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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

4.6 from 22 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 174cal

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 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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Comments

  1. Edy says

    Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe! I followed your recipe as written and the bars turned out perfect. I did add the raisins as we are raisin lovers and I wouldn’t change a thing to your recipe. This is definitely a keeper for our family, (and so much easier than making the butter tarts). Thankyou!

  2. brenda says

    O.M.G. they are everything and more than you said. Just think, no more pie crust.I would be proud to serve them to company.Thank you.

  3. Sarah says

    I’ve made a similar recipe for years (and butter tarts go WAYYYY back in our family) but I’m pretty sure the vinegar needs to go in the crust and NOT the filling. Vinegar is pretty common in most pie crusts I make, but I’ve never added vinegar to a butter tart or bar recipe that I’ve made. That may by why a few people are tasting it.

  4. Trellyn says

    I have a huge complaint. I CANT STOP EATING THEM! I LOVE butter tarts, but only if there’s no raisins. This recipe is perfect. I used a cookie sheet and they are simply delectable. I made them last night for some company stopping in for coffee today, but I’m afraid at this rate there won’t be any left! I did leave out the raisins, but added pecans instead. Simply. Amazing.

  5. Heidi Hunt says

    I made them in the 9×13 pan so I had to bake them a little longer. Not sure how much because I checked them every 3-5 minutes until they were only slightly jiggly. They turned out amazing. Loved them. I’ll definitely be making them again real soon. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

      • Heidi Hunt says

        So I have made this several more times since and I have adjusted the time and temp for the 9×13. I bake them at 325Β° and bake the crust for 20 min. Then I bake it with the filling an additional 40 min. They are fabulous. Every time I walk by the pan I cut off another bite. Very dangerous! Lol Thanks again!

    • Fran Partridge says

      I just took these out of the oven. They smell and look delishes. I will let you no what my company says about them to-morrow. I baked them for 20 minutes at 350 and for 10 minutes at 325.

        • Frances M. Partridge says

          I had company this afternoon and everyone loved them. Next time I will double the tin foil or would parchment paper work just as well?

          • Rachel.P says

            I only use parchment paper while baking. I hate tom foil. A tip for getting it to mold to your pan, crunch it into a ball and run it under warm water for a few seconds! Unscrunch the ball and shake it over the sink to get the access water droplets off, and place in your pan. It will mold easier to the shape of your baking pan. Another step to make it a little easier is to take another cookie sheet of the same size and place it over top. My dad showed me this trick a few years ago and I’ve done it ever since. Really good for things like baked mac n cheese and meatloaf too, where things tend to get baked into the sides of the dish.

  6. E.G.O. says

    This recipe was a bit of disaster! I don’t know how it’s supposed to bake in a cookie sheet since the filling is so much and would probably ooze right over the edge! I used a 9×13″ glass baking dish. I had to increase the baking time of the shortbread crust to 20 minutes; the crust tasted really good! I had to bake the filling for at least 40 minutes (and even then it still seemed rather jiggly!) After cooling it at room temperature for an hour and then for another 2 hours in the fridge, cutting the bars was still a big mess!! The filling oozed over the bars and everything was so sticky! The filling tasted good, but definitely very sweet (even for my sweet tooth!)

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Well it was probably a disaster because a baking sheet is about twice the size of a 9×13″ pan. The filling would have been much too thick and would never have cooked and no, you would never be able to slice them. I recommend trying the recipe as written, just make sure you use a large rimmed baking sheet.

      • E.G.O. says

        Thanks – I did follow the recipe. Your recipe says a small cookie sheet or a 9×13″ pan. Since I didn’t know the dimensions of the cookie sheet, I figured I’d use the pan dimensions you gave and adjusted the time like you said. (As a side note, I wouldn’t think that a “small cookie sheet” would be twice the size of 9×13″ pan.) Perhaps I’ll try it again with a really large cookie sheet or perhaps half the recipe.

        • Ashley Fehr says

          You’re right! I am going to retest the recipe in a few different sized pans and I will update the recipe so that it’s clearer. I’m sorry about the confusion! I generally use a baking sheet for these bars.

