Portuguese custard tarts recipe (pasteis de nata)

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I’m not much of a sweet tooth, and unlike Waz I’m not much of a coffee drinker. But when I do indulge in a proper espresso it’s always lovely to complement it with a sweet little morsel. Just like nata – or proper Portuguese custard tarts. These delicacies are made with a puff pastry base and a vanilla egg custard filling with a hint of orange zest.

They are by no means the only custard tart around. Waz and I are also huge fans of Chinese dan ta – those lovely little glossy-topped, flaky-based tarts you get when you have good yum cha (also known as dim sum).

A proper Australian bakery will stock the Down Under custard tart, which I think has a sweet shortcrust pastry and the telltale sprinkling of nutmeg on top.
But what I love about nata is the delicious caramelised top that complements coffee so well.

And who knew these tartlets were so easy to make? I really thought they’d take ages to prepare – and they probably would, if you were daft enough to make your own puff pastry – but with some decent shop-bought dough and a quick homemade custard you can throw them together quickly.

We made the mistake of whipping the eggs and sugar too much. The mixture was quite aerated when we added the orange-infused vanilla and milk mixture. This left a really frothy topping on our custard that rose up heaps when the tarts were in the oven, but sunk back a lot when we took them out.

Nata filling is supposed to sink down a bit as they cool, but I think we should have taken more care not to fluff up our mixture so much, which meant we couldn’t fit as much custard into our pastry cases.

These little tarts would be a great end to a dinner party with coffee and you can make them the day before, so no cooking on the night.

Thanks to Allegra McAvedy for the recipe, which we got from the Word of Mouth food blog.

Portuguese custard tartes recipe (pasteis de nata)

Makes 12 large or 24 small tarts.

250g homemade rough puff pastry ( or 1 packet frozen puff pastry)
275ml milk
zest of 1 orange
vanilla pod, split in half, seeds scraped out and kept separate
4 egg yolks
150g white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour

– Grease your tins/trays with butter. You could use cupcake or muffin trays.
– Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick for lining the trays. Then cut circles that will line the holes and press them in. We used a cookie/biscuit cutter of the right size to make our circles – or the open end of a jar might work.
– Preheat the oven to 220°C/435°F.
– Heat milk with orange zest and the vanilla pods, not the seeds. Don’t let it boil.
– Beat egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar until pale. Stir in the flour and vanilla seeds.
– Get the milk to nearly boiling, then strain through a sieve onto the egg mix while whisking. Discard the zest and vanilla pod.
– Fill each of the pastry cases to the top.
– Cook for 15-25 minutes until they are cooked through depending on size. They might puff up but don’t worry, they will flop back down on cooling. If you don’t get the caramelised burnt spots on top, finish them off under the grill – a blowtorch would probably be a bit drastic here!

Allegra recommends eating them within 2 days and best not refrigerated.

– Lenny

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27 Responses to “Portuguese custard tarts recipe (pasteis de nata)”

  • Hello Len and Waz!

    These portugese tarts are one of my favourite desserts! Here in montreal we have some wonderful portugese bakeries that each have their special touch to make it unique. We get them for about 1 dollar canadian each (what is that, 50p?) I never thought of making them, but I am definitely tempted now. Have to get the pastry right tho, as puff pastry might be too greasy.

    Take care!


  • Hi Len and Waz,
    I was excited to see you cooking pasteis de nata! We have an online cooking show called Kitchen Caravan, and did an episode on the History of the Black Pepper Trade. Our pasteis were a blend of Portuguese and Goan flavors. I know that it would upset a lot of people in Portugal, but I did not use puff pastry. Instead, I opted for a simple pastry dough made with coconut oil instead of butter. Although it is not traditional, the coconut oil gives it a nice, light hint of coconut, as well as a nice crunch. Yours looked delicious and like they were the perfect size!

  • I’m portuguese and I never met anyone that would bake pastéis de nata at home, now that I think of it. I think I’ll give it a try! Yours looked delicious, but you’ll have to visit Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon to get a taste of the very best portuguese custard tarts. They are indeed great with espresso, sunshine and a terrace overlooking the river Tagus.

