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This easy shortbread tart crust is one of my most-used recipes. I turn to it all the time.
And, to be honest, it took so much anxiety out of my tart baking.
So many tart crusts involve pulling out the food processor, chilling the dough, rolling the dough, carefully draping it into the pan, chilling it all again, blind baking with pie weights…
It can be intimidating to even get started. (Though if you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can try the crust in my passion fruit tart.)
And even after all that careful work, so many of them shrink!
You know that moment of dread when you pull a blind baked tart crust out of the oven to find the crust slumped halfway down the sides of the tin, completely incapable of holding the filling you were planning to put in it?
And, uh, you still have to wash the food processor…
I’ve been there. And, oof, it isn’t fun.
But this shortbread crust changes all that.
It takes about five minutes of active time to make. There’s no rolling and no chilling. It goes from puttering around in the pantry to out of the oven in less than a half hour.
It’s pretty much foolproof.
The method is a simple one that I learned from Alice Medrich, the chocolate queen and baker extraordinaire. Though I’ve tweaked the ingredient list, and swapped in confectioners’ sugar for granulated for added tenderness, the general technique is the same.
You whisk together flour and confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt. Then you melt some butter, add some vanilla, and pour the mixture over the dry ingredients.
Then you stir everything together until it’s all moistened.
And then you press it into your tart pan in an even layer, bake it immediately, with no rolling pin or fussy pie weights to mess with.
It’s an extraordinarily forgiving shortbread tart crust. I’ve never had it shrink on me (a millimeter or two doesn’t count).
And it’s also incredibly versatile. I’ve added orange zest to the shortbread crust in my cranberry curd tart. I’ve made a chocolate version in my chocolate peanut butter tart. (And I use it just as written in my plum custard tart.)
Variations on this shortbread crust also show up in my brown butter apple bars and my almond shortbread brownies.
(And there’s a similar method in my gingersnap tart crust, which, sorry, involves a food processor…)
It’s a good recipe to have in your back pocket, whenever you want a crust that just works. You can use it in any standard tart recipe in place of whatever crust is called for.
You’ll be glad to have this one bookmarked, printed-out-and-laminated if you’re old school like that, or saved in whatever form you’ll be able to find it again.
You’ll thank yourself later.
Looking for an unfussy, all-butter pie crust instead of a tart crust? I’ve got you covered with this easy flaky pie crust. (And I’ve even got instructions on how to make a lattice-top, if that’s your thing.)
Easy Shortbread Tart Crust
This shortbread tart crust is pretty much foolproof. It's a press-in crust that's a simple mixture of flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, melted butter, and a little bit of vanilla. It's easy to make and doesn't require any rolling or chilling or any special equipment (beyond a tart pan itself).
It's a versatile crust that will work with any standard tart recipe.
The tart crust can be made and baked up to two days ahead. You'll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe.
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Add the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt to a small bowl and whisk together.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave), add the vanilla extract to the butter and stir, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until thoroughly moistened.
- Press the dough evenly along the bottom and sides into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Keeps, at room temperature, for about 2 days.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 65Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 45mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g
Wednesday 15th of March 2023
This recipe is perfection. It’s so easy - you don’t need to roll anything out, you don’t need to dock it or fill it with rice and blind-bake. It’s just the best! I made several batches for 84, 3-inch tartlet bases that I’ll freeze until the fundraising event in a couple of weeks. I’ll be painting the bases with melted white chocolate and filling them with coconut custard, roasted pineapple sauce, and whipped cream. Each recipe yielded a dozen tartlets. I sprayed PAM on each tin before baking. The cookie tastes like wonderful shortbread. Thank you for your recipe. It’s a keeper.
Sunday 12th of March 2023
I made this tart shell for the first time, yesterday. Delicious! The only problem I had, was that I needed just a little more to press the dough up the side of the pan. Next time I’ll use your suggestion to Cathy, as she wanted to use it for a pie. I didn’t have unsalted butter, so I used salted and added less salt. Would that have made a difference?
Wednesday 8th of March 2023
My new go-to crust! TIPS!! I highly advise measuring your tart pan if your finding it too thin! I've made this mistake many times thinking a cake pan, bread pan etc were a certain size only to find out I was wrong! Lol For example- many of the NEW bread recipes are calling for 8x4 pans - well my 20 yr old pans are 9x5! Great tart recipe! I spray pan with pam first and it always pops right out! Fill before removing and a short stint in the freezer first will easily get the metal bottom off too! TY TY for posting it!
Wednesday 15th of February 2023
Tried this today and what a game changer! It was so easy and the tart shell came out crisp and delicious! I'm never making short crust pastry with a good processor ever again. Thanks for this amazing recipe!
Saturday 31st of December 2022
This didn’t work for me at all. As you can imagine I found this recipe after one failure of a more traditional tart shell, and was really hoping the second one *wouldn’t* crumble into a million pieces but here we are. When I went to press the dough into my 9” removable bottom pan there was only enough to cover the bottom and not the sides, even when I pressed it so thin it was starting to be translucent and break apart, so I made a second half batch to finish the sides. I cooked it completely on a wire rack, and the outer ring slid off beautifully with no struggle. But after I carefully separated the shell from the removable pan bottom with an offset spatula, I lifted it about two inches and it completely fell apart just by force of gravity.
Monday 23rd of January 2023
Typically, a tart like this is served on the metal base of the tart pan or carefully slid onto a serving plate. Most tart shells are intentionally delicate because it's more pleasant to eat than a tough base. (The dough can be pressed thin enough to cover a 9-inch tart pan up the sides. I've made this many many times.)