Low Carb Butter Tarts for Canada Day


I did it, I did it! I created low carb butter tarts, just in time for Canada Day! Even if you’ve never had a butter tart in your life, you will love these sweet low carb treats.

Low Carb Butter TartsThis one goes out to my fellow Canucks, because only they can truly understand how momentous this recipe for low carb butter tarts really is. But even if you’re not Canadian, even if you don’t have a single drop of Canadian blood, I suggest you stick around. Butter tarts are worth it, believe me. Chances are that a large percentage of you reading this have never even heard of butter tarts, so we may need a little lesson in Canadianism first. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve any history or politics. It just involves really good food.

If ever there was a national food of Canada, butter tarts are it. There are other uniquely Canadian dishes, like tourtiere and poutine, but those have a local flair and are distinctly Quebecois. And that other sweet Canadian treat, the Nanaimo Bar, has its distinct history on the west coast and is named for a city on Vancouver Island. But butter tarts are loved and appreciated nationwide, although perhaps most beloved in my home province of Ontario, where they are truly celebrated as the height of Canadian cuisine. There are butter tart festivals and butter tart cook-offs, and many bakeries claim that they make the BEST butter tarts. When my mother worked for Cottage Life, the magazine sent two writers touring around Ontario, looking for the perfect butter tarts. So you can see, these  little tarts inspire much devotion in the hearts of Canadians.

Low Carb Gluten-Free Butter Tart Recipe

Okay, great, but what ARE they? Well, at their best, butter tarts are made of tender, flakey pastry with an incredibly gooey, sweet filling that may or may not contain raisins or currants. The filling is similar to pecan pie but without the pecans. They don’t sound all that exciting, do they? In truth, they are unassuming-looking little tarts and you might be tempted to pass them over in favour of a more flashy-looking dessert. But a really good butter tart can beat the pants off any other dessert any time. They are just so delicious, so gooey and sweet and inviting; one bite and you’re hooked.

Grain-Free Sugar-Free Butter Tarts

But a traditional butter tart is also the stuff of a low carb dieter’s nightmares. That sweet filling is made with copious amounts of brown sugar and often with corn syrup as well (not HFCS, just regular corn syrup). Wikipedia tells me that the average butter tart comes in at a a whopping 84 g of carbs. Youch! So a real butter tart is off limits for me now. However, never one to resist a challenge, I’ve been mulling over how to create low carb butter tarts for a long time now. I created good flakey low carb pastry some time ago, so that obstacle was already conquered. But getting the filling right was not going to be easy, I knew. In the end, I settled on a filling that was similar to my low carb pecan pie bars, with less egg. I created a low carb caramel sauce to take the place of the corn syrup, and I did add a few raisins, but chopped them to give better coverage. I also under-baked the tarts a bit, removing them from the oven before the filling was completely set, to keep them on the gooier side.

Low Carb Butter Tart Recipe

I have eaten a lot of real butter tarts in my day and I have made them from scratch a number of times. I am not going to tell you that these low carb butter tarts are exactly the same, because they’re not. Nothing quite behaves the way sugar or corn syrup does and that’s just a fact.  They taste like butter tarts, but the gooey factor is more limited without the properties of sugar and corn syrup. But believe me when I say that these tarts are really, really good and are certainly the best approximation of butter tarts you can get using low carb ingredients. If this butter tart fiend is happy with them, you know you will be too!


Low Carb Butter Tarts

Yield: 12 tarts

Serving Size: 1 tart

I did it, I did it! I created low carb butter tarts, just in time for Canada Day! Even if you've never had a butter tart in your life, you will love these sweet low carb treats.


    Caramel Sauce:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp Swerve Sweetener
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar OR 1 tbsp additional Swerve Sweetener
  • 6 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Pastry:
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 tbsp Swerve Sweetener
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 -3 tbsp ice water
  • Filling:
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup powdered Swerve Sweetener
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable glycerin (optional but keeps the filling gooier)
  • 2 tbsp raisins or dried currants, chopped


    Caramel Sauce:
  1. Combine butter and sweeteners in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes. If using all Swerve, you may find that your caramel remains lighter in colour (you can add 2 tsp molasses for more caramel colour).
  2. Add heavy cream and vanilla extract. Mixture will bubble vigorously, this is normal. Sprinkle with xanthan gum and whisk vigorously to combine. Stir in salt.
  3. Let cool to lukewarm and then whisk in water.
  4. Pastry:
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Combine almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot starch, sweetener, xanthan gum and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  7. Sprinkle surface with butter pieces and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  8. With processor running on low, add ice water, one tablespoon at time until dough begins to clump together.
  9. Place a large piece of parchment on work surface and dust liberally with additional almond flour. Turn out dough and pat into a rough circle. Sprinkle with more almond flour and cover with another large piece of parchment.
  10. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness and remove top piece of parchment. Use a 3 to 3.5-inch diameter cookie cutter (or a glass; I used a wine glass) to cut out 12 circles, rerolling scraps as necessary.
  11. Gently lift circles of pastry from bottom parchment with a knife or offset spatula and place in cavities of a standard muffin tin.
  12. Place muffin tin in freezer while preparing the filling.
  13. Filling:
  14. In a medium bowl, whisk together caramel sauce, powdered sweetener, egg, melted butter and vegetable glycerin.
  15. Divide chopped raisins and filling among tart shells and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until tart edges are just golden brown and filling is slightly puffed and mostly set. It should still jiggle just a little in the center of each tart.
  16. Remove from oven and let cool completely.


