Butter Tart Squares Recipe – Butter Tart Shortbread

Butter Tart Squares

This Butter Tart Squares Recipe is one that I make every holiday season. Butter tarts, themselves are a very classic Canadian treat, (maybe even an iconic one), and if you have never tried one, you are missing out. You don't need to be Canadian. This sweet, gooey, delectably sugary treat should be enjoyed by everyone.

Butter Tart Squares
Butter Tart Squares

What is a Butter Tart?

These delicious treats are a little bit similar to a pecan pie. But not the same. If you are Canadian, then you know exactly what I mean. One thing for sure, butter tarts are delectable, sweet, gooey treats, and they are an especially popular indulgence during the holiday season here in Canada. Butter Tarts are a really a very simple recipe. There's a pastry tart shell, and the sweet and simple filling, which is made with eggs, brown sugar, (or sometimes maple syrup) and, of course, butter. There is, almost always, an addition of either, raisins, walnuts, currants, or pecans.  Canadians tend to feel strongly about their butter tarts, and people can have very strong preferences about the add ins. Usually leaning to how their grandmothers and mothers did the recipe.

Butter Tart Squares vs Butter Tarts

It's a very adaptable recipe, and many variations and twists on the classic butter tart have been tried. Check out The Great Canadian Cookbook for some of them. In our house, we do, of course, adore the classic version.  I have, however adapted my own twist with this recipe where the pastry tart shell has been replaced with a brown sugar shortbread. Making one big pan of butter tart squares is much easier than individual tarts, and there is no pastry to roll out. The shortbread base is easy to make and much less fiddly than individual pastry tarts.  The filling here is a bit firmer than some tarts, so that the squares will hold their shape. So there is no maple syrup involved. Just brown sugar, eggs and butter combine to make their magic, and pecans add a delicious, nutty crunch. As they bake, the squares form a light caramelized crust on top, while the filling stays gooey.

The squares will keep, covered, at room temperature for a couple of days, otherwise, put in fridge for up to a week. These can be frozen, but be warned, it won't stop anyone from eating them up. They are delicious when frozen, we have discovered at my house.

Looking for more shortbread treats? Try Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies, or Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Butter Tart Squares
Butter Tart Squares

How to Make Butter Tart Squares

5 from 1 vote
Butter Tart Squares Recipe – Butter Tart Shortbread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Butter Tarts made simpler in one pan with a shortbread base, are still gooey, sweet and delicious.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Servings: 24 squares
Calories: 231 kcal
Author: Colleen
Shortbread Base
  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups brown sugar packed
  • 1/4  cup butter melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
For the Base
  1. Pre heat oven to 350°
  2. Prepare a 9 x 13" baking pan by lining with parchment paper
  3. Use a mixer to beat the butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla until combined
  4. Add the flour and continue mixing until incorporated. The dough will be crumbly, but will press evenly together.
  5. With your hands, press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  6. Bake in centre of oven 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling
For the Filling
  1. Using a mixer, beat eggs. Add sugar and beat, then butter, vanilla, flour, and salt.
  2. Beat for a couple of minutes, then stir in pecans.
  3. Spread filling evenly over crust
  4. Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. The top should be brown and the filling should still jiggle a little when you move the pan.
  5. Allow to cool completely on a rack before removing from pan. Cut into squares
Recipe Notes

These butter tart squares freeze well. 

Nutrition Facts
Butter Tart Squares Recipe – Butter Tart Shortbread
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 231 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 154mg 6%
Potassium 67mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 31g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 22g
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 5.4%
Vitamin C 0.1%
Calcium 2.9%
Iron 4.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Butter Tart Squares
Butter Tart Squares

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12 thoughts on “Butter Tart Squares Recipe – Butter Tart Shortbread

  1. Awesome! Butter tarts are one of my new found favorite Canadian desserts! The fact that these don’t incorporate the usual shell is wonderful…great to take on a walk and enjoy with a thermos of hot tea!

  2. BUTTER. TART. SQUARES. Oh my gosh. I am the biggest butter tart fiend out there, and my only gripe with them if that they’re messy. This fixes it! What an amazing recipe—so buttery, flaky and gooey! Yum. 🙂

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