Butter Tarts

Butter Tarts and I are making a 12-hour Midwest road trip, and only one of us is going to survive Iowa.

Butter TartsHint: It’s probably not the personally-sized mini pies loaded with an ooey-gooey, buttery brown sugar filling.

Butter tarts are an old fashioned Canadian dessert that I can compare most directly to a pecan pie. Like pecan pie, the crust is flakey and tender, and the filling is buttery and sweet. Unlike a pecan pie, the tarts are always prepared in miniature, never in larger pie form, which allows them to be picked up and delicately (or not so delicately) devoured.

Gooey Butter TartsFrom here, butter tarts become controversial. Some sources argue that the butter filling should be nicely set; others advocate for a runnier texture. Some recipes include nuts (most commonly walnuts—pecans were less popular); others raisins or currants. I found some recipes with corn syrup, others with maple syrup, and a few with heavy cream.

I consider today’s butter tart recipe to be the peacemaker. I kept the essentials—miniature size, decadent filling, and an irresistible crackly top—streamlined the ingredients, and left the mix-ins as optional.

No special equipment is needed to make miniature pies—I baked these butter tarts in my old, beat-up muffin tin. Simply roll out your favorite pie crust recipe (you’ll need a double-crust amount) and use a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass to stamp four-inch rounds. For the filling, grab a single bowl and wooden spoon, and you are set. Easy as pie! Er, tarts.

Butter Tarts - Mini tarts baked in muffin tinOf all of the versions of butter tarts I tried, my favorite was the simple filling with no mix-ins at all. The brown sugar filling is flavorful enough to stand on its own and, while I do love nuts, I preferred the dessert without them. The lovely crunch provided by the crackly topping, which first rises, then crisps and falls back onto the creamy interior, provided to be just the right amount of texture.

Whether you’re looking for an extra treat for a Christmas party or sweet to sustain you during a long day of travel, butter tarts are a simple, uniquely homey, and satisfying dessert.

Butter Tarts. A gooey, old fashioned dessert similar to pecan tartsI’m also hoping praying that, when combined with every available podcast episode of Serial, the Pandora 90s station, and a book of trivia, butter tarts will make our 12-hour drive a bit more pleasant (and Ben a little less critical of my driving). Bring it on, Highway 80. We’re ready.

Wishing you all safe travels and a wonderful holiday week!

Butter Tarts

Yield: 12 individual (mini) tarts
Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Flaky pastry shells filled with an irresistible gooey brown sugar filling. This old fashioned dessert is a classic in Canada, and after one bite, it will become one of your favorites too. A standard sized muffin tin is all you need to make these easy mini tarts.

Ingredients

  • Pastry dough — for 2 standard-sized pie crusts, double crust
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, — melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar
  • 3 large eggs — at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Up to 2/3 cup mix-ins: — raisins, toasted chopped pecans, toasted chopped walnuts, and/or currants
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Butter Tarts, Easy Dessert Recipe

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

More mini desserts:

I created this post in partnership with Imperial Sugar. As always, all opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for me to continue providing quality content to you!

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

36 comments

  1. Oh..these look decadent..and perfect for the blustering midwestern wind :)

    Not sure if I could make these..but love looking at them!

    • You could totally make these!! Don’t be afraid. The piecrust is honestly the trickiest part, and if you use store-bought, I won’t tell a soul :-) The batter is a breeze. All you need is one bowl and a spoon!

  2. Good luck with your drive! I always have good intentions of eating healthy on road trips, but that usually goes right out the window (ha!) after the first hour. I would definitely be popping these in my mouth all day long!

  3. Rich is so critical of my driving too…but yet he never wants to drive. ;) Safe travels!! xoxo

  4. I hope you, Ben, and these delicious looking Butter Tarts make it in one piece! Merry Christmas!

  5. I could eat a dozen of these bad boys!! xoxo

  6. Safe travels! I love road trips, but even I would get a little antsy about driving 12 hours. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of snacks, though :)

  7. I have no road trips but these need to happen! Rich and buttery is all I heard :)

  8. These are the perfect travel companions! I’m sure I’d sneak a few here and there to pep me up. Have a safe trip!

  9. How have I never heard of a butter tart? That sounds right up my alley! I hope you all have a safe trip and a wonderful holiday!

