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Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe – How to Make it in 10 Simple Steps

This is a close look at a single Canadian Butter Tart with a bite on it.

While the exact origins of this popular national treat are murky, food historians do know that the Canadian Butter Tart became very popular in the early 1900s. In 1913, a recipe for this favorite treat was printed in a popular cookbook of the time called The Five Roses Cookbook, and that inclusion led to the dessert’s fame and popularity in the Canadian nation.

Today, many variations on the basic butter tart recipe exist. Some people include nuts, and some people leave them out. Some people include dried fruit like raisins or currants, and others prefer dessert without these pieces of dried fruit. Whether you like them plain or with one of the listed additions, one thing is certain: with its flaky crust, gooey center, and chewy top layer, a Canadian Butter Tart is a wonderful treat for any time of day.

Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe

April Freeman
A distinctly Canadian recipe, Canadian Butter Tarts feature a delicate crust encasing a rich and creamy center and a crunchy, sugary surface layer. While some versions include raisins, the dried fruits are not a must-have in this recipe. If you are not a fan of raisins, you can omit them and the recipe will still be perfect.
Prep Time 25 mins
Baking Time 15 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 12 Small Tarts


  • Muffin Pan
  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Pastry blender
  • Cookie Cutter
  • Electric Mixer
  • Wire Rack


Pastry Ingredients

  • cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • ¼ cup Shortening
  • 4 tbsp Ice Water

Filling Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Softened Butter
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Corn Syrup
  • 1 pc Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • ¼ cup Raisins, Chopped Pecans, Walnuts or Currants optional additions


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray the cups of a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. 
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, the sugar, and the salt to create the crust. Add the shortening to the mixture, cutting it into 3 or 4 larger blobs. Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut the shortening into the dry ingredients, continuing to combine these until the mixture resembles cornmeal, with the shortening distributed evenly throughout the mixture.
    The dry ingredients are mixed in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Drizzle the ice water into the mixture, using only about half of it. Toss the mixture with the ice water with a fork, gently stirring it together. Add enough of the leftover water, a little at a time, until it starts to stick together in a ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Do not beat it or handle the dough roughly. Gentle handling will help your pastry stay tender and have a perfectly flaky texture.
    With the water added, the dough is formed.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 12 to 14 inch circle. Cut the rounds to fit a muffin pan by using a 4 ½ inch round cookie cutter. Alternatively, you can use individual tart pans. Gently fit the pastry into the pans and set the pan aside as you create the filling for the tarts. 
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until they are well mixed.
  • Add the corn syrup, egg, vanilla, vinegar, and the salt. Beat until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. 
  • Put your optional ingredients in the bottom of each pastry shell, dividing them evenly among the pastry cups. 
    The pastry tart cups are each filled with nuts and filling.
  • Pour the corn syrup filling mixture into the pastries, dividing it evenly among them and filling them about ¾ of the way full.
  • Bake the pastries for about 12 to 15 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the crusts are golden brown. Let the tarts sit in the pan for about 2 or 3 minutes to cool. Then, gently lift the tarts from the pan and put them on a wire rack to cool. Be very careful since the tarts are very fragile while warm. You may want to use a fork to help get the tarts out of the muffin cups.
    A batch of Canadian Butter Tarts cooling on the wire rack.
  • Let the tarts cool for at least an hour before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container. 
    This is a close look at the Canadian Butter Tarts cooling on the wine rack.


While Canadian Butter Tarts are popular all over that country, there is some debate on exactly what the texture of the filling should be. Some places prefer a runny center, while others want a gooey center. The preference is largely geographical. Our recipe for Canadian Butter Tarts yields a tart with a gooey center.
Our recipe instructions include directions for making a pastry crust from scratch. This step may intimidate some people, especially those who have never made pastry before. If you are up for a challenge, you may want to give it a try with our instructions. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Next time, you will probably do a little better. Pastry takes a knack that takes a bit of time to develop, so don’t get discouraged the first few times that you try to make pastry.
However, if you are certain that you do not want to attempt making a pastry crust today, you can also use a refrigerated pastry crust from your grocery store’s dairy case. These crusts are almost as good as the ones that you can make from scratch, and they definitely will save you time and hassle in the kitchen. 
This recipe is baked in a 12 cup muffin pan. Gently ease the pastry circles into the tin, doing your best not to tear them. If you do accidentally tear a pastry piece, wet your finger and stick the pastry back together. You do not want the filling leaking out of the pastry in baking because otherwise your tarts will be difficult to remove from the pan.
Keyword Canadian Butter Tarts, Dessert, Recipe

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