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Traditional Canadian Butter Tarts


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.

Canadian butter tarts recipe

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.

Butter tarts with raisins
©Jennifer – stock.adobe.com

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

Traditional Canadian butter tarts

Prep work

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℉.

The pastry

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

butter tarts with pecans on the top

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.

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Traditional Canadian Butter Tarts

Traditional Canadian Butter Tarts

Wanda Simone
This traditional Canadian butter tarts recipe is easy to make and tastes delicious…and gives you the option to add raisins, or not.
4.59 from 12 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 12 tarts
Calories 236 kcal


  • 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..


Serving: 1 Butter TartCalories: 236 kcalCarbohydrates: 32 gProtein: 3 gFat: 11 gSaturated Fat: 5 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 29 mgSodium: 119 mgPotassium: 44 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 21 gVitamin A: 138 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 14 mgIron: 2 mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Joetta and Moyers says:

    You left out how much butter sugar and flour to use for the better pastry

    1. Filling didnt thicken up very runny

      1. Wanda Simone says:

        Hi Carol…I’m sorry they didn’t work out the way you wanted them to. To get them to firm up more, you can put them back in the oven for a minute or two. Just watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn.

  2. Franceythat says:

    12 minutes in not correct I’ve had mine in for 30 and they are barely brown edges.
    This is not a credible recipe

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Francey…I don’t think it’s the recipe (I have made it many times). I suspect your oven isn’t heating to the correct temperature. After 30 minutes at 450 degrees, the butter tarts should be totally burned! If you want to test it, try getting a standalone oven thermometer. Put it in your oven and heat the oven to 450F. Then check the standalone thermometer to see what it says. I’m fairly certain it will show a temperature that’s a lot lower than it’s supposed to be.

      1. Bryan Matthews says:

        Why do you put vinegar in your butter tart filling

        1. Wanda Simone says:

          Hi Bryan…The vinegar helps to make the filling lighter and balance out the sweetness from the syrup.

  3. These tarts are scrumptious.
    Thanks for posting this recipe.
    I made 2 dozen with raisins
    2 dozen with crushed pecans .
    Yummy just like pecans pie.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks, Helen! I love them with pecans, too 🙂