Butter Tart Squares

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
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

4.62 from 67 votes
Quick, easy butter tart squares are perfect for fall or Christmas baking!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Servings 36 squares
Calories 174cal



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


  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted
  • 3 cups brown sugar lightly packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • optional: ¾ cup raisins


  • Line a 9×13" pan and line with parchment paper and spray with non stick spray. 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: 174cal | 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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Reader Interactions


  1. Janyte says

    Made it a couple of times. First time I had the runny problem others noted. Same oven, made it tonight – perfection. You don’t “taste” the vinegar when they are done so wouldn’t let that put you off! I made in the recommended sized pan. Maybe the middle was a bit softer, but not runny. I’m an edge girl:)

  2. Adele says

    Hi Ashley, I’m just trying your recipe and hadn’t read the comments. I was wondering as I poured the filling if I should have added a tbsp of flour to it. It’s in the oven now and I’m praying it will thicken.

  3. Gisele Savoie says

    I followed the recipe exactly and used the 9X13 pan and the middle was still runny. Next time, I will use the smaller pans as suggested by a few people.
    I guess I should cook longer than 30 minutes, I understand that each oven is different. I will try again in a few months. Thank you.

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      I’m sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe Gisele. The timing has worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too! So glad you are going to give it another try!

  4. Brenda Upshaw says

    After reading all the reviews, I tried the recipe, but I switched the vinegar for 1 tbsp lemon juice and added an extra egg yolk to ensure it sets and is firm ……Perfect!

  5. Jan R says

    I sent another message about the Butter Tart recipe. I went back and did another search and found your recipe for the squares. I was using the wrong words for search. I’m going to try this. We love pecan pie and this will just be pie without the pecans. Thank you for working so hard and sharing the recipes with all of us.

  6. Lavonne says

    I’ve made this recipe a number of time and everyone loves it. Just wondering if you have a method for adapting them into Maple Butter Tart Squares?

  7. Tania W says

    I made these today and they were amazing! I didn’t have vinegar but they turned out great and not super sweet like a regular tart and the bottom was so flaky and buttery.

  8. Barb says

    Just trying this today. I am curious about the vinegar. I have never added this to my other butter tarts. Just wondering what the purpose is for adding it.

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Barb! It is to cut through some of the sweetness and is a traditional ingredient in butter tart squares.

      • Bonnie says

        It is not a traditional ingredient where I am from…never have I heard of vinegar being in a butter tart or squares.

  9. Larissa Stevenson says

    I made these and they were amazing!! I cut the recipe in half, as it for for just me and my dad, but it turned out delicious, will definitely make again!! (:

  10. Sarah says

    Love this recipe! But do you have any tips on cutting it so the top doesn’t crack so bad? I’ve tried cutting just the crust ever so slightly right out of the oven to score it essentially and that works okayish or I’ve waited until they’re cool but that doesn’t work well for me at all. Not sure what the trick is.
    I will say I’ve been dividing up the recipe into two pans instead of one. I couldn’t get it to set as nicely when it was in a bigger pan. I used a 6×8 and a 8×8. But I do love these and so does everyone else.

  11. tamg says

    I tried making 2 about 72 hours ago. Cooked both until they were set with nearly no movement. One was incredibly burnt on top but perfectly set. The top luckily just tastes like burnt/toasted marshmallows. My family likes that so it worked out.
    The second one seemed fine when taken out of the oven, but was still extremely soft once cooled. Yet it had no “jiggle”. Popped it back in the oven for a bit and it had firmed up more, so I let it cool on the counter. Then moved to the fridge. I only just cut it and most of it still isn’t set. Extremely disappointing since I was supposed to take it to work and now I will be letting everyone down.

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Tamg, I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with this recipe. There are lots of factors so to what could of gone wrong, but it’s hard to know without being in the kitchen with you.

      • Brooke says

        I’m not sure if I didn’t bake long enough but it was VERY sweet… to the point where we scraped off the filling and just ate the shortbread crust… does it taste differently if baked longer? I did feel as though it was slightly under done.

    • Sarah says

      I had the same problem. I’ve been making these for about 3-4 yrs now. I’ve started cooking the recipe in two smaller pans instead of the big one because I feel like the center doesn’t ever set right. I use a glass Pyrex with parchment paper. One is 8×8 and the other 6×8. This seems to work well for me. The smaller one does finish at about the 30 min mark. The other 8×8 I have to leave in even longer. Hope that helps.

  12. Cassandra Stuppiello says

    Was super excited to add these to my Christmas baking. Made with all fresh ingredients and followed the recipe exactly, but my filling didn’t set despite refrigerating overnight, they are a gooey mess.

    Will try another recipe, I guess 🙁

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Cassandra! I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. It’s hard to know exactly what went wrong without being in the kitchen with you. Myself and others have made this with tons of success, so I wish they would of been a hit for you.

  13. Jewls says

    Would this work with egg replacement? I’ve made it so many times before but we found out my son has an egg allergy 😭

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Jewls! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so I am unsure if an egg replacement would work. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  14. Bobbie says

    Disaster.. the syrup didn’t thicken. Cooled it in the fridge after baking.
    When I cut into it ,I ended up with a pool of syrup.
    I followed the recipe to a tee.
    It did not look like the picture.
    And I cooked it 10mins longer.
    What went wrong?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Bobbie! There are lots of factors at play here, like exact oven temperature, size of the pan, size of the eggs, etc. If you follow the visual cues for doneness (set or almost set through the middle) then it should turn out just fine

    • Sarah says

      Bobbie – I sometimes have a similar problem. I resolved most of it by using two smaller pans instead of one big one. I felt the larger pan just took forever to cook in the middle and often wouldn’t set. So I use an 8×8 and a 6×8 glass Pyrex dishes with parchment paper. The smaller one finishes around the 30 min mark. The larger one I have to leave in longer. I just made this and I think the bigger one was in closer to 40 min. One thing I definitely do is jiggle them in the oven when the timer goes off. If i see a lot of movement, I add a few more minutes and repeat. I keep doing this until there isn’t to much jiggle left. I hope that helps you. It is a very delicious recipe.

  15. Gay says

    Hi. Can’t wait to try as my husband is Canadian and I make butter tarts every year. You say great to make ahead and freeze. Would you cut them first or cool at room temp and freeze whole pan? Tx!

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