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Butter Tart Squares | Barefeet in the Kitchen

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Crisp shortbread is layered with a gooey, sweet mixture of nuts and fruit topped with a crisp caramelized layer of brown sugar crust to make these irresistible Butter Tart Squares.

Butter Tart Squares

This recipe transforms classic butter tarts into a simple bar dessert recipe that you can make in a fraction of the time. To make this recipe, you’ll press the crust into a baking pan, with no need to form individual tart shells.

Butter Tart Squares

Butter Tart Squares were described by Beth as The Ultimate Canadian Food. You know that I could not resist baking something described that way!

I’m super happy to say that this dessert lived up to its reputation. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made these Butter Tart Squares over the past ten years.

Butter Tart Filling Ingredients

The filling for butter tarts is a base of butter, sugar, and egg. Some recipes create a sweet, syrupy, runny filling, others make them gooey, but firm enough to slice and hold.

We like our butter tarts made into bars and very generously filled with chewy raisins and nuts.

  • melted butter
  • light brown sugar
  • eggs
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • vanilla extract
  • kosher salt
  • raisins
  • chopped pecans or walnuts
Butter Tart Squares - the classic Canadian treat made easy!

Butter Tart Crust

You’ll need only three ingredients to make the crust for this recipe: butter, flour, and sugar.

This is a simple shortbread crust that is crisp and buttery. It’s lightly sweetened and almost melts in your mouth.

Butter Tart Squares with a shortbread crust

I’m a big fan of a simple shortbread crust – and shortbread-style cookies and bar desserts too! Nothing beats the ease of combining just a handful of ingredients for these simple treats.

Baking Tip: Here’s a tip for pressing shortbread crusts into baking pans. I tear an extra section of parchment paper and lay it on top of the dough. Use that paper to press the pan into the crust. Your hands will stay clean and the dough will spread smoothly across the pan.

Butter Tart Squares are often described as the ultimate Canadian treat!

Butter Tart Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ square pan with parchment paper or grease it very well with butter.
  2. To make the crust, beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth. Add the flour and stir just until combined. Press into the prepared pan and then bake for 15 minutes. Let the crust cool completely.
  3. When the crust has cooled, mix together the filling ingredients. Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and then add the remaining ingredients. Pour the filling over the crust.
  4. Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched, approximately 22-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
Canadian Butter Tarts in a simple bar dessert recipe!

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Servings: 18 servings

* Gluten Free Alternative for the Crust

** Gluten Free Alternative for the Filling

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ square pan with parchment paper or grease it very well with butter.

  • To make the crust, beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth. Add the flour and stir just until combined. Press into the prepared pan and then bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

  • When the crust has cooled, mix together the filling ingredients. Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and then add the remaining ingredients. Pour the filling over the crust.

  • Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, approximately 25-28 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Here’s a tip for pressing shortbread crusts into baking pans. I tear an extra section of parchment paper and lay it on top of the dough. Use that paper to press the pan into the crust. Your hands will stay clean and the dough will spread smoothly across the pan.
This may be made in an 8-inch or 10-inch pan as well. You’ll need to adjust the baking time accordingly. (An 8-inch pan typically bakes in about 30-32 minutes.)

{originally published 6/21/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 7/13/21}

Check out all of the Gluten Free Dessert Recipes on this website!

Butter Tart Squares - the ultimate Canadian dessert.

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