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Best of Toronto

The Best Butter Tarts in Toronto

Posted by Erinn Beth Langille / May 16, 2014

butter tarts torontoThe best butter tarts in Toronto are sugary-sweet concoctions that double as national badges of honour. The pastry is one of the only recipes of truly Canadian origin; though its buttery sweetness is vaguely reminiscent of tarte au sucre, pecan pie, shoofly pie or the treacle tart, the butter tart is characteristically 'runnier'.

Each butter tart is made with butter, sugar, syrup and egg baked into a small tart shell until barely firm. However, recipes change from family to family, place to place, with contentious additions of raisins or nuts, or altered entirely to be made gluten-free or vegan. Any way they're made, there's something special about them - like a sudden rush of sugar to the back of your teeth - that signals to you that you've bitten into a Canadian classic, and you know you are home.

Here are the best butter tarts in Toronto.

See also: The best pies in Toronto

Andrea's Gerrard St. Bakery

Andrea's Gerrard St. Bakery

Andrea, of Andrea's Gerrard St. Bakery, uses her grandmother's recipe to make the finest butter tarts ($3.15 each) in Toronto. The sweet caramel crunch of the butter filling and crust is to die for. More »

Bakerbots

Bakerbots

Rich, sweet and caramel-y with a nice dense crust, the butter tart at Rosanne Pezzelli's bakery Bakerbots has a dedicated fan base - much like the shop itself. Their tarts ($2) come with or without chocolate. More »

Leah's

Leah's

St. Clair's sweet tooths have Leah's to thank for the neighbourhood's most satisfying butter tarts ($2.75). The rich, buttery filling features deep, browned sugars sitting nicely in a thin pastry shell. More »

Bunner's

Bunner's

Vegan butter tarts? And no gluten? Wow. The dark, crumbly crust and deep brown filling in Bunners' tarts ($3) come studded with raisins. More »

Tori's Bakeshop

Tori's Bakeshop

Another gluten- and dairy-free butter tart winner can be found at Tori's Bakeshop in the Beach ($2.25). Their crust is made of primarily garbanzo bean flour with some rice and tapioca and xanthan gum, and a filling of cane sugar, maple syrup coconut milk, pecans and currants. You won't believe it's not butter. More »

Petit Four Bakery

Petit Four Bakery

Called 'Abbey's butter tarts', they are cupped to look like flowers - but I think they are reminiscent of the maple leaf, and they taste just as Canadian. The made-from-scratch tarts sell for $2.93 each, or a half-dozen for $15. (Did I mention they also come in a bacon version?) More »

Future Bakery

Future Bakery

It is not surprising that a veritable community institution like Future Bakery - with locations in the Annex and St. Lawrence Market - makes butter tarts ($1.25) the way grandma used to. Their version includes a pale shortbread crust and a gelatinous and sweet butter filling studded with pecans. More »

Phipps Bakery Café

Phipps Bakery Café

The butter tarts at Phipps ($2.50) are not for the faint of heart. The crust is heavy and buttery, the filling is more of the same (plus sugar) and then they go and drizzle caramel on the top. POW! You've got your sugar intake for weeks. More »

San Remo Bakery

San Remo Bakery

You'll have to make it out to Etobicoke for San Remo Bakery's butter tarts ($1.50). Featuring a tender pastry filled with buttery gooey-ness and a liberal application of raisins, they are definitely worth the trip for downtowners, and a lucky bonus for those in the 'burbs. More »

World Class Bakers

World Class Bakers

This St. Clair bakery may draw mixed reviews over the quality of service, but one thing is spot-on - the butter tarts ($2.75) are flaky and sweet and sugary in all the right ways. More »

7th Sister Bakery

7th Sister Bakery

If you find yourself at 7th Sister Bakery's cute little shop on Roncesvalles, you'd be remiss to leave without trying their famous butter tarts ($3.50) - it's hard to have just one. More »

Cafe Belong

Cafe Belong

Owned by chef Brad Long, this picturesque spot in the Evergreen Brick Works does lunch, dinner and brunch - but lest you think their butter tarts ($4) would get lost on the menu, their gooey, sweet tarts have aficionados raving. More »

Discussion

27 Comments

timkay / May 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm
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Andrea's are toothsome and near perfect, but missing is a place maybe only known to upper-beachers:
Grumbel's Deli on Main just S of Danforth. Their BTs are quite unbelievable. The place is stuck in the 60s. so it's worth a visit for lunch too.
Jasper / May 16, 2014 at 01:01 pm
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missing from this list is Hansen's Danish Pastry Shop http://danishpastry.ca/
Mike / May 16, 2014 at 01:56 pm
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Sweet Bliss on Queen E. gets my vote.
bill replying to a comment from timkay / May 16, 2014 at 02:34 pm
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Is grumbels ever open at main and danforth? if ever a a neon open sign was needed. Maybey I will try this saturday.
Laura H / May 16, 2014 at 02:48 pm
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You are also missing Seraphia's in Cliffcrest! (2979 Kingston Road, Scarborough). Hands down the best butter tarts I've ever eaten!! The tart pastries are nice and deep, and the filling is always the perfect degree of runny!
stew / May 16, 2014 at 03:00 pm
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I don't think this is a very thorough investigation of "the best butter tart in Toronto" Has the writer of this blog ever tasted the butter tarts at Osgoode Hall Restaurant?
Readandfeed / May 16, 2014 at 03:01 pm
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San Remo's? Really? No thanks!
Unfunny / May 16, 2014 at 03:05 pm
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Raisins in a butter tart should be illegal.
Foo replying to a comment from bill / May 16, 2014 at 03:21 pm
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Grumbel's is open every day except Sundays, I believe.

