One pecan tart is great, but many mini pecan tarts are even better. These sweet and nutty bites perfectly combine everything you love about pecan pie, only in smaller form.
Similar to other bite-size tarts like British treacle tarts or Canadian butter tarts, pecan tarts have a buttery shell and a sweet, slightly gooey center with lots of chopped pecans (and maybe a decorative sole pecan on top).
Delicious and easy to transport, mini pecan tarts are one of our favorite tart recipes. They’re excellent for dinner dates, potlucks and bake sales!
Ingredients for Pecan Tarts
- Cream cheese: Cream cheese makes the pastry pliable and rich. You’ll want to let it soften at room temperature for up to two hours so it’s easy to combine with the other ingredients.
- Butter: Along with cream cheese, butter adds richness and flavor to the tart shells. You also want this to be room temperature and soft to easily mix with the cream cheese.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is a must here unless you need to go gluten-free. It’s fine to use a good gluten-free flour blend for these.
- Brown sugar: The molasses in brown sugar makes all the difference in the texture and sweetness for pecan tarts. Dark brown sugar is best, but if all you have is light brown sugar, it will work. Know that the filling might not come out as dark.
- Pecans: It wouldn’t be a pecan tart without them! For richer flavor and texture, use toasted pecans, which you can buy or make yourself. To toast pecans, bake in a shallow pan in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, cook in a skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they’re lightly browned. Be sure to keep an eye on them. Burnt pecans are bitter and will ruin the flavor of your tarts.
Step 1: Make the dough
Preheat your oven to 325°. In a small bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy, then blend in the flour and salt. Pull the dough together, and refrigerate for one hour.
Step 2: Shape the dough
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and shape into 1-inch balls. Press the dough into greased mini-muffin cups, starting at the bottom and moving up the sides.
Editor's Tip: Make sure the dough is good and cold before you press it into the muffin tin. Because it’s made with cream cheese, butter and flour, it can get tricky to work with if too warm. Even better: Pop the filled-in muffin tin in the fridge for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
Step 3: Make the filling
To make the filling, beat the egg in a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, butter and vanilla, and mix well. Stir in the chopped pecans.
Step 4: Fill the tart shells
Spoon the filling into the tart shells. If desired, top each tart with a pretty pecan half.
Test Kitchen Tip: Fill the tart cups about three-fourths full with the pecan filling. Just make sure not to fill them over the crust line or they’ll overflow.
Step 4: Bake the pecan tarts
Bake the tarts until the shell is lightly browned and the filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before carefully removing from the muffin pans.
Pecan Tart Variations
- Use a different tart dough: While the cream cheese crust is perfect here, you can also use a store-bought pie crust or homemade pie crust if you’d like. If going the homemade route, follow some of our expert pie crust tips from professional bakers.
- Add bourbon: Like in a classic pecan pie recipe, a smidge of bourbon will add more depth of flavor to the pecan tarts.
- Try different nuts: It wouldn’t be a pecan tart without pecans, but if you’re a walnut person, sub them in! Just remember to toast them first for extra-rich flavor and texture.
How to Store and Freeze Pecan Tarts
You can make these pecan tarts ahead of time, and store them in the fridge for up to three days. You've got two options for this: You can make the dough in advance, and store it in the refrigerator, then bake the tarts the day you want to serve them. Or you can fully bake the tarts, let them cool, and store in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze pecan tarts for up to three months. Once they cool, wrap them individually in storage wrap, and store in an airtight container or freezer-safe resealable bag.
Pecan Tarts Tips
Do you need to blind bake the crust for pecan tarts?
This isn’t like a traditional pie crust, so you don’t need to bake it before filling. The crust bakes beautifully in the time it takes the filling to set.
Why are my pecan tarts hard?
Overbaked pecan tarts will be hard with an over-caramelized texture and flavor. Watch your time, and check the tarts on the lower end before adding more minutes.
What can you serve with pecan tarts?
These little tarts have so much buttery, nutty sweetness, you really don’t need anything. That said, a drizzle of salted caramel sauce would really amp up the decadence. Or serve them with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or ice cream. Classic vanilla is great, but it wouldn’t be too over the top to serve with a small scoop of butter pecan.