Butter tart squares

A fun and easy twist on a classic Canadian treat!

Butter tarts rank right up there as one of the foods considered to be quintessentially Canadian. Their origin is hotly debated – as is the inclusion of raisins – but they are nearly universally loved. If you’re pressed for time, these squares are a great alternative as they are easier to prepare than tarts, with the quick shortbread base a perfect substitute for pastry. I make these squares often because of their simplicity; if you want to go old-school, here’s a fantastic recipe for classic, corn-syrup free butter tarts.


For crust:

  • 2 cups (500 mL) flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) butter

For topping:

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 mL) raisins (if you must)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line a 9 x 13 inch (22.5 x 32.5 cm) pan with parchment paper.
  • Make crust by combining flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl. With a hand or stand mixer, beat together until crumbly.
  • Press crust firmly into the parchment-lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • While crust is baking, prepare topping. In a large bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, flour, melted butter and vanilla until well blended (I use a stand or electric mixer; a whisk works fine too).
  • Pour topping over baked crust. Sprinkle raisins (if you must) and/or nuts over the topping.
  • Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Let cool thoroughly and cut into squares.
  • Refrigerate or freeze if not serving within 48 hours.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

8 thoughts

  1. I’ve tried so many of these “easy” butter tarts, I’ve lost count!! This one looks like it might be a winner. Tomorrow, while it’s rainy &cold methinks. The great raisin debate goes on in this house; but the cook usually wins–no raisins!!!;-)

    1. I have tried lots of different versions as well, Mary, and was never quite satisfied – hence the need to come up with my own (and I think it’s pretty great). I’m 100% with you on the “no raisins” side! 🙂 Let me know what you think if you do bake up some sunshine on this dreary day.

  2. I don’t know if I blended the eggs too long, or if this recipe is missing the traditional corn syrup addition to butter tarts that I’m familiar with, but after baking it never got that runny, gooey actual-butter-tart quality to it. It was semi-firm on the inside and spongy.

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