Canadian Dessert Recipes

Granny’s Butter Tarts

This iconic Canadian pastry is filled with butter, sugar, syrup, egg and raisins, then baked until the filling has gelled. | Share

Updated 2/25/2023

Dating back to pioneer days, the genuinely beloved butter tart is the quintessential Canadian treat.  Its origins can be traced back to Central Ontario with the first published recipe appearing in 1900 in Barrie.

Nowadays, the butter tart is celebrated with festivals, contests and tourist trails around the Kawarthas and Muskoka Lakes.  The annual Butter Tart Festival takes place in Midland, which just happens to be the town where my Granny was born.

Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Basil Thomas
Butter tart variations

What makes the perfect butter tart? It’s a question that often illicits some strongly held positions. Debaters often fall into the raisins versus no raisins camps. Some prefer the tarts topped with pecans or walnuts, either chopped or whole. Then there’s the pastry and filling ratio.

Granny’s time saving secret

A convenient, time saving step is to use prepared tart shells. Pick up a box of 12, medium-sized, uncooked tarts (9 oz or 255g). You’ll find them in the freezer section at most supermarkets. Thaw them for about 10 minutes before popping them into the oven, unfilled. By cooking the tarts for about 5 mintues, you’ll ensure that the dough is a little hardened before adding the filling. This will prevent the tart from falling apart when eaten.

If you plan to make this recipe without the prepared tarts, then you’ll need to make pastry dough from scratch. The quantity required for 12 tarts is made from: 2 cups flour, 1 cup shortening. You should find additional dough prepartation instructions on the container or from the shortening manufacturer.

butter tarts

Granny’s Butter Tarts

Kevin Lamoureux
This iconic Canadian pastry tart is filled with butter, sugar, syrup, egg and raisin, then baked until the filling has gelled.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 12
Calories 238 kcal


  • ½ cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 dozen prepared tart shells medium size


  • Preheat the oven to 375 °F
  • Soak the raisins in water.
  • After the tart shells have thawed (about 10 minutes) arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  • Bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 425° F
  • Combine all ingredients, except the raisins, mix well.
  • Drain the water from the raisins.
  • Pour the tart filling into the tarts, filling each tart about ¾ full.
  • Add the raisins to the tarts and distribute them evenly.
  • Bake 12 to 14 minutes on the oven’s lower rack until tart filling has gelled.


The raisins may be substituted for pecans or walnuts.
Per serving
Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Iron: 2mg
Keyword butter, dessert, tart

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10 replies on “Granny’s Butter Tarts”

That’s so nice to hear. Thank you for your comment and rating, Joanne.

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