Butter Tarts

Prep Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 12 tarts

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These Butter Tarts are a Canadian classic that comes together with just 25 minutes of prep! Homemade pastry shells are filled with a rich, brown sugar (raisins optional!), then baked until buttery and flaky on the inside and gooey on the inside.

finished butter tarts on black cooling rack
Table of Contents
  1. What are butter tarts?
  2. Are butter tarts Canadian?
  3. Are butter tarts and pecan pie the same thing?
  4. Ingredients for butter tarts
  5. How to make butter tarts
  6. Do raisins belong in butter tarts?
  7. Why are my butter tarts runny?
  8. How to store butter tarts
  9. More dessert recipes you’ll love
  10. Butter Tarts Recipe

As many Canadians have, I grew up eating butter tarts. I mean, you cannot grow up in Canada and not enjoy them for all the major holidays.

Now, I’ve already made butter tart squares, so I thought it was about time I shared my own version of classic butter tarts. They are the perfect bites for sharing!

If you’ve never heard of or had butter tarts before, prepare to be amazed. The rich, gooey filling and flaky pastry might just blow your mind 😉

If you love Canadian treats as much as we do, check out these Nanaimo Bars and this No Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake as well!

What are butter tarts?

Butter tarts are small dessert tarts that are made up of buttery, flaky pastry shells filled with a rich, gooey, syrupy, brown sugar filling and — depending on your tastes! — raisins.

close up image of butter tart cut in half on cooling rack

Are butter tarts Canadian?

Yes! Butter tarts are recognized as one of the few foods that are truly Canadian. The first written recipe is said to have been printed in 1900 in Barrie, Ontario.

You can’t live in Canada and not know and love this iconic dessert!

Are butter tarts and pecan pie the same thing?

Nope! Although butter tarts and pecan pie are similar in ingredients, they do have a couple of key differences.

First of all, pecan pie is always made with pecans while butter tarts is either made without any additions, or raisins. Although some may get crazy and (gasp!) even add nuts!

Secondly, butter tarts tend to have a slightly gooey-er filling since there isn’t cornstarch. Pecan pie filling bakes up to be thicker and more sturdy.

Ingredients for butter tarts

There are two very important parts of today’s recipe: the crust and the filling!

butter tart filling ingredients on white background

Pastry Crust

  • All-Purpose Flour: the base for the pie crust (based on my favorite Pie Crust recipe)
  • Sugar: adds a touch of sweetness
  • Salt: enhances flavor and helps create that golden-brown color. Salt also makes the dough less sticky so it’s easier to portion out into pastry cups.
  • Unsalted Butter: be sure to use cold butter. It steams in the dough as it cooks which creates pockets of air that creates a lighter, flakier texture.
  • Cold Water: the cold water creates that doughy texture and prevents the butter from becoming too warm.

Butter Tart Filling

  • Brown Sugar: melts into the butter to form that gooey, caramel-like filling for the tarts.
  • Golden Corn Syrup and White Vinegar: react with the sugar to prevent it from crystallizing. Butter tarts can be made without corn syrup and vinegar, but they will have a slightly crispy, crystal-y top.
  • Butter: I use salted butter in the filling so I don’t have to add salt myself. If you use unsalted, add a touch of salt to balance the sweetness.
  • Eggs: give the filling structure so it’s not too runny.
  • Vanilla Extract: adds flavor depth and warm sweetness.
  • Raisins or Pecans (optional): the raisin issue a matter of huge debate in Canada. Some prefer butter tarts with raisins and others without. Use whichever you like best, or add pecans for a delicious twist!

How to make butter tarts

This classic Canadian dessert comes together in a total of 45 minutes!

Pastry Tart Shells

  1. Mix the dough: Stir together flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl, then cut in the cold butter cubes with a pastry cutter or your hands. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of cold water and work the dough with your hands until it comes together in a ball. Shape the dough ball into a fat disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.
  2. Cut the dough: Roll the pastry dough out onto a large piece of wax paper. Cut the dough into 3-3.5″ rounds using a circle cookie cutter, a large cup, or a small bowl.
  3. Make into shells: Place the pastry dough rounds into a muffin pan and gently press them into the bottom and up the sides. Place the muffin pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Mix filling ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla.
  5. Add to the pastry cups: Ladle the filling into the chilled, unbaked tart shells, dividing evenly between the 12 cups.
  6. Bake: Bake the butter tarts at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Do raisins belong in butter tarts?

The jury is still out on this question! Whether or not raisins belong in butter tarts is a matter of passionate national debate. Some swear by raisins in their tarts while others feel that raisins are the best way to ruin a perfectly good tart.

In my opinion, you should do whatever works best for you! Raisins or not, these butter tarts are absolutely delicious!

Why are my butter tarts runny?

If your butter tart filling is too runny, it could be over-mixed. If you stir the filling too much, the eggs will hold air. That air rises in the oven causing the filling to puff up, then sinks in the center when the tarts are removed from the oven.

To make sure your filling is just the right texture, I recommend whisking by hand only until just combined.

The other possibility is that they just have not cooled enough. If you prefer a firmer butter tart filling, be sure to refrigerate until chilled before enjoying.

stack of four butter tarts cut in half to reveal filling

How to store butter tarts

The butter tarts will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. To enjoy again, you can either serve them cold or let them come to room temperature on the counter.

If they’re frozen, be sure to thaw them in the fridge first.

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Butter Tarts

4.94 from 81 votes
These Butter Tarts are a Canadian classic that comes together with just 25 minutes of prep! Homemade pastry shells are filled with a rich, caramel-y filling and pecans or raisins, then baked until buttery and flaky on the inside and gooey on the inside.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Cuisine canadian
Course Dessert
Servings 12 tarts
Calories 281cal

Ingredients

Pastry crust

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour 163 grams
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter cubed (112 grams)
  • ¼ cup cold water

Butter Tart filling

  • 1 cups brown sugar, packed (190 grams)
  • ½ cup golden corn syrup
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (optional: it helps to cut the sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: ½ cup raisins or pecans

Instructions

Pastry tart shells

  • Stir together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter (or use your hands!) until crumbly — the butter should be in roughly pea-sized chunks. (FOOD PROCESSOR: combine flour, salt, sugar by pulsing a few times. Add in butter cubes and pulse until crumbly)
  • Stir in 2-3 tbsp cold water and work dough with your hands until it comes together in a ball, adding in additional ice water if necessary. (FOOD PROCESSOR: Add water and pulse until dough starts to form a ball, then press dough together into a ball)
  • Shape into a fat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week.
  • Roll out pastry on a large piece of wax paper — make sure it isn't too thin.
  • Cut dough into 3-3.5" rounds using a circle cookie cutter, large cup or small bowl.
  • Place rounds into a muffin pan, gently pressing the pastry into the bottom of the cup and up the sides. If you knick a hole in it, use your finger to press the pastry back together. You will fill one 12-cup muffin pan.
  • Place muffin pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Butter Tart filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, vinegar (if using) and vanilla
  • Gently ladle the filling into the unbaked tart shells, dividing evenly between the 12.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and filling has puffed slightly.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire cooling rack.
  • Store baked butter tarts in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Notes

Storage:
The butter tarts will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. To enjoy again, you can either serve them cold or let them come to room temperature on the counter.
If they’re frozen, be sure to thaw them in the fridge first.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 281cal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 157mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 394IU | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords 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. Dawn says

    These were soo delicious. The only thing is the heat 350 degrees was too high and they started to boil over in the oven, so I put the heat down to 325 and then they were good. Came out perfect after. And they taste like heaven.

  2. Caitlin says

    I just made these, and they were near perfection! Like other commenters, I had more filling than the tart crusts would hold, and even though I had a fair amount of filling left over my tarts still overflowed while cooking and stuck to the pan, making them crumble a bit when trying to remove them. I used 3.75-inch rounds for the tarts, and next time I will increase the amount of pastry dough and use 4.5 or 5-inch rounds instead. I also substituted about 2 tbsps of the corn syrup for maple syrup, which added a nice subtle maple flavour without making the filling too runny or crystallized.

  3. Donna says

    These turned out amazing and so easy I didn’t use any raisins or nuts Thankyou so much it’s hard to find a really good recipe they’re definitely a 10. Happy Holidays 🎄

  4. Shirley says

    20 minutes was not long enough. Ingredients for 12 tarts had my filling spilling onto pastry and couldn’t get tarts out of the tin with basically destroying them. 🙁

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe, Shirley. The timing and method has worked well for myself and others, so I wished it would of been a hit for you too!

  5. Shelbi says

    Do you have a suggestion that would work for this recipe?…
    Unfortunately my husband cannot eat eggs and I’m always looking for a workaround! Butter Tarts have been requested and this recipe looks delectable! 🙂

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Shelbi! Maybe try using an egg substitute such as a plant based substitute? I haven’t tried anything else so it would be hard to say. If you experiment with it, I’d love to know how it goes!

    • Jackie says

      Hi Shelbi, for this recipe the eggs act as a binder and leavener, making it a tricky replacement. Personally I would try either a flax egg and/or aquafaba (this is the liquid left from a can of chickpeas—if you’ve never tried it before it sounds so weird especially for something sweet, but it works just like egg whites (makes light fluffy holding together action) and I promise is amazing. I made vegan Royal icing with it before and you could not tell. Flax egg is simply ground flax seeds + water and let it sit for a bit—one teaspoon flax seeds to 1/3 cup water replaces one egg. Flax eggs are very good for binding especially in baking such as cakes. My advice would be to experiment with one or both of these. Both should have lots of internet resources as well.

  6. Steve Casserly says

    Tried these last night. Followed recipe exactly. My filling poured out after a bite like liquid. Any idea where things could have gone wrong for me? Thanks

  7. Francine says

    It is the first time I leave a comment for a receipe but this one I have to, I tried about 9 different butter tarts and this one is SUPER GOOD. I will try other receipe from your site cause this one I called in love with👍👍

  8. Jen says

    Turned out exactly like the photos. I left a bit of room in the 1/2c of corn syrup and I added maybe 2tbsp into the cup of maple syrup. Made half with pecans as well. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Melanie Shaw says

    For sure will be making these this weekend. Will be making them with currants. My mother in law was Canadian and introduced these yummy treats to me years ago. But, with the currants! Lol!!

  10. VioletMoon says

    Try adding rum extract (or the real thing) instead of the vanilla in the filling and you’ll be amazed at the better flavour!

  11. Rose says

    These butter tarts are a hit for sure. I add raisins as that is my family’s preference.

    Question though your video shows adding salt to the filling but the written filling recipe does not indicate salt. How much salt is required for the filling?

  12. Sandra says

    My recipe pre-dates corn syrup and I’ve never used vinegar. I’m really curious how this one stands up to mine!

    I add raisins in mine as my mom did. My adaptation is walnuts and a dash of brown rum which really works with the butter and brown sugar.

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