butter tarts

If you’re a Canadian, chances are you’ve had a butter tart. In fact, as Canadian writer and icon Peter Gzowski said: “They’re part of who we are.” As the croissant is to France, the butter tart is to us, says one food writer.

Butter tarts were a staple of pioneer cooking and the first known recipe dates back to 1915. It was during the twenties and thirties that the butter tart really had it’s heyday.

To dive into a good, homemade butter tart is to know bliss. (And trust me: you will know bliss when you try this recipe.)

Unfortunately, there are nasty butter tarts that give butter tarts a bad name – like the store-bought version that my mother fed me the other day. (I love you mom, but really, you call those butter tarts?)

As one Canadian food writer put it:

“If a tart is durable it’s not a good tart. It should fall apart.” In fact, the writer goes on to say that if you are standing whilst eating a good butter tart, it will be necessary to lean forward and keep your feet back to prevent it from getting it all over you. Another mark of a great butter tart, he says, is that if you get some on your hands, you will want to lick them clean, not wipe them.  (Have a listen to this classic CBC interview on what makes a great butter tart.)

The recipe I’m about to give you is for the finger-lickin’ good kind of  butter tart ….  squares, that is.  Like so many of the great recipes in my collection, the recipe came from my mother-in-law.

Make these for your dessert table at your shower or wedding and your guests will be swooning.

Butter Tart Squares Recipe


1 & 1/3 cups all purpose flour

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 & 1/4 cups  packed brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup raisins (This is optional. I did not include raisins because I am not a big raisin fan.)

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp all-purpose flour

Mix the first three ingredients in a food processor or mixing bowl until crumbly. Press into greased 9″ square pan.

buttert tart recipe

Bake at 350 degress for 10-13 minutes (I baked mine for 13 minutes) or until light golden brown. Beat eggs and brown sugar together with a whisk until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well.

butter tart filling

Pour over the base.

butter tart recipe

Bake 25 to 30 minutes (I baked mine for 30 minutes) or until set and golden.

butter tart

Let cool and cut into squares. Try not to eat more than one! (hahahaha!)

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27 Comments  |  Filed Under: DIY Food & Drink, DIY Wedding

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  1. Posted by Melly on January 20th, 2010 at 10:49pm

    Oh man! They look so amazing...I'm going to whip up a batch right now!
  2. Posted by jwerneth on January 21st, 2010 at 2:43pm

    looks good

  3. Posted by Autumn on January 22nd, 2010 at 9:40am

    OMG. Is there anything better than this? I hate cooking..I mean, H-A-T-E to cook. But, I considered this baking and it was ridiculously easy to make. Is soooo good.
  4. Posted by Christina on January 22nd, 2010 at 11:25am

    Glad you enjoyed them Autumn!
  5. Posted by nelly on January 15th, 2011 at 8:37pm

    Felicitaciones por tan exelente receta que DIOS TE BENDIGA.
  6. Posted by Tersha on February 4th, 2011 at 3:39pm

    How much butter is second part of recipe, cup, tbsp, not sure, is says 1/4 melted butter
  7. Posted by Christina on February 4th, 2011 at 3:45pm

    1/4 cup
  8. Posted by Cynthia on October 5th, 2012 at 10:29pm

    Wow, when I lived in Ottawa I ate these all the time. Then we moved overseas, and later back to the USA. I could not find a recipe for Butter Tarts at all. I decided to look them up again and lo and behold, not only are there sites for Butter Tarts, but I found your site with Butter Tart Squares. Yum!!! I can't wait to make these.
  9. Posted by Christina on October 6th, 2012 at 10:53am

    Cynthia, glad you found us:) Hope you try this recipe. You'll love it!
  10. Posted by kelsey on July 26th, 2013 at 11:41am

    is the 1/2 cup of butter supposed to be softened or no? can't wait to try!
  11. Posted by Pennie on November 23rd, 2013 at 9:57pm

    What would be the measurements needed to make a 9 x 13 pan?
  12. Posted by Debbie on December 15th, 2013 at 12:34am

    I just made a batch of these and I have to say that these squares
    are absolutely delicious! I will be definately making these again.
    I used the raisins in mine. Thanks so much for this incredible recipe!!!
  13. Posted by Christina on December 15th, 2013 at 1:23pm

    Hi Debbie.. So glad you love them! They are a family favourite at our house!
  14. Posted by Denisse on January 15th, 2014 at 10:08pm

    I just gained 5 pounds think about this! I would not use eggs however
  15. Posted by Kelly on June 8th, 2014 at 12:04pm

    My husband loves butter tarts. I usually make them in the tart shells but I am going to try these. I am just wondering why the vinegar and the flour in the batter? Interesting. Thx!
  16. Posted by Dini @ giramuks kitchen on August 23rd, 2014 at 8:47am

    Must. Try. Now!!
  17. Posted by Jenny on September 15th, 2014 at 11:02pm

    Thank you for sharing your family recipe. I made these and we couldn't wait for it to completely cool down. We've skipped the idea of cutting squares so we're eating it by the spoonful, out of the baking pan. This is so darn delicious!!!
  18. Posted by Gwen on November 8th, 2014 at 3:49pm

    Okay. Made these last night and these are SO amazing. Just took some to my in-laws and making another pan for a function tonight. They are so easy and look so pretty! Thanks for sharing this recipe. Love- love!
  19. Posted by Tightwad Abroad on December 10th, 2014 at 8:07pm

    I just whipped up a batch of these bad boys for finals week with a bit of maple extract added to the batter and oh my sweet goodness... Thank you so much for the tasty and simple recipe!
  20. Posted by R Dueck on December 13th, 2014 at 8:23pm

    Can these be frozen?
  21. Posted by Christina on December 14th, 2014 at 3:39pm

    Yes, you can freeze them. I have done that many times.
  22. Posted by cheryl on December 17th, 2014 at 11:31pm

    You can use small cut up pieces of apples (add a touch of cinnamon), you can use any cut up salty nut, fresh cranberries are amazing, coconut plain or toasted is also great instead of the raisins. All GREAT!

    PS ice cream on the apple tarts.
  23. Posted by carol on December 20th, 2014 at 6:45pm

    hi it looks like there are three layers but in receipe only two..can you advise me tks carol
  24. Posted by Jude Heffernan on January 10th, 2015 at 4:08pm

    Yummy have made them three times now. For the person who ate them out of the pan.....try them with ice cream when they are warm! To die for!
  25. Posted by barb on January 25th, 2015 at 11:47am

    the tart squares are fab,made many times,why doesn't it say to let the base cool before adding the liquid? or is it not nessessary?
  26. Posted by Brazen Lee on January 25th, 2015 at 5:50pm

    Hi!! I love this fantastic recipe! I have a problem, though. I've made these 4 times now, each time followed the recipe exactly (except for once when I added 1tbsp. of flour to the topping instead of 1 tsp. by accident). Made once with raisins, 3 times without. They taste AMAZING, but... my center is always liquidy, and runs out from the squares when I cut them. Even when chilled overnight. I use an 8x8 pan, 350 in a gas stove (middle rack), usually bake them for 30 mins. I have no idea what I am doing wrong!

    Any ideas? Anyone?

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
  27. Posted by Christina on January 26th, 2015 at 2:21pm

    Is your pan non-stick? I have not used non-stick. Maybe that is the difference? You could try baking it a little longer.
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