Poutine (Canadian Smothered Fries)

4.85 from 13 votes
27 Comments

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Poutine is a popular Canadian dish that will change the way you eat regular French fries. Instead of ketchup or fry sauce, these crispy fries are covered in cheese and beef gravy. 

A place of poutine with fries, gravy, and cheese curds

What is Poutine?

Poutine is basically Canada’s version of smothered fries. It is like a cross between mashed potatoes and gravy and cheese fries. French fries smothered in gravy and cheese may sound strange but really, it’s no less strange than American chili cheese fries. We made these for a missionary that was serving in our area who was from Quebec because he was missing home. Our recipe got his stamp of approval, and he even admitted that our poutine was up there with some of the best he has tried (score)!

Poutine Origins

It is well known that Poutine originated in Quebec, Canada in the 1950’s, however no one knows who actually came up with the original idea. There are several restaurants throughout Quebec that claim to be the original no one really knows for sure. Poutine was an immediate, widespread hit with French Canadians all over the province, which is why it’s hard to pinpoint the exact restaurant/chef that came up with the idea. It can now be found all over the world from food trucks, to diners, to sporting events and has dozens of variations.

poutine gravy being poured onto fries

Poutine Ingredients

Traditional poutine consists of 3 major parts: French fries (or potatoes), cheese curds, and gravy. You can find variations adding more toppings etc.. but traditional poutine usually requires at least these 3 things.

Potatoes/Fries

The first layer of poutine is always some kind or potato. This is the “base”. The best potatoes to use for fries when making poutine are russet. Because they hold their shape better, they crisp up nicely in the oil. Softer potatoes like Yukon Gold will get mushy and fall apart. If you don’t want to deep fry your own fries, you can bake your own or use frozen fries. Do what it easiest for you! Feel free to get creative and try making your poutine with potato wedges, waffle fries, tater tots, or roasted potatoes.

A close up of a plate of fries with gravy and cheese curds (poutine) with a fork lifting a bite

Poutine Gravy

I prefer using leftover beef gravy from our Sunday roast dinners for our poutine. The recipe below is if you want to make your poutine gravy from scratch. If you are in a hurry, you can use a gravy packet mix or bottled gravy. Leftover turkey gravy from Thanksgiving or Sunday dinner is also delicious to use too. Don’t let that good leftover gravy go to waste; use it for poutine!

spoon with poutine beef gravy

Cheese

Always use cheese curds for this recipe! It is also known as “squeaky cheese.” Cheese curds are perfect for Poutine because the cheese maintains its shape, but melts slightly in the hot gravy. You can use cheddar cheese curds or mozzarella cheese curds (or any kind of cheese curds, really). We used garlic-flavored mozzarella cheese curds once and they worked great. The combination of cheese curds with the salty fries is just so scrumptious! If you absolutely can’t find cheese curds, you could possibly get away with fresh packed mozzarella or Oaxaca cheese. Some suggest using Ricotta or cottage cheese, but please don’t because I promise you will not be happy with the outcome. You want a good melty cheese that will give you a nice cheese pull.

Bag of cheese curds

Where to find cheese curds

Cheese curds can be found in the cheese section of most grocery stores, however you may have an easier time finding them in a grocery store that offers specialty cheeses. You can also find fresh cheese curds at cheese factories. Every time we visit the Oregon coast, we make it a point to visit the Tillamook cheese factory to get fresh cheese curds. If you ever make it there yourself, you MUST get the fried cheese curds. They will blow your mind!

A close up of poutine on a plate with French fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds

Poutine Variations

Don’t be afraid to get crazy with Poutine variations! Have leftover roast? Add it on there! Bacon crumbles? Go right ahead! Here are a few more variation/fusion ideas:

  • Sunday Leftovers – Add poutine with leftovers. Sunday night roast and gravy turns into Monday night football appetizer or maybe more appropriately, hockey games! 
  • “Loco Moco” (Hawaiian style) – add a fried egg to the top
  • Pizza Poutine – Swap out the gravy for pizza sauce and top with your favorite pizza toppings
  • Bacon & Mushroom – Add fresh crumbled bacon and sautéed mushrooms
A fork pulling up a bite of poutine with cheese pulling up from the plate

Tips for making Poutine

  • Don’t take your poutine too seriously. Be flexible and use what you have. You really can’t go wrong!
  • When frying your French fries, make sure you are using the accurate temperatures. Use a kitchen thermometer or a fryer with a temperature gauge.
  • Don’t forget to season your fries once they are cooked! Use sea salt or seasoning salts to being out the flavor.
  • When ready to eat, you can broil it on high for 2-3 minutes to make the cheese melt faster.

