Rating: 5 stars
100 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 92
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0

Pasteis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts, with their signature flaky crust and sweet custard filling are world-famous, and incredibly delicious. This recipe shows you how to make them from scratch, using basic ingredients. Yes, it requires numerous steps and a certain amount of finesse, but the results are so worth it.

Recipe Summary

cook:
25 mins
additional:
2 hrs 35 mins
total:
4 hrs
prep:
1 hr
Servings:
12
Yield:
12 tarts
Advertisement

Portuguese custard tarts (or pasteis de nata) are crisp, creamy, and decadently sweet. This Portuguese dessert recipe features a delicately spiced flavor and uses pantry ingredients like egg yolks, flour, and cinnamon to create a one-of-a-kind pastry. Try your hand at making these irresistibly delicious custard treats with trademark caramelized tops and flaky, buttery puff pastry. Follow the top-rated recipe for crave-worthy results, plus learn tips for making the best pasteis de nata ever. 

What Does Pasteis de Nata Mean? 

Pasteis de nata is Portuguese for cream pastries — the name describes the velvety texture of this classic dish. The pastel de nata was first made over 300 years ago in a monastery west of Lisbon. 

Monks developed the custard-filled treat recipe with sugar and surplus egg yolks — a result of using egg whites to launder clothes. The crisp golden pastry filled with a soft, rich cream is an enticing bite of history. 

How to Make Pasteis de Nata 

A pastel de nata is made in three steps; dough, syrup, and custard. You'll find the full recipe below with step-by-step instructions, but here's what you can expect when you make this top-rated recipe;

Begin by making a pastry dough layered with unsalted butter. Next, combine sugar, spices, and water to make the syrup. Boil the syrup mixture until it reaches 210 degrees F, then remove it from heat.

Combine and cook all the custard ingredients on the stovetop before pressing pastry dough into muffin tins. Fill the dough with custard, then bake in the oven until the tops are fully caramelized. 

How to Store Pasteis de Nata

While pasteis de nata are best enjoyed warm on the day they're made, they can be stored at room temperature for up to two days. Reheat them in a 350 degrees F oven for best results. 

Can I Freeze Pasteis de Nata?

Yes, you can technically freeze Portuguese custard tarts — but be aware that the custard may split and become grainy. The chance of splitting goes up rapidly with time, so avoid keeping frozen pastries for longer than a month. 

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"Wow, these are absolutely amazing!" raves reviewer Tracy H. "I've been craving these ever since I tried them in Lisbon last year. I followed the recipe exactly and they came out perfect!"

"I own a bakery and an individual asked if I made Portuguese custard tarts," shares eatatsarahs. "I said I'd try, and this was the first and ONLY recipe I used! I now make these on a weekly basis and make 5-6 dozen a week."

"Love them," says an Allrecipes member. " Don't take your eyes away from the oven as they are easy to overcook." 

Editorial contributions by Rai Mincey 

Ingredients

12
Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Dough:
Sugar Syrup:
Custard Base:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Combine flour, salt, and cold water in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough just comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dough should be sticky; adjust with more flour or water to achieve what's shown in the video.

    Advertisement
  • Transfer dough onto a well-floured surface. Dust a little more flour over the top. Knead for 1 to 2 minutes to form a round. Cover and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Roll dough into a square about 1/8-inch-thick, dusting with flour as necessary; dough should still be sticky.

  • Spread 1/3 of the butter over 2/3 of the square using a silicone spatula, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Flip the unbuttered side over the middle of the square and fold the opposite end over it like a letter. Straighten the edges as needed.

  • Turn dough with a bench scraper to unstick it from the counter; dust with flour. Flip and sprinkle more flour on top. Roll dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle, carefully stretching edges as needed. Spread another 1/3 of the butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold into thirds. Transfer onto a lined baking sheet and freeze until butter is slightly chilled, about 10 minutes.

  • Sprinkle dough with flour and roll into a square a little over 1/8-inch-thick. Spread remaining butter over the dough, leaving a 1- to 1 1/2-inch border on the top edge. Dip your finger in water and lightly moisten the unbuttered edge. Roll dough into a log starting from the bottom edge. Dust with more flour and polish the ends as needed. Seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

  • Combine sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, cinnamon, and lemon zest in a pot. Boil over medium heat, without stirring, until syrup reaches 210 to 215 degrees F (100 degrees C). Remove from heat.

  • Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F (288 degrees C). Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

  • Whisk flour, salt, and cold milk together very thoroughly in a cold pot. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until milk thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

  • Whisk egg yolks into the cooled milk. Add sugar syrup and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Strain custard into a glass measuring cup.

  • Unwrap the dough and trim any uneven bits on the ends. Score log into 12 even pieces using a knife; cut through.

  • Place a piece of dough in each muffin cup. Dip your thumb lightly in some cold water. Press your thumb into the center of the swirl; push dough against the bottom and up the sides of the cup until it reaches least 1/8 inch past the top. Fill each cup 3/4 of the way with custard.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is browned and bubbly, and the tops start to blister and caramelize, about 12 minutes. Cool tarts briefly and serve warm.

Chef's Notes:

You'll have to decide whether you're going to include lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla, which are apparently considered optional ingredients in Portugal, but I really enjoy the flavor, and wouldn't change a thing.

You can substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick.

Nutrition Facts

210 calories; protein 3.9g; carbohydrates 25.2g; fat 10.6g; cholesterol 125.2mg; sodium 98.3mg. Full Nutrition
Advertisement