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Butter Tart Squares

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 36 squares

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These Butter Tart Squares are so sweet and gooey — a shortbread crust makes these so easy and SO good! So much quicker than butter tarts.

butter tart squares overhead whole with four pieces cut on white cutting board

Please tell me you’ve had a butter tart.

If you haven’t, American friends, I am truly, truly sympathetic. Luckily, I’m sharing this recipe with you today. And Butter Tart Squares are so much easier than butter tarts.

When I cook, and create new recipes for the blog, I really try to think outside the box. I try to come up with some things that I (and maybe you) have never seen before.

But every once in a while I think maybe the best place to start is with what I already know and love. Maybe those are the recipes you really want. Maybe those are even recipes that you’ve never seen before.

So I know the butter tart is a Canadian thing, but tell me some American bakeries have caught on. If not, now is your chance to experience something totally unreal.

It’s butter. And brown sugar.

butter tart squares stack of four squares close up

And essentially, not much more. You need some eggs in there to hold everything together. And you need something to put it on.

I’ve been meaning to make actual butter tarts for the blog for a long time now, but the thought of making homemade pastry and forming tart shells is just overwhelming right now. So I texted my sister and asked her for a butter tart square recipe.

I was right in assuming she would have one. She texted me right back with a picture of her recipe card. And all of her notes on it. I think I even managed to interpret it correctly.

But some of her notes just didn’t work out for me, so I knew I definitely needed a place to document the version that worked for me. The funny thing is, I have this blog here.

So, please, if you’ve never had a butter tart, start with these squares. You won’t believe how easy they are.

butter tart squares with bite stack of four on white background

Updates to this Butter Tart Squares recipe:

This post, recipe and the images have been updated from November 2014 — five years later it was time!

I wanted to clarify which things I’ve adjusted from the original recipe to make it work even better, just in case you’ve been here and you’ve made them before:

  • I added a tablespoon or two of water to the base — just enough so that it holds together when you squeeze it.
  • I no longer recommend baking in a small cookie sheet — a 9×13″ baking pan will give you the best results and nice thick gooey layers!
  • I no longer recommend lining the pan with tin foil (as I did often 5 years ago) — instead I recommend using parchment paper or nothing at all but a good layer of non stick spray. The problem with parchment is that the crust won’t hug the sides of the pan as tightly, which means a bit of the filling will drip down the edges. This is a not a real problem — but you will have some caramelized sugar along the sides. Don’t worry, it won’t leak all over the bottom under the crust.
  • The vinegar, because some people have commented, is to cut through some of the sweetness and is a traditional ingredient in butter tart squares. If you prefer, or you’re worried about it, you can reduce to 1 tablespoon or omit, but I recommend enjoying with a strong cup of coffee.

How to store Butter Tart Squares:

  • These Butter Tart Squares can be refrigerated for one week in an airtight container
  • To store for a longer period, place in an airtight container or freezer bag, with wax paper or parchment in between the layers, and freeze for up to 3 months. They are delicious straight out of the freezer, or thaw at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
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Butter Tart Squares

4.55 from 20 votes
Quick, easy butter tart squares are perfect for fall or Christmas baking!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Servings 36 squares
Calories 174kcal

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp powdered icing sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cold, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoons cold water optional

Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted
  • 3 cups brown sugar lightly packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • optional: 3/4 cup raisins

Instructions

  • Line a 9×13" pan and line with parchment paper or spray with non stick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour and powdered sugar.
  • Cut butter into icing sugar and flour with a pastry cutter or your hands until pea-sized lumps of butter remain. When you grab a handful and squeeze, you want it to hold together. If it doesn't hold together, add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
  • Dump flour mixture into pan and press down evenly to form a crust. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare your filling. In a medium bowl, melt butter in the microwave.
  • Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then add the vinegar and vanilla. Stir in raisins if using.
  • Pour over crust and bake another 25-30 minutes until filling is set or almost set — a slight jiggle is fine but you don't want a lot of movement. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate several hours before slicing.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 35mg | Potassium: 40mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 265IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Keywords butter tart squares, butter tarts

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Marci says

    Sorry, but I’m Canadian, have made and eaten a ton of butter tarts….so somewhat of a “subject matter expert”…lol! The flavour is good but the texture is way off. It’s “too eggy”….makes the filling sort of “lumpy”, like when a sauce “breaks”. I’m guessing 2 eggs is enough and will try that the next time I make bars. And instead of only brown sugar, a combination of brown sugar with some corn syrup would also help make it more silky.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Marci! There are 252 comments on this recipe and lots of love for it. I have never had the filling turn out lumpy, so I think something may have gone wrong when mixing up the filling.

