Butter Tarts: How To Make Canadian Butter Tarts

A butter tart is a type of small pastry tart famous in Canadian cuisine. It is considered one of the quintessential desserts in Canada. The sweet-tart is comprised of butter, sugar, syrup, and an egg filling baked in a pastry shell until the filling is semi-solid with a crunchy top. The butter tart should not be confused with butter pie, a delicious pie from Lancashire, England’s Preston district.

Canadian Butter Tart

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Canadian

Butter tart recipes vary depending on the families or bakers that bake them. Because of this, the butter tart’s appearance and physical properties vary. The whole preparation and cooking time for this recipe is 1 hour. This recipe is suitable for four people. 

Butter tarts are Canada’s favorite dessert. Photo credits: @nytimes /Instagram.com

Canadian Butter Tart Ingredients

For the pastry,

  • 2 ¼ cups flour, pastry flour is best to use
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, very cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup butter, very cold and cut into cubes
  • 7 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
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins, you can substitute pecans, walnuts or chocolate chips

Canadian Butter Tart Ingredients

For the pastry,

Step 1: Use a food processor to mix the cold butter and shortening with the flour, sugar, and salt until the shortening and butter are reduced to pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the ice water over the surface and shake with a fork until the water is added to the dough. Do not overwork the dough; only handle it sufficiently to keep the dough together.

Step 2: Form the dough about one inch thick in two rounds. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave for about half an hour to rest in the refrigerator.

Step 3: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into circles 4 inches wide with a cookie cutter. Then, put the circles in the cups of a muffin tin. Chill the filling in the fridge or freezer.

Note: cold pastry heading into a hot oven will be flakier.

For the filling,

Step 4: Combine all ingredients except for the raisins. Mix well with each other. Sprinkle the raisins at the bottom of the pastry-lined muffin cups in a single layer.

Step 5: Fill 2/3 of the cup. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes on the bottom oven shelf at 425 degrees F. Cool on a wire rack thoroughly and remove tarts from the pans.

Canadian Butter Tart Additional Information

  • Per serving, these tarts have 220 calories, 10 g of fat, 25 mg of cholesterol, 25 g of carbohydrates. 
  • This recipe will take 1 hour to prepare fully.
  • This recipe is suitable for four people. 
  • The English Canadian tart typically consists of butter, sugar, and eggs in a pastry shell. It is similar to the French-Canadian sugar pie, or the base of the American pecan pie without the nut coating.

butter tarts

About Canadian Butter Tarts

Butter tarts are common in Canadian pioneer cooking and remain Canada’s signature pastry. Butter tarts are considered a genuinely Canadian recipe. They are consumed predominantly in Canada’s English-speaking provinces.


Butter tarts are an integral part of Canadian cuisine. They are cultural pride symbols of many communities across Ontario and indeed throughout Canada. For more international recipes, click here.

Featured Image:  @bluejeanchef / Instagram.com, @iconeicscoops / Instagram.com