A platter of butter tarts sitting on top of a glass counter

Kingston | Destination Ontario

Quintessential Canadian foods to try in Ontario

A platter of butter tarts sitting on top of a glass counter

Kingston | Destination Ontario

Here’s a selection of signature sweet and savoury culinary treats you’ll want to sample in Ontario. 

Maple syrup 

Maple syrup is a sweet, golden syrup made from the sap of maple trees such as red maple and sugar maple. Each spring, the sap is harvested or “tapped” and boiled to evaporate the water and concentrate the sugars.  

Long enjoyed by Indigenous peoples, maple syrup has become a Canadian breakfast staple as a pancake companion, but it’s also used to flavour a myriad of other treats, including wine, beer, bacon and donuts. 

Where to try it: 

You’ll find maple syrup production all across Ontario. Lanark County, located just west of Ottawa, has been coined the “Maple Syrup Capital of Canada” for its seemingly endless ways and places to enjoy the sweet treat, including a maple syrup museum.  

Wheeler’s Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Museum is a Guinness World Record holder for the largest collection of maple syrup artifacts. In the Niagara area, White Meadows Farm in St. Catharines hosts maple sugar bush tours and tastings. 

Canadian bacon 

Canadian bacon and American bacon are two different cuts of meat. American bacon is typically cut from the belly, whereas Canadian bacon is a loin cut from the back. For this reason, it’s also known as back bacon. Locally it’s also called peameal bacon due to pre-war methods of preservation. Canadian bacon is generally leaner and tastes much like ham. 

Where to try it: 

While Canadian bacon features in almost every brunch menu across the province, Carousel Bakery in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market has long laid claim to serving the first World Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich. 

Perch and pickerel 

In addition to being two of the most popular freshwater sport fish species in Ontario, Perch and Pickerel are also two of the leanest and tastiest fish to eat. You’ll find them served fried, grilled, baked and broiled across the province. 

Where to try it: 

A shore lunch is the freshest way to enjoy pickerel. Enjoy the awe-inspiring wilderness, the thrill of a catch and the succulent flavours of fresh fish pan-fried outdoors during a guided angling adventure. Another Ontario tradition is to enjoy fresh fish from a local food truck. Here are some of our favourite Fish & Chip Trucks


Ontario is passionate about its cheese. With a long dairy farming tradition as well as new experimental practices, cheese-makers have perfected a variety of award-winning fromage flavours and invite you to sample and savour. 

Where to try it: 

Oxford County has a long history of dairy industry—so much so, it’s been coined the Dairy Capital of Canada. Not surprisingly, it’s also where commercial cheese production first began in Ontario. Follow the Oxford County Cheese Trail to shops, factories, restaurants and a cheese museum.  

East of Ottawa, on the shore of the St. Lawrence River, Glengarry Fine Cheese produces fine artisanal cheese. Specializing in the best cheese curds for poutine, the St-Albert Cheese Cooperative is a Franco-Ontarian cheesemaker that dates back to the late 19th century. 

Summer sausage  

Summer sausage is a semi-dry, smoked and cured meat, similar to salami. It’s made from beef, venison or pork. The preservation process, which dates back to antiquity, means the meat can be kept unrefrigerated until it’s opened.  

Because it doesn’t require cooking, summer sausage is a great snack that pairs well with wine and cheese. It can be served in a sandwich or included in a picnic. For generations, Mennonite communities in Southwestern Ontario have been perfecting the art of making summer sausage.  

Where to try it:  

St. Jacobs Market in the Waterloo Region is the largest farmers’ market in Canada with hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh produce and baked goods to hand-made crafts and collectibles. Head to Kitchen Kuttings for homemade products including quality summer sausage.  


Ontario has become the largest apple-producing province in Canada. There are over a dozen different apple varieties grown in Ontario, including McIntosh, Northern Spy, Red Delicious, Gala and Empire. Other seasonal fruits harvested in Ontario include wild blueberries, peaches, strawberries and pears. 

Where to try it:  

The Apple Pie Trail is a self-guided tour along the southern shore of Georgian Bay with stops at restaurants, orchards, vineyards, cideries, galleries, museums and more that feature apple-inspired products and experiences.  

If you’re driving between Toronto and Kingston, plan a stop at The Big Apple, an unmissable roadside attraction and market that lays claim to be the world’s largest apple structure.  

The abundance of apples in Ontario also supports a thriving craft cider industry, with over 60 local cideries producing refreshingly good varieties of the beverage. 


Satisfy your sweet tooth with the rich, decadent and sugary deliciousness of local, handmade chocolate. Local chocolatiers are putting Ontario on the map with new, innovative, award-winning and mouth-watering sweet treats. 

Where to try it:  

Follow the Chocolate Trail in Stratford on a self-guided tour to meet artisans, bakers and chocolate makers and sample delightful creations. The chocolate experts at SOMA Chocolate Maker in Toronto offer three different locations to discover bean-to-bar chocolates, cookies and truffles. 

Butter tarts  

Simple yet divine, the butter tart is a small pastry shell traditionally containing a sweet mixture of butter, sugar, syrup and egg filling. The first published butter tart recipe is thought to be a 1900 entry in the Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook, in Barrie, Ontario. But butter tarts were likely a staple in early voyageur and pioneer kitchens.  

Canada’s century- (or more) long love affair with the butter tart has not diminished. In fact, the little dessert has sparked considerable controversy over what constitutes the perfect tart and who makes the best one. 

Where to try it: 

Ontario is so obsessed with butter tarts that two road trip tart trails have been developed as well as an annual butter tart festival and contest. From the classic to raisin, pecan, or maple walnut, follow the Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour to find your favourite flavour from over 50 stops east of Toronto. Or discover the best butter tarts west of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on the Wellington County Butter Tart Trail.  

Just north of Toronto in Newmarket, The Maid’s Cottage was a previous winner in the traditional and wild style categories of best butter tart in Ontario at the annual Midland Butter Tart Festival and Contest. Luckily their tarts are distributed and sold in several places in and around Toronto


Stretched out to resemble the round, flat shape of a beaver’s tail, these are deep-fried doughy pastries that can be topped with either sweet or savory condiments and confections.  

Traditionally they were dipped in cinnamon and sugar, but the varieties offered now are almost limitless. Build yours with whipped cream, fruit and chocolate or opt for a heaping serving of poutine ingredients on your pastry. 

Where to try it: 

This is a must-try in Ontario, specifically at the first permanent BeaverTails kiosk in the historic ByWard Market in Ottawa. 


Ontario has become a trailblazer in Icewine production. Icewine is the product of cold climate grapes harvested late in the season when the temperatures plummet to under zero degrees Celsius. Frozen grapes result in a concentration of sugars and minerals that translate into a unique wine flavour.  

Where to try it: 

Canada is the largest producer of Icewine in the world, with approximately 50 wineries in Ontario crafting it. A pioneer in Icewine production in Canada, Inniskillin continues to raise the bar. This Niagara-on-the-Lake winery won Best Icewine of the Year at the 2022 National Wine Awards of Canada.  

The annual, multi-day Niagara Icewine Festival is a great reason for wine lovers to visit Ontario in January.  

Learn more about the culinary delights of Canada and the foodie highlights in Ontario

Last updated: January 4, 2024

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