars will have you appreciating Canada’s impeccable choices when it comes to dessert.
Nanaimo Balls (Chocolate & Coconut Dessert Ball)
This new twist on the old classic is worth a mention because it’s an amazing variation/upgrade on Nanaimo bars. To make these no-bake bite-sized balls, you combine the same ingredients as the Nanaimo bars but instead of the baking fuss, you can just pop them in the refrigerator for 30 min.
Nanaimo balls can be made in a fraction of the time but have the same great taste as the originals. Try one, or both for yourself so you can experience the top wonders of the Canadian dessert scene. We bet you won’t be able to decide which one you love more either!
Tastiest Canadian Cakes
Pouding chômeur (Cake Baked With Caramel or Maple Syrup)
This Canadian cake, pouding chômeur, actually translates to “unemployed man’s pudding” or “poor man’s pudding”. It was created during the Great Depression in Quebec, Canada by female factory workers. However, don’t let the name fool you, this is a cake made for kings.
Pouding chômeur is made with a simple cake batter doused with hot caramel and then baked. The caramel soaks through the cake to the bottom of the pan and results in an incredibly delicious upside-down cake. The new-age versions of this cake often use maple syrup instead of caramel sauces.
Jo Louis Cake (Dark Chocolate Cake With Marshmallow Cream Center)
Ahh, the fine cuisine of baking that tastes like convenience store snacks. If you love your little Debbie Bars or the Hostess Ding Dongs, you will love the Canadian dessert classic, the Jo Louis Cake.
This is a dark, moist, rich chocolate cake that has a soft, perfect layer of marshmallow cream throughout the middle. If that didn’t have you drooling, it is then covered with chocolate ganache icing for the most perfect bite of a cake, ever.
Best Canadian Desserts – Squares & Treats
Puffed Wheat Squares (Puffed Wheat Cereal & Molasses Dessert Square)
These delicious squares are similar to Rice Krispie squares, only better! They are made by combining puffed wheat cereal, marshmallows, butter, and molasses together and melting it down so everything is covered. They are then left in a pan to set and served up once they have cooled.
Puffed Wheat squares are a favorite among Canadians and you will see them served as dessert in many cafes and supermarkets. Their gooey yet crunchy texture and the perfect blend of flavors will have you going back for seconds.
Confetti Squares (Peanut Butter, Butterscotch & Marshmallows Dessert Square)
Another one of the desserts in Canada that you will see all over the place is the colorful delight called confetti squares. These no-bake squares taste as if you could capture the taste of your childhood.
Peanut butter and butterscotch chocolate chips are melted and mixed with those tiny delicious rainbow marshmallows. Once the mixture is stirred together, it is cooled in a pan in the fridge. This Canadian dessert is so simple yet so satisfying. It’s always a hit!
Newfoundland Snowballs (Chocolate & Coconut Dessert Ball)
The east coast of Canada sure knows how to make a dessert! The Newfoundland snowball is a Christmas tradition from Newfoundland. It is a small, round, coconut-covered chocolate ball that will make your mouth come alive with the perfect blend of flavors.
If those ingredients weren’t enough for you, it’s also packed with evaporated milk, cocoa powder, and rolled oats and the texture of the ball is a decadent chocolate fudge.
Sucre à la Crème (Fudge)
Another Canadian sweet that is made with the most basic ingredients but is one of the utmost indulgences for Canadians is sucre à la crème. This is a fudge that was first made in the province of Quebec and the name directly translates to “sugar with cream”.
We’re not sure if the cream the Canadian cows are making is special or what but this fudge is so decadent. The cream is perfectly melted with white sugar, brown sugar, and butter and that’s it. Who would have ever thought that those four ingredients were all you needed to make one of the best Canadian desserts?
It is traditionally found around Christmas but many shops and sweet stores stock it year-round because it would be pure torture to only get it once a year.
Butter Crunch (Toffee With Walnuts & Chocolate)
Butter Crunch is a Canadian dessert classic. This rich butter toffee is infused with maple syrup, and chopped walnuts and smothered in creamy milk chocolate. It is then sprinkled with more delicious walnuts to give it some extra crunch.
Like many of the sweet treats in Canada, you will be blown away as to how you ever lived without this simple delicacy.
Canadian Desserts Hall Of Fame
Maple Syrup Everything
Along with the regular fudge, you will find another hot-selling fudge of the north- maple fudge. And then you’ll probably come across maple cupcakes, maple cookies, maple donuts, maple syrup bars… you get the picture.
The abundance of maple syrup, one of Canada’s best natural resources really elevates the dessert game. Maple syrup is used in cooking, baking and even pouring it right on the cold snow for a treat. This is probably the most iconic out of all the famous things in Canada.
No matter the form you have it in, you will love the flavor and also how Canadian it makes you feel.
Tiger Tail Ice Cream (Orange & Licorice Ice Cream)
We are surprised that this flavor is not very popular outside of Canada but feel it is our duty to let you know, it is a real gem. You need to try it at least once!