  • Hi André. It turns out the recipe we used is basically the Pastéis de Belém mixture, according to our recipe source, Allegra McEvedy (who was awarded a royal honour, the MBE, today in the UK, by the way). Never been to Portugal but the time will come and we’ll definitely go to Pastéis de Belém.

    Natalie, our love affair with nata was actually sealed in Montreal, visiting one of the very same bakeries you’re talking about. I couldn’t say exactly where it was but somewhere near the hip part of downtown.

    Sophia, we’ll have to check out your site. Kudos for experimenting but I’m not sure coconut-flavoured nata would be quite to our tastes …

  • nice recipe and sounds authentic too but I’m wondering if it originated in china and the dutch brought it back. Some of their sausages taste just like lap chong chinese ones too. Anyway, you wanted I think to know about chinese flaky/shattery pastry and so here is the recipe.

    You need to make 2 lots of dough. Oil dough and water dough.

    Oil dough:
    120g flour
    50ml mild flavoured oil

    sift flour and add cooking oil. fold oil into flour with a spoon. If dough is dry add a little more oil but go easy. Add more flour if dough is too oily/wet. Wrap in film and put in fridge for 20 mins.
    water dough:
    120g flour
    50ml mild flavoured oil
    30ml water

    sift flour into bowl and add oil. fold oil into flour. Add water a little at a time and folding it in with the spoon. If too wet sprinkle a little flour on it. Wrap dough in film and refrigerate 20 mins to relax it.

    Assemble pastry. roll out the water dough and then place the oil dough in the centre. Wrap the water dough around it and press to seal. The oil dough is now in the water dough. Now roll the assembled dough flatish. Fold bottom third up towards the centre. Fold the top third over on top. Turn the complete thing 90 degrees quarter turn.Again bring bottom third up to centre and then top third down and over the top. Roll out again and turn 90 degrees. Do it another couple of times and then you can roll it right out to required thickness for cutting out for tarts etc. sounds exhausting doesn’t it? No wonder those chinese pastrys in London are so expensive.

    • James, I’m really interested in making chinese style dough. But I got lost from “Fold bottom third up towards the centre.” I guess I’m not sure what the bottom and top mean. Thanks for clarifying.

  • James, that’s tremendous. I think I have actually seen more complicated recipes for dun ta pastry – yours sounds manageable. But where do the Dutch come into it ???

  • did i say dutch? durrrrrrrr. I have no idea why i said dutch! It was a late night last night………..

  • Great video! I really enjoyed watching it. I haven’t made these before but you’ve inspired me now. I’ll have to give them a go.

  • the tarts look really good! speaking of pastry:

    from what i know there are two kinds – the ‘portuguese’ egg tarts have a huge flaky rim of pastry around them. we eat them with beancurd and syrup (tow huay) here in singapore. they sell them in chinese restaurants and shops – i was always under the impression that they were adopted into chinese cuisine! (the same way you have “western” hawker stalls selling chicken chops with rice.)

    the second kind – just egg tarts, ‘dan ta’ in cantonese – has a thin, sweet, crumbly, almost shortcrust-ish sort of pastry crust. you see stuff like that in dimsum restaurants, without all the burn marks on the custard. they’re a lot tamer, but still not too bad.

    by the way, hello from singapore! my twelve-year-old sister is a huge fan of you – we tried your creme brulee and she makes teacake with your recipe regularly.

    do drop by singapore sometime. i’m sure you’ll like the food.


  • florian from berlin

    those things looked absolutely lovely and perfect. i never had this, apparently not many portuguese in germany and i’ve never been there, but i’m seriously contemplating a visit now, since i now what they serve with coffee.

    are you gonna do the chinese ones for us?

    many greetings from the continent!

  • They look fantastic. And achievable even by me… Perhaps I’ll vlog my own attempt…
    And I know Allegra – that time we met, Waz, was in her restaurant – but didn’t know about the MBE – wow :)

  • Rupert, you’re right, I remember now that it was a Leon we met in. Here’s me thinking I’d never been to one. Didn’t try the food, as I recall – we just had a beer (I think I still owe you one …)

  • awesome episode guys. i have to say that i was excited to see a non-slow-cooker episode like some of the other posters.

    these tarts are one of the finer things in life, and i’m glad to know that i could make them if i wanted to. i just choose to go to my favourite cafe on a saturday morning and have them there, because he makes his fresh every weekend. yumbo. i’ll have to take you there next time you’re in vegas.

