Pastéis de Nata | Portuguese Custard Tarts

This pastéis de nata recipe makes as-close-to-authentic Portuguese custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry. Tastes like home, even if you’re not from Portugal.

Video: How Pastéis de Belém are Made
Three pasteis de nata, two face-up showing the browned spots and one upside-down, showing the delicate spiral of browned pastry

These Portuguese custard tarts are facsimiles of the true pastéis de Belém pastries from the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (below), where they churn out more than 22,000 pastries each day. When you make that many a day, you get damn good at it. There are all kinds of reasons why the original pastéis de nata from this pastry shop are so freaking good. Secret recipes, teams of folks who do nothing but make the pastry dough or whip up the filling, ovens that blast at 800°F.

Seven pasteis de Belem, or Portuguese custard pastries, on a plate, with coffee cups nearby

In order to translate the pastéis to the home kitchen and to ovens that that hit 500°F if you’re lucky, these pastéis are smaller than the original. and the tops may not brown quite as much as the authentic pastéis in the picture, which are from the confeitaria. Still, that hasn’t stopped the flood of rave reviews below. The secrets to making spectacular authentic Portuguese custard tarts at home are few and simple.

Pasteis de Nata | Portuguese Custard Tarts

When making the pastry, make sure the butter is evenly layered, all excess flour is removed, and the dough is rolled very thin and folded neatly. As for the custard, you’ll need a thermometer to accurately gauge the custard. These are best eaten warm the day they’re made. Originally published June 26, 2004.David Leite

Pastéis de Nata | Portuguese Custard Tarts

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 2 H, 30 M
  • Makes about 40 pastries

Special Equipment: Mini-muffin tin with 2-by-5/8-inch wells; If you prefer the classic larger tins from Portugal, you can purchase them at Portugalia Marketplace.

4.9/5 - 57 reviews
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  • For the pasteis de nata dough
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz), room temperature, stirred until smooth
  • For the custard
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, whisked
  • For the garnish
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Cinnamon


  • Make the pastéis de nata dough
  • 1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, and water until a soft, pillowy dough forms that pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 30 seconds.
  • 2. Generously flour a work surface and pat the dough into a 6-inch square using a pastry scraper. Flour the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • 3. Roll the dough into an 18-inch square. As you work, use the scraper to lift the dough to make sure the underside isn’t sticking to your work surface.
  • 4. Brush the excess flour off the top of the dough, trim any uneven edges, and, using a small offset spatula, dot and then spread the left 2/3 portion of the dough with a little less than 1/3 of the butter being careful to leave a 1 inch plain border around the edge of the dough.
  • 5. Neatly fold the unbuttered right 1/3 of the dough (using the pastry scraper to loosen it if it sticks) over the rest of the dough. Brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left 1/3 of the dough. Starting from the top, pat down the dough with your hand to release any air bubbles, and then pinch the edges of the dough to seal. Brush off any excess flour.
  • 6. Turn the dough 90° to the left so the fold is facing you. Lift the dough and flour the work surface. Once again roll it out to an 18-inch square, then dot the left 2/3 of the dough with 1/3 of the butter and smear it over the dough. Fold the dough as directed in steps 4 and 5.
  • 7. For the last rolling, turn the dough 90° to the left and roll out the dough to an 18-by-21-inch rectangle, with the shorter side facing you. Spread the remaining butter over the entire surface of the dough.
  • 8. Using the spatula as an aid, lift the edge of dough closest to you and roll the dough away from you into a tight log, brushing the excess flour from the underside as you go. Trim the ends and cut the log in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or preferably overnight. (The pastry can be frozen for up to 3 months.)
  • Make the custard
  • 9. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1/4 cup milk until smooth.
  • 10. Bring the sugar, cinnamon, and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 220°F (100°C). Do not stir.
  • 11. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, scald the remaining 1 cup milk. Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture.
  • 12. Remove the cinnamon stick and then pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream into the hot milk-and-flour mixture, whisking briskly. Add the vanilla and stir for a minute until very warm but not hot. Whisk in the yolks, strain the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. The custard will be thin; that is as it should be. (You can refrigerate the custard for up to 3 days.)
  • Assemble and bake the pastries
  • 13. Place an oven rack in the top third position and heat the oven to 550°F (290°C). Remove a pastry log from the refrigerator and roll it back and forth on a lightly floured surface until it’s about an inch in diameter and 16 inches long. Cut it into scant 3/4-inch pieces. Place 1 piece pastry dough, cut side down, in each well of a nonstick 12-cup mini-muffin pan (2-by-5/8-inch size). If using classic tins, cut the dough into generous 1-inch pieces. Allow the dough pieces to soften several minutes until pliable.
  • 14. Have a small cup of water nearby. Dip your thumbs in the water, then straight down into the middle of the dough spiral. Flatten it against the bottom of the cup to a thickness of about 1/16 inch, then smooth the dough up the sides and create a raised lip about 1/8 inch above the pan. The pastry bottoms should be thinner than the tops.
  • 15. Fill each cup 3/4 full with the cool custard. Bake the pastries until the edges of the dough are frilled and brown, about 8 to 9 minutes for the mini-muffin tins, 15 to 17 minutes for the classic tins.
  • 16. Remove from the oven and allow the pasteis to cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack and cool until just warm. Sprinkle the pasteis generously with confectioners’ sugar, then cinnamon and serve. Repeat with the remaining pastry and custard. These are best consumed the day they’re made.

Recipe Testers Reviews

According to my Portuguese dad, I can make these pasteis de Nata again and again and again! I am pretty chuffed with how they turned out since I had doubts throughout the entire process of making these traditional tarts. First of all, Pasteis de Nata are the epitome of the classic Portuguese sweet treat. So no pressure!

In following the recipe, when mixing the flour, salt and water in the stand mixer, my dough never achieved the soft pillowy stage I was hoping for or rather thinking what is would be. My dough did pull away from the sides slightly, but remained sticky, hence I feel I should have added more flour which I didn't at this stage. Doubt started to set-in! When working with the dough on the work surface, I needed to add a very generous amount of flour to stop the dough from sticking. At this stage I probably added so much flour that I actually increased the amount of flour added to the dough significantly.

I found working with the dough a test of extreme patience! I remained calm (yet doubtful) and just kept working with it gently. I was never able to achieve the 18-by-18-inch square, no matter how hard I tried. It was closer to 14 inches. The custard seemed quite thin and even though the recipe mentioned it would be so I had my doubts it would firm up into a creamy custard. While the tarts baked, the butter bubbled and oozed out of the dough and over the edge of the minis tin causing lots of smoke in the extremely hot oven. I baked the minis for 9 minutes and the custard was set and the pastry was golden brown. I expected the custard to have a brown speckled appearance (like the ones you buy commercially), but it remained an eggy yellow. For the larger tins, I baked the tarts for 15 minutes and they too remained an eggy yellow with a golden brown pasty.

To my surprise, the pastry was super flaky and crispy and it had that perfect crackly crunch that is the true mark of a great pasteis de Nata! And the custard? It set and was creamy, sweet, and deliciously perfect.

When my Portuguese mom said they tasted just like the pasteis de Belem (the most famous and original Portuguese Custard Tarts), then I knew we had a winner! Talk about the best compliment ever! It was quite a bit of work to produce these little gems, but the end result was definitely worth the effort!


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  1. Hi David, I have asked on another thread but would love your feedback on how to consistently achieve the caramelization on the custard consistently? Is it to do with the temperature or the sugar content?

    1. Hi, Julia. The temperature is everything. When I visited the original pastry shop in Portugal, I discovered their ovens reach a temperature of 800°F. That allows the pastries to cook quickly and become mottled with brown spots. Because no home oven gets that high, it takes longer for the spots to form, and the custard overcooks.

      What some people have done is when the pastries are just about done, they turn on the broiler. But that can sometimes char the outside.

      Making them larger, as Molly said she did, does help. Because it means the custard is in the oven longer. And because there is more filling, it doesn’t overcook.

  2. Couldn’t wait to try making these for the first time! Didn’t use all of the butter (maybe even only half!), but crust still came out fairly crispy and flakey. Oven doesn’t go up so high, but just baked longer – couldn’t get the nice golden top, but maybe I’ll torch the next time. My custard wasn’t quite right in texture – but I will keep trying! Only complaint is how sweet it was! Sadly, too much so.

    1. T A, glad you dove into this recipe. What was different about the texture? You can cut back on some of the sugar, but the Portuguese are known for their achingly sweet sweet tooth!

  3. This recipe for pasteis de nata is truly one of my go-to, no-fail recipes. Turned out perfectly on my first try and basically every time since. Much more beginner-friendly than it seems – I had no experience with puff pastry OR custard before this – and the results always get at least one happy dance from my family. And these get the official seal of approval from my Portuguese friend who goes to Lisbon a couple times a year!

