Best Traditional Portuguese Tart Recipe : Guide 101

portuguese tart recipe
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Portuguese Custard Tart, popularly known as the ‘Pastéis de nata’ or ‘Pastel de nata’, is one of the most traditional dishes in Portugal. It has a crunchy exterior with a creamy melted filling inside the layers.

The Portuguese Tart Recipe has many variations and improvisation throughout its evolution. The filling for the Portuguese Tart can be of two types: Egg Mixture Filling or Custard Filling.

Since both of them taste distinctively delicious, we’ll present the procedure of how to make the custard mix as well as the egg mix.

The recipe only needs a few ingredients; however, the step-by-step method of making the dough is the most important.

In this recipe, we’ll present a detailed guide on how to make the dough, and the two different fillings, so that you make your own signature Pastéis de Nata.

1. Portuguese Tart Recipe (Pastéis de nata)

We’ll begin with the list of ingredients first and will finally move on to the preparation of the recipe in a step-by-step manner.

portuguese tart recipe
Image by Bernadette Wurzinger from Pixabay/Copyright 2016

1.1. Ingredients Required:

  • All Purpose Flour – 150 g
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Cold Water – 60 ml
  • Butter ( cubed, chilled, and diced ) – 170 g
  • Whole milk – 300 ml
  • White sugar – 100 g
  • Whipping or Heavy Cream – 150 ml
  • Egg Yolks – 2 – 3
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp (an extra 1/4 tsp vanilla extract is preferable too )
  • Cornstarch – 5 tsp
  • Caster Sugar Syrup ( optional )
  • Cinnamon Powder
  • Cinnamon stick – 1/2

Since you have finished with the ingredients requirements on your shopping list, let’s head into the process of how to make the dough of the pastry of Portuguese Custard Tarts.

1.2. The Dough Preparation:

Step 1:

Take a slab of frozen butter 80 g, and wrap it around with a buttered sheet of about 10cm x 15cm.

The measurements are crucial since the dough must be proportionate enough to wrap it around the dough fillings.

Once you have wrapped up the butter, flatten it with a rolling pin, pressing it down firmly at the corners until the butter becomes smooth and of 3 mm thickness.

Make sure the thickness is evenly spread to avoid any lumps on the layer.

Once you’re done, put the prepared butter in the refrigerator to cool it down for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2:

Take a bowl, and add chilled diced butter of around 60 g. Now, add the 2g of white sugar and 3g of salt, and 150 g of all-purpose flour on top of the butter.

Mix them well together until there is no flour left. You may use a kneading machine or your fingers to evenly mix the whole thing.

Add 60 ml of cold water and knead it with the dough. The result will look like breadcrumbs with no flour, so keep mixing well until this result comes in.

For your ease, you can use a spatula to do this.

Keep kneading it with your fingers until it looks solid and well-made. Use plastic wrap to wrap the dough and keep it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

portuguese tart recipe
Image by flockine from Pixabay/Copyright 2018

Step 3:

You can remove the dough from the refrigerator after 30 minutes. Unfold the wrap, and fold the dough in several layers.

Making layers in the dough is the trickiest part, which needs patience to make a perfect Portuguese tart.

Roll the folded dough with a rolling pin and pull the four corners, pressing them firmly to prepare the dough’s rectangular shape.

Make sure the butter can be wrapped inside the dough properly.

Remove the wrapped butter and put it on half of the dough. Fold it and see whether it fits and wraps around the butter.

If not, then prepare dough longer in length as per the needs. If it fits well, fold the dough and keep it cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Step 4:

After 30 minutes, remove the dough and roll it out as a rectangle. Fold both sides of the rectangle to the middle, and fold the whole dough in half.

Please remember that the dough must not have any flour remaining while folding it. If you still find flour, sweep it away with an oiling brush or a spatula.

Once done, put the dough to cool it down in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Step 5:

Repeat Step 4 once again. Fold the dough into the middle and then fold it again in half after shaping it rectangularly.

Wrap it and keep it in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Step 6:

Take out the cold dough from the refrigerator. Spread the dough and roll it into a rectangle on a wooden board lightly dusted with flour.

It should be 3mm thickness of the dough approximately.

Start rolling up the dough from the narrower side of it, and make it into a swirling roll of dough. Make sure you leave no gaps and keep pressing gently while using your fingers to roll it up.

Now, wrap the rolled dough and let it cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Now that we have finished dough-making let’s go ahead and prepare one mixture for the egg tarts recipe.