More potato recipes

You can serve Poutine as a full meal or appetizer or alongside roast beef, chicken or turkey. Being from Idaho, we take our potatoes seriously around here. Try more of our delicious potato recipes;

How to Make Poutine

A plate of fries with gravy and cheese curds melted over the top (poutine)

Poutine (Canadian Smothered Fries)

4.85 from 13 votes
Poutine is a popular Canadian dish that will change the way you eat regular French fries. Instead of ketchup or fry sauce, these crispy fries are covered in cheese and beef gravy. 

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 6

Video

Ingredients

  • 6 russett potatoes cut into fries
  • oil for frying
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • 1 cup white cheese curds
  • 1 1/2 cup gravy leftover beef gravy is best, but you can also use the recipe below

Gravy:

Instructions

  • Cut potatoes into fries and soak for at least 1 hour (or overnight in the fridge). Dry well with paper towels.
    potatoes cut into fries
  • Heat oil in deep fryer or large skillet to 300 degrees. Fry fries in batches (try not to overcrowd) of about 5 minutes each to soften. Remove from oil and drain, increase oil temp to 400 degrees and fry again for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
    fried in a fryer
  • Place fries on paper towels to drain excess oil. Season with salt and place on large plate or platter.
    French fries on a paper towel
  • Sprinkle cheese curds evenly over fries and pour hot gravy over the top. Serve immediately.
    poutine grave being poured onto fries

For the gravy:

  • Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour making a roux. Cook for about 1 minute.
    Roux for gravy in a pan
  • Reduce heat and slowly add beef broth, whisking constantly, until you reach your desired thickness. Add onion powder and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.
    spoon with poutine beef gravy

Nutrition Information

Calories: 315kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 13gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 1552mgPotassium: 923mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 233IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 205mgIron: 7mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 3 stars
    Always have heard about this but never tried it. Made it last night per directions but my hubby and I found it way to salty. We’re going to try it again with not adding any salt at all (extra salt from the cheese curds may have been too much?) And see how that works. Great recipe but needs some tweaks.

  2. Poutine: You state after cutting fries, soak for a couple of hours or overnight. What do you soak them in?

  3. 5 stars
    Looks perfect! We Canadians sure do love poutine 😋 you could also do turkey dinner poutine with leftovers from turkey dinner.

  4. 5 stars
    I had poutine for the first time in Montreal. It lived up to all the hype. So glad that I can easily replicate this dish at home. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    I haven’t tried this dish I think, so really excited to give it a try next week. And great choice of gravy – must fit the dish so well.

  6. 5 stars
    I LOVE poutine and this is by far the best recipe I’ve ever tried! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    Since I’m not sure when I will have the chance to visit Canada, making a proper poutine at home will have to do. This is so delicious. 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Now this is one I would be all over and no one would get a bite ! I love everything in this and its divine!

    1. For this recipe we used a white cheddar. Any kind of cheese curd should work great though! Hope this helps!

    1. Here in Canada there’s places that also use shredded mozzarella cheese so, if you can’t find cheese curds that’s ok.

      1. I disagree.
        The salt content of moz is not the same as Quebec style French Canadian fresh cheese curds. Taste, taste, and taste again while adjusting salt levels and you will be rewarded with something very tasty.
        It’s worth the effort and will be loved by your guests.

      1. 5 stars
        Ahhh, poutine. I’m a Canuck and can tell you we think pouting is a entire food group!
        So good as comfort food.
        The best curds come from the Eastern Townships of Quebec and fresh curds make an incredible difference in the final result. Make the effort to find the freshest curds in your area.
        You will be rewarded with top taste using this recipe.
        This recipe is great for those that can’t experience the real thing after skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa during February.
        You owe it to yourself to make this recipe. You will not be disappointed.