  10. This is so my kind of tart! Love it!

  11. I think you did great playing the middle man with these tarts.

  12. I have only one thing to say about this post and it’s this:

    mmmmmmmmmmmmm

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Dude. Perfection.

  13. These look delicious, Erin! Love the flavours, so good!

  14. These tarts look awesome. I just recently fall in love with pecan pie, and I drool over anything remotely similar to that. Have a safe drive, Erin!

  15. Stacey @ Bake Eat Repeat Reply

    Mmmmm, butter tarts are my favourite Christmas treat! Or one of them at least. I have lots of favourites! These ones look amazing – but I’ve never made them with just brown sugar, my recipe calls for corn syrup with the sugar. Although I’ve switched that out for both honey and maple syrup and both are good. I’ll have to try this version with just brown sugar!

  16. These look so delicious and moist. Iowa will be happy to see them. :-)

  17. Sarah | Broma Bakery Reply

    Oh man. Good luck with your drive! I used to drive from Michigan to Boston about two times a year. It’s a tough thing to do! But luckily you’ve outfitted yourself with the essentials- Ben, food, and music

  18. Ah, 12 hour drive! Wishing you save travels!

    This butter tarts are so cute. I adore the crackle on top of these tarts!!

  19. Kentucky Lady 717 Reply

    Enjoy your trip and your butter tarts :) my daughter just made Pecan Tarts, she does not use corn syrup either (bad stuff) a recipe she has had for yrs. and they are so awesome…..similar to your recipe tho…..and we love them……but she makes her own dough….very simple, just uses cream cheese and butter and flour……and roll into ball, press into muffin tin with pampered chef tool, (sorry forgot what it’s called), but really comes in handy to make the tarts tho….MERRY CHRISTMAS Erin, love your blog…………

  20. Wow these tarts are GORGEOUS!

  21. I’ve never heard of these before, but they seriously look so awesome! Definitely have to try this recipe out soon! Pinned :)

  22. Yum!! These tarts look so good!! And so cute too :)

    Good luck on the drive! We had a 9 hour drive and well, I’m just glad it’s over …. till we head home! haha Happy happy christmas!

  23. Ok seriously seriously seriously, these look insane! Did you by chance leave any crumbs along the way to Iowa like Hansel and Gretel? I’ll be the first to follow that trail :)

    Hope your trip went well! Happy holidays!

  24. I’ve always thought Butter Tarts sound an awful lot like the Chess pie I grew up with (in the American south). Lots of people are familiar with lemon chess or chocolate chess, but I like the ‘plain’ kind, butter, sugar, eggs, and not much else.
    I’ve never tried Butter Tarts mostly because I think they’re the sort of thing I couldn’t stop eating once I start.

  25. Oh how I love butter tarts…no mixins or pecan-only being my favourite, but I’ll really eat any of them. Gorgeous! Have a great trip :)

  26. These little tarts are fantastic!!!

  27. These tarts look incredible and would make the perfect travel companions! Good luck and have a safe drive! Merry merry Christmas and hope you and your family enjoy the holidays :)

  28. I really have to make these. I’ve never had anything like this, and it looks perfect! I love the topping!

  29. These little tarts look delicious! I love the simple filling and they sound really good. Have a safe trip and happy holidays!

  30. i could snack on them with my coffee as we speak..need some!!

  31. These would be pure danger around me… and I’d love every minute of it! Happy holidays! Have a great one and eat lots of cookies! :)

  32. Those look amazing!
    Safe travels and happy holidays!

  33. Ooh these sound delicious! And perfect for road trip (or any time!) snacks. Safe travels!

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