Butter Tarts: A Timeless Canadian Delicacy

Butter tarts are a quintessential part of Canadian cuisine, cherished from coast to coast. This delightful pastry offers a perfectly flaky crust filled with a lusciously gooey center, striking the right balance between sweet and savory. Our Ultimate Butter Tart recipe is crafted to captivate your taste buds and create memorable moments with every bite. This recipe not only adheres to the traditional roots of the dessert but also incorporates a touch of innovation for an unmatched culinary experience.

The Rich History of Butter Tarts

The origin of butter tarts dates back to the 18th century, rooted deeply in Canadian history, evolving through generations. Originally inspired by the pecan pies brought over by American settlers, the butter tart quickly became a distinctively Canadian treat. Its evolution has seen various fillings and crusts, but the essence of the butter tart – the tender crust with a sweet, buttery filling – has remained unchanged, a testament to its timeless appeal.

Ingredients for the Ultimate Butter Tarts

  • For the Pastry:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
    • 4-6 tbsp ice water
  • For the Filling:
    • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 1/2 cup corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 1/2 cup raisins or chopped pecans (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Preparing the Pastry:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tsp of salt.
  • Add 3/4 cup of cubed, cold unsalted butter to the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Gradually add 4-6 tbsp of ice water, just enough to form a dough. Do not overwork the dough.
  • Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

2. Rolling Out the Dough:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 1/8-inch thickness.
  • Cut out 12 rounds using a 4-inch cutter and fit them into muffin tins, pressing gently to form tart shells.

3. Preparing the Filling:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup of corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter until smooth.
  • Beat in 2 eggs, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1 tsp of vinegar until the mixture is well combined.
  • If desired, add 1/2 cup of raisins or chopped pecans to the filling mixture.

4. Assembling and Baking:

  • Spoon the filling into the tart shells, filling each about 2/3 full.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is set but slightly jiggly in the center.
  • Allow the tarts to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve your butter tarts at room temperature or slightly warmed.
  • For an indulgent twist, top with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

FAQs About Butter Tarts

Q: Can I use store-bought pastry? A: Yes, store-bought pastry can be used as a time-saving alternative. However, for the best texture and flavor, we recommend following our homemade pastry recipe.

Q: How can I prevent the filling from bubbling over? A: To prevent the filling from bubbling over, avoid overfilling the tart shells. Filling them about 2/3 full allows space for the filling to expand without overflowing.

Q: Can I make butter tarts without raisins or nuts? A: Absolutely. While raisins or nuts add texture and depth to the filling, you can omit them for a simpler, yet equally delicious, version.

Do’s and Don’ts for Making Butter Tarts


  • Do chill the pastry dough before rolling it out. This helps prevent the butter from melting too quickly, ensuring a flakier crust.
  • Do let the butter tarts cool in the pan for a few minutes. This makes it easier to remove them without breaking.


  • Don’t overwork the dough. Handle the pastry dough as little as possible to keep it tender.
  • Don’t skip the chilling step for the dough. Chilling is crucial for the texture of the pastry.

Pairing Options for Butter Tarts

Butter tarts are versatile and can be paired with various beverages and desserts to enhance your dining experience. For a classic pairing, serve with a robust cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk. For a more refined dessert course, a sweet dessert wine or a smooth port complements the richness of the tarts beautifully.

Tips for Perfect Butter Tarts:

  • Ensure the butter for the pastry is cold to achieve a flaky crust.
  • Do not overfill the tart shells to prevent overflow during baking.
  • The filling will continue to set as it cools, so avoid overbaking.

What Makes This Recipe the Best

Our Ultimate Butter Tarts recipe stands out for its meticulous balance of flavors and textures. The crust is intentionally designed to be flaky and tender, offering a satisfying contrast to the rich, gooey filling. The inclusion of a hint of vinegar in the filling subtly cuts through the sweetness, ensuring that each bite is perfectly balanced. This recipe also offers flexibility, allowing for the inclusion of raisins or nuts according to personal preference, making it adaptable to various tastes while maintaining its classic appeal.


The Ultimate Butter Tart recipe encapsulates the essence of Canadian heritage while offering a taste that is universally loved. These butter tarts strike the perfect balance between a flaky crust and a rich, gooey center, making them an irresistible treat for any occasion. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or trying your hand at this classic dessert for the first time, this recipe promises to deliver satisfaction in every bite

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Butter Tarts: A Timeless Canadian Delicacy

Butter Tarts: A Timeless Canadian Delicacy

  • Author: Marie Lavigne
  • Total Time: 52 minutes
  • Yield: 12 tarts 1x


  • For the Pastry:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
    • 46 tablespoons ice water
  • For the Filling:
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ cup corn syrup
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon vinegar
    • ½ cup raisins or chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Prepare the Pastry:
    • In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add ice water, stirring until dough forms. Wrap in plastic; chill for 1 hour.
  2. Roll and Cut Dough:
    • Roll out dough on a floured surface to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut into rounds and press into muffin cups.
  3. Make the Filling:
    • Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar until smooth. Stir in raisins or pecans if using.
  4. Assemble and Bake:
    • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spoon filling into pastry shells. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool before serving.


    • For a flakier crust, ensure your butter is very cold before incorporating it into the flour.
    • Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the filling prevents the tarts from becoming overly sweet and adds a subtle complexity to the flavor.


  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Cuisine: Canadian


  • Serving Size: N/A
  • Calories: N/A
  • Sugar: N/A
  • Sodium: N/A
  • Fat: N/A
  • Carbohydrates: N/A
  • Fiber: N/A
  • Protein: N/A
  • Cholesterol: N/A
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