  2. Tanya says

    Awesome! Sprinkled half of the base with walnuts and coconut. Sprinkled other half with raisins. Poured the brown sugar mix on top of both.
    I like my base to have a little more colour – will try baking for 13-15 minutes on the next batch.

  3. debbie donnelly says

    We just polished off a pan of these,they were perfect.I used raisins,lol.
    Did you know ?? Butter tarts ARE Canadian,yep they really are, originated in Quebec,lol.
    I researched it because my California cousin say’s ,no knows much about them,her dad an ex Canadian made them but when he passed that was the end of her tarts,she asked me for my recipe .
    Not trying to upset anyone just what I learned,Keep on the great work you do Ashley Love the recipes

  4. Celine says

    I had to bake mine for longer, about 35 minutes because it just wouldn’t set!
    Oven was set to 350, but could just be a difference in ovens!

  5. rosemarie Menassas says

    Making these for my next Guild meeting! When I lived in Michigan in the 60s, I took a plate of Butter tarts to my neighbor for Christmas and she cried, “Oh My favorite! Pecan Tassies!” So they do have a version, just differently named!

  6. Meagen Brosius says

    Freezer recipes have been my FAVORITE lately. I’ve been stocking up for the holidays because it always seems to be the last thing that I want to prepare. These came out great! Very yummy!

  7. terry says

    for the first time, I tried this recipe figuring that it would be easier than making my regular butter tarts. the recipe is quite easy and everything looked fine. . I don’t know what I did wrong? I cooked the base an extra 5 min, then cooked the rest accordingly, even an extra 5 min again. let it cool off and after 3 hrs…I decided to cut the squares and everything was gooey and the base wasn’t cooked.

    I’ve done a lot of baking but this was the first time something didn’t come out right. Please help and let me know what I did wrong.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Terry — I’m sorry to hear that! The base will not brown, it will be pale but it should have some crunch to it. With the filling, I don’t think 3 hours is likely enough before slicing. I would make sure that the bars are refrigerated until well chilled, and not just rest at room temperature. I hope you’ll give them another try!

  8. Nadine Pereira says

    Hello! Iโ€™m looking forward to making these this week. I was wondering what size cookie sheet you use instead of the 9×13 pan.

    Thanks!

    Nadine

  9. Jane says

    I was looking for something that made a rather large batch so I could freeze it for those hot days I don’t want the oven on but need something sweet. I’ve made butter tarts before but for some reason it never occurred to me to make them in a bar form. I made them on a cookie sheet as recommended and they did turn out a lot thinner than I hoped for. Next time I’ll use a 9 x 13 pan instead. I am curious though as to why you suggested not to use parchment paper. It was all I had in the house (no foil) and it worked like a charm, as it always does! Despite the fact they are thinner the taste is amazing so I’m going to have to show great restraint in not snacking on them more than necessary lol.

  10. Michelle Campeau says

    I have NEVER tasted a butter tart square this good! The crust is flaky and buttery, and the filling is not too sweet. They may not make it to Christmas!

  11. susan armstrong says

    Absolutely delicious! I used a 9×13 pan and had to use an extra 1/4 cup butter to get the base to hold together.

  12. Tarah says

    This is my go to bar. It is no fail scrumptious , always

    requested and most of all easy . I vary with nuts and

    raisins. Ii am now going to make it with raisins. I

    also use the bottom for other squares.

  13. Nicole says

    These are sooooo delicious! Followed the recipe and they came out perfect! Just like the picture. Made them again substituting 1/4 Cup Maple syrup for some of the sugar just to see what would happen. Made them a tad more Canadian haha! Think I prefer just that hint of maple. Suck a good recipe! Thank you! This is now one of my staple treats.

  14. Leandra Crow says

    I want to make these but do them on a large sheet cake. I am debating on doubling or needing to triple to have the correct amount. Any thoughts?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      This recipe makes a pretty large pan already, so it would depend on how large your pan is in comparison. I’ve never made a larger batch than the recipe calls for so I can’t say for sure what size of pan you would need.

  15. Heather says

    Yummmmmm!!!!! These were so decadently delicious Iโ€™ll defin be making them again! Thank you for posting this recipe!!!