    I’ve made them about ten times in the past year and a half, and the only time I’ve had an issue was when I didn’t follow the instructions – like when I used heavy cream instead of milk, because that’s what I had in the fridge. Still good, but not as smooth a custard. Sometimes I end up with more pastry dough than custard, but again, that’s from me not measuring when I cut :-) Just follow the recipe and you’ll be good. If your oven has trouble getting those characteristic browned bits on the surface of the custard, try broiling for a minute or two.

  4. Is it ok to use puff pastry? Would it make a difference to the amount of custard or would the recipe stay the same?

    1. Laura, traditional puff pastry is to designed to puff up, obvs. That can cause the filling to overflow as it’s pushed up. If you want to try it, roll it out, coat it wil a very thin layer of butter, and roll it up as in the directions. That should help a bit.

  5. Hi, I had a question—I haven’t baked much before and I was wondering how important the muffin tin size is? What size specifically would you recommend? I’m not entirely sure what the measurement in the recipe refers to, depth or width? Thanks so much!

    1. Andrew, the recipe as written calls for mini-muffin tins with wells 2 inches wide by 5/8 inch high. As you can see from the photos in the comments, many people have made them in standard tins with no problem. They just had to cook them longer.

  6. I’ve just made my first attempt with this recipe and would call it a success-in-the-making. A couple of questions: 1) I found the taste quite a bit sweeter than the pasteis de nata that I ate on a recent trip to Lisbon. I’m wondering if anyone has tried cutting the sugar back when making the custard? And, if so, by how much? 2) I think my custard was too gelatinous. Could this also be a problem of too much sugar? (I’m fairly new to baking.) Thanks for your help. And thanks for the recipe. As a novice baker, I found the directions clear and easy to follow.

    1. tlupick, I think you can safely cut back on the sugar by one-quarter. I’m not sure what you mean by “gelatinous.” Do you mean eggy? It’s possible the eggs were overcooked. Was the filling weepy?

      1. Thanks for your quick reply. “Gelatinous” like my custard almost had the consistency of jello or an especially sticky jam. I’m going to try making the custard again tonight with the 1/4 less sugar you’ve suggested. Thanks!

          1. We’re just about there. My second batch is much better. And, though I’m not exactly sure how, we seem to have corrected the gelatinous problem I encountered with my first batch of custard.

            I did end up making a few recipe modifications throughout:
            -for the custard, reduce sugar by 1/4
            -for the custard, after adding the sugar and water to the milk mixture, whisk vigorously for several minutes (as long as 5 to ensure a custard with a proper consistency); add the egg yolks, whisked vigorously for several minutes again
            -cut dough into pieces 1.75 inches long (1 inch in diameter)
            -shape dough up to the top of the baking tray, pour in 2 tbsp custard mixture
            -15 minutes baking, 2 minutes in the broiler
            -let sit for 20 minutes

            For me (and my specific muffin tray and oven and all of that), these modifications appear to have made all the difference. My second batch of pasteis de nata is a huge improvement on my first. I still need to work on my pastry crust. But I think that will just take practice. This is a great recipe. thanks for sharing.

            1. tlupick, I’m delighted that 1.) you took another swing at it and 2.) it was a success! And, yes, it’s just a matter of practice. If I haven’t made them in a year or so, I feel all thumbs.

  7. Hi David !! Cannot wait to try this recipe. My husband and l lived in Portugal for 5 years, and these little tarts were taste of heaven when sitting outside early morning with a relaxing with a cup of coffee. I am in bed at the moment whilst being unwell, and my husband has just brought in this beautiful delicacy with a coffee, and it brought back so many lovely memories of Portugal that l just had to look up a recipe, and here l am. I can see that the ingredients call for “cup,” what size cup would I use? I have looked at your other mouthwatering recipes that call for a “cup.” I thank you in anticipation of a reply, an l cannot wait to go shopping for some of the ingredients. Thanks David

  8. Hi! This recipe looks amazing, my boyfriend is Portuguese and I’d love to make this dish for a family dinner. Is it an absolute must to make the dough? It seems quite intimidating. I was wondering if store bought pastry dough would work? If not, any tips for making the dough?

    1. Ashley, if you read through the comments, you’ll see some people used storebought puff pastry. I’ll admit, I don’t like it with storebought. If you can, try to find DuFour puff pastry. It’s really good. As far as tips, roll out the storebought dough very, very thin, spread a thin layer of softened butter, and roll it into a log. If you make the dough, the best tip is to have patience! The good thing is you use room-temp butter, so the pressure to work quickly is removed.

      1. Thank you, David! I may attempt to the dough as I’d like these to be as close to traditional as possible.

        My oven only goes to 500, I did read another comment that stated her oven also only went to 500, do know how much longer of a cook time I should plan for at 500?

        1. Oh, good, Ashley. I think you’ll be rewarded with great pastries. As far as your oven goes, it depends upon how accurate it is. Some people turn on the broil for a minute or so to get the blackened mottled tops. Some keep the pastries in an extra 2 to 4 minutes. My suggestion would be to bake two and experiment. Once you know the best way to bake these for your oven, you’ll be set!

  9. Great Recipe. First try came out awesome, with flaky dough. To people checking the comments: my custard could have been drinkable. It was this liquidy. Also, an oven at 450 and 4 extra minutes works fine. I recommend this recipe to anybody who can use their hands to form dough: otherwise use store-bought croissant dough.

  10. I followed the recipe without any changes, except that my oven can’t reach 550°F, so I set it at 500°. I made some mini and some regular sized pastries. I baked the mini ones for 9 minutes and they remained lightly colored and eggy on top, with none of the brown spots you’ll find on authentic pastries. They also had a somewhat undercooked bottom. This is almost certainly because my oven wasn’t at a high enough temperature. The regular size pastries I baked for 20 minutes, and they have some dark spots on the surface and the pastry looks much darker. The bottom is also baked thoroughly. So if you’re like me and your oven won’t reach 550°, bake them for an extra minute or two (or three) to achieve those dark spots and a thoroughly cooked pastry. Both the undercooked and the perfectly cooked pastries tasted wonderful, though, and the custard set in both, it’s just the appearance and the bottom of the pastry that was different!

    1. Hi Molly, do you believe that the higher temperature are key to creating the brown spots on top? This is something im struggling to achieve consistently. I’ve done some research and there isn’t much information on it yet.

  11. This is yet another real deal recipe by David Leite! These natas couldn’t be any more delicious. The filling is simple to make and turns out so creamy, while the crust is perfectly flaky. What a superb combination of textures! These pastéis are fun to make and even better to enjoy amongst friends. Cheers!–

  12. I just made these this morning (started last night), and they came out perfect! I followed the recipe exactly (except for the oven temp, could have sworn it said 500 but I did change it to 550). I had no problems with the oven smoking, but for some reason, the smoke alarms did go off every time I opened the oven door. My son visited Portugal a few years ago and he said they were very close to those he had there. All in all, very happy with the recipe and will definitely make these again!

    1. Joyce, I am utterly delighted that you enjoyed the pastéis de nata. I have a theory of why your alarms kept going off when you opened the oven door: They smelled how good the pastries were and wanted some!

  13. I’m more of a cook than a baker, but /when/ I bake, I like to make slightly more complex things. This one has been on my list forever, so I finally decided to give it a spin! I made a few small mistakes along the way (the biggest of which was probably not owning offset spatulas and which has now been rectified), but despite that they came out really nice and everyone who got one loved it!

    Thanks a lot for this recipe!

    10 pastéis de nata on a cutting board

  14. 10/10! This is an easy to follow recipe. I was glad to find the recipe had the measurements in grams and not just cups. They tasted amazing and you must eat them the day you make them. We had some left over but you lose the crispy pastry when eating them the day after. I used a normal muffin tin and this was fine. I need to make sure next time that I bring the pastry up higher in the tin. This was my first attempt at making them and I will defiantly be making them again. They taste so good fresh out of the oven. A supermarket cannot compete with oven fresh baking!

    The process of making pastéis de nata, Portugal's famous pastry

    1. Claire, these look fantastic! You made them in full-size muffin tins, which is harder. Brava. And, yes, they need to be eaten the same day. They lose some of their specialness (and crispness) the next day. All in all, double brava!

  15. Experienced baker here, but one who’d never tried baking these, in spite of LOVING them on a recent trip.

    I have the mini tins, but opted instead to bake these in an old, well-seasoned steel regular-sized muffin tin. I’ve made puff pastry in the past and this pastry is definitely different–using warmish butter seemed strange to me after jumping through hoops at times, keeping puff pastry’s ingredients COLD.

    I followed the recipe to a T, however, and these turned out transcendently good.

