Pecan Butter Tarts

12 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 35 minutes

Pecan Butter Tarts are bite size pies with a flaky crust and creamy butter tart filling made of pecans, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.

This holiday season, swap your Old Fashioned Pecan Pie for these quintessential Canadian buttery tarts instead! Easy sweet, and bite-size, these mini Pies are a perfect treat for any special occasion. For more tiny pecan pie treats, try Pecan Tassies or Pecan Pie Bars too!

Sabrina’s Pecan Butter Tarts Recipe

These sweet Pecan Butter Tarts are simple to make with just a handful of pantry ingredients. Unlike a lot of dessert recipes, there’s no need to bring your ingredients to room temperature. The most prep work you will need to do is freeze the butter, the key to a flaky pie crust. You will need to set aside time to chill the dough for the tart shells for at least 4 hours, but if you forget just swap in a store bought pie crust and you are good to go.

If you’ve never had them before, you may be wondering what butter tarts taste like. The best way to describe Pecan Butter Tarts they taste like a cross between pecan pie and sugar pie. The filling is sweet and light, and not quite as thick because it doesn’t have cornstarch or flour. The pecan filling has a caramel flavor and the buttery crust simply melt in your mouth.

There is debate on whether old fashioned butter tarts should have mix-ins like pecans or raisins but that’s the beauty of making them at home! You can make Pecan Butter Tarts to your preference, without having to adjust the baking time. Try swapping in raisins for the pecans, or other nuts and dried fruit, or just leave them out entirely. We have some great variations later in the post that you might like!

Ingredients

  • Pecans: Adding ¾ cup of chopped pecans to this Canadian Butter Tart recipe gives them a nice earthy crunch to balance out the pillowy soft sweetness of the brown sugar mixture. You can use regular pecans or try toasting them in a dry skillet beforehand for a deeper earthy flavor.
  • Pie Crust: The homemade pastry for these Pecan Butter Tarts is a basic pie crust made with ¼ cup water, ½ cup frozen butter, 1 ¼ cups flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Instead of egg, the water is what binds the dough together for a lighter, flaky texture versus a richer short crust pastry. It’s important to use ice cold water and frozen butter for a flaky, light crust!
  • Brown Sugar: The ¾ cup brown sugar helps give more sweetness to the filling as well as thickens the egg and corn syrup mixture.
  • Eggs: The 2 eggs give the filling a creamy, custard type texture. Don’t overmix, just fold everything until combined, because too much mixing creates air which could make your tarts runny.
  • Corn Syrup: What makes these buttery tarts so gooey and soft, without being runny, is the ¼ cup corn syrup. If you want a deep molasses flavor, try swapping in dark corn syrup for the light syrup.

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

Muffin Tin: You’ll need a regular 12 cup muffin tin to make these small tarts. You could also make miniature bites, but you’ll want to reduce the cooking time.

Food Processor: The key to a flaky crust is to keep the butter as cold as possible so using a processor lets you mix the dough without handling it too much.

How to Make

Time needed: 4 hours and 35 minutes.

  1. Prepare the Pie Crust

    Pulse the flour, salt, and frozen butter in a food processor a few times to start combining. Add the cold water a tablespoon at a time through the chute as you pulse until pea size crumbles form. Pour the dough crumbles onto plastic wrap and press quickly into a large ball. Don’t handle too long or the butter in the dough will melt. Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours.Pecan Butter Tart dough crumbles on parchment paper

  2. Shape the Tart Crusts

    Once chilled, roll dough out and cut 12 circles with a 4 inch cookie cutter. Spray a muffin tin generously then line each well with dough. Refrigerate or freeze while making the tart filling.Pecan Butter Tarts pressing tart dough in muffin tin

  3. Prep for Baking

    Preheat your oven. Fill each tart shell with 1 tablespoon of pecans. Return the muffin pan to the fridge.Pecan Butter Tarts pecans on tart shells in muffin tin

  4. Make the Filling

    Whisk brown sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in eggs, salt, and vanilla until just combined. Gently fold in the remaining pecans.

  5. Fill the Tart Shells

    Fill each tart shell 2/3 full with pecan mixture. Don’t overfill, you may have extra filling.Pecan Butter Tarts spooning filling mixture over pecans in tart shells in muffin tin

  6. Bake the Tarts

    Bake the tarts until bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.Pecan Butter Tarts several tarts on platter and some have whipped cream on top

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes! You can prep the tarts completely then cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. The next day, pop them in the oven as usual, adding a couple minutes of baking time as needed.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Pecan Butter Tarts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 277 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 62mg21%
Sodium 119mg5%
Potassium 73mg2%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 403IU8%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tips & Tricks for Pecan Tarts

Why are my butter tarts runny?