  7. Darlene Hershfeldt says

    I Love butter tarts too and the squares are indeed delectable! I noticed many were inquiring as to why the use of vinegar or lemon juice is used in the filling. I think its to cut down on the sweetness. I don’t use either of those because I am addicted to sweetness hahaha!! I also put currants in mine instead of raisins! Wow! such a flavour difference that is! I’m making your recipe tonight except without the vinegar and I’m using currants….My butter tarts i’ve always made were so delicious but never thickened enough like yours appear to have, so butter tart squares it is! Thank-you so much for sharing!

      • Darlene Hershfeldt says

        Sorry to be the bearer of sad news. I was quite surprised and disappointed, sadly enough. they didn’t turn out as I had expected. they were quite runny even after sitting out all night and also very crunchy on the top which I didn’t like. The crust however was perfect. I had to dispose of them unfortunately … I followed the recipe exactly too! They did look picture perfect until I cut into them πŸ™ Got any suggestions?

        • Ashley Fehr says

          Hi Darlene! I’m sorry to hear that! As you can see from the reviews I’ve never come across any results like that. Did you leave out the vinegar like you mentioned earlier? I wonder if the acid plays a part in thickening the egg mixture.

        • E.G.O. says

          I had a very similar experience – crusty on top but very runny and gooey underneath – definitely not firm and almost impossible to cut into bars!

    • roxane waskahat says

      Hi we made these exactly as the recipe called for. Minus the raisins though.
      We did not like the vinegar!! We might try lemon juice next time.
      Other than that we enjoyed them πŸ™

  8. Lori says

    Hi, I’m planning to make these tomorrow and wondering what you mean by a ‘small’ cookie sheet? Approximate size? I have a few bar pans and a variety of cookie sheets – and what I would consider my small cookie sheet is smaller than 9×13. Thanks!

    • Josie says

      Ah, just what I was wondering, too. Maybe you could edit your original post to reflect this info, including that it should be a rimmed pan (sometimes a 10×15 rimmed pan is called a jelly-roll pan, which might help people figure out what to use too).

  9. sarcasmica says

    My Canadian hubby is getting some tarts for his bday today, but will def try these bars! Also, a quick tip for the tarts; my MIL showed me how to make hers and she short cuts it with refrigerated pie dough. Hubby doesn’t know the difference! (and he’s really the only one in the fam who loves these super sweet gooey treats)

  10. Selina says

    These were delicious. Not sure why there’s white vinegar in it though, I felt like I tasted it a little. Next time I think I’ll add coconut into the mixture πŸ™‚

    • Ashley Fehr says

      The vinegar is a traditional addition in a butter tart or butter tart square, though I’m not exactly sure the reasoning behind it. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever tasted it. Thanks Selina!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      If you’ve never had a butter tart, then you would probably find them very rich and sweet, yes. That is just how they are! Perfect in small pieces with a cup of coffee πŸ™‚

      • Heather says

        Being a proud Canadian, I’ve had many Butter tarts, and Butter tart squares in my life, and I found this recipe far too sweet, and I love sweet. So, I think I have to agree with Casey.

        • Ashley Fehr says

          I find this really interesting. I checked the first several results in Google and found that most have a similar amount of sugar, which is 1 cup per dozen tarts or pieces (as Canadian Living and Food Network both have). 2 results had 1.5 cups per dozen, and one had 1 cup per 16 tarts. My guess is that they seem more sweet because there’s more filling and less pastry in each piece. I’d love to hear how much sugar you use per dozen servings to see if that’s why there seems to be a difference.

  11. Nadia Frock says

    I found this recipe a while back and it’s become one of my staples! My family hates when I make them because they can’t keep their fingers out of em. Thank you for such a great recipe!

  12. Rachel says

    Great recipe! Have you ever tried adding a bit of maple syrup to them? I’m wondering if that would change the texture too much and make them runny? Thank you for sharing!!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I haven’t tried it — I bet it would be amazing if it worked! I would try to reduce the melted butter a bit and swap out for syrup, or if you swapped the vinegar for maple syrup?

