A classic Canadian pastry, butter tarts are made of a flaky pastry filled with sweet, buttery filling. These air fryer butter tarts cook in just 10 minutes! The recipe makes one dozen tarts which is perfect when you are looking for a smaller batch and don’t have a lot of time to bake.
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I love butter tarts. They have been a staple on my holiday baking tray ever since I can remember. They have been made by my Grandma, my mom and me. And they are always highly requested and anticipated.
This filling in this recipe is just the right balance of firm and gooey. It is soft and sweet and delicious. There is no corn syrup in these butter tarts and instead, they are sweetened only with brown sugar.
The ingredients are super simple and by using pre-made frozen tart shells you save a lot of time and energy. And made in the air fryer these take only 10 minutes, which is a huge time saver over using the oven, about ⅓ of the time, actually.
While my recipe contains raisins there are plenty of ways to customize them if raisins aren’t your thing and I’ve detailed several variations below.
What Are Butter Tarts?
Butter tarts are a classic Canadian pastry. They are comprised of a flaky tart shell that surrounds a sweet, gooey, brown sugar and butter filling.
Some butter tarts contain raisins, as are called for in this recipe, others may contain currants, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans or they may have nothing but the gooey buttery filling.
How you like your butter tarts probably has to do with how you grew up eating them. My Grandma’s recipe always called for raisins so that’s how I’ve always known them, but if you don’t like raisins, that’s ok too.
Normally butter tarts would be baked in the oven. Since I only wanted a small batch this year I decided to scale down my family recipe and attempt making them in the air fryer.
The result is exactly the same as baking them in the oven, but they are baked in about ⅓ of the time. It makes this recipe perfect for small batches and when you need something quickly.
Why We Love This Recipe
It’s so quick – This recipe is so fast. It only takes a few minutes to mix the filling for these tarts and they take only 10 minutes to cook in the air fryer which is about ⅓ of the time it takes in the oven.
It’s easy – These butter tarts are made with simple pantry ingredients. You only need six ingredients plus a package of frozen tart shells to whip up a batch of delicious, homemade tarts.
The ingredients you will need to make butter tarts are:
- Frozen, uncooked tart shells – For one dozen tarts you will want to use 3-inch tart shells. I prefer unsweetened pastry for this recipe as the filling is sweet enough, but you can use sweetened if you prefer.
- Brown sugar – I generally use light brown sugar for this recipe, but I have used dark brown sugar and it works fine too.
- Butter – You want to use real, salted butter for this recipe. They are butter tarts, afterall.
- Raisins – I use Thompson raisins in my butter tarts, but I have used golden raisins as well. If you don’t like raisins you can leave them out or substitute with currants, chopped walnuts or chopped pecans.
Remove the tarts from the freezer so they can thaw a bit while you make the filling. They do not have to be completely thawed when you fill them.
Cream the butter and add the sugar, when it starts to come together add the milk, vanilla and egg and beat until smooth.
Stir in the raisins.
Spoon the filling into the tart shells so they are about ¾ full.
Place the tarts in the preheated air fryer basket leaving room for air circulation. Then place the basket in the air fryer and set it to 320°F. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and you see a thin crust forming over the filling. The filling will be bubbling hot.
It is normal for a bit of filling to bubble up to the edge of the tart shell. This has never bothered me and the sticky, caramelized bits are delicious. However, if you want to avoid any filling reaching the top of the tart shell you can reduce to filling just ⅔ full.
Carefully remove the tarts from the air fryer basket and set them on a cooling rack. Repeat the process with any remaining tarts.
The tarts will still be a bit liquidy when you remove them from the basket, they will continue to set and firm up as they cool.
When the tarts are fully cool and set, transfer them to an airtight container for storage.
Variations and Substitutions
There are many ways to customize butter tarts to your liking. Raisins have always been part of my recipe, and it’s the same one that has been used in my family for at least 50 years.
However, not everyone likes raisins, or thinks they should be in a butter tart, and that’s ok too. Here are some ways you can change this recipe to suit your tastes.
Make these pecan tarts by swapping the raisins for equal portions of chopped pecans. They will be like mini pecan pies!
Make these walnut tarts by swapping the raisins for chopped walnuts.
Make a nutty raisin combination by replacing part of the raisins with chopped nuts.
Swap the raisins for equal measurements currants. Currants were the dried fruit used in the original butter tart recipe dating back to 1900.
Make these a plain butter tart by leaving the raisins or nuts out completely. You may want to double the filling ratios so the tarts are full enough.
How to Store Butter Tarts
Butter tarts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Kept in the refrigerator they will keep well for about 2 weeks.
However, the best way to store butter tarts is in an airtight container in the freezer. Just place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the layers of tarts so they don’t stick together. In the freezer, they will keep for up to six months (though I’ve actually eaten them far past that). They are delicious when eaten frozen as well.
More Air Fryer Baking
Air Fryer Butter Tarts
- ⅓ Cup salted butter softened
- 1 Cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsps milk
- 1 large egg
- ¾ Cup raisins
- 12 (3-inch) tart shells unsweetened
- Remove the tart shells from the freezer while you make the filling so they can thaw a bit. They do not need to be fully thawed when you fill them.
- In a medium-size bowl, cream butter and sugar until it starts to come together then add the vanilla, milk and egg and beat until smooth.
- Stir in the raisins, or other add-ins you are using.
- Spoon filling into the tart shells so they are ¾ full.
- Preheat the air fryer at 320°F for 3 minutes.
- Place the filled tarts into the air fryer basket leaving a bit of space between them for air circulation.
- Place the basket in the air fryer, set it to 320°F and cook the tarts for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and there is a slight, thin-crust on the filling. The filling will be bubbling hot.
- Carefully remove the tarts from the air fryer and move them to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool and set completely before transferring to an air-tight container for storage.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.Click here to join our Facebook group : Air Fryer & Instant Pot Recipes and Cooking Tips