    Notes: I added 1 cup of chopped pecans and 1/2 tsp salt to the topping layer and they were amazing! Also, I didnโ€™t have white vinegar – used apple cider vinegar and it worked just fine!

  16. Stef says

    Help! I already started baking and realized I don’t have white vinegar, only apple cider vinegar! What if I leave it out? Do you think it will make a huge difference??

  17. HB says

    These are delicious! I made half the amount and used an 8×8 Pyrex dish…baked the crust for 15 mins and the filling for 40-45 mins and it was perfect. My oven isnโ€™t great so I always have to bake things for longer than what the recipe recommends. Also, I was too lazy to cut in the butter by hand so I pulsed the crust ingredients in my food processor…super easy and worked just as well. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  18. Leta says

    These are absolutely amazing! So easy and so tasty. The shortbread crust makes them go from great to amazing. I used toasted pecans in place of the raisins. I’ve made this recipe twice and they both were devoured. I made them once with all purpose flour and once with Gluten free 1-1 flour and I couldn’t tell the difference; both delicious. Wondering if it’s possible to lower the amount of sugar in this recipe without losing the texture?

  19. Andrea says

    These are SERIOUSLY amazing!! I made a pan today and had to stick them in the freezer to stop eating them! Ill be making another pan tonight to give away as a gift ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you!

  20. Wes Chambers says

    i have been making butter tarts for years, and like it better when the raisins are soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then sprinkled into each tart in an even layer, then pour the filling on top. i think the same would work just as well for butter tart squares!!

  21. Julie says

    Well these are just awesome! What an easy & delicious recipe. Vanilla ice cream would be greaton the side or a few berries. Thank you so much for sharing these on pinterest.

  22. Allison Allan says

    Hi Ashley i love buttervtarts so i tried your recipe.it taste delicious ,my problem i used a 9×13 pan did my base prebaked it.poured my filling in my problem the filling went over the side of the baked base and went underneath and caramelized on the bottom it tasted delicious but the bottom was hard can you tell mart what im doing wrong.i baked at 350 thevbase for 20 minutes and the wholevthing 40 minutes.thanks hopevyou can tell mart what im doing wrong.thank you.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Allison! I’m so sorry that happened but I’m glad the flavour was good! Did you line the pan? I find that the foil helps to keep the filling on top of the crust, as it stays close to the base until you pull it away. I hope that helps!

    • Rustic Maple Elizabeth says

      We found that too but loved them regardless. Second batch I made the base a bit higher around the edges, to โ€˜containโ€™ the delicious top layer. This is our new go to recipe. Thanks!

  23. Denette says

    I had never heard of butter tarts but the video and recipe intrigued me. How can you go wrong with 3 cups of brown sugar and 3 sticks of butter?! I made these this morning. Yowee, they are good in spite of my mistakes. I forgot to line the pan and missed the timer going off so they were over baked. I also used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour since I have Celiacs Disease. I wasn’t sure about the raisins so I poured the filling then put raisins on half and then made sure they were covered with the filling. They are fantastic in spite of my mistakes and alterations.

  24. Courtney B says

    I just made these for my Canadian husband (Iโ€™m American) and he was SUPER impressed. He can be picky so I am just blown away by how awesome they turned out. I followed the directions exactly and used a 10×15 cookie sheet. Thank you so much for sharing!

  25. Leslie says

    This appeared to be way too much content for a cookie sheet it should be more in a cake pan and not sure if it’s our high-altitude if I need to make an adjustment but it bubbled over the sides and into the bottom of my oven and I could never get the edges fully cooked without the center being over dad my oven cooks evenly so I know that’s not the problem if you have any suggestions please let me know

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Leslie, sorry about the confusion! It would need to be a fairly large cookie sheet, I know there are several sizes. I would recommend a 9×13″ pan if you do not have a large cookie sheet. The edges are normally the first part to cook, so that might have something to do with your elevation.

  26. Amy says

    WOW… What a great recipe!! I made these bars yesterday exactly as printed (using a 9 x 13″ pan) and, after increasing the baking time as recommended I have to say… these are easily the best thing I have ever eaten! My mom has a butter tart recipe which I have loved since I was a girl (she uses frozen tart shells from Tenderflake) but… I have to say… these are better! I was intending on freezing half of the pan, but I don’t think they will make it there… Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!

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