Have you ever made or tasted Canadian butter tarts? They’re a real Canadian classic so if you love butter tarts, you just have to try this recipe. The homemade pastry shells contain a sweet, vanilla-scented filling with nuts and raisins for the perfect flavour. They are little buttery, flaky pastry shells filled with a syrupy brown sugar filling that you are going to LOVE!
Classic butter tarts with a gooey filling and flaky pastry are perfect for Canada Day, holiday gatherings, BBQs, and picnics. These are the best butter tarts and a true Canadian tradition.
Why You’ll Love this Quintessential Canadian Dessert
- Delicious: These homemade small dessert tarts with their buttery crust, pecans, golden raisins, brown sugar and corn syrup filling are so tasty. Even though you can find them at the bakery, the homemade version of these favourite sweet treats is even better.
- Adaptable: You can change some of the ingredients in this Canadian recipe if you wish, such as using another kind of nut or a different type of dried fruit.
- Easy: The dough for the homemade pastry is simple to prepare and the filling for these beloved tarts is also just a matter of mixing ingredients together. Even a novice home baker should find this great Canadian classic recipe straightforward.
Butter Tart Recipe Ingredients
According to Food Network Canada, the first printed recipe for butter tarts was published in The Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook in 1900. The modern recipe is slightly different, as you’d expect, but the following recipe for delicious butter tarts would be really hard to beat!
For the tart shells, you’ll need flour, butter (I used salted but unsalted butter is fine), shortening, sugar, salt, and vinegar. The tart filling calls for light brown sugar, light corn syrup, egg, salt, vanilla, butter, golden raisins, and chopped pecans. I bet you have most of that in the pantry already!
How to Make Delicious Butter Tarts
For more detailed instructions, with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.
Start the pie crust: Put flour in a bowl with butter, shortening, sugar, and salt.
Make the dough: Blend the pie crust mixture then add vinegar and ice water (don’t overwork the dough!)
Rest the dough: Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Prepare the filling: Mix sugar, corn syrup, eggs, salt and vanilla, then add melted butter.
Make the flaky pastry shells: Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut circles to be the shells.
Fill the pastry shells: Once you’ve pressed the shells into a mini tart pan or muffin pan, add fruit, nuts and the prepared filling.
Cook them: Bake the tarts until golden brown.
Substitutions and Variations
You can omit the fruit and/or nuts or swap them for other types if you want. There are different ways to make this small pastry tart and you can mix and match what you want to have in yours. You could consider dried currants, chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, or even bacon! Maybe even chocolate chips if you have some.
Another idea is to sub maple syrup for some of the corn syrup since not only does that add another flavour but maple syrup goes beautifully with so many sweet Canadian recipes. If you aren’t adding any, you could drizzle some over before serving instead!
What to Serve with Old Fashioned Butter Tarts
You can serve this Canadian butter tarts recipe as it is or with some ice cream or whipped cream. And if you want to try another Canadian delicacy, Nanaimo bars are also really good, so if you’re baking for Canada Day why not make both?
- First of all, make sure the tarts are completely cool before taking them out of the pan and storing them, else the flaky crust might break.
- You can then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The top will turn from crispy to soft, but they’re every bit as delicious!
- Butter tarts freeze pretty well too, if you’re making a big batch or want to make them ahead of a special occasion. Once they’re completely cool, put the tarts in a freezer bag. They’ll be good for up to 3 months and you can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. This is great if you are making them for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Canadian Butter Tarts FAQs
Either way is good. If you want to warm them back up, 10 minutes in the oven at 350°F should be sufficient.
Yes you can if you prefer to do it that way. Pillsbury Pie Crusts work well here.
Although it’s a matter of passionate national debate whether the gooey filling should be firm, runny or somewhere between the two, it actually depends on your personal preference. If you don’t want a runny filling, add an extra egg and sub brown sugar for some of the corn syrup to thicken it up a little. For a runnier tart you could also bake for a minute or two less. For a firmer filling bake for a minute or two more.
They are sweet, buttery, caramel tasting tarts. They are like a cross between a pecan pie and a sugar pie.
Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe
Canadian Butter Tarts
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cube the butter and shortening for the pastry dough.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the following pastry dough ingredients: flour, cubed butter, cubed shortening, light brown sugar, and salt.
- Using a pastry cutter, forks, or even your fingers, cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles crumbs the size of peas.
- Mix the apple cider vinegar and 4 Tablespoons of ice water into the dough, continue to mix adding additional Tablespoons of ice water as needed until the dough comes together.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling you can make the filling. Start by combining the light brown sugar, light corn syrup, egg, egg yolk, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
- Add the melted butter and mix again, set aside.
- Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and unwrap. On a clean surface, roll the pastry dough to be about ¼” thick.
- Use a round cookie cutter that is approximately ½” to 1” larger than the opening of your mini tart pan cavities or mini muffin pan cavities. Cut as many rounds out of the dough as possible, re-roll any remaining scraps of dough and cut additional rounds until no more dough remains.
- Fill each cavity of the tart pan with a round of dough, gently pressing it into the sides and bottom of the cavity,
- Sprinkle just a few raisins and pecans into the bottom of each pastry.
- Spoon the filling on top of the raisins and pecans in each of the pastry lined tart cavities. Only fill about ¾ of the way full with the filling. You want to make sure there is a little space for the sugars to bubble up.
- Bake on a lower rack in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the tops have caramelized and the edges of the pastry are just starting to become golden. Remove from the oven and let the tarts cool completely before removing from the pan.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Canada butter tarts are loved for their combination of flaky pastry and oozy, gooey filling. This butter tart recipe is authentic, classic and so yummy – it is truly the best Canadian butter tarts recipe. I am certain that the Canadian butter tart will become one of your favourite baked treats!
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Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.
Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.