Simply put, a butter tart is a small pastry tart with a syrupy, buttery, delicious filling that oozes out as you bite into it. It’s similar to the Quebeçois sugar pie or the American pecan pie, but there’s no cornstarch added to the filling so that it stays fluid, dripping down your fingers, which will definitely need licking once you’ve finished with the tart.
The key to a perfect butter tart is the pastry. It must be a butter pastry (no shortening or lard) and because pastry has so few ingredients, make sure you get the best butter you can – which would be a European cultured butter if you can find it. European cultured butter has at least 82% butterfat and a slightly sour taste (which sounds unappealing, but really is just more flavor and is delicious). Once you have the perfect pastry, the butter tart filling is really quite simple.
Butter tarts offer a certain freedom to the baker. They are supposed to look rustic, which gives you permission to be less than perfect as you shape the pastry shells and fill them. Let the pastry get pleated in the muffin cups and try to fill the cups only two thirds of the way full. The filling will bubble and boil in the oven, rising up in the cups before they fall as the tarts cool. The filling might spill over the edge of the pastry, which is a pain in the neck to clean off the pan, but does no damage to the appearance of the tarts.
Biting into your first butter tart is a treat you won’t soon forget. It’s an experience that leaves an impression… the impression that you’d like another please.
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As a Canadian, Butter Tarts are a staple here, I’ve been making them as long as I can remember-as a child they were a Christmas treat, my mother would make them and my siblings and I would sneak them out of the freezer and enjoy them – my favorite are the plain ones – I generally use a pie dough to make them – but will try your pastry recipe- mmm I just love Butter Tarts and I may do up a batch today.. it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed one or two lol
I made the butter tarts today and followed your pastry and tart filling adding pecans. It was my first time using my new kitchen aid food processor and making pastry dough. Thank you for the video as that was vey helpful. I was impressed at how easy and fast the pastry dough process was. I used a cupcake pan but I think I rolled the pastry a little to thick as I only got 10 tarts and had tart filling left over. Once they baked, I couldn’t wait for them to cool so I could try one. Oh my gosh, it was so good!
I am going to make another batch of the pastry dough today so I can use up the filling. I will defintely make these again and again. Thank you for sharing this Canadian tradition. I really enjoy your website, recipes and videos.
I need to make some soon. I always eat mine with a spoon, eating that buttery goodness first and the crust last!
These look delicious…quick question, do you grease your muffin tin before adding your dough? Can’t wait to try these Canadian delights 🙂
No, no need to grease the muffin tin. The dough has enough butter in it to keep everything loose and easy to unfold!
Would like to make them. Where did you get the cutter that you used in the video?
You can find circle cutters like the one I used in the video here: https://bluejeanchef.com/product/circle-cutters/
I do love that they are fluted on one edge and straight on the other.
Love this recipe and such a beautiful tart crust! Admittedly, I have to look the other way when adding all the sugars but so worth it in the end. Thanks for making what I thought to be a tricky, time consuming recipe so easy! These are my hubby’s favourite treat and he is a happy guy munching away on a butter tart, with raisins naturally 😀
I made these last night. I think using the tiny cupcake muffins are better.
They reminded me of pecan deserts a bit. Goid but very sweet.
Haven’t made yet.. Please, tell us how we can freeze these… My diet tells me that I can only have one at a time.👵 But, I will be having 1 or 2😋 Thanks!!
Fantastic dessert! I have made them several times and my husband and I have eaten them all. Thanks a bunch!! – – Kate
I have 2 very special bottles of maple syrup, one is a Sugarmaker’s Cut and the other is Bourbon Barrel Aged. So naturally I’m wondering if I can use maple syrup instead of corn syrup?
There are maple butter tarts in Canada. I haven’t tried substituting maple syrup in this recipe, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Give it a try!
In the video you add lemon but it’s not listed in the ingredients.
Hi MJ, the lemon juice is listed in the ingredients for the basic pie dough/pastry. If you click on “Basic pie dough” in the recipe, it will take you to the recipe on how to use the lemon juice in the pastry making.
My mother made tassies that is similar to these. The filling is almost the same, but she used cream cheese, butter and flour for the pastry. She would always make them as part of her Christmas cookie baking, and where always the first to disappear.
I always have a supply of the Butter Tarts in the freezer and take one out about an hour before eating. I do cheat and use pre-made pie crusts. They taste like mini pecan pies and are just the right size for an afternoon indulgent snack. Thanks for the recipe!
My husband goes to Canada every year to catch the one that got away last year. With the border closed, he can’t get there yet this year so these are making him at least somewhat happy as he loves these every time he gets up there. Thank you for such a fabulous recipe. So easy and delicious.
