This traditional Canadian butter tarts recipe is decadent and delicious, and the individual portions makes them easy to serve for a crowd.
When I’m serving dessert at a party, I prefer to make recipes that come in individual portions like these cherry cheesecake tarts or these mincemeat tarts. Because of that (and the fact that everyone loves them!), this recipe is also on my go-to party dessert list.
One of my favorite desserts of all time, it’s hard not to love traditional Canadian Butter Tarts. They are delicious…but no looking at the calorie count for these guys…you don’t want to know!
For those who aren’t familiar with butter tarts, they are quite similar to the American pecan pie.
But they are served in individual portions with a flaky crust and (optionally) with raisins or nuts on the bottom of the tart.
There is some debate as to whether or not “real” butter tarts have raisins in them. But I say serve them however you like them (I prefer the raisins!)
What You Need
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Here’s your shopping list for this butter tarts recipe:
- 12 Tart shells
- Dairy: 1/4 cup butter
- Baking supplies: 1/2 cup brown sugar
- Liquids: 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1 egg
- Spices and flavoring: 1 teaspoon vanilla, pinch salt
- Fruit & nuts: 1/4 cup raisins, currants, walnuts or pecans (optional)\
There aren’t a lot of substitutions you can make and still have these turn out, but if you want to try a different flavor, you can substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup.
How To Make Butter Tarts
Take the butter out of the refrigerator a couple of hours ahead of time to make it easier to mix.
Adjust the rack in your oven so that it is in the bottom third of the oven. This prevents the tarts from burning.
Preheat the oven to 450℉.
Part of the trick to making good butter tarts is to get the pastry right. It’s very buttery and somewhat flaky, kind of like a cross between Phyllo dough and pie crust pastry.
So given that we need this special pastry, you may be looking at the recipe below and wondering why you don’t see the pastry ingredients included.
Well, let me tell you…
There’s a difference between the way that American flour and Canadian flour is milled. And that difference creates flour that has very different texture.
Which means, depending on where you buy your flour, you need different amounts of the ingredients to make the pastry turn out.
So, I’ve created a separate recipe for No fail pastry (you can find it HERE) that lists the American and Canadian measurements required for the dough. You want the “really good version” of the recipe for butter tarts.
Of course, if you don’t want to go to all the trouble of making your own pastry, you can go with pre-made tart shells instead.
Make the filling
Making the butter tarts filling is much simpler than the pastry.
In a mixer, beat the butter and the sugar together until it is very light and fluffy (the sugar should be dissolved in the butter). This should take about 2 minutes.
Then mix in the corn syrup, vinegar, egg, vanilla and salt.
Bake the tarts
Add a few raisins or nuts in the bottom of each tart shell. You can also put them on top or eliminate them altogether (depending on how you like your butter tarts).
Fill the tart shell about 3/4 full with the filling, and bake for 12 minutes. The filling should be bubbly and the crust golden brown.
Let the tarts stand in the muffin tin for about 1 minute on a cooling rack.
Then remove them from the muffin tins to prevent sticking. You will need to be careful with this since the still-warm crust is easy to break and the filling is very hot!
Put the individual tarts back on the wire rack and let them cool completely.
Other dessert recipes you might like
Traditional Canadian Butter Tarts
- mixer and mixing bowl
- 12 cup muffin tin
- wire cooling rack
- 12 Tart shells See our No Fail Pastry recipe to make your own
- ¼ cup butter softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- pinch salt
- ¼ cup raisins, currant, walnuts or pecans Optional
- Adjust the rack in your oven so that it is in the bottom third of the oven.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
- In the mixing bowl, use the mixer to cream the butter and the brown sugar together until well mixed.
- Add in the corn syrup, egg, vanilla, vinegar and salt.
- Mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Line the muffin tins with the tart shells.
- (Optional) Place a few raisins, currants, walnuts or pecans at the bottom of each tart shell.
- Fill each of the tarts about three-quarters full with the corn syrup mixture.
- Bake for 12 minutes. The filling should be bubbly and the crust golden brown.
- Let the tarts stand for about 1 minute on a wire rack.
- Then remove the tarts from the muffin tins to prevent sticking.
- Continue to let the individual tarts cool on the wire rack.
- If you want to make your own tart shells, use our No Fail Pastry recipe. There is a difference between Canadian and American flour so the measurements to make pastry are different depending on which one you use. Our recipe will help to figure out what you need. You can choose either the “really easy” or the “really good” version of the recipe, but the latter works best with these tarts.
- If you want to try a twist on the traditional Canadian butter tart recipe, substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup which gives it a slightly different flavor..
Have comments or questions on our traditional Canadian butter tarts recipe? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on May 12, 2016 but was updated with new content on July 13, 2022.