My Mom's Classic Butter Tarts

Mom's Classic Butter Tarts

As of today, Lisa's Kitchen is officially one year old! Thank you to all of my regular readers for your encouraging comments and insightful ideas. I've met some special people over the course of the past year due to my blogging efforts, and for that I'll remain forever grateful. I started this site on my Mom's birthday but, sadly, my Mom is no longer here to brighten the days of all those who were fortunate enough to appreciate and enjoy her food, kindness and unconditional love for her family. I'm thankful she at least got a brief glimpse of my efforts here as my mother was one of my earliest culinary influences.

I can't think of a better way to remember my Mom and celebrate one year of cooking from Lisa's Kitchen than by sharing my Mom's best ever butter tart recipe. My Mom was a master of pastry. Her pies and tarts always turned out perfectly. Though she was a good cook and excellent baker, her butter tarts are most fondly remembered by all who tasted them as some of the best they ever had. The filling is gooey but not runny, making it a perfect indulgence to enjoy without a fork. Store-bought varieties of this classic Canadian treat simply pale in comparison.

Mom's Classic Butter Tarts

I've had success in the past with pastry, but I must admit that I still struggle with it. Take my first attempt at making these tarts, for example. Although I understand that it is essential to use cold ingredients in order to produce a flaky, light tart shell, I was impatient to get baking and so did not chill the shortening long enough. I also overworked the dough and rolled it out too thin. The result was a rather tough, sticky pastry that tore when I transferred it to the muffin tins.

Not a good start, especially considering that I had already prepared the filling. Thankfully for those unfortunate enough to be around me when I'm making pastry, my once fierce temper has abated significantly. Instead of throwing the dough across the room — as I have been known to do! — I merely muttered some oaths and punched the failed lump of waste before transferring the majority of it to the trash can. Then I had a cigarette before trying again.

They didn't work out quite as well as my Mom's, but the filling tasted just as I had remembered it, with a slightly stronger vanilla taste because I doubled the amount called for in the recipe. Even the most classic recipes can sometimes be improved upon.

Usually I use butter for my pastry, but in the interest of documenting my Mom's recipe faithfuly, I've followed her version, provided here, which uses shortening instead. Feel free to substitute your own favored pastry recipe.

Mom's Classic Butter Tarts

Mom's Classic Butter TartsMom's Classic Butter Tarts
Recipe by
Cuisine: Canadian
Published on March 18, 2008

My Mom's perfect butter tarts — sweet brown sugar and butter filling in a flaky pastry tart crust

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 23 to 28 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 5 to 7 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • generous 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla, to taste
  • Start with the pastry. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

  • Add the water a teaspoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork, until the dough begins to hold together.

  • Shape the dough into a firm ball with your hands. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out until it is roughly 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch rounds and transfer to 12 muffin cups, pressing the dough down gently in each cup.

  • Preheat an oven to 450°F.

  • For the filling, mix together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared tart shells.

  • Bake in the 450°F oven for 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the filling is set and the pastry is lightly browned.

  • Remove from heat and let stand in the muffin tray for a few minutes before gently transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 tarts

Mom's Classic Butter Tarts


Thistlemoon said...

What a great tribute to your mom, Lisa! I am sure she would be proud. Thank you for saying that even the classic recipes can be improved upon. My mom always gives me the hairy eyeball when I change around my grandmother's recipes, by adding my own touches. So I appreciate your words!

Congrats on your anniversary and here is to many many more years of delicious recipes to come! :)

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks Jenn! I can never resist the urge to tweak with almost recipe I make :)

Neen said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Lisa. What a meaningful tribute to a mother -- trials and tribulations of following in her [culinary] footsteps included!

Unknown said...

Congrats Lisa on your blog's first anniversary and wish you mamy many more.....a very touching post:)

Johanna GGG said...

Congratulations Lisa - you have an excellent blog with so many great recipes and information! Look forward to many more interesting posts.

You know you have my sympathies about the pastry but food has a way of bringing our past alive and I am glad it can connect you to your mum - am sure she would have been impressed at your efforts

Dori said...

Congratulations on your anniversary, and your mom's tarts look awesome!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the anniversary, Lisa! What a lovely way to remember your mum--I'm sure she'd be proud.

My hubby loves butter tarts, but I've never even tried them. I'll bookmark this for when I finally do get the urge!

Lucy said...

Cogratulations, darls. Only one year old? Such a lot of growth in a short space of time. So many fabulous recipes and stories in these pages.

What a lovely way to honour your mum.

With cooler days in sight now, these are on the menu. Lovely stuff.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hey Lisa, I'm sorry to hear that your Mum can't celebrate your anniversary with you, I know how hard that can be. The tarts look fab tho, I'm sure she'd be proud.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

You do your mum proud Lisa, you are a talented cook as well as being a lovely person. xx

Lisa Turner said...


Thank you very much. I only wish my mom could have been around to share this day with me.


I appreciate your congrats. I hope to continue to offer up food from my kitchen.


Thanks so much for your comments. I will perfect this recipe yet!


Thanks a lot. I encourage you to give the tarts a try.


Thanks! These tarts are well worth the trouble.


Thanks so much. I can't believe my blog is a year old either. I've put a lot of work and time into this project and hope I can keep it up.


It's been a hard day, especially considering I would always call my mom on her birthday. I'm thankful for the time I did have with her.


You are so sweet. Just think, if I hadn't started this blog, I never would have met you!

test it comm said...

Those look good! It has been a while since I have had butter tarts. My grandmother used to make them for the holidays. I will have to try making them one of these days.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom Lisa. Her memory lives on through all that you have learnt and expanded upon each and every day. Keep up the great work. We look forward to another year of following you on your culinary journey. P.S. Buttertarts are my favourite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I have been known to drive miles for a good buttertart and a homemade loaf of bread:D

Lisa Turner said...


A must try! As satisfying as mushrooms I dare say.


Your continued readership is highly appreciated. Successful execution of this recipe could save you miles of travel :)

indosungod said...

Lisa, Congratulations on the milestone. Looking forward to many more recipes. Moms are the best. Hugs!

Tarts do look awesome, those mini ones are so cute that they disappear just as quick.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, what a lovely tribute to your mom :-).

You have really made my introduction into being a vegetarian a lot easier.
I really feel you were a lifeline the first 2 months, On so many occasions I felt like giving up being a vegetarian and would constantly turn to your site for ideas. Although it has only been 7 months I am not sure if I would have managed without your site, I had no idea where else to look :-) Now I do of course know where else to look but still peep in here everyday.

Thanks for your generosity with sharing this special recipe, I am going to try it out now.

lv niki

Unknown said...


Thank you. These tarts certainly didn't last long :)


Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm flattered to hear that my blog has helped you with your dietary change. I do appreciate your continued interest in my cooking efforts. Let me know how the tarts work out for you.

eatme_delicious said...

Great way to remember your mom. :) I didn't used to like butter tarts but I've had some really good homemade ones. I'll have to try this recipe. I can relate to you on the pastry frustration! I figure if I just keep trying, eventually I'll figure it out though. Happy one year blogaversary!

TBC said...

I'm here a little late...congratulations on completing a great year in the blogosphere! I am so glad I discovered your blog,Lisa! :-)
This is also such a nice tribute to your mom. She would be so proud of you, Lisa.