    A few tips for questions people had in these comments…
    –If you aren’t using whole milk (I only had 1%) add a tablespoon or two of melted butter to the custard mix.
    –If you have a convection setting in your oven, set the temp at 500 degrees on convection and stick with using a rack set about 8″ from the broiler element.
    –After cutting a 1 1/2″ piece off of the pastry log (no rolling it to make the diameter smaller), set the rounds on a piece of plastic wrap, covering them with another piece of plastic. Then, press down on them with a flat, round meat pounder (a heavy glass would also work, I imagine). Doing so definitely made the rounds easier to mold into the larger tin.
    –Use PLENTY of flour when rolling out the dough… throughout the process, keep putting flour underneath it, using a pastry scraper to lift the dough.

    This recipe is fabulous.

      1. Thanks so much for this recipe, David!

        I just ordered the proper tins (Amazon, 20 for $12) and a batch of the dough is in the freezer. I’m on a Pasteis de Nata tear here (reminiscent of my canele binge a few years ago…but that’s another story) and am dying to know how the shape will have an impact on the results.

        A couple more things…I realized yesterday that the crust kind of reminds me of palmiers, especially the crunchy bottoms. That was kind of an “aha!” moment.

        As well, I forgot to mention the time it takes to make the bigger tarts (about 15 minutes).

          1. David, they were PERFECT! The angled sides and, I think, the fact that heat was circulating more efficiently around the sides, made the crust of the pastry on the sides a more uniform color and even crunchier than they were coming out of the muffin tin…my husband said they were “better than Belem’s” and my brother-in-law’s face, when he chomped into the pillowy custard enveloped in that pastry, looked like he had seen The Divine.

            Another thing I discovered was that, once totally cooled, you can put them in a container and refrigerate them (though I only refrigerated them overnight) and re-heat them at 225 for about 10-15 minutes successfully! There didn’t seem to be any degradation in the texture of the crust, which was my main concern.

            This girl is a happy one for having stumbled on your recipe (as are the neighbors!). Thanks again for posting it.

  16. David
    Great recipe but a bit too rich in butter I think. When I made them the melted butter spilled out of the moulds into the pan below. I used individual small moulds instead of a cupcake pan.

    1. Paul, that’s a pretty standard ratio for the dough. If you use individual tins, put a foil-lined baking sheet beneath. That’s what they do in Portugal, because these do tend to leak.

  17. Well, I cautiously decided to make 1/6 of the recipe amounts as a trial run, hoping to present a huge plateful at a Christmas party this weekend. The amount of pastry I had made 8 mini muffin size, but I seemed to have a lot of custard, so they were all too full! Despite bubbling over they can’t out of the time easily and are (or should I say were!!) Superb!!! My partner and I ate 3 each with our coffee, and only guilt prevented us from eating the final two!

    The only negative was that I think my bottoms were a bit thick. I found it quite hard to judge this as you push the pastry into the tin. Interestingly, before today, my partner always said: “I hate custard tarts!”

    Thanks for a fabulous recipe, and not nearly as daunting as I anticipated.

  18. The recipe is amazing!! Taste-wise and looks wise. I made these in standard sized muffin tins and cut the dough log into 1/2 inch pieces rather than 1 inch pieces. I found 1 inch pieces made the shell too thick and the inside was soggy. I also added a half handful more flour as I found the dough to be quite sticky and not smooth as described. Finally, after resting the dough ~30 mins – 1hr, I used it but only filled the shells halfway full as less “rested” dough shrinks slightly more. I’d recommend making one or two to test and adjusting the amount of dough and filling based on how your first two tarts turn out.

    1. Diane, I’m delighted you liked the recipe. If you’re making the pastries in a standard muffin tin, try cutting the dough roll between 3/4 of an inch and an inch. That would help. The dusting of flour is fine. And brava on suggesting the test pastéis. I often do that, too.

  19. I really loved this recipe and these Pastèis are very similar to those from Pastèis de Belém! The dough is challenging because it is sticky and requires quite a bit of flour to work it. I had to knead mine in the mixer for longer time than instructed to achieve the dough pulling from the sides of the bowl. These are known for being difficult, but the result is a super flaky and crispy crust. I prefer to use the metric measurements in general for accuracy. My oven reaches 550 F and I got beautiful brown spots. I also love that once the dough is prepared, you can refrigerate or freeze and the custard and baking process are very easy and simple. I was in Lisbon last year and was able to find the traditional baking cups and this recipe yielded 24 of those. I just divided each log into 12 so they are thicker. The instructions on shaping the dough are good, and I was lucky I have a video of the bakers in Lisbon shaping it, so I had an idea of how to do it too! I am making these again to practice working the dough. They are the perfect pastry to bring to holiday events as they are easy to share and so so delicious! Thank you David for such a great recipe!

    Three pasteis de nata, two face-up showing the browned spots and one upside-down, showing the delicate spiral of browned pastry

  20. Hi! I have enjoyed learning about pasteis de nata and their history! I read through the comments and did not see a question like mine. I have a convection oven that heats to 550* F. I was advised that coated/treated ovenware should not be used at this high temperature because the coating could flake off and compromise the food (make it unhealthy). Is this for older ovenware or a kitchen myth? I appreciate your guidance!

    1. Hi, Suzan. Most of the warning concerned older types of nonstick pans and usually pans that came in direct contact with heat, such as skillets. I’ve used my baking pans for years, and they have never flaked.

  21. Hi, I’m a bit confused with step 5 and 6. If I have a square dough and fold the right 1/3 of it over first, then fold the left 1/3 over, I should have a 6″x18″ rectangle with the opening end on the right. I don’t see how the fold would be facing me if I turn the dough 90 degree to the left? Shouldn’t it be facing away from me?

    1. Hi Momo, let’s see if I can clarify. Standing in front of the dough, imagine the square is divided into three vertical columns. Take the right column and fold it over to center column. Then take the left column and fold it over the center column, too. Now you have one column with folded edges on the left and right sides, and the opening on the top and bottom. Does that help?

  22. I just cooked a trial pastry before I made the rest this evening. It stuck to my muffin tin, can I lightly grease the tin for the rest?

  23. Hello! I am interested in making this recipe but my oven only goes to 500°F. May I still use this recipe and bake it for longer or will the custard not set?

    1. Mproco, you should be fine at 500°F. Just please don’t turn on the broiler, otherwise, the tops will be completely burnt. You might need to go a bit longer, but lower the temperature to 375°F or so.

  24. Have wanted to make Pastéis de Nata for a while now but have always been a bit too intimidated as they seemed a little complicated. However, I found this recipe easy to follow, with detailed step by step instructions, and was very happy with the outcome! They tasted delicious and looked authentic! I will definitely be making again in the future.

    10 pasteis de nata or Portuguese custard cups on a black marble surface

  25. I loved the pastry and the custard was creamy and well set. I did however want more flavour into the custard. How could I enfuse more flavour into it. Would you suggest more lemon rind, cinnamon stick via the hot milk or via the syrup. Thanks for the advice.

  26. Loved this recipe! I was craving these tarts after my holiday in Portugal and this recipe gets so close to the real thing (and, I’m not the best cook, but the recipe was easy to follow!). Thank you!

  27. I made these for my husband’s birthday, and they are incredible! Thanks so much for this beautiful recipe.

    I made them in standard muffin tins, which made 20 tarts. I baked them at 240°C/fan assisted (465°F/convection) for 16 minutes then turned them halfway through. Perfect!

    When making the pastry, I was very worried about how it would turn out because it is very fragile and tricky to work with. But I needn’t have worried…just be as delicate as possible and put the pastry cases in the fridge for 30 mins before filling with custard and putting them into the oven.

  28. Hi I’m going to make the custard but instead of making the pastry for the tarts I’m going to use Crossiants cut and pushed into small patty tins do you think the temperature should be as high?
    Thanks sandy.

    1. Sandy, we’ve never tried it that way, so I can’t be of much help. I know you won’t get the same quality or experience as you would with the recipe, or even using storebought puff pastry. But report back with your results!

  29. I just made these as a labor of love for my son and fiance, who recently ate them non-stop in Portugal at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem and everywhere else. They couldn’t stop raving about them and when I saw this recipe, I promised I’d attempt them. Well, I made them this week and yesterday we ate them when they visited for the weekend. The tarts were amazing! My son rated them 4 1/2 stars compared to the originals and 5 stars for overall enjoyment!

    I followed the recipe exactly. On Wednesday I made the dough. It was very time consuming but not difficult. It took more than 1 1/2 hours to keep rolling and rerolling. The trickiest part was rolling it to the 18″ dimensions. But I did the best I could, then cut the log in half, wrapped and froze them. On Friday I made the custard. I don’t have a thermometer so figured that once the sugar had disolved in the water, it was done.

    Thursday night I put one dough log in the refrigerator to defrost. Sunday morning I put it all together in a 12-cup mini muffin tin and baked the first batch. I baked each batch for about 11 minutes at 500 degrees for the custard to brown a bit. I let it cool a few minutes, and then we sprinkled confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon on top. They were amazing!!