1.3. The Egg Filling Preparation for The Egg Tart Recipe:

Step 1:

To prepare the egg mixture, you first need a bowl. Then crack an egg and whisk it well into the bowl. The egg mixture must be nearly 20 g on average.

Step 2:

Now add 2 egg yolks, 75 ml of milk, and 45 g of white sugar. You can also use caster sugar or the sugar syrup of it, whichever works for you.

Whisk the ingredients properly until the consistency is smooth enough.

You may use more egg yolks if you prefer; it depends on the puff pastry method and how much the size of the dough.

portuguese tart recipe
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay/Copyright 2015

Step 3:

Add 150 ml of whipping cream or heavy cream, according to your preference. Blend the ingredients, and your mix will be ready in no time.

Step 4:

Once you are done whisking, it’s time to wrap the bowl with cling paper and refrigerate the egg mixture for at least an hour.

1.4. The Custard Filling for the Custard Tart Recipe:

You make this custard tart filling with the same procedure as the egg tart. But, there are a few additions to the ingredients list and the variation of making it.

So, let’s move forward and figure out how to make a custard filling for custard tarts.

Step 1:

Prepare the mixture as mentioned first. Add 1/2 cinnamon stick into the mix, with 1 tsp vanilla extract alongside.

You can add the extra ingredients to the mixture for the Portuguese Custard Tarts.

Step 2:

Mix the ingredients slowly and steadily under low heat.

Keep giving light heat against the bottom of the pan, and make sure the custard mixes well together to form a thick consistency.

The heat is crucial in preparing the custard filling, so make sure to be watchful.

Step 3:

Add 5 tsp cornstarch afterwards. Mix them well under low heat usage, and turn off the heat once you’re done.

Whether you were successful or not will depend on the custard’s thickness, colour, and flavour.

portuguese tart recipe
Image by May_hokkaido from Pixabay/Copyright 2020

Step 4:

You can also add sugar during the custard tart filling preparation, according to your taste. Still, it is not generally needed since we have added it to the mixture.

Step 5:

Once you’re done with custard tart filling, it is time for the last part.

Strain off the custard tart filling to another fresh bowl since you do not want any lumps in the smooth, creamy filling for our yummy Portuguese Custard Tarts.

Step 6:

Keep the custard tart filling aside once you’re done with it. It is the final show time for preparing the Portuguese Custard Tarts.

1.5. Preparation of the Portuguese Custard Tarts:

Pasteis de Nata is a controversial recipe worldwide. Many nations cook it the traditional way, while others prepare it using the most basic ways and arrangements. Each recipe is unique and has its distinct flavour.

However, since the origin of the recipe is Portugal, we’ll be following the traditional way of making Portuguese Custard Tarts without any variations.

portuguese tart recipe
Image by Jason Goh from Pixabay/Copyright 2016

Step 1:

Take out the dough from the refrigerator, and place a scale alongside its length to cut the rolled dough into properly measured pieces.

Ideally, the rolled dough will bring at least 12 proper servings, so make sure to cut it that way.

Each piece must ideally be 2cm, but you can reduce it up to 1 cm if your dough is small.

Once you have cut the dough into 12 distant servings, place them aside and take out your pastry cases.

Step 2:

For baking the custard tarts, you need custard tarts baking cases or a muffin tin for preparing the custard tarts.

The nata recipe requires a pastry case, custard tart tin, or muffin tin for the preparation.

Step 3:

Place a dough piece at the bottom and press it gently, spreading it into the shape of the muffin tin.

Make sure to press the edge of the muffin mould with your thumb up to the brink of the mould.

Keep the dough piece spread over the edge of the mould and keep the dough hollow at the centre bottom of the mould.

Once done, place the muffin tin in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Step 4:

For a little while, preheat the oven to 230 Degrees Celsius. Take out the frozen mould in the meanwhile.

Place them on top of a pastry sheet so that the work surface remains clean and will prevent the slurry from splashing out of the dough.

Step 5:

Grease the inside of the mould with butter for a smooth layer and a good flavour.

Now, gently take the bowl of custard tart filling and pour the filling into each serving mould.

Please make sure that the custard filling does not overflow the mould. It should be poured up to 2/3rd of the mould.

