Poutine vs Chili Cheese Fries

If you don’t live near the Canadian border are at least in the upper eastern parts of the US or Midwest, Poutine might sound foreign to you. You are probably wondering how it’s pronounced – the answer is poo-teen and not poo-tine.

Poutine and chili cheese fries have significant differences in taste, texture, and look. The word poutine is derived from the English word for pudding, which typically describes a messy food. Poutne is indeed a messy food in many respects, so this makes total sense.

Both poutine and chili cheese fries are typically messy foods. The two dishes make excellent sides and in some cases, can be a main course. Poutine typically consists of fries, cheese curds, and gravy while chili cheese fries are usually melted cheese, beef chili, and fries.

What’s in chili cheese fries?

The answer can vary greatly based on the recipe or restaurant you are going to.

  • Fries! Chili cheese fries have a variety of fries. You could use steak fries or thick crinkle cut fries. The one type of fry that doesn’t work especially well is a shoestring fry. Shoestring fries make it difficult to load up ingredients.
  • Chili. The name makes this pretty clear. Chili typically has fine ground beef with chili sauce, beans, and a variety of spices. You can choose to make your own chili or get canned chili

Chili can also use a large variety of meats, including chicken, turkey, or vegetarian. The choice is yours in this case.

  • Cheese: Cheddar is commonly used in many households and restaurant settings. Naturally, you can pick from any variety of cheese you want from monterey jack, colby jack, mozzarella, or whatever is available to you.

Your best choice in cheese is a thick shredded cheese that melts well. Another option includes nacho cheese sauce, which is messier. Try shredded cheese first.

  • Various toppings: What floats your boat? Chili cheese fries commonly have cilantro, tomato, onions, black olives, or bacon. You can throw whatever you want on there, though we strongly suggest using small pieces to make it easier to eat.

What’s in poutine?

Poutine offers a similar combination and resulting messiness.

  • Fries. Like chili cheese fries, use thicker fries like steak or crinkle fries that can hold toppings. 
  • Cheese curds or shredded cheese. Both varieties are popular. The big differences is that cheese curds can make the dish more solid. “Squeaky” cheese curds (they tend to squeak when bit into) are the most popular form. American cheese is an option.

Shredded cheese is also common and tends to require less work. Mozzarella and cheddar cheeses are most common. Anything that melts well and tastes good.

  • Gravy. We have a big difference maker here. While all kinds of gravy can be used to give poutine it’s moisture, chicken or beef gravy are most common. You can’t really give a wrong answer for gravy and poutine.

What’s the difference between cooking poutine vs chili cheese fries?

Poutine and chili cheese fries tend to be prepared a bit differently, though their sauce methods are pretty similar.

The fries and cheese curds are usually baked together, though fried cheese curds can be added to baked fries. The gravy is typically warmed separately and poured over the poutine to make the dish moist.

Chili cheese fries typically involve baking fries with shredded cheese for melting. The chili is prepared on the side and poured over the chili. In some cases, you might have a small cup of melted cheese on the side for dipping instead of slathering the entire portion of chili cheese fries with cheese.

Poutine is more often served in a bowl or something flat. One might typically eat chili cheese fries from a pile on a platter. More eaters of poutine also tend to use a fork as the gravy and cheese covered dish can be difficult and very messy to eat with the hands. 

Are chili cheese fries or poutine better?

The answer is entirely up to you! Chili cheese fries are more of a southwestern dish that tends to be crispy and spicy depending on your choice of chili. 

The gravy within chili cheese fries tend to make it a softer snack or meal. Poutine is also not traditionally spicy. Given the use of cheese and gravy in poutine, it can also be fattier or “heavier” than chili.

If you live in the southern states, you might mind chili cheese fries much easier to find. Poutine isn’t especially common in the south though you can definitely find the ingredients to make your own. When in northern states or Canada, you can probably find both with poutine potentially being more common.

Final thoughts

Poutine and chili cheese fries have big differences. These differences are built mostly out of where they originate. Poutine can be considered a heavier dish served in more northern climates, possibly to keep people warm and ready for outdoor work.

Chili cheese fries tend to be part of a meal or appetizer. One might order them in a small size with a hamburger or other common food at a restaurant. Chili cheese fries are more popular, but not quite as much as ever popular nachos.