Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (2024)

The Recipe Rebel / Desserts

written by Ashley Fehr

4.73 from 94 votes

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Total Time 45 minutes mins

Servings 36 squares

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Last updated on September 14, 2020

These Butter Tart Squares are so sweet and gooey — a shortbread crust makes these so easy and SO good! So much quicker than butter tarts.

Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (2)

Please tell me you’ve had a butter tart.

If you haven’t, American friends, I am truly, truly sympathetic. Luckily, I’m sharing this recipe with you today. And Butter Tart Squares are so much easier than butter tarts.

When I cook, and create new recipes for the blog, I really try to think outside the box. I try to come up with some things that I (and maybe you) have never seen before.

But every once in a while I think maybe the best place to start is with what I already know and love. Maybe those are the recipes you really want. Maybe those are even recipes that you’ve never seen before.

So I know the butter tart is a Canadian thing, but tell me some American bakeries have caught on. If not, now is your chance to experience something totally unreal.

It’s butter. And brown sugar.

Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (3)

And essentially, not much more. You need some eggs in there to hold everything together. And you need something to put it on.

I’ve been meaning to make actual butter tarts for the blog for a long time now, but the thought of making homemade pastry and forming tart shells is just overwhelming right now. So I texted my sister and asked her for a butter tart square recipe.

I was right in assuming she would have one. She texted me right back with a picture of her recipe card. And all of her notes on it. I think I even managed to interpret it correctly.

But some of her notes just didn’t work out for me, so I knew I definitely needed a place to document the version that worked for me. The funny thing is, I have this blog here.

So, please, if you’ve never had a butter tart, start with these squares. You won’t believe how easy they are.

Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (4)

Updates to this Butter Tart Squares recipe:

This post, recipe and the images have been updated from November 2014 — five years later it was time!

I wanted to clarify which things I’ve adjusted from the original recipe to make it work even better, just in case you’ve been here and you’ve made them before:

  • I added a tablespoon or two of water to the base — just enough so that it holds together when you squeeze it.
  • I no longer recommend baking in a small cookie sheet — a 9×13″ baking pan will give you the best results and nice thick gooey layers!
  • I no longer recommend lining the pan with tin foil (as I did often 5 years ago) — instead I recommend using parchment paper or nothing at all but a good layer of non stick spray. The problem with parchment is that the crust won’t hug the sides of the pan as tightly, which means a bit of the filling will drip down the edges. This is a not a real problem — but you will have some caramelized sugar along the sides. Don’t worry, it won’t leak all over the bottom under the crust.
  • The vinegar, because some people have commented, is to cut through some of the sweetness and is a traditional ingredient in butter tart squares. If you prefer, or you’re worried about it, you can reduce to 1 tablespoon or omit, but I recommend enjoying with a strong cup of coffee.

How to store Butter Tart Squares:

  • These Butter Tart Squares can be refrigerated for one week in an airtight container
  • To store for a longer period, place in an airtight container or freezer bag, with wax paper or parchment in between the layers, and freeze for up to 3 months. They are delicious straight out of the freezer, or thaw at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

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Butter Tart Squares

written by Ashley Fehr

4.73 from 94 votes

Quick, easy butter tart squares are perfect for fall or Christmas baking!

Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (7)




Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 45 minutes mins

Cuisine American

Course Dessert

Servings 36 squares

Calories 174cal



  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp powdered icing sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cold, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoons cold water optional


  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted
  • 3 cups brown sugar lightly packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • optional: ¾ cup raisins


  • Line a 9×13" pan and line with parchment paper and spray with non stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • In a large bowl, combine flour and powdered sugar.

  • Cut butter into icing sugar and flour with a pastry cutter or your hands until pea-sized lumps of butter remain. When you grab a handful and squeeze, you want it to hold together. If it doesn't hold together, add 1-2 tablespoons of water.

  • Dump flour mixture into pan and press down evenly to form a crust. Bake for 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare your filling. In a medium bowl, melt butter in the microwave.

  • Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then add the vinegar and vanilla. Stir in raisins if using.

  • Pour over crust and bake another 25-30 minutes until filling is set or almost set — a slight jiggle is fine but you don't want a lot of movement. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate several hours before slicing.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 174cal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 35mg | Potassium: 40mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 265IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Keywords butter tart squares, butter tarts

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Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (8)

Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Angela Laird says

    These are ten times better than the butter tarts I used to buy at sobeys. The only problem was that the filling leaked through the crust and made it soggy. What would cause that, please?


  2. Jackie Clark says

    They are absolutely delicious. Made according to recipe, but cooked longer than required which is normal for my oven. They were gone in no time.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Yay! Thank you!


  3. Sheri says

    Recipe is excellent, my husband said never to buy butter tarts again, only make these! I increased the recipe by 50% and made 2 pans, one 8×8 pan with a gluten free shortbread crust and 13×9 pan for the rest, both turned out amazing thanks for the recipe, so much easier than making tarts.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Sheri! So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for this kind review!


  4. Ruth Riley says

    Just took a pan of squares out of the oven.The recipe is quite similar to what I have made for years. But I add pecans because I am a fan of pecan pie. They are for a pot luck in a couple of days so I will put them in the fridge till tomorrow before cutting. But thank you they were simple to make. I am also Canadian.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hope you enjoyed them Ruth!


  5. Janyte says

    Made it a couple of times. First time I had the runny problem others noted. Same oven, made it tonight – perfection. You don’t “taste” the vinegar when they are done so wouldn’t let that put you off! I made in the recommended sized pan. Maybe the middle was a bit softer, but not runny. I’m an edge girl:)


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Janyte! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!


  6. Adele says

    Hi Ashley, I’m just trying your recipe and hadn’t read the comments. I was wondering as I poured the filling if I should have added a tbsp of flour to it. It’s in the oven now and I’m praying it will thicken.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Adele! Hope you enjoyed them! The method had worked well for myself (and others)!


    • Dalia Greennaum says

      Questions: Why no salt? Won’t these be kind of bland without it? Why not bake at a higher temperature? 350 is really low for baking. How do you make the crust fill a 9×13 pan? I didn’t have nearly enough.


  7. Gisele Savoie says

    I followed the recipe exactly and used the 9X13 pan and the middle was still runny. Next time, I will use the smaller pans as suggested by a few people.
    I guess I should cook longer than 30 minutes, I understand that each oven is different. I will try again in a few months. Thank you.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      I’m sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe Gisele. The timing has worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too! So glad you are going to give it another try!

  8. Brenda Upshaw says

    After reading all the reviews, I tried the recipe, but I switched the vinegar for 1 tbsp lemon juice and added an extra egg yolk to ensure it sets and is firm ……Perfect!


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Thanks for the feedback Brenda.


  9. Jan R says

    I sent another message about the Butter Tart recipe. I went back and did another search and found your recipe for the squares. I was using the wrong words for search. I’m going to try this. We love pecan pie and this will just be pie without the pecans. Thank you for working so hard and sharing the recipes with all of us.


    • Ashley Fehr says

      No problem! I hope you enjoy them 🙂


  10. Lavonne says

    I’ve made this recipe a number of time and everyone loves it. Just wondering if you have a method for adapting them into Maple Butter Tart Squares?


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Lavonne, no I’m sorry I do not not. Glad you enjoy them!


  11. Tania W says

    I made these today and they were amazing! I didn’t have vinegar but they turned out great and not super sweet like a regular tart and the bottom was so flaky and buttery.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Tania! So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for your review!


  12. Barb says

    Just trying this today. I am curious about the vinegar. I have never added this to my other butter tarts. Just wondering what the purpose is for adding it.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Barb! It is to cut through some of the sweetness and is a traditional ingredient in butter tart squares.


      • Bonnie says

        It is not a traditional ingredient where I am from…never have I heard of vinegar being in a butter tart or squares.

      • The Recipe Rebel says

        okay, well I hope you enjoy it either way Bonnie!

  13. Larissa Stevenson says

    I made these and they were amazing!! I cut the recipe in half, as it for for just me and my dad, but it turned out delicious, will definitely make again!! (:


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Larissa! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this review!


    • Colleen says

      Hi! These taste like the real thing! And by the way vinegar or lemon juice are used in these recipes! I have a 50 year old butter tart recipe and that’s what it calls for. Thanks


      • The Recipe Rebel says

        Thanks Colleen!

  14. Sarah says

    Love this recipe! But do you have any tips on cutting it so the top doesn’t crack so bad? I’ve tried cutting just the crust ever so slightly right out of the oven to score it essentially and that works okayish or I’ve waited until they’re cool but that doesn’t work well for me at all. Not sure what the trick is.
    I will say I’ve been dividing up the recipe into two pans instead of one. I couldn’t get it to set as nicely when it was in a bigger pan. I used a 6×8 and a 8×8. But I do love these and so does everyone else.


  15. tamg says

    I tried making 2 about 72 hours ago. Cooked both until they were set with nearly no movement. One was incredibly burnt on top but perfectly set. The top luckily just tastes like burnt/toasted marshmallows. My family likes that so it worked out.
    The second one seemed fine when taken out of the oven, but was still extremely soft once cooled. Yet it had no “jiggle”. Popped it back in the oven for a bit and it had firmed up more, so I let it cool on the counter. Then moved to the fridge. I only just cut it and most of it still isn’t set. Extremely disappointing since I was supposed to take it to work and now I will be letting everyone down.


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Tamg, I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with this recipe. There are lots of factors so to what could of gone wrong, but it’s hard to know without being in the kitchen with you.


      • Brooke says

        I’m not sure if I didn’t bake long enough but it was VERY sweet… to the point where we scraped off the filling and just ate the shortbread crust… does it taste differently if baked longer? I did feel as though it was slightly under done.

      • The Recipe Rebel says

        Hi Brooke! I don’t believe that should have anything to do with the flavor.

    • Sarah says

      I had the same problem. I’ve been making these for about 3-4 yrs now. I’ve started cooking the recipe in two smaller pans instead of the big one because I feel like the center doesn’t ever set right. I use a glass Pyrex with parchment paper. One is 8×8 and the other 6×8. This seems to work well for me. The smaller one does finish at about the 30 min mark. The other 8×8 I have to leave in even longer. Hope that helps.


  16. Cassandra Stuppiello says

    Was super excited to add these to my Christmas baking. Made with all fresh ingredients and followed the recipe exactly, but my filling didn’t set despite refrigerating overnight, they are a gooey mess.

    Will try another recipe, I guess 🙁


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Cassandra! I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. It’s hard to know exactly what went wrong without being in the kitchen with you. Myself and others have made this with tons of success, so I wish they would of been a hit for you.


  17. Jewls says

    Would this work with egg replacement? I’ve made it so many times before but we found out my son has an egg allergy 😭


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Jewls! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so I am unsure if an egg replacement would work. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!


  18. Kristen says

    This is a perfect recipe, I made it twice last year and will do the same this! To die for!


    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thanks Kristen!


  19. Bobbie says

    Disaster.. the syrup didn’t thicken. Cooled it in the fridge after baking.
    When I cut into it ,I ended up with a pool of syrup.
    I followed the recipe to a tee.
    It did not look like the picture.
    And I cooked it 10mins longer.
    What went wrong?


    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Bobbie! There are lots of factors at play here, like exact oven temperature, size of the pan, size of the eggs, etc. If you follow the visual cues for doneness (set or almost set through the middle) then it should turn out just fine


    • Sarah says

      Bobbie – I sometimes have a similar problem. I resolved most of it by using two smaller pans instead of one big one. I felt the larger pan just took forever to cook in the middle and often wouldn’t set. So I use an 8×8 and a 6×8 glass Pyrex dishes with parchment paper. The smaller one finishes around the 30 min mark. The larger one I have to leave in longer. I just made this and I think the bigger one was in closer to 40 min. One thing I definitely do is jiggle them in the oven when the timer goes off. If i see a lot of movement, I add a few more minutes and repeat. I keep doing this until there isn’t to much jiggle left. I hope that helps you. It is a very delicious recipe.


  20. Gay says

    Hi. Can’t wait to try as my husband is Canadian and I make butter tarts every year. You say great to make ahead and freeze. Would you cut them first or cool at room temp and freeze whole pan? Tx!


