Salted Caramel Tart

This salted caramel tart contains an intensely rich and indulgent filling that’s encased in a sweet, buttery tart crust. Serve with a dollop of cool whipped cream and watch everyone swoon.

A salted caramel tart on a white cake stand on a table

People often ask me how I get the ideas for my recipes. Some magically happen from ingredients in my fridge, others are inspired by restaurant meals or ingredient combinations that I like. And then there are those that come from the oddest of sources.

Several years ago I’d been perfecting my recipe for salted caramel sauce. When it comes to desserts, caramel is my weakness, and the combination of salted butter and caramel is close to perfection, with the salt accentuating the caramel and balancing its sweetness. During this time, one of the bakeries in my Paris neighborhood, which had been run by an accountant who had exchanged crunching numbers for kneading dough, was bought by the well-known Paris baker Eric Kayser.

Just after Kayser moved into my part of town, my friend Laura dropped by with a copy of his new tart book. It was full of mouthwatering photographs with short, seemingly simple recipes, each of which fit neatly on a single page. I flipped through it, thinking that perhaps his tarts were better than his bread. (Believe it or not, the accountant had actually made better bread.) When I saw a recipe for tarte au beurre salé, or salted butter tart (aka salted caramel tart), I knew I had to try it.–Jennifer McLagan

Salted Caramel Tart FAQs

Why isn’t there any water in the salter caramel pie filling?

Some caramel recipes use water to help dissolve the sugar but the problem with adding water is that it takes much longer for it to caramelize. Not only that, your filling likely won’t be thick enough. Making caramel without water is a little thicker but follow McLagan’s suggestions and you’ll do just fine.

How do I make my sweet butter crust extra flaky?

It’s all the pockets of butter inside the dough that melt in the oven, leaving flaky layers. Keeping the dough cold helps that butter to stay solid. Another tip is to employ the French method of fraisage to make streaks of butter, rather than blobs. Just a couple of quick swipes is all it takes.

Salted Caramel Tart

A salted caramel tart on a white cake stand on a table
The secret with caramel tarts, I found, is to be brave and cook the caramel until it is rich and dark without letting it burn and turn bitter. If you lack courage and don't cook it quite to the daring point that I do, the tart will still be delicious–just sweeter.

Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
Total 2 hrs
6 to 8 servings
622 kcal
4.91 / 10 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Fat cookbook

Want it? Click it.


For the sweet butter pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2/3 cup cold unsalted butter diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)

For the salted caramel filling

  • 1/2 recipe Sweet Butter Pastry
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Lightly whipped cream for serving (optional)


Make the sweet butter pastry

  • Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse bread crumbs. Dump the mixture into a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and mix with a fork. Squeeze a bit of the mixture between your fingertips. If it holds together, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface; if not, add a couple of teaspoons of ice water and test again. Knead gently and form into a ball, divide the pastry in half, and flatten into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
  • Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line a 9-inch or 9 1/2-inch (23-cm or 24-cm) tart pan. Prick the base of the tart with a fork and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Place the sweet butter pastry-lined tart pan on a baking sheet. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans. Bake until the pastry is just set, about 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and continue to cook until the pastry is a dark golden color, 10 to 15 minutes. Move the tart to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Make the salted caramel filling

  • Meanwhile, combine the sugar and butter in a deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir to mix and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter and sugar caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes. The sugar and butter will go through several stages: First, the mixture will look like a flour-butter roux, then it will appear curdled, and then the butter will leak out of the sugar mixture. Don't worry: It will all come together in the end.
  • While the caramel is cooking, pour the cream into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, then immediately remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • Keep stirring the butter-sugar mixture, watching carefully as it begins to caramelize, and remembering that the heat in the pan will continue to cook the caramel once it is removed from the burner. You want to end up with a rich, dark caramel color, but you don't want to burn the mixture, which will impart a bitter taste. When the caramel reaches a color that's just a shade lighter than what you want, remove the pan from the heat and slowly and carefully pour in the cream; the mixture will bubble and spit. When the caramel stops bubbling, return it to low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the caramel in the cream. Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool for 10 minutes.
  • Slowly pour the cooled caramel into the cooled, baked pastry in the tart pan. Refrigerate the tart for at least 2 hours.
  • Remove the tart from the pan and, using a wet knife, cut it into wedges. (The tart is easier to cut when it's chilled.) Serve the tart at room temperature. For maximum flavor, bestow a dollop of whipped cream upon each slice.
Print RecipeBuy the Fat cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 622kcal (31%)Carbohydrates: 64g (21%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 41g (63%)Saturated Fat: 25g (156%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 128mg (43%)Sodium: 141mg (6%)Potassium: 74mg (2%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 48g (53%)Vitamin A: 1394IU (28%)Vitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 40mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This salted caramel tart is a FABULOUS dessert…but VERY RICH!!! A small piece is all you need…along with the unsweetened whipped cream to help cut the sugar of the tart.

This is a simple caramel tart and a good starting recipe for those cooks who fear making pastry dough and caramelizing sugar. Having caramelized several of my pans (not a fun job to clean up), I was fearful of yet another adventure into burned sugar. This was such an easy and foolproof method that yielded a beautiful thick caramel. The end result was luscious.

The dough came together beautifully with the addition of several tablespoons of ice water. One helpful hint that I learned from Nathalie Dupree is to set aside the smaller portions of dough as they begin to come together. Then, combine all the parts together and knead. This prevents the dough from becoming overworked.