    My son and future daughter-in-law now consider themselves experts on Pasteis de Nata. My son said “It was pretty close to the original except for the crust, which was a bit more crispy. The custard was very close to the original, a bit sweeter. Delicious!”

    They, my husband and I ate all 20 (the 2nd log is in the freezer) and had a wonderful breakfast! Don’t be afraid to make this. It’d a long process but definitely worth it, especialliy since you can make the dough in advance and freeze it. The custard made more than enough since I had leftover for the 2nd dough log (I halved the custard recipe since I was only making 20 tarts). I plan on making only 1/4 the custard recipe and freeze it with the remaining original extra custard and hopefully it will freeze well so that my younger son and girlfriend can try these when they visit!

    Thank you for this recipe! If you attemtp it, please don’t change it – follow it exactly and you will be pleased!

  30. Seven pastéis de nata--Portuguese custard pastries with flakey shells filled with a mottled burnt surface

    It was only a few years ago when I tried pastéis de nata for the first time and instantly fell in love with them. Being intimidated by their temperamental preparation, I never thought about making them myself. That was until I clapped eyes on David’s recipe.

    I’m not afraid of detailed recipes when it comes to baking as I prefer to stay alert every step of the way. Since the preparation of any kind of dough almost always puts me in a state of mental affliction, I feel much more confident when I have a thoroughly laid-out guidance to dough-making. I humbly list David’s pastéis de nata under this category of recipes.

    Pre-baking notes:
    – Following the dough preparation steps to the letter with much perseverance, I had no problem carrying out David’s instructions. The dough turned out great. I was a little clumsy placing the cut dough pieces in the cups, so they baked a little out-of-shape but I’ll do better next time.
    – For the custard, I prepared a little more than necessary because I had something different in mind. I wanted the custard to overflow so that it would create an imploded structure that’s reminiscent of the Yorkshire pudding! In order to do that, I filled the cups 5/6 full with custard, instead of 3/4 full. So it’s approximately a tablespoon of extra custard for each cup.

    Baking notes:
    – The only technical problem for me was the baking temperature. The highest temperature my oven could provide is 500°F, whereas the recipe calls for 550°F. That’s why I had to improvise a little. After 15 minutes of baking (I used a regular 12-cup muffin pan), I checked the pastries and they weren’t quite done yet, so I baked them for another 7 minutes. After 22 mins of total baking time, both the dough and the custard were well done.

    Post-baking notes:
    – The dough puffed a little more than it should. The next time I make these pastries, I’ll do the fork trick and see what happens.
    – The overflowing custard idea worked great. I obtained pastéis shaped like tiny edible bowls into which a choice of topping (I prefer a scoop of vanilla ice cream) would perfectly fit!
    – The custard recipe is so good that the baked pastries had this amazing shiny look as if they were glazed!
    – And the taste is… legendary. The ethereal smell of the baked flaky dough virtually announces the commencement of a delicious Saturnalia for taste buds. The frenzy of simple but elegant flavors is crowned with the regal quality of vanilla. It’s truly spectacular! I hope to enjoy more soon :)

    1. Baris–wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! These are the most gorgeous homemade pastéis de nata I’ve seen. And your baking notes are super helpful. Thank you for adding to the knowledge of these wonderful pastries.

  31. Hello, sir. I am a young home cook. I have made flaky-type Hong Kong egg tarts before, which are like Macau egg tarts, but less of the scorched exterior. (<Macau egg tarts are Portuguese egg tarts but kind of reinvented by the Chinese.) So I was wondering if I could use the type of tin I used for those tarts. Those are basically fluted tart tins made of very thin aluminum. Also, I’m curious if I could lower the sugar to 150g and add some vanilla extract to the sugar syrup. Thank you for this amazing recipe, sir! Sorry to bother you with so many questions even before I made the tarts.

    1. Hannah, first: Stop calling me “sir”! I feel so old when you do that. You can call me David.

      Yes, you can use those tins. You will most likely have to bake them a bit longer. (If you check out this comments above, others have done the same thing.)

      And I think lowering the sugar should be fine. I haven’t done it; my only fear is it might affect the consistency of the syrup.

  32. Wonderful recipe! I made a half batch as written and was amazed by the result. The tarts looked and tasted like those I ate in Lisbon. Two comments: for my mini muffin tin using thinner slices of the log produced a more pleasing ratio of crust to custard – 1/2″ or slightly less was perfect for me; I can’t believe with all the corrections and suggestions you received for this recipe, no one pointed out that 220 F is not the same as 100 C.

    1. mark, thanks for your comment. And I’m glad you found the right ratio for you between crust and custard. But I am confused: 220°F equals 104°C. We just rounded down 4°.

  33. I made hundreds of custards for an event using your fabulous recipe… I made several batches of custard along the way. Some of the batches seemed to curdle slightly when cooked, although the unbaked custard when poured was fine… did I over bake them, or do you have another suggestion?? They still tasted delicious… Many thanks x

    Seven large trays filled with hundreds of pasteis de nata, or small Portuguese custard pastries

  34. Amazing! Pastry is much better using cups not grams. I get 20 with a standard muffin tray. Made 4 times now.

  35. Hi there
    I’m in the UK, can you please put the measurements in grams/ounces? It’s really hard to convert and I’m confused by the recipe.

  36. Wowee what a cracker of a recipe! We have an annual Eurovision party with super foodie people, so the pressure’s always on to make something awesome and this recipe did not disappoint with this year’s theme Portuguese food. Although fairly complicated, the recipe was written very clearly. We cooked in a wood fired oven starting the first batch at 300 degrees (C) and the last batch was at 220. The first batch took 4.5 mins and the last batch 12 mins but they were all awesome. We made 2 1/4 inc (6cm) tarts as we had the extra heat from the wood fired oven. They were received with rave reviews. Thanks!

  37. Hello David,

    I tried making these beauties, and boy they didn’t disappoint. However, I found them too sweet. The next time I make them, I will reduce the amount of sugar and hopefully achieve the desired results. I took the liberty to share your page with a group on facebook.

  38. My son and his Portuguese girlfriend stayed this weekend and we made these together – huge success!! The pastry was crisp and flaky, and the cinnamon custard was delicious. I had my doubts whilst making them but they turned out beautifully and were very authentic. Thanks for a great recipe!

  39. This recipe is great, I have had them in the famous cafe, and while it will never be the same it is very close. Close enough that when ever my Portuguese family are in town I have an obligation to make them. They even purchased some tins for me from Lisbon.

    I have made them till now in a traditional oven (full-sized tins) at high altitude 4500 feet at 475°F for 14 minutes and have had mixed results. Even the mistakes are great to eat! :)

    Now in a convection oven that cooks at 550°F, the first batch baked for 14 minutes, and the dough was soft and not crispy. I did not thumb this batch, so I can not say if they were as thin as they could have been. The tops got that nice “burn.”

    Next batch had thin bottoms and baked at 550°F for 15 minutes. I hope to get this dialed. Thanks for making this recipe public. :)

    One line that I remember from the baker in Lisbon is, “The dough must be so thin, like bible paper!” good luck there, ha ha. I get it thin but not that thin.

    1. Barrymore, convection ovens will always do a better job of browning the top. That’s what they have in Lisbon. I didn’t mention that in the recipe, because when I developed it, few people had convection settings. I think I shall add it. And if you have a soggy bottom (or rather your pastéis do), it usually means that dough it too thick. So glad you liked them.

  40. I made these for Easter and they were a big hit! I had been too intimidated to make these previously but they were actually pretty easy. I used a scale to weigh ingredients and used a mini muffin pan. Per my oven thermometer, my oven got up to 600 degrees and I still didn’t get the burn marks on the custard! So I cheated and used a torch! Our Portuguese family was very happy! Will definitely make these again.

    1. Jana, hurrah! I’m thrilled that you liked them so much and that it worked for you. Yes, I’ll admit: It is a bit of an intimating recipe–but only from a distance. When you get into it, it’s fun and the results are delicious!

      As far as not getting a brown top, try this next time: Place a baking stone above and another one below the rack the pastries will be baked on. Let the oven and stones heat up. Give this a good long time, as the stones need extra time to heat up. This creates an intense mini oven that mimics what they have in Belem.

  41. Hi David,

    My husband was born in Brazil, and we always buy pasteis de Mata when we visit Newark, NJ. We decided today to try to make our own. We are so impressed with ourselves! Thank you for the great, easy-to-follow recipe. We had no shrinking dough, no boil overs, and no regrets!

