The Best Classic Canadian Butter Tarts
This is the best classic Canadian butter tarts recipe ever! It is decadent and delicious, and the individual portions makes them so easy to serve for a party or holiday dinner.
When I first moved from Canada to the United States, one of the things I missed the most were butter tarts.
Since I couldn’t justify going home every time I had a craving for them, I decided I better learn how to make them.
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 (much easier to serve at parties than pie!). And (optionally) have 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!)
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This recipe makes enough for 12 butter tarts.
Here’s your shopping list:
- Crust: 12 tart shells
- Dairy: ¼ cup unsalted butter
- Eggs: 1 large
- Baking supplies: ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup corn syrup, pinch salt
- Liquids: 1 teaspoon vinegar
- Flavoring: 1 teaspoon vanilla,
- Dried fruit & nuts: ¼ cup raisins, currants, walnuts or pecans (optional)\
- If you prefer homemade tart shells to the store-bought kind, use the “really good” version of our pie crust pastry recipe in a 12-hole muffin tin.
- Salted butter will also work if you eliminate the pinch of salt.
- If you like the filling of your butter tarts to be stiffer, use 2 eggs instead of 1, increase the brown sugar to ¾ cup and decrease the corn syrup to ¼ cup.
- For a slightly different flavor, 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 tops of the tarts from burning.
Preheat the oven to 450℉.
The easiest way to put the crusts together is to buy pre-made tart shells. (Which to be honest is what I do most of the time.)
However, you can make them yourself if you prefer to have a true butter tart pastry, which is kind of like a cross between Phyllo dough and a pie crust.
So, you may be looking at my recipe and wondering why I didn’t include the ingredients for this special pastry dough.
Well, let me tell you…
There’s a difference between the way American flour and Canadian flour is milled.
And that difference creates flour that has very different textures.
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 that lists the American and Canadian measurements required for the dough, along with 2 different ways of making it.
You want the “really good” version of the recipe for butter tarts.
Make the filling
Making the butter tarts filling is really pretty simple.
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.
Put the tarts together
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 2/3 full with the filling. You don’t want to overfill them or they won’t bake evenly.
Bake for 12 minutes. The filling should be bubbly and the crust golden brown.
If you like your butter tart filling to be thicker (as opposed to slightly runny), you can bake them for an extra minute or two. But watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn.
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.
Butter tarts can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
They are best served at room temperature, so take them out about 30 minutes ahead of time to give them time to warm up.
Frequently asked questions
For firm butter tarts, use 2 eggs instead of 1, increase the brown sugar to ¾ cup and decrease the corn syrup to ¼ cup. You can also bake the tarts for an extra minute or two, while watching them closely to make sure they don’t burn. Additionally, don’t fill the tarts more than two thirds full to allow for even baking.
To prevent the butter tarts from burning on top, adjust the oven rack so that it is in the bottom third of the oven before putting them in to bake.
Other dessert recipes you might like
Traditional Canadian Butter Tarts
- mixer and mixing bowl
- 12 cup muffin tin
- wire cooling rack
- ¼ cup butter softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- pinch salt
- 12 Tart shells
- 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.
- Use a mixer and mixing bowl to cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- 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 two-thirds full with the corn syrup mixture.
- Bake for 12 minutes. The filling should be bubbly and the crust golden brown.
- Let the muffin tin stand for about 1 minute on a wire rack.
- Then remove the tarts from the muffin tins to prevent sticking.
- Put the individual tarts back on the wire rack and let cool completely.
- 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.
- For a twist on the traditional Canadian butter tart recipe, substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup which gives it a slightly different flavor.
- For firm butter tarts, use 2 eggs instead of 1, increase the brown sugar to ¾ cup and decrease the corn syrup to ¼ cup.
- Store butter tarts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Have comments or questions on our classic Canadian butter tarts recipe? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on May 12, 2016 but was updated with new content on February 20, 2023.
You left out how much butter sugar and flour to use for the better pastry
I created the pastry as a separate recipe since I use it for more than one recipe. Here’s the link: https://www.fromhousetohome.com/edivarecipes/no-fail-pie-crust-pastry/3/. Sorry for the confusion!
Filling didnt thicken up very runny
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.
12 minutes in not correct I’ve had mine in for 30 and they are barely brown edges.
This is not a credible recipe
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.
Why do you put vinegar in your butter tart filling
Hi Bryan…The vinegar helps to make the filling lighter and balance out the sweetness from the syrup.
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.
Thanks, Helen! I love them with pecans, too 🙂
I would never cook anything at 450 in my oven. I cooked these at 350 for about 20 minutes. 12 minutes at 450 they would be fried to a crisp and burnt on the bottom
It sounds like your oven runs pretty hot, Carli!
Haven’t made these yet but they look really good. Question; what section of the grocery store do I find the tart shells & do they look like what is pictured?
Hi Val…you can find frozen ones in the freezer section or non-frozen ones usually with the baking supplies (like cake mixes, flour, etc.) They do look like what is pictured and are usually called tart shells or mini pie crusts.