The custard tarts will puff up during the baking, making the filling overflow. So, pour the filling accordingly.

portuguese tart recipe
Image by namyuha1009 from Pixabay/Copyright 2019

Step 6:

As you’ve preheated the oven, it’s time to put the custard-filled moulds into the oven. Baking Portuguese custard tarts or Pasteis de Nata will make them a perfect puff pastry.

Do not keep the custard tarts waiting since it will degrade their crispiness of it later on.

Please put them in the oven as soon as possible, after you’ve finished pouring. Bake the Portuguese Custard Tarts at over 210 Degrees Celsius for nearly 23-25 Minutes.

After 20 minutes, please check whether the Portuguese Custard Tarts from the oven have turned brown or how long they are in their journey of complete baking.

Step 7:

Once enough time has passed, it’s time to take your pasteis de nata or Portuguese Custard Tarts from the oven. Let them cool down for some time.

Step 8:

You can use icing sugar or ground cinnamon powder for the serving part and sprinkle it on top of the delicious flaky Portuguese Custard Tarts.

The custard tarts will have a brilliant smell because of the vanilla extract. Even though you’re not making your filling as a custard, you can still use the vanilla extract to enhance the scent.

You can cut one in half to see how creamy and gooey the filling has become. The crunchy crust will be crispy in layers because of the special folding process that we followed.

Caramel is a fantastic and delectable addition to the portions. So, you can make your caramel home and use it as a garnish for the pasteis de nata.

Now that we have finally finished with the Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe, let’s see how to make homemade caramel.

But before we go ahead, feel free to try this recipe at home and rate this recipe, too and let us know how your ‘pastel de nata’ turned out!

1.6. Preparation of The Caramel Sauce for The Pasteis De Nata Recipe:

Caramel is sweet cream that could be used as a garnish for multiple purposes and occasions.

You may drizzle it on top of Portuguese Custard Tarts, cakes like pastry, or even on ice creams.

So, to prepare a perfect caramel sauce, we need only three ingredients: Sugar, Butter, and Heavy Whipping Cream. We do not need any extra ingredients, so it is convenient already.

Step 1:

Place the pan on the stove under medium heat and pour into your sugar bowl. Now, keep whisking it under medium heat patiently until it starts clumping.

You will notice the sugar slowly sticking to the bottom after a certain time, but do not worry; keep whisking since you do not want to let it burn.

It generally takes 8-10 minutes to start melting, so keep doing it.

This process moves quickly, so pay attention to the melting session. Slowly, it will begin to clump now.

At this point, you will discover a light amber-coloured melted sugar, which means it is becoming caramel now.

Let the caramel rest for a few seconds so the amber colour gets deeper. Keep it from resting too long, or it will burn.

Step 2:

Now, at this time, when the caramel colour has darkened, add the butter to the caramel slowly.

It is quite dangerous at this stage, so make sure that you do it carefully and with caution since the caramel is prone to bubble up at this time.

Keep whisking as soon as you add the butter and let them blend well, so do it patiently.

When you add the butter or cream, ensure they are either warm or at room temperature.

Caramel is sensitive to temperature changes and can cause the sauce to seize up quickly once you add any cold ingredient. So, make sure they are at normal temperature.

Step 3:

Once the butter and caramel have blended, slowly add the whipping cream, one portion at a time, and keep whisking.

Do this for a short time, and once the caramel starts to thin out, you may finally add the remaining cream to the caramel.

So, we finally finished making our extra sweet caramel as a garnish for our delicious Portuguese Custard Tarts.

Once you’re done making the caramel sauce, it’s time to lusciously pour the sauce on the sides of the Portuguese Custard Tarts, along the centre.

Now, your perfectly homemade Portuguese Custard Tarts Are ready to serve!


The Portuguese Tart Recipe is the only cream-filled pastry that the Portugals are proud of. It is a delicious and crisp dessert that anyone from any nation would love to have a bite of.

Check Out: 25 Best Portuguese Foods

Portuguese natives get pretty fussy over the different kinds of tarts that have evolved in this century since, along with the experimentation of this recipe, people tend to bypass the original version of this delicious Portuguese Custard Tart.

This recipe is the original and the traditional way of making Portuguese Custard Tarts, but now a variety of improvisations have arrived.

So, feel free to experiment with these delicious tarts and make your Portuguese Custard Tart in your signature style.

Also, Check Out, What’s the National Dish of England?


  • Sampurna Laha

    Hi! This is Sampurna. A passionate writer with an obsession for words and poetry. Writing about restaurants, food & drinks is uniquely my cup of tea.


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