    Portuguese custard pastries--crust shells filled with yellow custard--also called pasteis de nata on a wire rack

  42. I work at a bakery and constantly see them pumping out Portuguese tarts every day and they’re always so popular. So, when I had some egg yolks left over from a recipe I decided to give this recipe a try. Since I was short on time, I used store-bought puff pastry but applied some butter in between layers as I was rolling it out. When they came out of the oven, the tops were a lovely golden brown and the pastry was golden as well. A few of the bottoms were a little doughy due to me not thinning them out enough and the custard spilled out of a few, but they were delicious. I plan on making them again soon so this time I’ll be sure to thin out my pastry as well as pull the dough all the way up the sides.

  43. Over the years I have tried various recipes for the Portuguese custard tarts and decided that I’m better off just buying them. Even when they did turn out, they were too time-consuming. When I saw this recipe some time ago, I thought I’d like to give it a try. I was looking for a recipe that I could flavour with juniper berries for a dinner party with venison as the main. These tarts were familiar to my guests, so I thought I’d go for the wow factor and switch up the cinnamon stick for crushed juniper berries. I also used shallow fluted tart tins and ready-made puff pastry that I always keep in the freezer for last minute preparations. The yield on the filling was 8 tarts. I loved that I could keep the filling refrigerated until ready to use as well as the preprepared tart crusts. My oven doesn’t heat above 500°F, so I baked these for 17 minutes. What an amazing velvety, creamy, tasty filling dotted with just the right scorch to identify as inspired by pastéis de nata! Can’t wait to make these again with the cinnamon in the mini tins and serve them to my Portuguese family! Perfect filling recipe for Portuguese custard tarts!

  44. Phenomenal. I love baking and I usually only make recipes that receive 4.5 stars and above on over 1000 reviews. And this recipe makes the cut–simply fantastic. My husband and I have been going to the Italian Centre and we often sit with a hot cup of tea and enjoy one of these. But I thought I’d give this recipe a go at home and it surpasses those in the Italian Centre. Thank you for sharing.

  45. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I’ve tried others in the past, which weren’t so great. Gonna buy the ingredients today and hope it all turns out well, so I can surprise my family. We grew up with these having these as a weekly treat now living here in Florida we cannot get them. Only when we go back home to Massachusetts for vacation we get to enjoy these. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  46. Hi there.

    So this is the third time I’ve attempted to make Pastel de Nata. My puff pastry is so puffed that they look like big bite custard canapés. The first time I burnt them, the second was a success but didn’t have much of a puff.

    It seems like this time it rose for all the attempts. Any ideas why it did so?

    Two muffin tins in an oven filled with pasteis de nata or Portuguese custard cups

    1. Beverlie, sorry, but I had to laugh at your comment. Thank God I have a lot of hair because I pull some out every time I make these.

      Just know: This is a finicky recipe. The reason why your puff puffed so much is that you made it EXTREMELY well. It means your layers of dough were well laminated with butter. One thing you can do to prevent this is to prick the dough with a fork or toothpick before adding the filling. It allows steam to escape.

  47. I finally decided to give these tarts a try since moving to Minnesota and realizing I could not find these here anywhere. I was a bit nervous attempting to make these but this recipe turned out exactly the I had hoped. I had a bit of difficulty of working with the pastry – it stuck to the table quite a bit even quite a bit of flour. I was afraid I wasn’t going get those layers because my folding technique wasn’t all that great, but after baking them I managed to see all those great layers. This recipe was great! I loved it!

    Also as a side note for those making it in the reg, sized muffin pans – I kept mine in the oven for 12mins and they came out perfect.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Ashely, Brava! These little suckers aren’t easy to make–especially in full-size muffin tins. Thanks for your timing note, too. Do you happen to have a photo, perchance?

  48. I see you say you need mini muffin tin with 2 inch by 5/8 inch wells. Can you clarify what that means. I have regular muffin tins that measure 2 5/8 inch’s in diameter. I think mini muffin tins are much much smaller than that. So is what I have correct? I just measured the top of the muffin tin well from one side to the other and it measured 2 5/8 inches wide.

    1. Hello, Dan. Sure. The tins are 2 inches in diameter but only 5/8 inch high. Many readers here have made them in larger tins, and that’s fine. (I often make them in the original individual tins.) Just make sure to cook them a bit longer.

  49. Hi David, I want to make these for a friend’s birthday, but I only have a standard sized muffin tin. In your recipe, you direct to roll the dough to an inch in diameter and 16 inches long, and to cut it into scant 3/4-inch pieces. Do you have any recommendation on dough dimensions and cooking time for a standard muffin sized tin versus the mini muffins?

    1. Cara, it’s been a long time since I made them in a regular-sized tin. But go with 1 1/2 inches. (Your yield will be less, of course.) Then increase the baking time. Some of our readers have found 16 to 17 minutes is best.

      1. Thank you! One more question…I saw you said the dough can be made the day before and refrigerated, do you think the dough would last a few days in the fridge if I had to make it a little more in advance?

  50. Just made these today. The first bite into my test pastry immediately took me back to Portugal! Since I live at an altitude of 4000 feet, the cooking time varies slightly where I am, but in general following the recipe as written worked pretty well. I had to experiment with rack position and baked in a slightly larger muffin tin at 500°F, although I had some issues getting the bottom to brown due to my inconsistent gas oven temperature. It seems that straight out of the fridge my dough was already the right length and diameter, so after my first batch I decided to skip rolling a bit thinner and went straight to cutting the pieces (1 inch for the larger tin size). This helped maintain the crispy, chewy crust, since I handled the dough less. The custard also can jiggle very slightly when you take it out so that it doesn’t overcook. Thanks for sharing the tasty recipe! My whole family enjoyed the pastries.

  51. After tasting the originals my daughter and son-in-law brought me as they flew home through Portugal, and deciding they were the best thing I’ve ever eaten, I was on a quest to find a recipe I could bake in my Kansas kitchen!! After searching I found this recipe and finally today gave it a try.

    Although this first time through I cheated and used refrigerated puff pastry dough, I followed the custard recipe and baking according to how it is written with the exception that my oven would only go to 525 degrees. The thin custard made me nervous, but I trusted the process.

    I did bake 12 pastries in regular sized US muffin tins, which seemed a perfect amount to accomplish the crust explained in the recipe. Although a few of mine I must have gotten too thin on the bottom as some filling drained through, I refilled and popped in the hot oven.

    After 11 minutes at 525 degrees these beautiful danishes came out of the oven browned beautifully, shiny and even a few browned circles like the original!! After a very short cool, and carefully taking them out of the pans, it was finally time to try them!

    With a steaming cup of coffee we all very, very much enjoyed them and my daughter and husband insisted they were better than the originals. I however, enjoyed every bite, but know by cheating with the purchased puff pastry they were not what they should be and could have been close to the first perfect one I tasted if I had made it myself.

    Thank you for this fantastic recipe!! Next time I will honor these great, special pastries and follow the recipe all the way through!

  52. Hi, David. Just to say that I made the Portuguese tart recipe recently, and it was a hit. It was the strangest dough I have ever worked with, and I was quite skeptical it would turn out but it was really light and crispy–so amazing. It was quite sticky and I think I’ll give it another try at some point as I’d make a few adjustments in my technique. Making a custard with sugar syrup was also new to me and could not believe the custard was able to set in the 9 minute baking time. I’m glad I stuck with it. I baked them in a standard 12 cup muffin tin and was able to make about 26 tarts overall.

    Pasties de Nata | Portuguese Custard Cups Recipe

    1. TG, your tarts look amazing! The dough is different, I agree. I’m continually trying to perfect this recipe for readers, so I would love to know what changes you made to it. We can compare notes!

    1. Nadine, alas no. I have seen some people who freeze them after they’re baked, but I can’t imagine they are any good. Even the famous pastéis from Portugal are just meh the day after baking. These are best made and eaten the sam day.

  53. Thank you so much for this recipe! My husband lived in Portugal for 2 years and craves the food! I made these for his birthday and he was in heaven. Thank you for the detailed instructions that made making them so easy! I will be making them again (probably for his birthday every year!)

  54. I’m very excited to make the recipe, I’m in the process or re-reading and unstanding the recipe.

    My one question is about the butter, this is the first time I have seen a pastry using room temperature stirred butter, could you tell me what this process is called?

    To me it almost seems like phyllo or filo dough with butter spread!

      1. Do you know of other recipes that use this method.

        I have worked with all kinds of pastry dough but always using cold butter or pliable, I have never used temperature room stirred butter that you spread onto the dough! I am still having a hard time visualizing the process, do you have a video?

        I am just very intrigued, do pasteis de nata recipes (including the dough of course) use this method?

        1. Ogi, it’s the ONLY recipe I know that uses it. I don’t have a video. (I know, I know, I keep promising). Imagine spreading soft butter on white bread. I use a small offset spatula and carefully spread the butter over the thinly rolled pastry dough.

          1. Total success on the first try – 500 degree convection oven, one half the recipe worked perfectly, the pastry was flawless, beautiful golden custard with brown spots too. The Belem custard tarts are a tad better but these will keep us happy much closer to home.

