What Cheese To Use for Poutine: A Guide to the Best Cheeses for the Perfect Poutine

If you’ve ever visited Quebec, Canada, or if you just love comfort food, you might already be familiar with poutine. Poutine is a classic Canadian dish made of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. But not all cheeses are created equal when it comes to this beloved dish. In this article, we’ll explore what cheese is best for poutine and where to buy it. Plus, we’ll provide tips on making the perfect poutine with your favorite cheese.

What is Poutine?

If you have never tried poutine, you might be wondering what this Canadian dish is all about. Poutine is a beloved comfort food that originated in Quebec in the 1950s. It consists of three basic ingredients: crispy fries, fresh cheese curds, and savory gravy.


The exact origin of poutine is unclear, but it’s believed to have started as a late-night snack for truck drivers in rural Quebec. The word “poutine” comes from the French slang word for “mess, ” which refers to the messy appearance of the dish.

Traditional Ingredients

  • Fries: Crispy french fries are an essential component of poutine. They serve as the base layer of the dish and provide a satisfying crunch.
  • Cheese Curds: Cheese curds are small chunks of unaged cheese that soften but don’t melt when heated. They give poutine its unique texture and tangy flavor.
  • Gravy: Savory gravy ties everything together and adds richness to the dish. Traditional poutine gravy is made from chicken or beef stock, flour, and spices like black pepper.

The beauty of this classic Canadian cuisine lies in its simplicity – just three simple ingredients that come together to create something truly delicious. However, many restaurants today add their own creative twists to make their signature versions stand out.

Why Cheese Is Important for Poutine

If you’ve ever indulged in poutine, you’ll know that cheese is a critical element of this delicious dish. In fact, without the right kind and amount of cheese, poutine simply wouldn’t be the same. Here are some reasons why:

The Importance of Cheese in Poutine

  • Flavor: The unique flavor of cheese adds depth to the overall taste experience of poutine. It brings an umami-richness that balances out the saltiness from gravy and provides a creamy freshness.
  • Texture: The gooey goodness and stringy texture make it feel like comfort food which also makes cheese much more than just another layering option – it’s an essential component to add texture contrast.
  • Mouthfeel: When melted, cheese becomes a luscious sauce-like substance creating what chef call “nap factor, ” meaning that it coats your mouth well enough so that whenever you take another bite, every component blends together seamlessly.

Different Types of Cheese for Poutine

The type of cheese used in Poutine can vary based on your personal preference but typically made with one or a mixture of several cheeses. Some popular choices include:

  • Cheddar: Cheddar is a classic choice since its sharp flavor complements the salty notes from gravy perfectly; also melts nicely.
  • Cheese Curds: This is the traditional type used authentic Québec-style poutines; their rubbery texture should squeak when chewed as well as resist melting straight away being good if you put them on hot fries.
  • Mozzarella: Mozzarella brings a mild, nutty flavor and has an incredible melt quality for those who want a creamy pizza-like experience with crispy fries.
  • Monterey Jack: Monterey Jack’s approachable, slightly sweet taste makes it great for mixing smoothly with gravy without overpowering other ingredients in the dish.

No matter what cheese you choose to include in your poutine, its unique characteristics are essential to achieving the desired savory goodness that this beloved Canadian treat is known for. Still not sure whether or not cheese is important for Poutine? Try having it without cheese; I bet you will inevitably facing an unfulfilled version of our favorite classic dish.

What Cheese To Use for Poutine

If you want to make the perfect poutine, choosing the right cheese is key. While traditional poutine calls for cheese curds, there are many other types of cheese that can be used to complement the fries and gravy. Here are some options:

Cheese Curds

  • Pros: authentic flavor, unique texture, readily available at specialty shops or online.
  • Cons: may not be easily accessible in some areas, different brands/types may have varying flavors and texture.


  • Pros: widely available at most grocery stores or supermarkets, similar taste to cheese curds, melts easily.
  • Cons: not as authentic as using cheese curds, doesn’t provide the same squeaky texture.

Cheddar Cheese

  • Pros: widely available at most grocery stores or supermarkets, gives a stronger flavor than mozzarella or curd cheeses,
    • Aged cheddar gives an extra tangy kick for those looking for a bold flavour profile.
  • Cons: Your standard packaged mild cheddar may lack the proper texture consistency, a younger cheddar will not break down properly when melted over your fresh fries. aged amounts cheddars can get quite costly that could end up out of budget for someone making homemade poutines regularly..

    . .

There are many other types of cheese that could be used for poutine, like Monterrey jack or even a blend of cheeses. But keep in mind that by switching out the curds will change the traditional flavor profile. Experimenting with different options can lead to finding new combinations you may enjoy more than the original recipe.