Many people don’t like the taste of black licorice at all but when it’s made in ice cream, it just hits differently. Tiger tail is mixed with an orange flavor ice cream with ribbons of black licorice throughout and it honestly is the perfect combo.
Canadian Desserts – Best Pies
Flapper pie is a Canadian dessert that was invented on the prairies – specifically in Manitoba. This pie is a silky, decadent delight of creamy custard topped with meringue on a graham crumb crust. This tasty pie is very specific to Canada so if you see it, you need to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try it.
Tarte Au Sucre (Sugar Filling Pie)
Thankfully, back when the French were coming over to Canada, they brought this delicious pie recipe. Tarte Au Sucre means “sugar pie” and is basically like crème brûlée in pie form.
It is a delicious blend of cream, sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and vanilla and the filling consists of evaporated milk and sugar. Another simple, yet genius Canadian dessert from our French Canadian friends who can do no wrong.
Maple Syrup Pie (Maple Syrup Filling Pie)
Yes, we know we mentioned maple syrup already; but the maple syrup pie is so iconic in Canadian culture that it deserves a special honorable mention. Often seen as a fixture on many holiday tables, the maple syrup pie is a treat that just feels like Christmas.
It is best served warm with whipped cream and garnished with some walnuts or pecans and is truly a slice of Canadian dessert heaven. If you are visiting during the holiday season, you will almost definitely see it without even hunting for it.
Saskatoon Berry Pie (Saskatoon Berry Pie)
The capital city of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, got its name because of how good this pie is. Just kidding! Canada has plenty of interesting and peculiar facts but this is NOT one of them. However, the city did get its name because the purple Saskatoon berry is abundant in the area.
This delicious, sweet, and fruity berry has been filling pies since settlers first discovered them. They are similar to blueberries only sweeter and the pie is made with a flaky golden crust that typically encloses and cooks the berries perfectly.
The Saskatoon berry pie needs a finishing touch of one scoop of vanilla ice cream to become the perfect dessert. Be careful, because you probably want to go for seconds (or even thirds) after trying it.
Sweet Bannock (Fried Sweet Dough)
Sweet bannock is a food that has origins in Scotland but the Indigenous people in Canada brought it into their way of life, particularly the Métis people. It is made from a simple dough mixture consisting of flour, baking powder, salt, and milk and sweetened with either sugar or honey. Bannock is cooked over a fire or in a skillet and served fresh with butter, jam, or syrup toppings.
If you see sweet bannock or any other Indigenous items during your Canadian travels, we recommend trying it! You couldn’t get any more authentic Canadian desserts or cuisine than from the first people of the land.
While some may say this is more a breakfast food, Canadians do not like to put limitations on themselves like that. Montreal-style bagels can be eaten anytime, anywhere and that’s the bottom line.
Montreal-style is smaller bagels than the New York-style variant and they are also known for being sweeter and denser. The bagels are poached in honey and water before they’re baked in a wood-fired oven, giving them a sweet flavor all around.
Blueberry Grunt (Sweetened Blueberries With Dough Mixture)
Another old-timey Canadian dessert meal made by the Canadian pioneers is a blueberry grunt. The blueberry grunt was created when British colonial settlers were trying to recreate British pudding using the ingredients they could find. While it didn’t come out tasting like British pudding, what they made was pretty good, and so the blueberry grunt was born.
Mostly found on Canada’s east coast, the blueberry grunt is a cobbler-like dish made by warming a blueberry mixture with dough. The dough is usually just dropped into the hot blueberry mixture until it is cooked through. Once it’s done, the dough and blueberries are scooped into a bowl and served with whipped cream or ice cream.
BeaverTails (Fried Dough Pastry)
BeaverTails are one of the most famous sweets in Canada and you can find them coast to coast. However, the name can be tricky as in some places they call it an elephant ear! Just look for the fried dough with an animal name that looks delicious.
BeaverTails are commonly found at outdoor festivals, events, and food trucks. They are deep-fried golden brown dough pieces that are made to look like a beaver tail or elephant ear. They are served with Nutella, fruit, and cream, or sugar and cinnamon, and believe us – all of the topping combos are winners!
ButterTarts (Tart Pastry)
If you have never tried a butter tart, prepare to have your mind and taste buds blown away. These small but savory tarts are sure to make it on your list of top desserts in Canada. Good thing these are small because you will probably eat half a dozen.
You can find these at many restaurants and grocery stores. They are perfect little tarts with a light golden crust that is filled with a decadent mixture of butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. The crust and filling perfectly complement each other, leaving you with a dessert that is almost too good to be true.
Discovering The Best Canadian Desserts
Enjoying all of the best Canadian desserts, sweets, and cakes while traveling the country is a fun way to make memories. There is an abundance of places to try out everything sweet that Canada has to offer. Whether it’s eating your first BeaverTail, downing a blueberry grunt, or forming what will be a life-long addiction to maple syrup.
Canada won’t let you down when it comes to two things – its stunning scenery and the sweet dessert treats of the north. You will love exploring this great country’s beautiful landscape and bustling cities.
Getting to try the vast array of desserts and treats as you make your way around the renowned Canadian attractions is just the icing on the cake. (Pun intended!)