          2. Do you have this recipe in grams instead of cups? I measure everything and would love to know the measurements in weight thank you!

  55. Hi David,
    Pastéis de Nata are my absolute favorite pastries in the whole world (closely followed by Apple Strudel)! :) I’m not Portuguese but I grew up eating these pastries at our local Chinese bakery in Peru! In fact, I always identified this type of pastry with China and not Portugal. But I, later on, learned that these egg tarts were introduced in China by Portugal. Chinese food is extremely popular in Peru (where we call them “Chifas”), but Chifas didn’t sell pastries. For that, you had to go to a Chinese bakery! Unfortunately, I can’t remember what they were called in Spanish (you would just point them with your finger at the counter and you would get them!). Another Chinese pastry that I loved was the “bow ties” or “corbatas” which were really yummy but sticky because they were glazed with some kind of dense syrup. When I moved to the States I learned that Pastéis de Nata were originally from Portugal and, lucky for me back then, there was a Portuguese grocery store close to my apartment…so I indulged in them as much as I could! One of the reasons I bought your cooking book was because of the recipe for the Pastéis de Nata. I need to bake them again! :)

  56. Hi David,
    When you say to cut the log in half, you mean to slice it crosswise and not lengthwise correct?


  57. Hi David,

    I did it! I made the pastry with your recipe, except I used pure cream, no milk, vanilla bean, cornflour (cornstarch) instead of flour, and it all worked. The pastry isn’t as nice as yours but it was my first time making puff pastry, so it may get better?

    I rested the dough overnight and used aluminum pans. I had the oven on the highest heat and cooked them for 15 minutes. I watched them and they looked like the wanted a longer time to cook. Here they are.

    Pastéis de Nata Recipe

    I grow a vanilla bean orchid, fresh vanilla beans on tap. See picture. They are expensive to buy but so easy to grow. Even a cutting they grow well. We have been to New York from the Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia many times and adored our time there.

    Vanilla Bean Plant

    I started reading your site and every stroke has the reader gaining personal growth. Amazing.

    Since the death of my mother, I look at items I buy or hold dear, they are all about triggers of our memories. Things you can keep, that stay with you renewing precious memories from those no longer with us.

    It is amazing that when you search the web for a recipe, you get a journey from an author with such depth and a soul that is so generous.

    Thank you, David.

    Kind regards

    1. My, Janine. Those are handsome pastéis de nata! I’m sure with a bit of practice, the pastry will be perfect. And I’m jealous of you having a vanilla plant. Alas, it would never grown here.

      Thank you kindly for your words. It means a lot to me. I never wanted to have have a site that was only recipes. I wanted to connect with readers in a different way, a more personal (and sometimes non-food) way.

  58. Hi David I have just finished making the Portugese custard tarts unfortunately I had pools of butter and the pastry fried instead of puffing I did follow instructions (I thought ) very well but something definately went wrong! Do you have suggestions on overcoming this with the pastry, the custard tasted great
    Thanks Tony

    1. Tony, was the dough thoroughly, completely chilled? Is your oven correctly calibrated? If your oven is cool, it would cause the butter to melt before the pastry had a change to puff a bit.

  59. Hi, David – Thanks for answering. The recipe in your book does call for “blind-baking,” (filling the shells with rice or beans to pre-bake them) though it doesn’t use that terminology – Therefore, I assumed you had used this technique. In the most recent effort, the pastry was thicker after blind-baking, therefore didn’t hold as much custard. Maybe, I need to be sure to pay more attention to form-fitting each piece to the muffin cup sides, then pricking well and freezing before blind-baking. Nothing burned this time – I blind-baked at 350, then baked with the custard at 425, then broiled for a couple minutes to get some brown spots. Custard tasted great right after baking, but was a little overdone after it continued to cook on the counter. Put them in the fridge as I am trying to determine if I could make a day ahead of serving. Somewhere I read that it is possible to Reheat a bit before serving (Was that you or someone else??). What did you mean when you said that people found the heavy cream “easier״ to use than milk? How about light cream?

    1. Ah, now I understand!! I added the blind baking instructions in the book because it calls for packaged pastry. (My editors felt the recipe would be too long if we included the pastry recipe, too.) There’s no need to blind bake with this recipe. The handmade pastry should be very thin as you pull it up the sides. Also, you’re using full-size tins versus the mini tins, which does make a difference. Regarding making a day ahead, I find they never come out the same. I prefer to let the handmade dough and custard sit overnight in the fridge and then assemble and bake them the day of if I’m in a rush. And about milk vs. cream, some testers found it easier to burn the milk rather than cream. If this doesn’t give you the answers you need, please drop me an email with your telephone number and we can chat. david [at] leitesculinaria [.] com.

      1. Thanks again for your help. I think I had better blind-bake as I am using the packaged puff pastry. Maybe I can do that and then let the shells sit on the counter overnight and fill and bake on the 31st. How long would you feel comfortable about letting the finished custards sit unrefrigerated? Did I mention that these are for our annual New Year’s Eve dinner party at which we serve dishes inspired by the year’s travel (2016 included Cuba, Portugal, and Spain!). This is one of three desserts – The chocolate salami is done and in the freezer; the Pasteis de Tentúgal is a snap to make – I tested once and was happy with the result. Only P de Nata has given me fits – great test for whether or not your oven browns evenly!! I may have to chicken out and do them ahead. I did slightly reheat one tonight – Not bad and it would solve the problem of how long to leave unrefrigerated after baking. Interesting answer about the milk vs. cream. Maybe light cream is the answer. What do you think they use in Belem? I would love to chat with you – Will send you my phone number by email with a copy of this post.

        1. Sounds like a divine dinner, Kathy. To make pastéis de nata well takes a lot of practice. And, if I am to be entirely frank, no cookbook recipe I have ever tried (and I have tried a gazillion) comes truly close to the original. So don’t be hard on yourself.

          When I visited the Confeitaria de Bélem, I was told it’s the custard is a secret recipe. I can say that the custard that goes in the shells is thick. Much thicker than this recipe. But this version came from a former chef at the Portuguese restaurant Alfama in NYC, who is from Lisbon.

          1. Once again, thanks! I think I will concentrate on 1) making sure the shells are really thin; 2) making the custard thicker (Hope this is not a mistake); 3) Watch the baking like a hawk to avoid burning.

              1. I did send it. Maybe it is in your spam folder. I will send it again and maybe we can compare notes AFTER New Years. Just made the Tentugal – Did I say it was a snap? Well, only if you live in a humid climate. It must have been a little bit humid in Denver last week. Today, however, is very dry and I could not work fast enough and uncover the filo, one sheet at a time, before it would totally dry out! So they are tasty, but not as pretty as last week’s.

                  1. The Pasteis de Nata were very good. Attached is a photo. I decided to make the custard using mostly half-and-half cream and cornstarch instead of flour—this created a thick custard which I refrigerated overnight and baked in my prebaked shells which had sat on the counter overnight. I left the finished tarts on the counter until dinner time, when our New Year’s Eve guests polished off quite a few! Even the next morning, the leftover custards were smooth and thick though the crust had hardened. Someday, when I am not creating an entire dinner, I may make the dough from scratch.

                    David, I also made your codfish and shrimp fritters for appetizers, but didn’t get a chance to photograph them before they were all gobbled up (a huge success). My husband loves the milk mayo (we have a lot left of that).

                    Pasteis de Nata Recipe

                    1. Kathy, they look great! So happy everyone loved them. And I love that you made the codfish and shrimp fritters. They’re one of my favorites. Happy 2017!

                    2. Hi David, can I used half cream half milk? Also can I scrap a vanilla bean and add that instead of the vanilla extract.

                      David, what a kind generous person you are. Thanks for all of your amazing tips I am in Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia. I will attach a photo when I bake these.

                      Thank you.

                    3. Janine, I think you certainly can on both counts. I had only one way of making these until all of our wonderful readers came to us with variations. Looking forward to seeing your creations. And, thanks for the compliment.

  60. Hi, David – I am experimenting with making these pastries in preparation for a New Year’s Eve party next week. Used commercial puff pastry. Made them once in mini pans and did not like the result except that they did brown on top. The effort in regular muffin pans was better, but custard did not brown so I broiled for a couple of minutes – Then the custard was browned with the spots, but overdone a bit and the pastry was burned on edges. In both cases, I “blind-baked” the pastry shells, pricking the bottoms and using the technique with beans to keep the shell in place (have done this with pie shells for years). Next time I think I will have to bake them at a lower temp (350 F maybe) so that they don’t brown and later, when under the broiler, burn. Do I need to cook the filled tarts in regular muffin tins for less time or at a temp lower than 425 F so that they don’t overcook? Of course, I am comparing the results to what we had last fall in Portugal – Not there yet, but I will probably be happy if the pastry doesn’t burn and the custard is not overlooked! Oh – and I have your book “The New Portuguese Table,” in which the recipe does call for heavy cream instead of milk – Any comment on that?