I’d like to make the pastry instead of just using a bought pie crust… but in the video I didn’t hear you mention how much flour…??
Can’t wait to make it
Just click on “pastry” in the ingredient list and it will take you to a page that shows you how to make the pastry.
Recipe doesent say how much flour???
Hi Judy. The only flour in this recipe is in the pastry – no flour in the filling. If you click on the pastry in the ingredient list, it takes you to the pastry recipe which tells you how much flour to use in the pastry.
Kind of reminds me of a scone. Looks delicious will try it.
Do these freeze well? I’m assuming they’re going to last that long! Thanks
Ha! You’re right! Yes, you could freeze butter tarts in an air tight container for up to three months.
In the 50’ and 60’s, my family went each year to the Calgary Stampede and came home to Montana with a dozen pink bakery boxes of butter tarts. We had a special freezer (with a lock on it 🤣) for these treats. We got them in our school lunches- I have tried many recipes over the years and only your recipe has tasted the same. Thank you for bringing back those memories
Loved these! I have had them when I travel to Toronto when ever possible. But these were so much tastier! My Canadian friends can’t get enough and we’re very pleased with how they turned out with the pictures. Now, when we can travel again, they said they would judge taste at that time. But my family who never heard of them loved them. So glad I found your recipe!, thank you!
These are so delicious! I used maple syrup instead of corn syrup, but I probably used too much -I think I would replace it volume for volume next time. The filling is definitely drippy – I would like it a little more oozy, but that might have been because of how much syrup I used – my mistake. The pastry is the best I have ever had, and I can’t believe I made it! The only thing I might do differently would be to roll it just a little thinner and make them in smaller muffin tins- I used the 12 muffins-per tray size (3 inches in diameter), and I think they are a little big for my preference – I could never eat more than one. They are very rich! But this will be in my “forever” list of holiday treats! Thank you for this delicious recipe.
So glad you liked them, Anne. 😊
This is the exact recipe I have been looking for., Just like Grandma made.
Dang Tasty! I changed it to Golden Syrup instead of Corn Syrup due to supply issues here in New Zealand. Baked at 170 Celsius for 27 mins and perfect
Delicious!! One question, they are a tad sweet. Is there an easy way to reduce sweetness. How much could I cut out?
Hi Joanne. Butter tarts aren’t a tad sweet… they are SUPER sweet! 😄 That’s sort of what they are all about. I’m afraid the only ingredients are butter, eggs and sugar in some form so cutting out or down the sugar would make it more like a sweet quiche than a tart. I say just eat in moderation. 😊
I have never made pie dough successfully until your video! I made the pie dough and the butter tart filling…. My husband said they were better than my moms… and she is an extremely good baker!
So thank you again!
So happy for you!! ❤️ Every butter tart deserves great pastry. 😊
Well now I’m homesick! I was born in Vancouver now love In So Cal. and had these butter tarts and of coarse Nanaimo Bars Often. Thanks for both recipes they look delicious girl💕🙏🇨🇦
Since starting to watch Heartland Have always wondered about the butter tarts they talk about on show. Will absolutely try this receipe
Jay – I just have to say right off the bat, that Heartland is one of my FAVORITE shows! I’m guessing you’ll love butter tarts just as much as you love Heartland! 😊
Could you use PUFF PASTRY instead?
No, I’m afraid puff pastry will puff too much and won’t work here. Butter tarts have a delicious butter pastry crust that can stand up to the filling.
This really looks good especially with the Holidays coming up. In your video you make the crust, but I cannot find the recipe for the crust. Would you share it please?
You can click on the link in the list of ingredients that take you to the pastry crust recipe. Or you can copy the recipe here: https://www.meredithlaurence.com/recipes/basic-pie-dough/
I’m so excited to make these for my family. Going to try making it this week.
Also, may I ask what kind of food processor you are using. I’m in need of a new one and I thought yours looked really nice.
Hi Linda. In that video, I am using a Kitchen Aid food processor. I think Kitchen Aid, Breville and Cuisinart all make good food processors. I have a smaller food processor coming out in my Blue Jean Chef® line later this year. It holds approximately 7 cups, but for the big jobs you might need something bigger.
I made these for Christmas Eve yesterday. I’ve heard about butter tarts for years from Canadian friends but never made any. My goodness have I been missing out!! These were absolutely scrumptious! Of all the goodies I made for the holidays, these went the quickest. My family is in love and they’ll be a staple in our home from here on out. Also, I made mini tarts in a mini muffin pan to make them little bites. I added currants to a couple of them (I’m the only one who likes raisins and currants) and it was phenomenal!! Beautiful recipe, Meredith, thank you!!
My first time making them. Delicious. I made one batch plain and thr next with butter tart liqour added. Very yummy. I ate wayyyyy too many. Thank you!