One of the best parts about growing up in a Portuguese household is all the delicious foods you’re exposed to from an early age. Portuguese cuisine involves everything from kale soup (before it was cool) to delicious cream-filled donuts. Personally, my favourite have always been the beloved Portuguese Custard Tarts (pastéis de nata). These puff-pastry wrapped gems are filled with delicious egg custard and absolutely impossible to resist.

Whether you’re baking for your cousin’s batismo or simply want a treat to enjoy with your morning espresso, these are the perfect solution. While they may seem daunting, this custard tart recipe has been adapted by my mom and I to be a bit more suitable for a busy lifestyle (because some of us can’t afford to stir the custard all day like Avó).

Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts (Pastéis de nata)

  • Prep Time:20 minutes
  • Cook Time:40 minutes
  • Total Time:2 hours (includes cooling)
  • Servings:15 tarts
  • Medium


  • 1 package (2 sheets) of puff pastry or homemade, thawed in the fridge
  • 2 cup whole milk (3.5%)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup cold whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Zest of one lemon
Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  • Step 2

    Gather and prepare your ingredients. Zest the lemon and separate the egg yolks.

    #SpoonTip: Use the leftover egg whites for an omelet or meringues!

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 3

    In a large pot, mix 2 cups of milk, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and butter over medium heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat immediately.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 4

    In a measuring cup, mix the cold milk with the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk until everything is well blended and no lumps of sugar or cornstarch remain.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 5

    Put the pot back on medium heat. Slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture and mix until combined.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 6

    Continue to whisk the mixture constantly and begin to add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 7

    Once the mixture has thickened into custard, take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 8

    On a lightly floured surface or parchment, roll your puff pastry into a log.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 9

    Cut the log of puff pastry into 1-inch pieces.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 10

    Shape the dough into little circles by stretching and pulling the dough. Alternatively, you could roll the puff pastry out and cut into circles.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 11

    Press the puff pastry circles into tart shells or a muffin tin.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 12

    Spoon roughly 1.5 tablespoons of custard into each tart shell.

    Photo by Olivia Faria
  • Step 13

    Bake the tarts for 20-25 minutes until pastry is cooked through and custard is set. There will probably be some browned spots on the custard (which is normal).

  • Step 14

    Let the tarts cool slightly before topping with cinnamon (optional) and enjoying with a cup of coffee!

    Photo by Olivia Faria