  • yum too bad i’m on a diet

    very smart to use puff pastry dough. i have never known what to do with it but now i will give it a try

  • Natalie, Australia changed to dollars and cents on 14th February 1966 :-)

    And since we’re nearly at parity with the US$, $1 is _cheap_! I usually pay about $2.50 for Portugese tarts in Melbourne. Which, for my waistline, is probably a good thing…

  • Hey folks – after doing a bit of research on these delicious tarts I have noticed that many recipes call for the pastry to be rolled up like a swiss roll, chilled, and then cut into discs which are flattened and pressed into the ‘muffin’ tins. This might achieve the ‘flaky’ dense texture that you were talking about in your vlog? Thanks for bring the ‘real’ back into cooking! The end result looks great! Cheers, Pauline.

  • yumbo
    just catching up on the last few episodes! i will make these next week when i host mother’s group at my house- also a good way to get some egg into my non-egg eating toddler (albeit laced with sugar!)
    great episode guys

  • Where is the recipe?

  • noodooo, follow the link in the last paragraph of the blog post and you will be rewarded.

    – Waz

  • Dominic from Devon

    I made these this afternoon after watching the video yesterday. They were delicious and very easy to make. I think next time I will add a little less sugar as they were a bit too sweet, but tasty non the less. Thanks.

  • This looks extremely good. Except, we can’t find puff pastry here in this country. Sigh.

  • Hi Waz

    Thank you so much for this recipe. My husband is portuguese and whenever we go to Mozambique,we land at the bakeries just to buy this and I love them. Thanks to you, I have just tried making them and they seem to be fantastic….I haven’t tasted them, waiting for my hubby…..will be a surprise to him…..loved making them too!!!! :)

  • Hi,

    Great recipe. I recently went to Lisbon and loved these tarts. So I tried your recipe and not only is it fairly easy it’s perfect. However, I experimented with teh pastry. Lisbon ones don’t generally use puff pastry. They are a thin flaky pastry similar to filo pastry. So I bought a packet of filo pastry and used 2 thin layers with melted better between them to line the tin. This came out with a cripy flaky case. I’d recommend it but it always comes down to how you personally like them.

  • I’ve just found this blog, it’s fantastic! It’s just like me and the missus trying to recreate recipes. Love your work guys brilliant!

  • Sebastian from Berlin

    Dear Waz,

    Florian and I (see “florian from berlin” above) just returned from an extended weekend in Lisbon, and already on the flight back Florian went on about how he HAD to try this recipe. Of course we went to Belem and queued at Pasteis de Belem and they were delicious. Now, not having ventured too deep into the characteristics of different types of pasteis, Rich’s suggestion to use Greek or Turkish filo/yufka pastry sounds like a good idea because the frozen German “Blaetterteig” just is too fluffy. Also we wondered whether it would be smart to use cream instead of milk to get a richer custard and maybe leave out the orange zest because it’s quite predominant in the overall taste. But nontheless, they taste great the way the turned out, and bring back all the nice memories of spring time in Lisbon!

    – Sebastian

  • Hello i’m 100percent portuguese and I’ve eaten one thousand times the best pasteis de nata in portugal. I realised that your pasteis de nata weren’t the same. So here is a recipie, also the pastery puff pastery and it”s bassicly many extra thin pieces of pastery whch are stuck to gether with butter. So here is a recipie. So this is the recipie for the creme.
    250 ml “butter milk”
    100g caster sugar
    4 egg yolks
    1 teaspoon of all porpose flour
    lemon zest
    cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on pasteis de natar for serving
    1. Mix all ingredients except the lemon zest.
    2. Bring the mixture to simmer until thickened. Once you start to boil, remove from heat.
    3. Add lemon zest.
    4. Expect cool.
    5. Fill the pastry bases. Place some stuffing to prevent leaking during cooking (like mine … lol … because my greed made me prepare two recipes cream !!!!)
    June. Bake preheated (250 C to 300 C) until firm and golden.
    7. Remove from pans and just before serving sprinkle sugar and cinnamon.

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