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How to Make Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe

Pasteis de nata

Welcome to the delightful world of Pasteis de Belem, a Portuguese treat that is sure to captivate your taste buds. These delectable pastries are none other than egg custard tarts, featuring a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Encased in a sumptuous buttery puff pastry, the luscious filling of smooth, creamy egg custard awaits. To add to their charm, the custard is beautifully caramelized on top, creating a mesmerizing speckled appearance. A final touch of cinnamon and icing sugar delicately crowns these tarts, enhancing their already irresistible appeal. Prepare to indulge in the harmonious blend of richness, sweetness, and warmth that awaits you in every bite of these extraordinary egg custard tarts.

Pastel de Nata’s History

Let’s delve into the fascinating history of Portuguese egg custard tarts, a treat that has traveled through time and borders, enchanting taste buds worldwide.

In the 17th century, a peculiar dilemma arose when egg whites were in high demand for starching the clothing of nuns and friars. This left behind a surplus of egg yolks, inspiring the creative minds of the clergy to transform this abundance into a delightfully sweet dessert. Convents and monasteries, known for their delectable offerings, became the birthplace of these custard tarts.

a person sitting at a table eating pastel belemIt was within the hallowed walls of the famous Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon that the monks crafted the initial versions of these iconic tarts. However, as historical events unfolded, such as the civil war and the liberal revolution in 1834, the monasteries and convents faced closure, and their inhabitants, including the clergy and laborers, were expelled from their sacred abodes.

In a bittersweet turn of events, the monks saw an opportunity to preserve their cherished recipe. They sold it to a local sugar refinery, ensuring that their legacy would live on. In 1837, a remarkable store named Pasteis de Belem opened its doors, bringing forth the enchanting flavors of these extraordinary pastries. To this day, this venerable establishment continues to serve its delectable creations, maintaining a connection to the rich history from which they emerged.

As the popularity of Portuguese egg custard tarts spread, their irresistible allure transcended borders. Today, you can savor these sweet pastries not only in their birthplace of Lisbon but also in culinary destinations like New York, London, Macau, Rio de Janeiro, and many more. Their journey across the globe is a testament to their enduring appeal and the universal appreciation for their exquisite taste.

Take a bite of history and indulge in the magical blend of flavors that have delighted generations of dessert enthusiasts across continents.

What is the meaning of “pastel”?

In the Portuguese language, “pastel” translates to “pastry.” Singularly, we refer to one pastry as “pastel,” while the plural form is “pasteis.” However, it’s important to note that we don’t modify the subsequent words when referring to these delectable treats. The correct term for the mouthwatering egg custard tarts we adore is “pasteis de nata.”

Read more: Best Time to Visit Portugal.

What is the meaning of “Nata”?

“Nata” translates to “cream.”

What is the difference between “pastel de nata” and “pasteis de belem”?

Surprisingly, there is no significant difference between the two! “Pasteis de Belem” is actually the name of a brand, with its first store located in the charming Belem neighborhood of Lisbon. On the other hand, “pastel de nata” is the general term used to describe this beloved Portuguese pastry.

In my perspective, the pastry from Pasteis de Belem has a distinct characteristic: a generous amount of butter in its puff pastry, creating a delightful richness. Additionally, the cream filling in Pasteis de Belem has a subtle hint of lemon, imparting a unique and refreshing flavor. In contrast, other pastries found in the northern region of Portugal often feature a thicker cream filling.

Regardless of the slight variations, both pastel de nata and pasteis de Belem offer a delectable experience, captivating the senses with their indulgent textures and delightful flavors.

portuguese custard tarts

How can I order a Portuguese custard tart and coffee in Lisbon?

To order this delightful combination, simply say, “Um pastel de nata e uma bica, por favor.”

Read here, Eat Like Local in Portugal. Find the tip here.

Have you ever wondered about the calorie content of a Portuguese custard tart?

One tart has 250 calories.

Can you freeze pastel de nata?

Yes, you freeze egg tart. However, the tart quality will not be the same! You will not have a crunchy dough.

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Where to buy Portuguese Tarts

Are you on the quest for the best places to indulge in custard tarts?

Look no further! Here are some delightful recommendations in Lisbon and Porto that will satisfy your cravings:

Lisbon: Manteigaria, Pastelaria Santo Antonio, and Nata Lisboa. These establishments are renowned for their exceptional custard tarts, ensuring a truly delightful experience that will leave you craving for more.

Porto: Nata Lisboa and Manteigaria. Head to these charming spots in Porto to enjoy custard tarts that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. They have earned a reputation for serving top-notch tarts that will leave you with a sense of sweet satisfaction.

Prepare yourself for a scrumptious adventure as you explore these recommended places, where you can relish the very best custard tarts Lisbon and Porto have to offer. Get ready to indulge in the perfect blend of creamy custard, flaky pastry, and just the right touch of sweetness. Bon appétit!

Outside of Portugal, you can buy Portuguese custard.

If you find yourself outside of Portugal and yearning for the delectable taste of Portuguese custard tarts, fret not! There are some fantastic places around the world where you can satisfy your cravings:

UK: Cafe de Nata. Embark on a culinary journey at Cafe de Nata in the UK, where you can experience the authentic flavors of Portuguese custard tarts without leaving the country.

USA: Joey Bats Cafe. For a taste of Portugal in the USA, Joey Bats Cafe is the place to be. Indulge in their delectable Portuguese custard tarts, crafted with love and precision.

Australia: Round Bird. Down under in Australia, Round Bird offers a delightful selection of Portuguese custard tarts, allowing you to experience the magic of these sweet treats on the other side of the world.

No matter where you are, these establishments bring a slice of Portugal to your doorstep, ensuring that the joy of Portuguese custard tarts can be savored and enjoyed beyond the borders of their homeland. Treat yourself to these delightful pastries and let your taste buds embark on a journey of pure bliss.

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Easy Recipe Pastel de Natas


Three sheets of puff pastry. You can buy it in the supermarket.

Margarine to spread the forms

150 gr. butter without salt

For cream:

500 ml of milk

One lemon peel

One cinnamon stick

60 gr. cake flour

500 gr. sugar

250 ml of water

Seven egg yolks


In a pan, boil the milk with a cinnamon stick and lemon peel.

In a mixing bowl (with the help of rods), mix the eggs and flour.

Add it into the pan with the previous mixture, continuously mix, and heat very slowly.

In another pan, boil the water and sugar for 3 minutes. After boiling and always mixing, gently put everything in the first pan and allow it to stand.

Meanwhile, smear the muffin cup (in aluminum. Please don’t use silicon) with margarine.

Extend the puff pastry and butter with a kitchen roll and wrap up the most power in the cylinder. My tips: If you add more butter, the pastry will be brittle and crisp. That is optional. You can add 50 gr per sheet of puff pastry.

Curl the puff pastry again. Cut into 3 cm pieces and place them in the form using your thumb finger (circular movements). Press your thumb into the center of the swirl.

Fill each cup 3/4 of the way with custard.

And it takes the preheated oven at 250º C for 20 minutes.

Bake until the pastry is browned and bubbly, and the tops start blasting and caramelizing. Cool tarts briefly and serve warm with cinnamon powder and powdered sugar.

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Why don’t we use vanilla in this recipe?

In this recipe, there is no need to include vanilla due to a delightful alternative. The presence of cinnamon serves a dual purpose, not only enhancing the flavor but also effectively offsetting any lingering egg aroma. Therefore, vanilla becomes unnecessary as the aromatic and flavorful cinnamon takes the stage, adding its own delightful touch to the final result. Enjoy the harmonious blend of flavors without the need for vanilla in this recipe.

Read more: Eat like a local in Portugal.

Are you looking for a gluten-free pastry in Portugal?

Please send us an email. We will help you. Portugal has a selection of delectable gluten-free pastries to cater to your needs.

Portugal Culinary Tours

Are you currently exploring the vibrant cities of Lisbon or Porto and eager to embark on a culinary adventure that showcases the very best of Portuguese cuisine? Look no further! We have an extraordinary Food Tour that will take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey through the flavors of Portugal.

Our 8-day Food Tour is designed for the true epicurean, offering a delightful blend of walking, cultural exploration, and of course, mouthwatering Portuguese cuisine. From the moment you arrive, we take care of everything, providing you with comfortable accommodations, convenient transportation, enriching experiences such as Port wine tasting and cooking classes, a knowledgeable guide, and so much more.

Throughout the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit authentic bakeries, picturesque farms, and charming local food stores, where you will learn the art of tasting and savoring genuine Portuguese delicacies. And what’s more, we’ll even guide you through the process of baking a special bread in a traditional kitchen, immersing you in the rich culinary traditions of Portugal.

Join us on this incredible Food Tour, where you will not only satisfy your cravings but also discover the diverse and exquisite flavors that Portugal has to offer. To learn more about this extraordinary experience and to secure your spot, click the link below. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a gastronomic journey that will create unforgettable memories. Don’t miss out on the Best Portuguese Cuisine—book your Food Tour today!

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