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Butter Tarts | Janie Hermann


  • Pastry
  • 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb(s) chilled lard, cut in chunks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar

Butter Tart Filling

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1.25 cup brown sugar, packed tightly
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup (or pure maple syrup, depending on availability)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla



  • In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  • With a pastry blender (or use 2 knives), cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger pea-size pieces.
  • In a glass measure, using a fork, beat the egg with vinegar. Add enough very cold water to make 1 cup. Slowly drizzle into flour mixture a bit at a time, mixing with a fork until the dough looks moist all over and holds together when gently pressed between your fingers.
  • Divide the dough equally into 6 balls, wrap in saran and then chill for 3 hours. Dough can be stored for 2 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • Roll chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Use a canning jar lid or cookie cutter or large glass to create circles that are the right size for your tart tins. Line your tart tin with a dozen circles that will be filled with the basic filling below.
  • If you choose to add nuts or other items to the recipe, they should go in the bottom of the pastry-filled tart tins before pouring the liquid filling on top.

Butter Tart Filling

  • 1. In a bowl, beat together the extra large egg with the brown sugar, corn or maple syrup, butter and vanilla.
  • 2. Spoon approx. 1 tbsp filling into each center of the pastry in tart tins. You should have enough filling for 12-18 tarts, depending on the size of tart tine being used.
  • 3. Bake in 400°F oven for 5 minutes, then turn down to 350°F and bake for 15 more minutes. Do not over bake, the center of the tart should be a bit runny and not solid.
  • 4. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the tart tin for serving or plating.


  • Tips:
    • If the dough cracks while rolling, allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes so that it becomes pliable and can be rolled without breaking.
    • Handle the dough as little as possible to create a flaky shell. The more you handle dough before it is baked then the tougher it gets.
    • Butter tarts are best fresh and even better when warm from the oven, especially when served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

What makes it special?

Butter Tarts are a uniquely Canadian dessert and one of the tastiest foods to originate in the True North. Nothing makes me feel like I am “home” more than when I take that first bite of flaky pastry filled with a perfectly sticky-sweet centre. I prefer them plain or with walnuts while others will add raisins or chocolate chips. You can be as inventive as you like with the add-ons to the basic filling and there are dozens of ways to make them including with bacon or pumpkin, depending on the season. Every visit to see my family in Canada always involves lots of butter tarts and when I am unable to get north, I make them at home.

Recipe shared by Janie Hermann

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

“Butter tarts: it’s a Canadian thing.” by Kaarina Dillabough is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


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