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Traditional Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Differences

Updated on October 30, 2014

Canadian and American Thanksgiving celebrations share a lot in common. Both are times when family and friends get together to share a meal. Both are national holidays in the fall. Both even have football games designated for after the meal (not soccer football). Often times each celebration has a similar menu list. However, there are a few traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner menu items that don’t normally make their way into the USA.

Here are several examples:

Photo taken by: 46137
Photo taken by: 46137 | Source
Photo taken by: Doug Waldron
Photo taken by: Doug Waldron | Source

Sweet Potatoes

Canadians probably look at Americans like we are quite the oddity. Mash potatoes in America are fairly common. French fries are fairly common in America. Sweet Potato fries are fairly common in America. However, when we Americans choose to eat sweet potatoes, we make them into a marshmallow casserole. Where that marshmallow came from I am unsure. Perhaps the dish wasn't sweet enough without that or perhaps the consistency is just that much more unique with marshmallows on the sweet potatoes.

This oddity is one of the ways that Thanksgiving dinner differs between Canada and America. Canadians usually just serve sweet potatoes as a mash, while Americans serve with a layer of marshmallows.

Photo taken by: stu_spivack
Photo taken by: stu_spivack | Source

Spicy Pumpkin Pie

Americans have a sweet tooth. If you don’t believe me, please take a look at the example above. Another major difference is that American’s prefer their pumpkin pie to be sweeter and have a custard like feel to it. Once the right flavor is achieved, we add even more sweetness to the pie with a whipped topping. (Sometimes even adding sugars/nuts to that whipped topping!)

Canadians prefer a pumpkin pie that has more kick and is spicier. This ingredient list often includes things like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. While the picture to the right depicts a pumpkin pie with jalapeno peppers on it, even that may be TOO spicy for a Canadians taste.

Photo taken by: Maggie Hoffman
Photo taken by: Maggie Hoffman | Source


Many Canadians prefer to use bread crumbs / rice for creating stuffing. In America, the stuffing flavor changes depending on where you go. Many southern states end up using a type of cornbread. On the east coast, oysters are used to help season the stuffing taste. Other states, such as west coast and north states, use the same combinations as Canadians.

Photo taken by: Krista
Photo taken by: Krista | Source

Bread Rolls

In Canada, the Thanksgiving tradition is to serve a wheat-based type of bread roll. Many Americans do this as well, though it is more common for an American to serve a white bread roll or a corn bread roll. Corn bread is extremely popular in America during Thanksgiving, especially in the south. American’s will also serve muffins and slided loaves of bread. Americans like to have multiple carb options during Thanksgiving, while many Canadian families are fine with one type of wheat based bread roll.

What do you think is the greatest difference?

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Other Thanksgiving Day Differences

Amazingly enough, both Americans and Canadians watch football on Thanksgiving. However, there are a few other differences:


Canadians have a much sooner Thanksgiving. They have their Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. In America, the Thanksgiving day holiday is the fourth Thursday of November. Both countries had Thanksgiving shifting around several potential dates until the government stepped in and chose a specific date.

No Black Friday

Canadians do not have a black Friday rush after Thanksgiving. Instead their rush is after Christmas and is called "boxing day". (Because all the stores are boxing up their goods for the year) Also because people may box each other to save money on particular deals.

Different Name

Some Canadians may reference the Thanksgiving holiday with a different name: Jour de l'Action de grâce. This name helps those that speak French, the main second language in Canada, to identify the holiday.

Know some other differences? Disagree with one of the points on this page? Feel free to leave your comments in the section below!


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