Where To Buy Cheese for Poutine

If you’re looking to make the perfect poutine, you’ll want to start with the right cheese. Here are some tips on where to buy cheese curds and other types of cheese specifically for poutine:

Local Dairy Farms and Farmers Markets

One of the best options is to purchase your cheese from local dairy farms or farmers markets. Not only will you be supporting small businesses in your area, but buying locally can also ensure higher quality and fresher products.

  • Cheese Curds: If you’re lucky enough to live in a region with nearby dairy farms, look specifically for cheddar or mozzarella cheese curds. You can typically find them at local farmers markets or specialty food stores that source their products from nearby dairies.
  • Cheeses: In addition to cheese curds, many local producers offer a variety of cheeses that are perfect for poutine. For example, Quebec’s famous fromagerie Fritz Kaiser produces an excellent smoked scamorza cheese that works well as a substitute for traditional cheddar curds.

Online Retailers and Speciality Shops

If you don’t have access to local dairy farms or farmers markets near you, there are still plenty of online retailers and specialty shops where you can find high-quality poutine ingredients. Some popular options include:

  • The Cheese Barrel: This online retailer specializes in Canadian cheeses specifically curated for making poutine, including fresh cheddar curds and special order gravy mixes.
  • Ile-aux-Grues Cheese Factory: This Quebec-based company ships their fresh cheddar curds directly to customers, ensuring high-quality and authentic flavors.
  • Cheese Shops: If you’re lucky enough to have a specialty cheese shop nearby, they’ll typically have some options for poutine ingredients. Be sure to ask if they carry any fresh cheddar curds or other types of cheese that will work in your recipe.

Ultimately, the key to finding the right cheeses for your poutine is seeking out high-quality products from local producers whenever possible. Whether you’re able to purchase cheese curds directly from a dairy farm, or find them through online retailers and specialty shops – fresh, high-quality ingredients will make all the difference in creating an unforgettable poutine experience!

How To Make Poutine with Different Cheeses

If you’re a fan of the cheesy, gravy goodness that is poutine, then you might want to experiment with different cheeses to give the classic Canadian dish a new twist. Here’s how:

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Cut potatoes into thin french fry shaped pieces and fry them in oil until crispy.
  2. Add your desired cheese on top of the fries. Here are some options:
    • Cheddar Cheese Curds: The traditional choice for poutine, cheddar curds have a mild flavor and squeaky texture if fresh.
    • Mozzarella Cheese: Use shredded mozzarella for a milder flavor and gooey texture.
    • Blue Cheese Crumbles: For a unique spin on poutine use blue cheese crumbles. Their funky taste pairs well with fried potatoes and gravy.
    • Brie Cheese: Brie will melt beautifully on your fries and add an extra creaminess to your dish.
  3. Pour warm gravy over the cheese-topped fries so that it melts down into all layers of the dish.

Tips for Achieving Perfect Texture & Flavor

  • The key in making good poutines aside from precook starchy-cut potato lies on choosing the appropriate cheese that will give enough saltiness, tanginess or mildness in terms of any other additional flavour because generally its flavours carry most weight within the dish. Eaters love their fresh or slightly aged Cheddar cheese curd; ensure they are room temperature before adding them to the fries. Room-temperature cheese binds, clings and melts wonderfully with the fries as opposed to cold curds.
  • Using shredded mozzarella, which contrasts cheddar curd’s strong flavour but will get a better melt if combined together for some edge and creaminess.
  • For blues cheese crumbled or thinly slice it so that it mix well with hot gravy poured over them.
  • Brie would work best on this recipe with its unmistakable creamy texture and tastes great when you dollop cranberry jam or relish because of its funk flavoured cheese

Enjoy experimenting with these different cheeses in your poutine! Whether you go for classic cheddar curds or mix things up with blue cheese or brie, one thing’s for sure – each option is delicious in its own way!


Whether you prefer traditional cheese curds or want to experiment with different types of cheese for your poutine, there’s no doubt that the right cheese can take a dish from ordinary to extraordinary. With our guide on what cheeses work best for this iconic Canadian dish and tips on preparation techniques, we hope you’re inspired to try out some new flavors.


1. Can I use shredded cheddar instead of cheese curds in my poutine?

While shredded cheddar can be used as a substitute for cheese curds, it might not melt as well and won’t achieve the same texture.

2. Where is the best place to find quality cheese curds?

Local farmers markets or delis often offer fresh-made curds that are perfect for poutine.

3. Can I make my own cheese curds at home?

Yes! There are many online tutorials available that walk through how to create homemade cheese curds using milk and vinegar.

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