Best Classic Canadian Butter Tart Recipe

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One of Canada's best-kept culinary secrets, the butter tart is a humble little treat consisting of a flaky crust filled with ingredients like brown sugar, eggs and vanilla that's then baked in a mini muffin tin. To help recreate this classic at home, we ask cookbook author Elizabeth Baird, who served as Canadian Living's food editor for well over a decade, to share one of her staple recipes below.

To learn more, read "Canada's Legendary Butter Tarts Have Landed in the States."

Recipe adapted from 'The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook,' by Elizabeth Baird

Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe
5 from 80 ratings
Learn how to make butter tarts, flaky Canadian pastries with a sweet butter filling, from cookbook author Elizabeth Baird.
Prep Time
Cook Time
butter tarts
Total time: 35 minutes
  • For the Pastry
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cold butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup cold lard, cubed (or substitute butter)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Ice water
  • For the Filling
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 large, room-temperature egg
  • 2 tablespoons very soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ⅓ cup currants, sultana raisins, chopped walnuts or pecan halves
  1. Make the pastry: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter and lard until the mixture is in very fine crumbs. In a 1-cup measuring cup, use a small whisk or fork to combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, and enough ice water to come to ⅓ cup. Gradually drizzle over the flour mixture, stirring briskly with a fork until the pastry holds together. You may need to add a little more ice water to gather up the last of the dry bits. Press into a disc, and wrap and chill until firm. Let stand at room temperature to soften a little before rolling.
  2. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 450 F. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the sugar, syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt until smooth.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles, rerolling scraps if necessary. Fit into muffin cups. Divide the currants among the pastry shells. Spoon the filling over the currants until three-quarters full.
  4. Bake in the bottom third of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden. Let stand on a rack for a minute; immediately run a metal spatula around tarts to loosen. Carefully slide the spatula under the tarts and lift out to cool on a rack. The baker gets to eat all the tarts that break in transit, or give them as a reward to favourite people.
  5. You can freeze them for a month, or store in fridge for up to a week. Warm to serve.
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