How to make classic Canadian butter tarts! This recipe is a true Canadian one, straight from my Grandma’s kitchen! This is the only butter tart recipe that we use every Christmas!

 Butter Tarts
Butter Tarts

How to Make Butter Tarts

Butter tarts are so truly Canadian, but here on the prairies there is only ONE recipe that we use. the Five Roses Cookbook butter tart recipe! Now of course we changed a few things, but the base of the recipe is the same as all butter tart recipes, brown sugar, eggs and raisins.

 Butter Tart Ingredients

  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 15-18 unsweetened and unbaked tart shells


  • Melt your butter ( or margarine), then add in the vanilla, egg, cream and brown sugar. Beat until smooth.
  • Add in your raisins.

  • Put your tart shells, still frozen, on the tray and fill a good 3/4 of the way. I say still frozen because I have found when they are defrosted the filling leaks through the pasty, not ruining them, but making them softer. A good frozen tart shell will hold the contents in, and cook at the same time.
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, until the rims of the tarts are beautifully browned.

Classic Canadian Butter Tarts

Now, perhaps next year I will try and make my own tart shells, and make my own pastry, but there’s an adage I like to use when it comes to my baking: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I have never had a complaint that I used pre-bought shells and actually everyone is too busy drooling and grabbing more tarts to really notice or care. The filling is the most important part, of course, but it works to perfection with the pre-made tart shells.

If you want a pastry you can make the one with my Mincemeat Tarts with Butter Pastry, the pastry is easy and perfect for butter tarts as well!

Happy Baking!




Looking for a delicious butter tart recipe? This classic Canadian recipe is the most popular one on the prairies and is perfect for your holiday baking! #buttertarts #Christmas #baking

5 from 20 votes
Butter Tart Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Looking for a delicious butter tart recipe? This classic Canadian recipe is the most popular one on the prairies and is perfect for your holiday baking!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: butter tarts
Servings: 18
Calories: 161 kcal
Author: Karlynn Johnston
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 18 of tart shells
  1. Melt your margarine, then add in the vanilla,egg, cream and brown sugar. The lovely part about these is they are SO easy and fast to make. Throw it all in, mix the ever-livin' devil out of it, and you are good.
  2. Now add in your raisins, and half a cup is the bare minimum I use. I find that sometimes there is too much liquid and not enough raisins by the time I reach the end; be brave and just add in what you need at that point.

  3. Put your tart shells, still frozen, on the tray and fill a good 3/4 of the way. I say still frozen because I have found when they are defrosted the filling leaks through the pasty, not ruining them, but making them softer. A good frozen tart shell will hold the contents in, and cook at the same time
  4. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, until the rims of the tarts are beautifully browned.
Recipe Notes

IF you want to be really traditional, use currants instead of raisins in the tarts.

Nutrition Facts
Butter Tart Recipe
Amount Per Serving (18 g)
Calories 161 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 11%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 78mg 3%
Potassium 55mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 21g 7%
Sugars 12g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 2.4%
Vitamin C 0.3%
Calcium 1.6%
Iron 8.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Hey guys, I'm Karlynn! Welcome to The Kitchen Magpie, my website full of family friendly recipes, cocktails & homesteading tales of chickens & cows from the family farm! Make sure to check out my bestselling cookbook, Flapper Pie & a Blue Prairie Sky ,stay tuned for info on my second cookbook!


  1. These look wonderful, can’t wait to try!

    First ingredients lists shows 1 tsp of vanilla, but further down there’s a list showing 1 TBSP of vanilla.

