Pastéis de Nata Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe

After tasting the exquisite Pastéis de Nata from Comme à Lisbonne in Paris, I just had to make these delicious Portuguese custard tarts at home. Besides, it’s a great egg yolk recipe!

Pasteis de nata egg yolk recipe

In true lazy gourmet style, I cheat and use ready-made puff pastry.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember to use a good quality all-butter puff pastry. I use either defrosted (here in France, Picard do a good frozen puff), or ready-rolled (these are in packets of 230g and so easy to use). If you can’t find ready-rolled, just roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thickness and cut out your circles according to the recipe below.

One factor that’s not easy to control is the traditional extra hot oven needed to make traditional sized custard tarts more genuine looking.  As not all of our home kitchen ovens can go up as high as professional ovens to give them that beautifully scorched look, put it as high as you can – and keep an eye on them!  I’d suggest 7-10 minutes if it’s very hot, otherwise for about 10-15 minutes.

pasteis de nata recipe


Recipe inspired by Denise Browning at From Brazil to You, who adapted it from the cookbook, “Cozinha Tradicional Porguguesa”. Denise made mini tarts, whereas I made a slightly bigger, more traditional size like they serve at Comme à Lisbonne. So I used half quantity to fill regular muffin moulds, and cut down the sugar slightly, using a vanilla pod/bean instead of the extract.

Makes 12 tartlets (using 2x 6-cavity non-stick muffin moulds @ 7cm diameter)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 8-15 minutes (depending on your oven)


4 egg yolks
80g sugar
15g cornflour/cornstarch (a lightly heaped tablespoon)
1 vanilla pod/bean, scraped of seeds*
250ml whole milk
230g puff pastry (1 pack of ready-rolled or a pack of frozen puff, defrosted)
Powdered cinnamon (to serve)

* 1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Chill a bowl in the fridge. Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds (scraped from a pod cut in half down the middle horizontally) in a saucepan and mix well using a balloon whisk until you have a creamy paste. Gradually add the milk, whisking until mixed well together.

2. Put the pan on a medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens.  Remove pan from the heat. (If you don’t use the vanilla pod, add the extract at this point). Transfer the custard to the chilled bowl and immediately cover it with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.

3. Lightly oil or butter the muffin moulds and preheat the oven preferably to the highest setting – I used  250°C/480°F/230°C mark 9.

4. On a lightly floured surface – roll the pastry if needed – using a cookie cutter or glass (about 9cm diameter, slightly bigger than the 7cm diameter muffin cavity), cut out discs and press them into each cavity.  Spoon in the cooled custard about 3/4 to the top then bake for 7-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them!

making portuguese custard tarts

5. Leave to cool in the moulds/tins for about 5 minutes then turn them out on to a wire rack.

Portuguese custard tarts and macarons

A baker’s loop. Use yolks for the custard tarts and macarons for the whites…

Serve them slightly warm and lightly dusted with cinnamon.

Pasteis de nata portuguese custard tarts

P.S. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents around the 18th Century, the monks discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks and so a legendary Portuguese pastry was born!  And just for the record, I don’t starch hubby’s shirts with egg whites. Macarons are much better fun!

Click here for more about Pasteis de Nata and how popular they are!

10 replies
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      I’m like you, Carol. Not to be trusted around them since they’re so good. It’s not for nothing that I halved the quantities to make just 12 but now we’re wanting more …

  1. Denise Browning@From Brazil To You
    Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says:

    Hi, Jill! Thank you for linking back to me. I am glad that you enjoyed the recipe and made the adjustments according to your taste!
    Although these custards tarts are originally from Portugal, they are very popular in Brazil, my home country.
    There are 2 versions of these tarts down in Brazil… and I adopted the less traditional (adapted) in terms of look… This is why mine doesn’t look like yours! 🙂 In Brazil, there is one version with puff pastry and other with flat crust, more similar to a tart/pie crust. Although I shared the traditional recipe (because I called it Portuguese), I flatten and thinned my puff pastry to adapt to my taste because I made the custard tarts mini.:) If I have not done that, I confess I would have thrown all of them in the trash after photographing them. Why? The result would have been more pastry than custard — which I absolutely hate in a custard tart. When I make them regular-sized, they look like yours, very traditional look. The regular-sized ones seem to have a balance between the puff pastry and custard that is more noticeable. .
    The high temps work best for the regular-sized tarts, I have to say.I hate the curdled texture of the custard that some Portuguese custard tarts present. I prefer mine smooth, and as for mini tarts, high temps can be a real problem. I removed mine slight before they started to get that scorched look on top. Mine looks like the less traditional version that we have in Brazil (and the egg tarts from China in terms of custard, not crust).
    Wishing you a great week!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Hi Denise

      This can sound pretty complicated with different versions in Brazil alone but one thing is for sure – we adore these delicious and regular, traditional custard tarts, just like the ones at Comme à Lisbonne in Paris. Thanks for your explanation of the Brazil-like non-traditional mini versions: you’ve given us an excuse to visit and taste scorched vs non-scorched and decide on the difference. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to compare with the differing variations of this tart around the world? Now that is a new challenge 🙂 Vive les Pastéis de Nata!

      • Denise Browning@From Brazil To You
        Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says:

        Since you made the traditional version, I’d love that you try the mini non-traditional version, and also the Chinese one. I have my fave but It’d be interesting to hear from you which one would you pick as your favorite after trying them all. 🙂
        Only to let you know that even the Portuguese traditional version, in Portugal itself, people can choose if they want theirs with a smooth or curdled custard, if they want the top sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, or nothing at all. 🙂

        • Jill Colonna
          Jill Colonna says:

          Thank you so much for sharing your expertise advice here, Denise. I shall try to make the non-traditional later but would like to taste the different versions in their surroundings. After going to Comme à Lisbonne in Paris, I just wanted to make the simple, traditional version a bit like they did. They didn’t offer if I wanted the custard smooth or curdled – they only asked if I wanted cinnamon to go with it. C’est tout. I hope to go to Portugal and try the experience – and Brazil, and China…

          • Jill Colonna
            Jill Colonna says:

            Would you believe it? We’re off to Brazil on holiday tomorrow! Yay. Will have to report back to you, Denise!

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  1. […] to say, my choice was for the Pastels de Nata. I even had a savoury one, with cod fish followed by a most exquisite Pastel de Caipirinha (could […]


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