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The Best Classic Canadian Butter Tarts

The Best Classic Canadian Butter Tarts. There’s a reason why we have a national obsession with these sweet, buttery, caramel-y tarts. particularly at the Holidays

The Best Canadian Butter Tarts cut open image

The Best Canadian Butter Tarts

I’ve sampled butter tarts in many places across the country and this thick pastry version is my favourite. Don’t do the raisin debate,  just leave them out if they are not your thing. Everyone should be able to enjoy them as they like them.

UPDATE The Best Canadian Butter Tarts is our newest recipe video!

Butter Tarts.

Butter tarts are one of my all time favourite sweet treats and have been for many years. I don’t often make them because, to be absolutely frank, I would not rest until I had eaten all of them!

Of course, Canadians love these tarts and I have had some fine examples in other parts of the country. I think the nod goes to Quebec for the best I’ve had though.

Close up stock photo of golden raisins for butter tarts

Golden raisins are what I use in this recipe but any other raisin or even currents work well.

I can’t tell you the numbers of these I’ve eaten over the years, driving along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River and stopping into little bakeries along the way to sample the local versions of this perfect little pastry. Here is my favourite version.

Fit pastry circles into a muffin pan.

Fit pastry circles into a muffin pan.

 

Pastry shells ready for the Maple Butter Tartsfilling

Pastry shells ready for the filling.

 

Tarts ready for the oven

Tarts, ready for the oven.

 

Add the filling ingredients to a bowl

Add the filling ingredients to a bowl

 

Simply whisk together the ingredient

Simply whisk together the ingredients.

There is a great deal of debate about whether the filling should be firm or slightly runny. Most butter tart aficionados I know across Canada comedown on the runny side of the debate.

Maple Butter Tarts cooling on a wire rack 2 copy

Perfect Butter Tarts.

If you prefer the filling firmer, add an additional egg to the mix, and modify the corn syrup and brown sugar amounts as found in the NOTE added to this recipe. You may also want to bake them for just a few minutes longer.

The Best Canadian Butter Tarts

The Best Canadian Butter Tarts

Butter Tarts Update.

UPDATE 2020: There is a considerable debate and sometimes geographical differences in what the preferred consistency of the centre of a butter tart should be. In a recent poll 60% of people said they preferred a runny centre as opposed to a firmer set one.

The argument for a firmer set centre is that it’s less messy and easier to eat on the go. As with any recipe, I believe you should have them however you like them.

To that end, I’ve updated the NOTE in this recipe to include instructions to tweak the recipe for a set but still soft and delicious centre. I wouldn’t turn down either one to be honest.

butter photographed on a wooden cutting board.

Use only real dairy butter in this recipe for the best flavour. 

Please note that the photos of the set butter tarts below are made without raisins by request of my son… but let’s not start another debate about that! Just get on with making them how you like.

 
The Best Canadian Butter Tarts christmas image

Always popular at Christmas too!

Love butter tarts, like me?

Be sure to check out our new recipe for the ultimate Canadian version, Maple Butter Tarts.

Maple Butter Tarts photo cooling on a wire rack with title text added for Pinterest

Updated November 2022.

Like this Classic Canadian Butter Tarts recipe?

You’ll find hundreds of other sweet ideas in our Cakes & Pies Category and even more in our Desserts Category.

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The Best Canadian Butter Tarts image with text

Classic Canadian Butter Tarts

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The Best Canadian Butter Tarts cut open image
Yield: 12 large tarts

The Best Classic Canadian Butter Tarts

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

The Best Classic Canadian Butter Tarts - there's a reason why we have a national obsession with these sweet, buttery, caramel-y tarts. I've sampled them in many places across the country and this thick pastry version is my favorite. Don't do the raisin debate, just leave them out if they are not your thing. Everyone should be able to enjoy them as they like them.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 2 ¼ cups flour, pastry flour is best to use but all-purpose will do
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, Very cold and cut in cubes
  • 1/2 cup butter, Very cold and cut in cubes
  • 6 tbsp ice water, approximately, enough to bring the dough together

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins, substituting, pecans, walnuts or chocolate chips also make good variations

Instructions

To prepare the pastry

  1. Pulse the cold butter and shortening into the flour sugar and salt using a food processor until the shortening or butter is reduced to pea sized pieces.
  2. Sprinkle the water over the surface and toss with a fork until the water is just incorporated into the dough. Do not over work the dough; handle it only enough so that the dough stays together.
  3. Form the dough into two rounds about an inch thick.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about a half hour.
  5. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut into rounds with 4 inch cutter. Fit into muffin cups. Chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling. Cold pastry heading into a hot oven will always be flakier.

To make the filling

  1. Combine all filling ingredients except raisins.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Sprinkle raisins in a single layer in the bottom of the pastry lined muffin cups.
  4. Fill 2/3 full with syrup mixture.
  5. Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack and remove tarts from from pans.

Notes

There is considerable debate about whether the filling in a butter tart should be runny or firm. Preferences vary, especially geographically but if you want a firmer, less runny filling simply add an additional egg, increase the brown sugar to 3/4 cup and decrease the corn syrup to 1/4 cup.

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

Recommended Products

Rock Recipes a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Our product recommendations are almost exclusively for those we currently use or have used in the past.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1 large butter tart

Amount Per Serving Calories 363Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 51mgSodium 255mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 1gSugar 23gProtein 3g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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R Clarke

Sunday 8th of January 2023

I have made them twice ...once with the recipe here and once with the added egg more brown sugar and less syrup .....they taste delicious ...but both times really runny and doesn't set ....

Catherine

Monday 26th of December 2022

Hello Barry, Just wanted to let you know that I made these for Christmas dessert and they were a huge success.I used chopped walnuts for half and sultana raisins for the other six. I baked them for 15 minutes and they turned out golden brown and slightly runny- everyone in the family said they were delicious and not too sweet. I really enjoyed your daughters's video and step by step instructions.Thanks for a keeper-it will be the only butter tarts I make from now on.

D’Arcy

Sunday 25th of December 2022

I have a very different recipe than your for the filling. But I love your recipe for the shells. My filling has a cup of rum and a ton of raisins. I have been making them for over 30 years and the men fight over them.

Lisa

Wednesday 21st of December 2022

This recipe is delicious but I had about 30% more pastry than filling, despite filling the pastry cups less than 2/3rds full. I tried to make a square using the leftover pastry dough, so that was nice, but I hesitate to recommend this recipe because I would have rather had extra filling leftover which would have been more conveniently turned into butter tart squares! Thank you for sharing in any case, and Merry Christmas!

Sharon

Saturday 17th of December 2022

OMG, this recipe is AMAZING, thank you for sharing!!! My crust turned out SO flaky, so wonderful, and I used your note to make the firmer filling. SO delicious, absolutely a ten out of ten!!

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