Note: They're cash only.
cathie / May 16, 2014 at 04:02 pm
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The general consensus amongst the experts on Chowhound is that Maid's Cottage in Newmarket is the best. They are indeed worth the drive.
You can also get them at the Thornhill Farmers Market on Yonge St.
Rebekah K. / May 16, 2014 at 04:19 pm
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I like the ones at The Rooster, I'm not sure who makes them though.
Norunsferme / May 16, 2014 at 04:37 pm
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I am not a runny butter tart fan, and 'gelatinous' does not have to mean made with gelatin. I use a recipe in an old book called "For the Love of Baking" that includes an egg in the filling and it is really nice.
Melissa D / May 16, 2014 at 05:45 pm
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More Than Pies in Long Branch
Readandfeed replying to a comment from Norunsferme / May 16, 2014 at 05:53 pm
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Agreed. I use eggs when I make my own they are more "set" than runny. You can play with the runniness by adding more or less corn syrup or using fewer eggs (in a large batch). It's the same recipe my grandmother used and is a family favourite.
grace replying to a comment from timkay / May 16, 2014 at 07:15 pm
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Hush....pretty soon, everyone will make their way to our part of town and I won't get any of these precious Grumbel's butter tarts!
Rustysmom replying to a comment from Unfunny / May 16, 2014 at 08:02 pm
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I SO agree.
Ruth / May 16, 2014 at 09:10 pm
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You forgot OMG Bakery on Dundas St. One bite of their butter tarts and it's OMG!!!! You have to try them. McEwans in Don Mills Centre sometimes carries them. :-)
Laurie / May 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm
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I agree with Ruth - OMG Goodness has THE best maple butter tart in the city. Their crust is thick and crispy. The ratio of filling to crust is perfect.
Kadi / May 16, 2014 at 11:13 pm
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Bannock's are amazing.
p / May 16, 2014 at 11:40 pm
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Congrats to Bunners for being #4 on the Butter Tart list without actually using butter.. damn impressive
p / May 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm
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.. that being said, the shell on the Andrea's tarts looks amazing. May need to try those
Lemon tart / May 17, 2014 at 12:28 am
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Ma Maison on Dundas West (Etobicoke) is missing off the list! Their butter tarts represent the best ratio of crust to filling in this city!
Fireweed / May 18, 2014 at 03:00 pm
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This list is missing the essential butter tart: the fireweed butter tart at bannock (queen and bay)!
Andrea / May 20, 2014 at 09:05 am
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Sweet Bliss on Queen East sells a butter tart square with chocolate chips. Less crust but extremely tasty.
David / May 23, 2014 at 12:22 am
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Ok, I want you all to listen up, and listen good. I like to consider myself something of a buttertart afficianado. There aren't too many things I truly love in this world, but buttertarts are one of them. I love them, I dream about them, they are absolutely spectacular. I love them plain, with raisins, with pecans.

When I bake my own, I throw in some skor bits, try it, it will change your life. I went to Niagara on the Lake two years ago, and instead of doing a wine tour, my gf and I did a buttertart tour. We tried a buttertart in each and every bakery there. Chocolate on a buttertart is not that great. So I know what I'm talking about.

This list is definitely flawed. I understand the creator of the blog couldn't possibly try each buttertart the city has to offer, but there are a few missing. A couple of you mentioned above the buttertarts at Bannock. You are right, they definitely should be on the list, they're spectacular. They should be at #3. When I read this blog, I went right out to Andrea's bakery and cleaned them out of buttertarts, there were 7 left and I bought them all, and they are also fu*%ing amazing, they belong on the list, #4. #2 spot belongs to a little cafe named Crema. The same company used to bake the buttertarts for Crema and Red Rocket coffee shops. Now you can only find them at Crema. There is a Crema at Bloor/Church area, south side of Bloor. The tarts are so deep, and filled with so much gooey deliciousness, my goodness. The number 1 buttertart in the city can be found at a little food shop called 'All the Best' fine foods. Two locations, church/wellesley, and in Rosedale. These tarts are true works of art. They are square instead of round. You can either get raisin, pecan, or Jamieson Irish Whisky. The crust is coated in some sort of sugary toffee substance, gzus murphy, orgasmic orgasmic orgasmic. Perfcet degree of runniness. If just one person reads this and goes to try one of them, this all will have been worthwhile. And by the way, the vegan tarts on the original blog SUCK, they have no place amongst these precious concoctions.
Shivani / May 23, 2014 at 11:27 am
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Wow! Mouthwatering! They look amazing!
Lady / June 2, 2014 at 12:55 am
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I totally agree with David. All The Best Fine Foods has THE BEST butter tarts. I work there and am able to eat their food all the time, often for free... For the sake of my waistline, I've learned to avoid most of their incredible sweet treats but these butter tarts continue to be a major source of temptation. The are completely irresistible.

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