The most common mistake when making butter tarts is mixing the filling too much. You want to mix in the eggs until just combined so you don’t whip too much air into the eggs. Too much air will cause the center to puff and deflate without creating that crunch crust on top that holds the tarts together.

Knowing when Pecan Tarts are done

The cooking time for Pecan Butter Tarts can vary depending on your oven and how firm you want the center. Butter Tarts are done when the filling is bubbling and the edges of the crust are golden brown. If you want a firmer center, cook until the edges of the filling are set but the middle is still soft. They will fully set as they cool.

How to Store

Serve: Let the tarts cool a bit before removing from the pan. Serve them warm, at room temperature or chilled. The warmer they are, the softer the filling will be so if you like a firm center, chill first.

Store: Keep them in an airtight container, using parchment paper between layers to keep them from sticking. They will stay good at room temperature for up to 5 days or refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Freeze: Place room temperature tarts on a baking sheet and freeze for one hour. Transfer frozen tarts to freezer bag or other airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months and reheat in the oven to re-crisp the crust.

Ideas to Serve Pecan Butter Tarts

Fans of making mini pies instead of whole pies during the holidays, this is a recipe you are going to love! Even easier than Mini Pumpkin Pies, these little tarts are great for parties, cookie platters, and your Thanksgiving dessert table. They bake in under 20 minutes and they don’t need hours in the fridge to set. And just like any holiday treat, they are even better with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream.

Frequent Questions

What is a butter tart?

Butter Tarts are a popular and well-loved Canadian treat of a butter, sugar, corn syrup, and egg mixture baked in a pie crust. The filling stays soft without being runny and the top caramelizes as it bakes for a crunchy, sweet layer. This recipe gives you heavenly bite-sized butter tart flavor with an extra crunch from chopped pecans.

What is the difference between Pecan Tarts and Pecan Butter Tarts?

The difference between Pecan Tarts, also known as Pecan Pie Bites, and Pecan Butter Tarts comes down to one ingredient. Pecan Tarts are made with cornstarch so they are thicker and chewier. Canadian butter tarts on the other hand have a softer filling.

Recipe Card

Pecan Butter Tarts

Pecan Butter Tarts are bite size pies with a flaky crust and creamy butter tart filling made of pecans, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Canadian
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , frozen and diced
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter , melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans , chopped

Instructions

Pie Crust:

  • Add the flour, salt, and butter to a food processor and pulse, adding the water (I spoon the water directly out of the cup of ice water directly into the food processor to make sure it is still ice cold) through the chute one tablespoon at a time until the dough begins tiny crumbles (don’t let it become a ball).
  • Empty it into a sheet of plastic wrap and press it quickly into a ball (you don't want the heat of your hands to melt the butter) and refrigerate for 4 hours before rolling it out to use.
  • Roll the pie crust out 1/4" thick.
  • Cut into 4" circles and line in a 12 cup muffin tin that you've sprayed with baking spray.
  • Keep muffin tin in the fridge while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of pecans to each well.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, until smooth. Then stir in eggs, salt, and vanilla until combined. Fold in the remaining chopped pecans.
  • Pour the mixture into the muffin tins until they're about 2/3 full (there may be a bit of extra filling).
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  • Remove carefully from muffin cups.

Nutrition

Calories: 277kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 119mg | Potassium: 73mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 403IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Pecan Butter Tarts

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Variations

Raisins: Since these are your tarts, you can add raisins all you want! Either do half pecans and half raisins, or swap the nuts out completely. You can use regular raisins or golden raisins.

Chocolate Chips: Add ½ cup mini chocolate chips to the filling with the pecans or in place of them. Since the tarts are small, it’s best to use mini chips so they distribute more evenly.

Maple: For a sweet maple custard, use ¼ cup maple syrup instead of the corn syrup. Use real maple syrup for maximum flavor.

Other Mix-Ins: Crispy, salty bacon pieces would taste amazing with the caramel flavor of the tarts. Instead of raisins, you could use other dried fruit like dried cranberries, apricots, or peaches, chopped into bits. Trade pecans for chopped walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts.

Tart Shells: You can buy tart shells to save yourself time and clean up with this recipe. The pastry shells can usually be found in the freezer section and they come in individual disposable pans to bake in.

Pecan Butter Tarts one tart in foreground with whipped cream and preparation collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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