This is a simple recipe that works quite well as is or as a starting point for any number of variations. It makes caramel approachable by omitting the use of a thermometer, and you can make your own superfine sugar by pulsing regular sugar in a food processor. Plus, it can be made ahead and/or in brief installments of time for those with, say, infants.

The pastry dough came together easily without any water (or humidity in the air) and baked into a flaky, golden-brown tart shell. It was neither too sandy, as are some pie crusts with minimal water, nor too tough, as some tart doughs can be.

The salted caramel also worked as written, with the caramel passing through the various stages the author describes. I cooked my caramel for 15 minutes and wound up with the color pictured here and a flavor that was just short of bitter (much like the taste of a Cadbury’s Crunchie bar). One caution: the cream not only bubbles and spits when added to the caramel, but it also gives off a lot of steam.

My only complaint is that the saltiness was not strongly perceptible, so I might add a bit of salt next time. After filling my 9-inch tart shell to the brim, I had about 1/3 cup of caramel leftover. The tart was excellent in very small slices paired just with whipped cream, but I can imagine it with a drizzle or a layer of dark chocolate ganache, or spiked with liqueur.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. Good morning, Marla. As noted at the top of the recipe, this ridiculously indulgent tart serves 6 to 8. But my advice? Plan on it serving six, slice the tart in the kitchen, hide a slice or two for yourself for later, and then bring your first slice and everyone else’s only slice to the table already plated. Works like a charm.

  1. Hello Barbara, Like you I only buy unsalted butter, except when making this tart or my Salted Caramel Sauce. In France you can buy demi-sel, which is only lightly salted and perfect for this recipe. I suggest you buy some good quality salted butter to make this tart rather than add salt. As David says you can make another tart, the sauce, or add it to vegetables or mashed potatoes where you would be adding salt anyway. You should also try it on toast with jam, the salt enhances the flavours of the jam, especial apricot.

  2. I buy ONLY unsalted butter for the many known reasons…not only can I control the salt level, it seems to me to have a fresher taste. That said, how much salt do I need to ADD to the concoction to get to the level of ‘salted butter’?

    1. Hi, Barbara. The salt content of salted butter varies significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer. My official answer is buy some salted butter. This recipe requires one stick, and if you get a half-pound box, you have an extra stick to make another tart! I hesitate to give you an exact amount, as It could over salt the butter. But if you don’t want to buy more, mix the butter with with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to start. Take a taste. You don’t want it to taste salty-salty, but rather just salty enough for the flavors to pop. Add more if you need it.

  3. 5 stars
    Well, I didn’t officially test this tart, but I have made it twice and so thought I’d add my two cents (besides just agreeing that it’s a caramel addict’s dream). One thing you can do with this recipe with great success is make individual, bite-sized tarts using mini muffin pans (about 18 to 24 from the quantity of caramel in the recipe); add toasted pignoli pine nuts for added visual interest and some crunch; freeze for later; impress everyone who tastes it, and I mean everyone.

    1. Hi! I’m not sure if anyone will see this comment, but I’m also interested in making individual servings of this. Can you say anything more about how the method varies for tartlets instead f a whole tart? Specifically: 1) Do you still bake at the same temperature for the same amount of time? 2) In what kind of a container do you freeze them, and what’s your defrosting method? Thank you!

      1. Sandra, thanks for writing. There are many factors involved, most important being the size of the tartlets. You would indeed bake the tartlets at the same temperature, but for less time. Smaller tarts don’t always need beans to help them keep their shape; others will, depending upon the shape of the tartlet pan.

        So I would first experiment: Roll the dough, ease it into a tartlet pan, and bake (just one so as not to waste dough) for 10 minutes. Check it, and if it needs more time, continue baking. As far as freezing, I’d freeze just the baked, empty tart shells. I’d first freeze them on a cookie sheet until they were frozen, then stack them between parchment in an airtight container. To defrost, simply remove how many you need from the container and let them come to room temperature on a cooking rack, so the bottoms stay dry.

  4. Any idea of what temperature on a candy thermometer would be the caramelization stage? I am terrible at decifering the correct color.

    1. Hi Julie,

      If you live near a Sur La Table, they have a fantastic candy thermometer which indicates soft, hard and firm ball for carmelization which coincides with Cindi’s previous comments about the temperatures and the color of the carmel. The therrmometer is not expensive and I use it alot when making my carmels.


    2. Sugar (sucrose) begins to caramelize and color around 340°F. At 355°F to 358°F it becomes amber or pale golden, by 365°F to 368°F it’s a rich golden brown, turning to chestnut. At around 370°F it begins to get quite dark, approaching the “burnt sugar” stage. Above 375°F or so, it begins to taste bitter. Incidentally, sugar becomes less sweet (due to the breakdown of various compounds) as it cooks.

      Here, from the description “rich, dark caramel color” I’d say you want about 365°F.


      1. 5 stars
        I just made the tart again, and I took the caramel off heat at just under 300° — that seemed just perfect! I also added 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the cream to make it a bit saltier. Delicious! I’m so glad I gave it another chance after my first burned batch. Thanks for the great recipe!

        1. Glad to learn that you tried again Ann and all went well. It is one of my favourite recipes. I just love caramel.

      2. we aren’t related by blood but by choice! AND lisa’s grandmother was lillian levy and that was my mother’s name!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish