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Use Your Pie Dough Leftovers to Bake Canadian Butter Tarts

Meet the Canadian butter tart - a delectable dessert you can easily bake using only kitchen pantry staples. This famous pastry even has an annual festival of its own in Ontario called the Butter Tart Festival, complete with two separate self-guided trails dotted with cafes and bakeries where you can find butter tarts. 

Butter tarts are made of leftover pie dough. You can use store-bought or make it your way - it's your choice.

As you would expect from Canada, one of the most controversial and heated debates in the country concerns the extra ingredient in the recipe. Some claim it should be baked with raisins, and others profusely reject this idea in favor of nuts. 

In my opinion, the best part about butter tarts is how forgiving they are. They're meant to look rustic, so when the crust comes out not-so-perfect, it only adds to the effect! The challenging thing about them is figuring out how long you would like them to bake. Some like them runnier, whereas others prefer them to set.

For the filling

Canadian butter tarts


  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ tsp white ­vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Optional: a handful of ­raisins, dried currants, chopped pecans, or chopped walnuts.


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Prepare and chill the pie dough. 

2. Roll the dough about ⅛-inch thick or a bit thinner. You don't have to make it rounded.

3. Using a 4-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Line each cup of a muffin pan with one of the circles, making sure the top edge of the dough reaches about the middle of the cup. Gather the scraps and reroll the dough if you need additional ­circles. Chill the pan in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

4. Combine the sugar, maple syrup, and butter in a mixing bowl. Whisk briefly. Add the egg, vinegar, vanilla, and salt, and whisk again.

5. If you’re using dried fruit or nuts, add them now but don’t pack them. Divide the filling evenly between the shells.

6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the filling bubbles and darkens.

7. Let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully run a butter knife around the edge to loosen each tart. Let the tarts cool completely in the pan, then remove. 

8. If you'll enjoy leftovers, let them come to room temperature. Better yet, reheat them in the oven for 5 minutes at 300°F (150°C). 


For the crust 

Canadian butter tarts
For the crust, we urge you to use any leftover pie dough. If you'd still like to make the dough yourself, or if you don't have any leftovers, here's a food processor pie crust recipe:
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp (1¼ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • Some cold water.


1. Mix the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the butter on a large flour-dusted plate. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup vinegar and a little less than 1/3 cup cold water. Refrigerate everything for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Transfer the dry ingredients to a food processor. Add all of the butter, then pulse the machine six or seven times until the pieces of butter are roughly the size of small peas.

3. Slowly pour the vinegar-water mixture through the feed tube, pulsing the machine as you add it. Stop pulsing when the mixture is just starting to form larger clumps.

4. Pack the dough into a ball. Put it on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap the disk and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.

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