Mini pecan pie tarts are one of life’s great little pleasures. A Southern tradition at weddings, parties, and of course Kentucky Derby parties. A flaky cream cheese crust surrounds a richly sweet, gooey pecan pie filling. Like a mini pecan pie but better, no fork required.
Make Pecan Tarts for Your Next Party
While I love pecan pie, it’s almost over-the-top on the sweetness scale and an entire piece is just too sweet for me. However, you can still enjoy the great flavor of a gooey pecan pie in mini form by making these pecan pie tarts, sometimes called pecan tassies.
Growing up in the South, these were a common occurrence, and not just at Kentucky Derby parties. You would find them at weddings, bridal and baby showers and parties of any type. The reason is that, not only are they fantastic, but you can make them ahead of time and pull them out for a bite size dessert.
It’s one of those desserts that everyone loves and if you’re a bourbon fan, add some instead of vanilla, or make a Bourbon Kentucky Derby Pie.
We had these at my wedding and we make them every year for our Kentucky Derby party and any other time we are having guests. Just pull out your mini tart pans up to a month in advance and in no time you’ll have the perfect dessert for any type of gathering. They’re also great for a potluck where there will be lots of desserts and an entire piece of pie is just too much.
My tried and true recipe for homemade pecan tarts results in something like mini pecan pies except better because the crust is made of butter and cream cheese making it the flakiest crust. Tiny enough that you can grab one or two at a party or tailgate.
It’s not something you can whip up last minute because the dough needs to sit in the refrigerator for about an hour, but these little bites of heaven are worth the extra step!
For special occasions, holiday dessert trays, party finger foods, a cookie exchange, the Thanksgiving dessert table, or just for enjoying for a pick-me-up, this pecan tart recipe is one to tuck away in your recipe box.
What to Serve With Pecan Tarts on a Dessert Table
Here are some mini desserts you could serve along with your pecan tarts at a party that will give you a variety of flavors.
Why You’ll Love this Mini Pecan Pie Tart Recipe
- Very easy to make. Like pecan pie, the filling is so easy to make, it’s fail-proof. the only tricky part is the crust and as long as you refrigerate it, you won’t have any problems.
- Easy to love. They’re full of ingredients pretty much everyone loves, so you can’t go wrong serving them at a gathering. The gooey filling is very difficult to resist.
- Make with pantry ingredients. There’s a good chance you have everything you need to make these already in your cupboard or fridge.
If you want to dress up your tarts another way, try adding in:
- Mini chocolate chips
- Chopped walnuts instead of pecans
- Coconut is an awesome addition
- Bourbon instead of vanilla
Mini Pecan Pie Tart Recipe Ingredients
- Cream cheese – Use full fat cream cheese for the crust.
- Butter – You’ll need some melted butter and some softened butter. I always use unsalted butter, but if all you have is salted, you may want to omit or half the amount of salt in the crust.
- Brown sugar – You can use light or dark brown sugar.
- Pecans – Since you are making mini tarts, you will need to chop them pretty small.
- Pantry Staples – egg, vanilla extract, all purpose flour, salt.
How To Make Mini Traditional Pecan Pie Butter Tarts
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients.
This recipe is made much easier by doing a bit of prep before you begin. Let your butter and cream cheese come to room temperature before you begin. Just set the butter and cream cheese out on the cupboard ½ hour before you start making the crust, or try these kitchen hacks for how to soften butter and how to soften cream cheese.
Step 2: Make the crust.
Place cream cheese, butter, flour, and salt in a food processor and pulse until it forms a ball. Divide dough into 24 pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and set them on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate the dough balls for an hour.
You can also freeze the dough balls for about 20 minutes if you’re in a hurry. If you want to make the balls later, wrap the entire ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, set the dough out on the counter until it’s soft enough to cut and form into balls.
TIP: No food processor? You can also mix this together by hand if needed. Use a fork or a pastry cutter to mix together the flour, butter, salt, and cream cheese. Once it resembles coarse crumbs, you can use your hands to knead the dough together and shape it into a ball.
Step 3: Fill the mini muffin pan.
Grab your mini muffin tin and give it a light coating of cooking spray. Then, press each ball into the pan. Push the dough down on the bottom of the muffin cup and all the way up the sides, right to the top.
Step 4: Make your filling.
Using a whisk, combine the brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Keep whisking until the filling is smooth, then add in your chopped pecans. Fill each cup to the top, but be careful not to go above the crust!
Step 5: Bake the tarts.
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the crust have started to turn a light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the tarts to continue to cook in the pan for another 10 minutes.
Set a timer so you don’t forget! You’ll need to remove the tarts from the pan after 10 minutes, before the filling starts to stick to the edges of the pan. You can use a butter knife or an offset spatula to loosen the tart crust and set the tarts on a piece of parchment to cool.
Tips for Making Perfect Mini Pecan Butter Tarts
- For a more Southern flavor, use bourbon instead of vanilla.
- This dough recipe can be frozen for later. Wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap, then place the ball in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge before you use it.
- Add filling just to the top of the crust, don’t over fill.
- Wipe up any spills on the pan before you place it in the oven. Extra filling can make them difficult to remove.
How to Store Pecan Tarts
In the fridge: Your pecan tarts will store just fine at room temperature for 1-2 days, but any longer than that, you’ll want to keep them in the fridge. You can set them in an airtight container or in a Ziploc bag, but just make sure they’re in a single layer, or the filling will stick!
In the freezer: Pecan tarts freeze really well! Place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure they’re fully cooled before you try to freeze them.
Can you make pecan tarts ahead?
Yes! Pecan tarts are an excellent make-ahead dessert. You can easily freeze just the dough for use later, or you can freeze the prepared tarts. The dough or the baked tarts will last in the freezer for 2-3 months.
More Dessert Recipes That Are Perfect for Dessert Trays
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Mini Pecan Pie Tarts With a Cream Cheese Crust
- 3 ounces cream cheese softened
- 8 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ⅔ cups pecans chopped
To make the crust:
- Place the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until it forms a ball. Form the dough into 24 small balls and set them on a baking tray. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes.
- Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and press each ball into the pan pushing the dough up the sides of the cup until it reaches the top.
To make the filling:
- In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, egg, melted butter and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add chopped pecans.
- Fill each cup to the top, being careful not to go above the crust.
- Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the crust have started to brown. Let cook for 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove with a butter knife or offset spatula before the pecan filling sticks to the edges. Allow to fully cool.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- For a Southern flavor, use bourbon instead of vanilla.
- This dough recipe can be frozen for later. Freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge before you use it.
- Chop up the pecans very small so they’ll fit in the mini tart pan.
- Don’t over fill the muffin pan, extra filling will make it difficult to remove the tarts.