Go Back
+ servings
Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts - the most classic dessert of Portuguese cuisine!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Portuguese
Prep Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 16 minutes
Servings 32 mini tarts


  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 200 g about 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour or 1¼ Tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 500 ml about 16.67 fl. oz whole milk or single cream
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 450 g puff pastry 2 sheets or 1 package, thawed according to the directions from the package


  1. First, prepare the filling: Put egg yolks, sugar & flour in a medium, heavy-bottom stainless steel pan (do not use an aluminum pan), and whisk well; then gradually add the milk until mixture is homogeneous and smooth. Cook mixture over medium heat (small burner) or medium-low heat (larger burner), whisking constantly, for about 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain if necessary or if desired (some people don't strain because they prefer the filling lightly "curdled," to give it a rustic appearance and unusual texture.  I prefer mine strained for a smooth texture!!!). Transfer custard to a glass/ceramic bowl and cover the top of the custard directly with a plastic sheet (cling film) to prevent a skin from forming. Let custard cool on a rack.
  2. Meanwhile, over a lightly floured surface, roll the thawed puff pastry, and cut circles bigger than the mini muffin tin border. Line each tin with 1 circle of pastry (you don´t need to butter the tins if dark metal or nonstick, but lightly butter if metal is shiny). Then trim off the excess, passing the blade of a knife around the top border of the tins. Roll and cut more circles with the puff pastry dough leftovers!
  3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (about 260 degrees C).
  4. Fill the pastry-lined tins with the custard almost (but not quite) to the top and bake on the middle rack for about 10 to 11 minutes or until custard is golden brown. Since ovens differ a lot, don´t forget to keep a close eye on them! Any leftover custard can be refrigerated and used to fill a small amount of donuts, profiteroles, fruit tarts, or other treats.
  5. Remove tin(s) from the oven, let them cool a bit (about 5 minutes or so), and then carefully unmold with the help of a knife. You can dust Portuguese custard tarts with powdered sugar or ground cinnamon if desired -- although in Brazil we don't dust them at all!  The tarts can be eaten warm or at room temperature (best), and may be accompanied by coffee, tea, or milk. This recipe yields about 32 mini Portuguese custard tarts or 16 standard-size (in this last case, it will take about 15-18 minutes to bake them).

Recipe Notes

The original recipe for Portuguese custard tarts has undergone various alterations throughout the years, including the shape of the pastry cup and the filling.

If desired, you can make puff pastry from scratch -- although I personally think that it doesn't make a big difference!

The pastry cream used as a filling for Portuguese custard tarts is rich because it contains a good amount of egg yolks. As for flavoring the pastry cream filling, instead of vanilla extract you can use a piece of lemon peel or a cinnamon stick while preparing the filling, which of course have to be removed once the cream is ready. Substituting vanilla bean instead of the vanilla extract gives these tarts an even richer vanilla flavor—in this case, the vanilla bean should be added to the other ingredients before cooking the filling.

Although not traditional, I do prefer making my tarts with vanilla bean because then the flavor stands out on the very first day that the tarts are made, while the crust is still crispy. On the other hand, when using vanilla extract, the flavor richens and is much better on the second day; however, by then the crust softens.