Serves 12. Each serving has 8.41 g of carbs and 1.48 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 6.93 g.

Food energy: 174kcal Saturated fatty acids: 6.83g Total fat: 14.20g Calories from fat: 127 Cholesterol: 27mg Carbohydrate: 8.41g Total dietary fiber: 1.48g Protein: 2.80g Sodium: 110mg



Low Carb Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Low Carb Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Low Carb Gluten-Free Coconut Cream Pie

Low Carb Coconut Cream Pie

Low Carb Gluten-Free Maple Sandwich Cookies

Low Carb Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

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  1. Cindy says

    Wow these look amazing…I sure have been missing butter tarts at Christmas and now I won’t have to anymore…Thanks so much…

  2. Patricia says

    Can’t wait to try these! Everything you make is scrumptious!!
    Just finishing eating the Twix bars. Wonderful.

  3. Angela from Ontario says

    Can’t wait to get all the ingredients together and make these up… my dad will be so jealous… these are his favourite treat!!! Thanks for the hard work!

  4. Judy says

    Where in Ontario? My dad grew up in Lindsay, and my mom was born and raised in St. Catharines. I need to make these for my dad….they are a favorite of his, but like you he can no longer partake of those made with all the brown sugar and syrup. I have all the ingredients except the vegetable glycerin. Where did you pick that up at? Thanks for all the awesome recipes. Favorite food blogger hands down.

  5. JoanneM says

    *jumping for joy*! I can’t wait to make these! I was lamenting this morning to my kids that when we go to our favourite diner this afternoon in Stratford Ontario, I won’t be able to have one of their Famous (and my beloved) Butter Tarts to celebrate Canada Day. YOU have just made this Canadian Celiac LowCarber so.very.happy. :)
    Happy Canada Day to you!

  6. janet says

    interesting post…just reading along when I see…similar to pecan pie without the pecans. That had me hooked. I LOVE pecan pie, I also love chess pie (with walnuts) but I REALLY love a southern tradition Jefferson Davis pie, which is very similar to your butter tarts but darker with molasses. I think I have spent all of 2 days in Canada in my entire live but these sound great, a must try. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Aly says

    Oh noes! I don’t have arrowroot starch and it’s likely something I’ll have to order on line, but I don’t want to wait to make these! Is there a substitute I can use?

  8. Julia says

    Love Butter Tarts!! And am Canadian, born and raised in Cambridge, ON. Thanks for this recipe, it looks fantastic!!

  9. says

    WAIT?! Americans don’t eat butter tarts!
    That’s it..I’m moving back to Canada.
    JK, because you seriously are AMAZING for making this recipe. I grew up eating these like they were going out of style….you.are.fabulous.

  10. Ruth says

    I remember coming home from school to find my Mom had made butter tarts and being so excited. She would let us eat a couple…or more for an after school snack, and they have always been my most favourite treat. Thank you for sharing this recipe and bringing up some pleasant memories! Saskatchewan raised, Alberta chosen. Praries rule!!!! hahahaha

  11. Catherine says

    In the South, way down south in the land of cotton, A.K.A. the Land of Dixie, what you’ve described is called Shoo-fly Pie! And it is delightful to have an LC version. Thank You!

  12. says

    Alright… you knew this question was coming (and if I overlooked it – I’m sorry! ) Can you sub almond flour for the coconut flour ? For some reason my mister has the nose of bloodhound and sniffs out coconut flour, unfortunately he doesn’t like it. I’m still going to give these a go one way or another (they look amazing!) but thought I’d at least ask! Thank you!

  13. Sue says

    OMG! Who would ever think you could make butter tarts low carb??? I haven’t had a butter tart in years and really miss them. And you’re right – only a Canadian could understand how devine this recipe is! Thank you Carolyn. I can’t wait to tell my sister in Whitby to check this recipe out.

  14. heather says

    Any thoughts on using Vitafiber syrup in this to keep the gooey factor? I haven’t tried it yet, just been reading about it and wonder if it has potential for stopping low carb fillings and caramel sauces from recrystallizing, kind of taking the place of golden corn syrup in traditional butter tarts.

    • Carolyn says

      I’ve never even heard of it but now I am going to put it into my cart in Amazon. We shall see!

      • Heather says

        Haha you’re awesome! I’m ordering it from Amazon too, time to play with a new ingredient! I read that the powdered version of Vitafiber makes good meringues. I would really love to figure out Turtles with toasted pecans, yummy caramel and melted Lily’s chocolate chips.

        • Carolyn says

          If this vitafiber works as promised and doesn’t raise my blood sugar, it could be great to have in the arsenal!

  15. says

    I also knew it would be you who would tackle butter tarts and win cause you said you were Canadian but I never knew till I read your blog ahead of the recipe that your are also a ontarioian like myself………..where did you live in Ontario if I may so inquire…….I reside just outside of midland Ontario which is 1/2 hr drive north west of barrie……….now my desert life is complete……all my old loves have been born again thanks to you…….my lemon meringue pie and now my butter tarts
    thank you from the bottom of my stomach and heart…………keep up the fantastic work carolyn

    • Carolyn says

      Thanks, Edna. I grew up in Toronto, although the first 7 years of my life were on a farm near a town called Schomburg. And I was born in Newmarket!

  16. Sue says

    Well, you have the maple cream cookies and the butter tarts…care to try the sausage roll challenge? I absolutely love them, but creating a flaky puff pastry seems a little daunting.
    By the way, your butter tarts look amazing. I just got back from Canada and I have to admit, I did have one of those lovely gems (bad girl!). I’m going to give your recipe a try.

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