    I’m going with 1 tsp, but just wanted to check ~~ which is the one you meant? Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    • Tried these last night…what an absolutely great recipe. Very easy to make. I filled my frozen mini tart shells to the top and they didnt bubble over. I used margarine instead of butter and it has that wonderful old school butter tart flavor that Im used to being a Canadian Prairies gal….. Great Recipe

  2. Your recipe is very similar to my grandmother’s. I tried yours, but did one thing that my grandmother did that I think, based on your information, you’d be a fan of. Soak your raisins in a few tablespoons of warm bourbon, rum, brandy, or triple sec while you prepare the other ingredients. The drain the raisins (drink the rum), pat dry, pick off any annoying stems from the raisins and proceed as normal.

  3. Pingback: National Treasure #124: Butter Tarts – Traditional Iconoclast

  4. If,I use mini frozen shells,hw,long shuod I cook them,and shuod,I use same temp.

  5. ScubaMomma Reply

    I didn’t realize I was out of raisins until it was time to add them. Dried cranberries were a delicious substitute!

  6. ScubaMomma Reply

    I wonder why you picked on the eggs. The tart shells, vanilla, sugar, raisins, and cream aren’t shown in the amounts indicated, either. I can’t tell if the butter/margarine was measured or not.
    I happen to like knowing which brands were used/preferred.
    Is it really important that she got an extra one?
    When you make your own tarts, may I suggest you count exactly the same number of raisins into each shell to ensure uniformity.
    Errors happen. They can be corrected. For example, the correct spelling is recipe not recipie.

  7. WendyHoldenBrowne Reply

    Please update your recipie.

    Pictures shows 3 eggs recipie  calls for  one egg.

     Milk is listed in the recipie,cream is in the method.

     Are you promoting Great Canadian Superstore?

     And your picture shows 19 tarts on the baking sheet but recipie says 15-18.

     Also your tarts look like the raisins are not evenly placed in the tart shells.

     And your photos are not pleasing to the eye.

     To many errors in the recipie to trust these would be famous margarine tarts.

  8. Awesome !  Best recipe.  Simple, turned out great.  Margarine, I used Becel (NOT LIGHT), added 5% cream, not milk.  I used walnuts instead of raisins and 20 minutes was perfect. 18 minutes was perfect for lightly browned.  

  9. I make butter tarts every Christmas but use corn syrup. But I will try yours soon. I would like to ask about the ingredients and instructions. The ingredients say 2 tablespoons of milk but the directions say add cream. Which is it.

  10. angieerickson Reply

    I’d like to fill my tart shells and freeze them, and then bake when needed.  Have you tried this?  Does it work?

  11. This has become my go to butter tart recipe!

    Easy, tasty and I am smelling some baking in the oven right now!

    Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  12. tracywestrand Reply

    I got this a couple yrs back while at work and my co worker, who’s the true baker between the two of us, loooved them and I have been making them ever since. Simple things are normally what people like in my experience. You know you got something good when the elderly are asking you for the recipe lol. Feels damn good

  13. stephalbers4 Reply

    I’ve lived in Canada my whole life and butter tarts are my favourite treat. I go to school in Detroit now and I made your recipe for a diversity class where we all brought a cultural food, these Americans LOVED them. Even though Canada is a small river away, none of them even heard of butter tarts. Some said they’d come to Canada just to get them, thats how much they loved your recipe. Thanks so much! 

    • thekitchenmagpie Reply

      stephalbers4 Aww that’s fantastic!! I am so glad that you liked them!

    • stephalbers4  I grew up in Detroit and had butter tarts all the time – don’t know where some people have been hiding all their life!  Good thing you are spreading the word for those who have been missing out !

      Check out the Ackroyds bakery on 5 mile in Redford for some good Scottish fare including things like butter tarts, empire biscuits, etc. 

