If you are Canadian, then you probably grew up eating the Canadian Classic know as Butter tarts. if you’re not then you may not have had the pleasure. Butter tarts are similar to what Americans know as pecan tarts. A flaky pastry filled with a sweet filling consisting of butter, sugar, syrup, egg and of course raisins. They are baked at a fairly high heat to create a somewhat crunchy top with a semi-solid (but not runny) filling. Traditionally made with raisins but if you prefer you can use pecans instead or both if you’re adventurous.

Butter tarts are a holiday favorite in my house. Every year I bake up a batch and there are never any leftovers when the holidays are over. I bake them ahead of the holidays and put them in the freezer until I need them. They freeze well, just let them come to room temperature on the counter in an airtight container until you serve them. I don’t often make them outside of the holidays however, only because then I would EAT them.

I prefer butter tarts made with a thicker homemade pastry. If you like a good pastry recipe you can find mine here. If you don’t want the fuss of making your own pastry then by all means go and buy pre made shells. It won’t affect the flavor and to be honest the holidays are busy enough without stressing about home made pastry.

Classic Canadian Butter Tarts

An old fashioned Canadian traditional sweet pastry lined tart filled with raisins and rich buttery center
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
pastry chilling time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 12


  • 1 muffin tin – 12


For the Pastry

  • 1 Basic pie dough recipe, into 12 circles to line muffin tins *or store bought shells (24)

Prepare the raisins

  • ½ cup raisins *do not add to mixture soaked and dried *see below

For the Butter Tart Filling

  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • Soak raisins in boiling water in a bowl for 10 minutes then drain and dry with paper towel before adding them to your tart shells.
  • divide raisins between the muffin tins, set aside


  • In a bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients except the raisins, mix well
  • Pour the filling into the prepared tart shells (with the raisins already in – if using raisins). DO NOT FILL MORE THAN 2/3 or they will go over and stick to the muffin tins. The filling puffs up while cooking.
  • Bake tarts for 15 minutes at 400° F then reduce to 350° F for a further 10-12 minutes, until the tart shells begin to turn golden brown.
  • Remove pan to a wire rack and let the tarts cool in the pan
  • Once they are cool enough to touch, run a knife around each tart and remove from the pan, to a cooling rack to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!


Butter tarts can be made with any type of raisin you prefer (even currants).  I like to use either golden raisins or Saltana’s. 
As an alternative to raisins you can also use pecans, or walnuts (coarsely chopped), or even chocolate chips.
If you don’t feel like making pastry from scratch, pre made frozen tart shells (thawed) will work just as well.  
Store the cooled butter tarts in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.  You can also freeze them for up to two months.  Butter tarts freeze well, but bring to room temperature before serving.  
Keyword butter tart, canadian, classic butter tarts, dessert, filled, old fashioned butter tarts, pastry, pecans, raisins, tart, traditional, traditional butter tarts
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