    1. Kathy, as I’ve said to others, this recipe is a tough one!! It’s so delicate and complicated. On top of that, you’ve made so many changes that unless I go through a series of batches recreating what you did, I really can’t give you a definitive answer!! I’m so sorry. I’ve never blind-baked the pastries. One suggest is trying a baking stone. It will allow for more even heating. Do you have a brulee torch? That might help direct the browning to the custard and not the pastry. I used cream in the cookbook recipe because people found the cream easier to use. Either is fine.

  61. Hi, I’ve always been too afraid to even try to make these, but finally dared with this recipe, and it was a glorious triumph (in my humble opinion)! Thanks.

    But I’d like to join the call for a metric version, especially for the pastry: All the converters I use result in too liquid a dough for the pastry (260gr flour and 200 gram water). At the moment I’m just adding flour until it seems stiff enough… And does one really need 225gr butter? I found 200gr plenty.

    Similarly for the filling, 260gr sugar makes this very sweet, and I’m no sugar minimizer.

    All I want for Christmas is the metric version, please, I’ve been a good boy.
    I have a suggestion that I’m sure will improve this in any oven, but especially in ordinary kitchen ovens (max. approx. 240 C): Heat the oven on the maximum for at least 40 minutes with a “pizza steel/oven” or similar heat accumulator. Place the tin directly on the steel, and see the pastry crisp up even right at the bottom, I frankly don’t think it is worth baking this otherwise in a normal kitchen oven

    1. Andre…and you didn’t take notes as you cooked so you could figure out the metric?! (Just joking.) After the holidays, we plan on tackling this. Right now all our kitchens are bursting with recipe testing as well as recipes for our families. But hang in there, it’s coming!

  62. Hi David

    Do you have a video of this recipe, I’m a newbie at baking and just a little confused about folding the dough. Would be grateful if you can help, thanks.

  63. Hi David! Thank you for the recipe. I just had a question.. it’s it 1 1/3 cups of sugar and 2/3 cups of water? Or is it 2 1/3 of water..? I want to make sure the ratio is exact. Thank you!

  64. Hi, David. Great recipe! The method for the puff pastry though was a little bit too advanced for me. Butter kept seeping out because it was probably hot in the house. The result was the pastry did not have layers and didn’t puff up so much. Do you think rough puff pastry method can be used? Also, I was wondering if I can use a vanilla bean instead of extract. Thanks!

    1. Rodney, yes, rough puff would work. Just make sure to do the rolling process because it creates the characteristic spiral. And yes, vanilla bean would work, too.

  65. Dear David, is there a way to get the list of ingredients in grams? The converter on the page was of no help unfortunately. I bake a lot but I use scales- it’s easier and accurate. Scales are commonly used by home bakers across Europe. I can not even imagine trying to measure butter by spoon :) but being serious: not two cups of flour will weigh the same, as you know. Some flours are densely packed, some are not…

    1. Marta, many thanks for your query. We completely agree with you that weights are vastly more accurate for baking. We’ve been including metric equivalents in our recipes for many months now but this recipe was developed prior to that using (you guessed it) cups and spoons. We’re retesting the recipe, using our metric conversions, and as soon as we have the amounts perfected we’ll drop you a note. Should take us no longer than a few days. Many thanks for your patience!

      1. Thank you. I’m looking forward to revised recipe. I recalculated the recipe using on- line converters but I’m not sure if the end result was perfect. The dough was very pliable and soft, too soft to handle properly. Also my oven’s top temperature is 250C, What would be ideal baking time? I’d suggest adding slice of lemon rind as well as cinnamon stick while making custard and using a bit more salt in the dough.

        1. Marta, was the dough pliable after it had been properly refrigerated? It shouldn’t have been.

          As far as baking time, we didn’t test the recipe at 250°C, so you’ll have to watch carefully. My guess is an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

          Many people do add lemon to the custard. That wasn’t what I was taught, but it is lovely!

  66. Hi! I bought a couple of boxes in Lisbon as gifts and I couldn’t give them out today. Should I refrigerate them for tomorrow or just leave them?

    1. Antonia, they can be refrigerated, but you might get some puddling of liquid (sugar) on top. Just blot them with a paper towel. I always like to reheat them in a warm oven before serving again.

  67. Hello David,
    A group of us are off to Lisbon and the Algarve next week and we had a planning dinner last night. A friend had told me about these tarts so I decided to make them and after surfing the net decided your recipe would be the closest to the real thing (which we’ve never had!)

    I used commercial puff pastry and some smallish but not mini-muffin cups and despite my not reading your directions properly the tarts turned out not bad. In fact the others loved them! I just have a couple of suggestions, things that I found later by scrolling through the comments, that would be helpful if you added them to the directions: explain that the custard will be runny, but that it will firm up in the baking. (Other recipes require a thick custard so it becomes confusing). Also, you respond to one query by saying the dough should be paper thin, but you talk about 1/8″ in the directions. I think you could change that 1/8″ to 1/16″ as it makes a pretty thick base. Finally, as to the size of muffin tins, that is a challenge. I have several mini-muffin tins but they are smaller than your dimensions, so I had to go to one very old pan with smallish cups and one regular modern pan. There really wasn’t any difference in how they baked, other than I had to bake them for about 11-12 minutes. The hard part was figuring out how much pastry for each tin. I realised I had put too much in, but even so, the tarts were yummy. Thanks!

  68. Hi David! Thanks for the recipe, I loved them. I have one small question though, mine didn’t turn out “shiny,” the custard comes out of the oven opaque…What could I be doing wrong?

  69. I just made these in standard muffin tins and they turned out PERFECT. I halved the recipe and got 12 muffin-sized pastéis. Read in the comments a bit, so I made sure the bottoms were thin and pricked with a fork. I pulled the dough up around the rim of the tins so it wouldn’t slide down too much, which worked fine, they shrunk just the right amount. About 7 min on 250°C, then 6-7 more on 225. Browned them a bit with one of those Créme Brulée -broiler thingies. My flatmates are already demanding more, so I will definitely do this again! Thank you!

    Pasteis de Nata Recipe

  70. Hi David!!

    Greetings from Singapore. I tried your recipe, and I really liked the cinnamon blend to it. I think I didn’t do great on the crust, but I can definitely try again. If I’m making the crust and custard in advance, how long can in keep them in the fridge? Should it be kept freezed or chilled?

    Appreciate all your help!


    1. Arcane, thanks of the kind words. I admit this recipe is a hard one. You can keep the custard mixture and dough in the fridge for a few days. The dough can be frozen up to 3 months. You shouldn’t freeze the custard mixture.

      1. Thanks for your prompt response David. I’m looking forward to my next trial session. Thinking of blending in a little lemon and cream cheese for some of my folks who love ’em this way. But I’m gunna keep the lovely cinnamon definitely. =)

  71. Hi David! I can’t wait to try your recipe. My son is going to Lisbon early next month for some music festival. I am definitely asking him to bring me some pasteis tins. Can you suggest of other related stuff I should ask him to bring! When are you going to make a video of this recipe?

    P.S. The website belongs to my son (junior), feel free to visit.

    1. Eddie, hope you like it. I can say that what your son will have at the Confeitaria de Belém is a million times better than any recipe I have ever had from a home cook. The pastéis are divine. As far as related cooking items, how about a cataplana?

  72. Hi David, i have not tried this recipe but i was just wondering if the 3-TBS flour for the custard was a typo or thats how it really was.

  73. Hi Dave,
    Thank you so much for your recipe. Everyone at my son’s graduation party loved your tarts. I couldnt believe they turned out so well given it was my first try. I have one question though, the instructions said to roll out the dough into 18 in square but there was not enough dough to do that. The most I could do was 10-12 inch. Also, for anyone who wants it less sweet, I reduced the sugar down to 150 grams and it was still delicious!.

    1. anh, so happy to hear they were such a success! Congratulations, and on your first time. About the dough square, my only advice would be to keep rolling. It takes time and patience, but you do get there.

  74. Hi David……Do you have a recipe for Lemon Torte cake? (the one that looks like a rolled up pin wheel?)

  75. Hi David,
    When storing the custard for later use in the fridge, do you warm it again prior to filling the pastry and baking it?

  76. Hi, David I’m making these for a school project. How do I ensure that they will turn out great and be tasty for my class? I’ve read some other comments about the dough. How do I make sure that does not happen to me?

    1. Hi, Jessie. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can say except follow the directions very, very carefully. To be extra sure, why not make a batch before the project, that way you can know exactly what the whole process is like.

  77. David, do you ever use lemon at all for your pasteis? I’ve had some amazing ones in Portugal and I always taste a tiny hint of lemon in there. But I could be wrong I guess, I’m no expert.