    • Ashley Fehr says

      I usually cut them first so we can just grab a few when we need!


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Butter Tart Squares recipe (freezer friendly!) - The Recipe Rebel (2024)


Why are my butter tarts so runny? ›

Butter tarts that are runny may be underbaked or may not contain enough egg. Eggs help thicken and stabilize butter tart filling while it bakes, which is why I've included two whole eggs in my recipe to ensure the filling is thick and fully set once baked.

What is the difference between a butter tart and a pecan pie? ›

The butter tart is different from pecan pie in that it has a "runnier" filling due to the omission of corn starch. Often raisins, walnuts, or pecans are added to the traditional butter tart, although the acceptability of such additions is a matter of national debate.

How do you freeze butter tarts in the fridge? ›

Store cooled tarts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Take out a few hours before serving to thaw.

Why do my butter tarts crystallize? ›

Sucrose naturally wants to crystalize, which is how granulated sugar is made from simple sugars like fructose and glucose. To reduce the amount of crystallization in the butter tart filling when baking, try adding some acidity (i.e. lemon juice or 1 spoon of corn syrup).

What is butter tart filling made of? ›

These buttery mini pies, typically baked in a muffin tin, have a flaky crust filled with a gooey mixture of butter, sugar, syrup, egg, and sometimes raisins or nuts. They bear some resemblance to the American pecan pie and British treacle tart, but their uniquely rich flavor sets them apart.

Should butter tarts have raisins? ›

Purists say true butter tarts should not contain raisins or nuts. For Currie and March of Wasaga Beach, Ont., they have to have raisins. Some like runny fillings, some firm. Some like thick pastry shells while others like thin so the filling stars.

Why are butter tarts so good? ›

It's easy to pass by. But Canadians will tell you that these diminutive treats hold an expanse of flavor and textures: flaky pastry, caramelized crust and a bracingly sweet filling.

What is a butter tart slang? ›

Butter tarts are indeed a popular Canadian pastery. The phrase butter tart, as used in the song, is also slang for a woman's parts.

Can I substitute a pie crust for a tart? ›

While each dough is unique to their desserts, you can make a tart with pie crust.

What tarts freeze well? ›

Butter tarts are another treat that freezes well so you can make them ahead of the holidays to lighten the load during that busy time. Frozen butter tarts also make a great gift; I know I always enjoyed receiving a large container of frozen butter tarts from my grandmother to take back with me after the holidays.

How long does it take for butter tarts to go bad? ›

Storage: The butter tarts will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. To enjoy again, you can either serve them cold or let them come to room temperature on the counter. If they're frozen, be sure to thaw them in the fridge first.

What is the shelf life of butter tarts? ›

What is the shelf life on my butter tarts? You can keep your tarts fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but they're best served at room temperature.

How do you keep butter tarts from sticking to the pan? ›

Let the pan cool until it's room temperature, then slide a paring knife around the perimeter of each tart before removing, says Campbell-Sim. Leave them too long and they may stick (check after 10 minutes).

How long can butter tarts last in the fridge? ›

Butter Tarts should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated, they will keep for up to five days in the fridge. If you keep them at room temperature remember they will only keep for about a day or 2 depending on how warm your home is. To freeze, place them in an airtight freezer container.

Can you use margarine instead of butter for tarts? ›

You can use margarine in a pie crust. It will not be as flaky as other fats, but will be a good pie crust.

How do you keep butter tarts from running over? ›

Bake at 200F for 15 min, then without taking the tarts out, turn the oven to 350°F Bake another 10-15 min, until they start to brown. This method will prevent them from boiling over.

Why is my tart not setting? ›

If the filling is runny and flowing out of the tart when you cut into it, then it is likely that the curd was not cooked for quite long enough.

How do you thicken jam for tarts? ›

You can make your own fruit filling by using homemade or store-bought jam and thickening it up a bit by simmering it with some cornstarch mixed with water (about a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a teaspoon or so of cold water to make a paste, then stir into ½ to ¾ cup of jam).

What happens if you put too much butter in pastry? ›

Too much butter in your baked goods would give them different texture (flat, greasy..).


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