  14. xblchrrome Reply

    It would have been nice if you were a bit more clear about how brown the butter tart shells would be.  This was basically my first time baking something and I waited until it seemed brown and apparently brown = burnt

  15. Your recipe is almost identical to mine! However, I substitute currants to raisins, and I also add 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces. They get baked in a 450 oven for only 8 minutes, then 350 for a couple of minutes. I can’t wrap my head around using margarine but I just might try it. By the way I always thaw the tart shells, and I’ve never had issues with filling oozing through. But I will also try baking them from a frozen state, and adjust the oven temps/time to match yours. Thanks for the tips! Deni

  16. Can these be frozen after being cooked.  We are just two and I would love to have a stock on hand.  I am sure we could eat a batch all at once, but our diabetic docs wouldn’t like it!!!! lol.  How long would they last in freezer?  Should I freeze them uncooked or cooked?

    • TheresaHansen Reply

      @Linda They freeze fantastically!! Cook and cool first, then I freeze in layers separated by parchment. Good luck!

  17. toontownlady Reply

    just made these… I used whipping cream as the milk. . just to see how they will turn out… first time making these… I’m pumped. . thanks for the easy recipe!

  18. How come the recipe calls for 1 egg but in the picture I see two yellow yolks?

  19. Bernadette07 Reply

    The pre-made and home-made pastry shells are both excellent with this recipe. Yummy. Thanks for sharing. 

  20. You’re right, taste is what matters. However, it’s also important to not kill the people your feeding. Margarine is poison.

  21. ZoesmomTracey Reply

    I also cheat and use bought shells.  My butter tarts fly off the plate at 60mph!

    I like to use coconut and raisins.  I just put 6-8 raisins in each shell and a sprinkle of coconut, yummo! 


  22. I have always had poor results from any baking that calls for melted butter or margarine.   Can I just use softened margarine and get the same results?

  23. Love your outlook!  Just going to try these out right now. Don’t fret about the premade shells cuz it’s not the pastry they’re interested in anyway! Fingers crossed!

  24. This is the best recipe, period. Butter or margarine, it is the best.  Glad to know it can be doubled.  Thank you!!!

  25. one persons view Reply

    The recipe as written fills 15 tart shells. You should let people know they need to double the recipe to fill the 30 shells pictured. And why three eggs in the picture, but one in the recipe?

    They smell heavenly!

  26. I added a couple tablespoons of pancake syrup just cause….amazing! I also it instead of vanilla in cookies


  27. I’m with spiffi, I grew up eating the best butter tarts in Edmonton!  Now live in Indiana and NO ONE knows what a butter tart is and you can’t find frozen shells anywhere!  The one food I really miss from my childhood!

  28. This recipe is as close to my moms as I could find, batch #1is in the oven right now…. Thank you Karlynn, and merry Christmas from a fellow edmontonian…. 🙂

  29. Do you the 2 tablespoons of milk represent the cream?


    Thanks, looking forward to trying these!

  30. Here in Canada I use the Real Canadian Superstore unsweetened No Name tart shells, they are the ONLY ones without hydrogenated oil in them. They are flaky and wonderful! I already bought a case of them in preparation for Christmas baking!

  31. I haven’t found great bought tart shells and making my own takes a lot of time. Bought ones are too thick and not flaky. Do you know of a good brand that maybe I haven’t tried?

  32. Just curious how many tarts this recipie makes, It sounds great and I would like to try it. Thanks.

    • Now that depends on how much you fill them! I get varying amounts, but I will say from 14-18 tarts. Some people like theirs completely full, others skimpy. I usually double it and use a 30 roll of tart shells (since I cheat and never make my own, who has time for 300 handmade tart shells before Christmas?)

  33. I desperately want to make butter tarts this year – but I haven’t been able to find any frozen tart shells! Growing up in Vancouver BC, we bought them every year – but since I’ve moved to California, I haven’t found any!

    If any of your readers know of a source in the San Francisco Bay area, or online – please let me know!

  34. These are the best darn butter tarts I have ever had…My friends ate them like they were going to the Gallows…Thank you Kitchen Magpie…You’re awesome…I don’t like to make pastry either…Hugs, and thanks a bunch

  35. made these tonight =D But without raisins- They where Fan-freakin-tastic! Your right…Margarine is better.

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