Butter Tarts: the effortless recipe for a classic Canadian dessert

Total time: 70 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
for the pastry
2 1/4 cups
Brown sugar
1 tbsp
1/2 tsp
shortening, cubed
1/2 cup
butter, cubed
1/2 cup
ice water
4 to 6 tbsp
for the filling
packed brown sugar
1/2 cup
Corn syrup
1/2 cup
butter, melted
1/4 cup
pure vanilla extract
1 tsp
Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp
1/2 cup

If you've never tried a butter tart, you've been missing out! Butter tarts are an old-fashioned Canadian dessert with a rich, buttery filling set in a thick, flaky pastry. Made with butter, corn syrup, and pecans, the filling is usually runny, with a mouthwatering caramel flavor.

Homemade pastry makes these easy butter tarts even more delicious. Canadian butter tarts are a staple dessert when the holidays roll around, but as many Canadians will tell you, they're so wonderful and rich, you'll look for any excuse to make them!


What is a Butter Tart?

These indulgent mini tarts are a classic Canadian dessert that is a must-have during the holidays. Butter tarts have a delightful filling made from butter, sugar, corn syrup, and egg baked in a buttery pastry. They're cooked at high heat until the filling caramelizes, giving them a slightly crispy, crunchy top with a runny center.

How to Make Butter Tarts

To make homemade Canadian butter tarts, put the butter, shortening, salt, and flour into a food processor and pulse it until the mixture becomes coarse and forms roughly pea-sized pieces. Add in the water gradually – you don't want to add in too much, just enough to form a dough. Flatten the dough into disks then put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take the dough out and cut it into rounds then fit them into the wells of a muffin tin, then put the tin back in the fridge.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Pour all of the ingredients for the filling apart from the pecans into a bowl and stir to combine. Place the pecans in a single layer in the pastry cups. Fill each pastry cup about two-thirds with syrup, then bake them at 425F on the bottom shelf of your oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Take the muffin tin out and let the butter tarts cool completely before removing and serving.


Expert Tips for the Best Butter Tarts

When making the pastry for your butter tarts, make sure the butter and shortening are very cold.

Add just enough water so that the dough comes together.

The colder your pastry dough is before baking, the flakier it will be once cooked.

Instead of pecans, try adding raisins, walnuts, or chocolate chips to your butter tarts.

You can make your filling as firm or as runny as you like. Both versions are popular in various regions across Canada, although many people prefer a runnier filling. If you want a firmer filling, add in an extra egg, use ¾ cup brown sugar, and ¼ cup corn syrup.

If you prefer to leave out the corn syrup, you can use maple syrup instead.

To make your butter tarts vegan-friendly, use a flax egg instead of a regular egg and non-dairy butter instead of regular butter.

How to Store Canadian Butter Tarts

Keep your butter tarts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. They'll stay fresh for up to 5 days when refrigerated.

Can I Freeze Butter Tarts?

You can definitely freeze butter tarts. Frozen butter tarts last up to 3 months.


Preheat your oven to 425F.


Put the flour, salt, butter, and shortening into a food processor. Pulse until it becomes coarse.


Add in the water a tablespoon at a time until a dough forms.


Shape the dough into two disks about 1-inch thick. Cover in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Lightly flour a work surface. Roll the dough out and cut it with a circular 4-inch cutter. Place the rounds into the wells of a muffin tin. Place the muffin tin in the fridge.


To make the filling, mix all of the ingredients except the pecans together in a large bowl.


Place the pecans in a single layer at the bottom of the pastry cups.


Pour the syrup mixture into the pastry so they're about 2/3 full.


Bake for 12 to 15 minutes on the bottom shelf of your oven. Remove from oven then let the tarts cool in the muffin tin before removing them.


Don't overmix the ingredients for the pastry otherwise, it'll turn out dense.

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