  78. Hi David, can I make the pastry without any kind of mixer? Is there any other alternatives for not using mixer at all? I don’t want to buy pastry in supermarket but I don’t have a mixer. Many thaks before, Monika

  79. Thanks for the recipe, I can`t wait to try it!

    Could you clarify how much confectioner’s sugar to use? I don’t see an quantities listed.


      1. Ahh, it’s used as a garnish. I saw it listed with the ingredients to make the custard, and thought it was added in with everything else.

        Thanks for your quickly reply.

  80. Hi David,

    I am hoping to make the pastry tonight however, I have re-read the instructions (& read basically every comment) but I am still struggling with understanding what you mean here:

    4. Brush the excess flour off the top of the dough, trim any uneven edges, and, using a small offset spatula, dot and then spread the left 2/3 portion of the dough with a little less than 1/3 of the butter being careful to leave a 1 inch plain border around the edge of the dough.

    5. Neatly fold the unbuttered right 1/3 of the dough (using the pastry scraper to loosen it if it sticks) over the rest of the dough. Brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left 1/3 of the dough. Starting from the top, pat down the dough with your hand to release any air bubbles, and then pinch the edges of the dough to seal. Brush off any excess flour.

    So I butter 2/3 of it, and then stretch the unbuttered 1/3 out so it covers the other 2/3 and roll? Sorry – I just cannot get my head around this point. I’ll have to youtube puff pastry recipes online to see if anyone uses a similar technique.


    1. Think of a letter, Claudia, that’s folded in thirds, but instead of the folds being horizontal, they’re vertical. (Have the top of the letter to the left, the bottom of the letter to the right.) Butter the top and middle sections of the “letter.” Fold the bottom third over the just the middle third. Now fold the top third over the bottom third–the same way you fold a letter. So now you should have a folded letter of dough that has three layers of dough with two layers of butter: dough, butter, dough, butter, dough. Better?

      1. Thanks for the clarification David. We got there in the end (two of us figured it out haha). My dough is in the fridge now and I am going to make the custard tomorrow night. I think my dough came out all wrong though… Maybe there wasn’t enough flour because the butter kept bursting through the dough and it was very, very sloppy and sticking to everything and hard to work with. I didn’t use as much water as the recipe called for as I had read the reviews.

        This is my first time ever making puff pastry so I expect many mistakes to be made. Do you have any tips for me? I’m in Australia so not sure if there’s a difference in cups to volumes?

        1. Claudia, I won’t mince words: This is a hard recipe, especially the dough. It takes practice. You do want to make sure things are nicely dusted with flour; that’s make fiddling with it easier. Also, try rolling it out on a floured nonstick sheet, if you have it, and when the butter gets obstinate, slide the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes.

  81. David, thanks so much for the recipe. We were in Portugal last October and loved these!! We try not to overdo the sweets, but these tarts were so great we could not–and did not–resist!

  82. Hi David,
    Wow! You have a lot of Q&A from people…so I apologize if this is a repeated question.

    I will be going to Lisbon in a few weeks and am really looking forward to having A LOT of Pastel de Natas!!!!! So my questions to you are:

    I know your recipe calls for All purpose flour, however, for true authentic Pastels de Natas do they use a specific flour that can be bought in Portugal or London? And, can you freeze the pastels for another day? If so, how do you recommend thawing it to obtain the crisp?

    Wonderful blog by the way… very informative.

    Kind regards,

    1. Caliclare, I’ve not heard of the Portuguese using any particular type of flour. I’ve always be instructed to use all-purpose. And I wouldn’t suggest freezing. These little bad boys won’t do well in the freezer. And if I may, I suggest you try the pastéis at the Confeitaria de Belém. The original. And if you try to make these after you go, realize they won’t the same. It’s hard for a home version to live up to the great ones at the Confeitaria.

  83. Hi David

    I have been making these delicious custard cups for a while and I just have a question I’m hoping you can maybe give me some guidance. Lately if I save them from one day to the next they seem to crack in the center and look like they are old. Is there a reason this is happening. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


    1. Sally, that’s not uncommon. Sudden cooling can cause them to contract and crack. So can overbaking. (Have you check your oven’s temp?) The thing is, these little jewels are best eaten the same day. They’re never as good as they are on the day you make them, hot out of the oven.

  84. HI David,

    I’ve made lots of different types of baked custards before. I recently learned about pastel de nadas and stumbled upon your blog. I wanted to try out the recipe, but as I’m reading it, it says to make a soft candy syrup. This is the first time I’ve heard of making a custard by cooking the sugar to the soft thread stage. Could you please tell me the purpose of this step?

    1. Hi Cuong, from what the chef told me, you want the syrup temp high enough so that when it’s added to the milk-flour mixture it will cook off the flour flavor and makes the mixture warm enough, but not so warm that it will then cook the eggs.

  85. Hi David,

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I just attempted it for the first time, and it turned out pretty well, but I had a few issues (apologies in advance for the long post).

    When making the dough, after adding the butter, folding, and rolling again, the butter squished out of the edges. I think this may have been because of air bubbles. I tried to get them out but I guess I didn’t get all of them. Is this normal?

    Also, I found the pastry to custard ratio was higher than I would have liked. I think this is because of the mini muffin tins. I couldn’t fit much filling into each pastry. I was thinking of trying again with a full-sized muffin tin and was wondering if anyone has had success with full-sized muffin tins.

    I also had an issue with butter dripping from the pan and smoking up my oven. I’m not sure if this is because the butter wasn’t fully contained in the layers of dough (see above)? The dough itself turned out pretty perfect–very similar to the authentic ones–so I’m inclined to think there was nothing too wrong with it.

    Finally, a few of the natas lost most of their filling as it spilled over the top. I’m thinking this could also be fixed by using a larger muffin tin. Thoughts?


    Pasteis de Nata Recipe

    1. Melissa, first let me say the pastries look pretty damn good! Brava. Let me try to address your concerns the best I can.

      1. With the squishing out of the butter, the air bubbles can cause that as well as getting the butter too close to the edge. Step 4 says to get the butter to 1 inch of the edge. This instruction takes into consideration the fact that it will spread when rolled again. If this begins to happen again, let the dough with the butter spread on top sit in the fridge for a bit. Also, your kitchen might be too warm.

      2. Because it can be hard for larger pastries to cook all the way through before burning on the bottom is the reason we call for the mini-muffin tin. (As the LC note above says, the ovens in Portugal get up to 800 degrees, which flash bakes these.) Some folks have had success with regular-size muffin tins. Read through the comments for some tips. But also, you might be putting in too much dough for the size of your mini tins. Don’t worry about using all the dough. The raw shell itself should be thin on the bottom as well as the sides, getting slightly thicker at the top.

      3. The butter dripping from the pan happens to me, too. Since they came out well, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      4. The filling spilling over the top is most likely due to the bottoms of the dough shells being too thick. It expands, causing the custard to spill over.

  86. gave these a bash now. only had two eggs, so had to apply some math to get the ratios right. the custard is runny like yellow milk, but i checked some comments and saw that’s normal. i didn’t do the dough, because as usual i don’t read a recipe a day or so before i try it. i ended up using a half roll of puff pastry, which turned out to be too much, sort of – i cut the slices a bit thick, so the pastry is about 5mm or so over the top. if i cut them thinner, then i think i would have been able to make a few more as there’s a little of the “yellow milk” left. :) i got about 12 out of it. i also think my muffin tray is a bit smaller than the one you suggest (it’s the only one we have).

    i’ll have to try this recipe a few times to figure it out. i’m also quite keen to make the dough as well. i’ll give it another bash in a few weeks and do the dough on saturday so i can bake on sunday.

    30 minutes later….

    took them out the oven, let them cool down while i washed up the entire house (i tend to make the flour go EVERYWHERE) and finally made a coffee and sat down. took a bite and oh man, they’re nice. better than the shop’s ones i think. perfect for like a party snack seeing as they’re so tiny. great recipe. will definitely be doing this again.

    (my wife’s engrossed in her writing, so she better snap out of it soon or else she’s going to end up only having the two i put on her plate… or i might also steal those and claim she was just imagining that i was baking)

    Pasteis de Nata Recipe

    1. wernich,

      I’m happy you liked the pastéis. And you seem like a nice, decent guy, so I’m not going to chide. (But, dude! You gotta read the recipe! Think how much better they’d be.)

      When you make them again, and I hope you will, tell me how they come out. And I certainly hope your poor wife, who was slaving over her writing, got to have a few.

      1. i can’t believe it’s been this long since i made these the first time. this time i followed the recipe properly and even made the dough. i made the dough on sunday and then monday and tuesday turned out to be late working days, so only got to make it now. taking the effort to make the dough and not just use a roll of puff pastry certainly makes a difference. so crispy and flaky and makes a mess everywhere when you take a bite – perfect!

        i’m super happy with how they turned out. even taking some to work tomorrow to show off… i mean share.