Butter Tarts

I never knew butter tarts were Canadian until I left Canada and never saw them again! I’ve always wondered why they haven’t made it big south of the 49th parallel, and after you try one, two or three of these you’ll wonder too.

Featured In My CookbookComfortable in the Kitchen Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below

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. 

Butter tarts in a muffin pan with two missing.

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.

Five Butter Tarts on a marble cake stand on a white wooden table.

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.

Watch The Recipe Video

Advertisement - Continue Below

Butter Tarts

  • Prep Time: 25 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 55 m
  • Servings:


  • 2 Basic Pie Dough disks equivalent to 2 (10-inch circles)
  • 2 eggs
  • cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 cup currants or raisins or chopped walnuts or pecans optional
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Roll the pastry out to ¼-inch thick. Using a circle cutter, cut the pastry into circles about 2 inches wider in diameter than the muffin pan cups you plan to use. Place circles of pastry into the muffin pan and place the muffin pan in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill the cups.
  3. Beat the eggs well with a stand mixer, hand mixer or vigorously by hand with a whisk until smooth and light in color.
  4. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter to the eggs, and beat again. Add the currants or nuts (if using), vinegar, vanilla extract and salt and mix well.
  5. Fill the shells two thirds full with the batter and bake until the pastry is light brown – about 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Let the tarts cool in the pan. Then un-mold and serve.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (50)Post a Reply

  1. 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

  2. 5 stars
    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.

  3. These look delicious…quick question, do you grease your muffin tin before adding your dough? Can’t wait to try these Canadian delights 🙂

    1. No, no need to grease the muffin tin. The dough has enough butter in it to keep everything loose and easy to unfold!

  4. 5 stars
    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 😀

  5. 3 stars
    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.

  6. 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!!

  7. 5 stars
    Fantastic dessert! I have made them several times and my husband and I have eaten them all. Thanks a bunch!! – – Kate

  8. 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?

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 5 stars
    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!

  11. 5 stars
    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.

  12. 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

    1. Just click on “pastry” in the ingredient list and it will take you to a page that shows you how to make the pastry.

    1. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 4 stars
    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!

  15. 5 stars
    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.

  16. 5 stars
    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

  17. 5 stars
    Delicious!! One question, they are a tad sweet. Is there an easy way to reduce sweetness. How much could I cut out?

    1. 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. 😊

  18. 5 stars
    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!

  19. Hi Meredith,
    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💕🙏🇨🇦

  20. Since starting to watch Heartland Have always wondered about the butter tarts they talk about on show. Will absolutely try this receipe

    1. 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! 😊

    1. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

    1. 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.

  23. 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!!

  24. 5 stars
    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!

  25. 5 stars
    There are so many recipes out there (in Canada). My mom used to make them with currants, chopped walnuts and fine coconut. They are decadent! We cut down on the amount of sugar (I use brown sugar, butter and eggs, no syrup) and make them ½ size in the mini tart pan since a full sized tart is way too sweet. The mini size has more crust and therefore naturally cuts down on the sugar content. (So I can eat more….just saying). And they disappear so fast. I generally make 4 to 6 dozen at a time so they last through all the holiday gatherings. I will mix equal parts currants, walnuts and coconut together and put a small amount into each crust, then put in the liquid filling. After decades of practice, I’ve cut down on the amount of work by using a fat separator device to add the filling. The FS has an instant stop/start action that allows you to fill quickly with no drips between each tart.

    Now I’m going to have to go make some. Thanks for the video!

  26. HOW MUCH FLOUR?????? In video you made your own pastry. You never mentioned how much flour to add frozen, cut up butter to.

    1. Hi Deb. If you look at the butter tart recipe right below the video, you can click on the first ingredient, “Basic Pie Dough”, which will take you to the recipe for making the pastry. You will need 2 Basic Pie Dough discs for the butter tart recipe. Of course, you can use your own butter pastry recipe or buy store-made if you prefer.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *