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Best Canadian Butter Tart Recipe

Updated on November 27, 2011

Christmas is around the corner and my mind is wandering to sweeter, fattening recipes. Butter tarts are a year-round Canadian favorite so I am not sure why I started thinking about them at this time of year. Maybe they are special enough and delicious enough to warrant a holiday season to prepare. After doing a little research, I have also discovered that the infamous butter tart really is a genuine Canadian recipe. You often meet people in other areas of the world that have never heard of them.

Butter tarts date back to pioneer Canada and are one of the few truly Canadian pastries. It is believed that other pastries such as sugar pie and pecan pie (two other favorites of mine) have the same origins. The main ingredients are fairly simple; butter, sugar and eggs. Every Canadian family has its own combination and we all think ours is the best. Of course, I totally believe my mom’s recipe really is the top of the heap!

You can cheat and rush to your closest grocery store to invest in a package of frozen pastry shells. That just won’t do for the purists among us. Here is my mom’s hand-me-down basic pastry recipe for one batch of butter tarts.


1 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
¼ cup ice water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and mix into the dry mixture with a pastry blender, a couple of knives or just dig in with your hands and gently mix until it is a crumbly texture.

Sprinkle the water into the flour mixture and mix gently with your fingers until it is evenly moist and holds together. Press into a ball, wrap the dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for a half hour to an hour.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. You can use either individual muffin cups or a ten or twelve cup muffin cup pan. Use a round cookie cutter or an inverted glass to cut out circles to match the size of your muffin cups. Carefully place the pastry into the muffin cups.


2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup rasins
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and butter. Mix in the raisins and chopped walnuts.Spoon filling into shells until approximately two thirds full.

Bake in bottom third of 425 F oven until filling is puffed and pastry begins to turn golden, about 10-12 minutes. Let stand on rack for 1 minute. Run metal spatula around tarts to loosen; carefully slide spatula under tarts and transfer to rack to let cool.

If cooked properly, the pastry should be flaky; the tarts should have a crispy surface and a slightly runny filling.

Makes about 12 large butter tarts. Enjoy!!


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    • profile image

      Theresa Bourque 6 months ago

      Been looking for this particular recipe or a while, Thank you

    • profile image

      Peatnik 16 months ago

      Filling ingredients call for eggs. In working through the instructions for the filling...there's no mention of putting in the eggs. Guess what? making the filling...i forgot the eggs!

      Lesson learned .

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      sounds good to me.

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I will try your recipe first...the vinegar is new to me, but I have used it in chocolate cake recipes and I like it's addition. Thanks for the hints!

    • Steve LePoidevin profile image

      Steve LePoidevin 5 years ago from Thailand

      The vinegar in this recipe cuts some of the sweetness. I suppose you could play around with the sugar and vinegar amounts to decrease the sweetness a bit more.Thanks for stopping by.

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I find it hard to believe butter tarts belong just to Canadians...they are sooo good! I am still trying to duplicate my mother's recipe and never quite get it I will give this a try....hers were never very sweet...rather butterscotch in flavour. Yum.

    • allhubboy profile image

      allhubboy 6 years ago from Singapore

      I will give it a try.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      mm butter tarts. Love em!

    • RASO profile image

      RASO 6 years ago from Slovenia

      I really like this recipe! The pastry is great! Filling is just a little bit runny but that's ok because it's not too sweet. Perfect! Thanks to recipe owner.