  13. Sandra Kuehn says

    I love Butter Tarts had no idea it was a Canadian thing . I some times add Chopped Dates or Chopped Pecans I love your short bread crust it is so GOOD. Thank you for Sharing.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      As Canadian as poutine! Haha. Thanks so much! Sometimes we add raisins but there are people who don’t like them so I often leave them out. Pecans and dates would be awesome!

    • Doreen Krieger says

      Hi I only have A 17×11 1/2 inch cookie sheet just wounding it this will work and it so do I have to adjust the ingredients and cooking time.

  14. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Ashley! I love shortbread! The filling looks similar to one I use for pecan pie. I am not fond of raisins so I would sub in chopped pecans. I will probably have to hide these from myself – especially at night. I tend to wake up during the night and go “snack shopping” when I have something this delicious around! I don’t know if bakeries here make them because I never go to bakeries – I prefer to make all our sweet treats and these are on my list! πŸ™‚

    • Ashley says

      Haha, I’m a big snacker too! It is very similar to a pecanless pecan pie filling! Haha. They’re a classic here πŸ™‚

  15. Anne Jones says

    Made these first time Wednesday Shared them with my friends at afternoon tea and now everyone wants the recipe They are simple to make and delicious A winning combination and now on the Australian baking list as well as the Canadian

  16. Crystal says

    Being Canadian I never knew people had not heard of butter tarts! I am awful with pastry , but your recipe is awesome , I am making some more this afternoon as requested by my little boy. Thanks for the recipe

  17. Cristina says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made it for my son’s birthday and they were honestly the best butter tart bar recipe I have tried. It was a huge hit.

  18. Cristina says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made it for my son’s birthday and they were honestly the best butter tart bar recipe I have tried. It was a huge hit. πŸ™‚

  19. Philly says

    Pretty sure I made a huuuge mess lol! I think my topping was too wet and it spread over a little… But I’m just about to take it out of the van a d it smells good!!

  20. Michelle says

    Oh. My.

    I think I’m going to add these to the dessert table at my holiday party next weekend. How far ahead do you think they can be made (under cover of darkness and hidden from the Menfolk is a double-secret location)…?

    • Ashley says

      Jacquee, I totally love raisins. But I know a LOT of people don’t, so I left them out of mine (though I guess I put them in the recipe as optional)!

  21. Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron says

    Isn’t that funny, I had no idea butter tarts were a Canadian thing. I love these bars, I also can’t be bothered with pastry most of the time, so this is a perfect solution! And really. Butter and brown sugar, can’t possibly go wrong, with that combo πŸ™‚

  22. Stacey @ Bake.Eat.Repeat. says

    Butter tarts are a Canadian thing? I had no idea. I love butter tarts, and will most definitely be posting my fave recipe this Christmas! I haven’t made butter tart squares in eons though, I kind of forgot about them! Thanks for reminding me, now I need to make those again, so good!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Sarah! I’m pretty sad for you right now, but luckily there’s still time! Lol. Butter tarts are kind of necessary here around the holidays πŸ™‚

  23. Melanie @ Garnish & Glaze says

    Oh my gosh! My husband LOVES butter tarts! I had never heard of them either until I met him. His dad is from Canada so that’s how they know about and love them. My mother-in-law makes them but in muffin tins and adds raisins. Making them into bars sounds way easier.

    • Ashley says

      I’m SO glad you know what I’m talking about! The traditional way is as a tart, and we make them that way often but bars are so much easier! Plus, I’m lazy πŸ™‚

    • Ashley says

      Oh Jess, you’ve been missing out! Butter tarts are #1 up here — in fact, MacDonald’s in Canada just started selling a Butter Tart pie! I was totally delighted. You should definitely try them!

    • Ashley says

      I honestly don’t know how you’ve lived for so long without. They are normally in tart form, but I was WAY too lazy for that! Bars are one pan and done πŸ™‚

      • Kathy Woods says

        I was born in Canada 64 years ago but we moved to the US when I was just 7. Since then I have not had a butter tart but over the years I have dreamed of them! πŸ™‚ These bars sound so easy and I plan to make them for my daughter’s baby shower….attended by Americans who have never had a butter tart, I know they will be gone in a flash! Thank you so much Ashley, for this wonderful and easy recipe!

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