With a sweet syrupy filling and buttery crust, you won’t be able to resist these gluten free butter tarts. They are a classic Canadian dessert made without wheat - and will have everyone fooled!
There’s no corn syrup in this recipe, just pure maple syrup. That’s about as Canadian as it gets, eh?!
What are butter tarts
Wikipedia says that butter tarts are “highly regarded in Canadian cuisine” and I would have to agree. As a Canadian myself, I’ve eaten my fair share of them, but these gluten free versions are the best for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
The filling is traditionally made with sugar, syrup, butter and egg. Guess what? Those are the ingredients in this recipe!
The tart crust is a Gluten Free Pie Crust and is also the same dough I’ve used to make Gluten Free Pop Tarts. It’s light, flaky and buttery. Basically, everything you’d want in a pastry crust - minus the wheat flour!
Butter tarts are baked in the oven until the filling caramelizes and sets on the top. The inside can be either runny or firm (big debates on which is the best) and can also contain raisins, nuts or chocolate chips (also lots of opinions on that).
Want to make your own gluten free butter tarts? It’s so easy! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Gluten free flour: I use an all-purpose blend that I make myself. Feel free to use any others, but please note that not all gluten free flours are the same and results can vary widely.
- Xanthan gum: if you’re using a blend that already contains it, omit xanthan gum from the recipe.
- Icing sugar (powdered sugar): to sweeten the dough.
- Unsalted butter: lots of it! We’ll use 1 cup in the dough, plus ⅓ cup in the filling. These are butter tarts, after all!
- Water: cold, to help the dough come together.
- Brown sugar: the sweet, sweet sugar in the filling.
- Maple syrup: instead of corn syrup.
- Eggs: 2, to be exact
- Vanilla extract
- Optional add-ins: raisins, chopped nuts or chocolate chips.
How to make the best gluten free butter tarts
Making gluten free butter tarts from scratch is much easier than you think! It starts by making a flaky, buttery crust.
In a bowl containing the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, icing sugar (powdered sugar) and salt, add in the cold cubes of unsalted butter. Using your hands, pinch the butter cubes into the flour mixture until it begins to become sandy. Next, add in the cold water by the tablespoon and mix after each addition. Bring the dough together in a ball and wrap in plastic wrap to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After chilling, roll the butter tart crust out to a ⅛” (3mm) thickness on a floured surface. Cut out 3 ½” (9cm) circles of dough using a cookie cutter and transfer to a standard muffin pan. Gently guide the crust into the well of the pan - the edges of the dough will overlap slightly.
To make the filling, whisk together the remaining ingredients - brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract and any add-ins: raisins, chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional).
Pour the filling into each individual crust until they are ⅔ full. Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 15-18 minutes until the crust is set and the filling has caramelized on the top.
Remove the tarts from the muffin pan immediately to avoid them from getting stuck to the pan (if any filling has leaked out). Cool on a wire rack.
Do I need to grease the muffin pan?
Great news - you don’t need to grease the muffin pan for these gluten free tarts! The amount of butter in the pie crust (a lot) will automatically grease the muffin pan, so the pastry shouldn’t stick to it, in theory. But there are a few additional steps you will need to take…
To prevent any chance of sticking - handle the dough gently, don’t press it into the muffin pan firmly and remove them immediately after baking to cool on a wire rack. (All the details on why to do this are included in the next section… so keep reading!)
Tips for making these tarts
Ready to become an expert on gluten free tarts? Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way!
- Don’t press the tart dough into the muffin pan. Gently guide the circles of dough into the well, but don’t force it. Lightly press down on the edges of the tart dough to move it further into the pan, if needed. This will prevent the dough from ripping and the tarts from sticking.
- Whisk the filling mixture thoroughly. During testing, I was lazy about mixing - which meant some of my tarts had a really eggy taste and some were super runny and syrupy. If you’re going to let the filling sit for any length of time, make sure to give it a really good whisk before filling the tart shells.
- Pour the filling into the tart shells to minimize mess. I used my cute little 1 cup Anchor Hocking measuring cup and it worked perfectly. No eggy syrup mixture all over the muffin pan, countertop, hands and clothes if you do it this way. (I speak from experience.)
- Remove the baked butter tarts from the muffin pan immediately. If any of the tart filling leaks out during baking, they’ll stick to the pan if you allow them to cool in there. (They’ll still taste great, but will just look like they were handled by a toddler with anger management issues when you try to dig them out.) Instead, take the tarts out of the pan right after baking and cool them on a wire rack.
Why are my butter tarts soggy?
No one likes a soggy bottom! If your butter tarts are soggy, it means that the crust wasn’t fully baked and they likely need a bit more time in the oven.
When using pie dough, if the filling is too wet there’s a chance that the crust won’t bake properly. Some pies, like lemon meringues and savoury quiches need to have the crust blind baked first. Want to learn more about blind baking and when to do it? Check out this post.
The tart shells for these gluten free butter tarts don’t need to be blind baked, but they may need a few extra minutes in the oven to get the job done. After 15 minutes in the oven, pop one out and see if the bottom is slightly translucent. If it is, the crust needs a few more minutes to bake fully.
Keep gluten free butter tarts in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to a month in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Gluten Free Butter Tarts
For the dough:
- 2 ¾ cups (350g) gluten free flour (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon (3g) xanthan gum (if using a commercially available gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum, omit this from the recipe)
- 1 tablespoon (10g) icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon (7g) salt
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter cold and cubed
- 6 tablespoons water cold
For the filling:
- ¾ cup (120g) brown sugar packed
- ½ cup (145g) maple syrup room temperature
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter melted
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup raisins, chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, icing sugar and salt until combined.
- Add the cold unsalted butter into the bowl. Work the butter into the mixture with your hands by pinching the cubes together with the flour mixture until it begins to resemble sand.
- Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time into the bowl. Mix between each addition using your hands or a spatula. The dough starts off crumbly, then becomes sticky. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, form a ball with the dough and flatten it into a disc.
- Wrap the dough with plastic or place in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Remove the dough disc from the fridge and place on the counter for a few moments to warm up. If the dough was chilled overnight, it may need some additional time, or a bit of kneading with warm hands to soften up slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to ⅛” (3mm) thickness on a lightly floured surface.
- Using a 3 ½” (9cm) circular cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Place the dough inside the well on a standard muffin pan and lightly press it to fit properly. (Some overlap on the edges will happen, which is normal.) Be sure not to press the dough too firmly in the pan to avoid any sticking to the pan.
- In a second medium-sized bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Add in any optional add-ins (raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips) and mix gently to incorporate.
- Fill each muffin well lined with dough until they are ⅔ full. (The crust will expand as it bakes and the tarts will look full once done.)
- Bake butter tarts in the oven for approximately 15-18 minutes until the crust appears set and the top has caramelized.
- Gently remove the tarts from the muffin pan and place on a wire rack to cool. (This prevents any sticking if the filling happens to leak out.)
- Gluten free flour: I used a blend of 50% white rice flour, 30% tapioca starch, and 20% sorghum flour. You can blend your own by following this recipe: Gluten Free Flour Blend (All Purpose). Another blend can be used; however, results may not be the same.
- Storage: Keep gluten free butter tarts in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to a month in an airtight container or freezer bag.