Today David shares one of my favorite Portuguese recipes ever — the famous pastel de nata recipe for Portuguese custard tarts!
Whenever I’m in Portugal, I know I’m coming back a few pounds heavier.
Aside from all of the delicious seafood dishes, bowls of rice, and endless glasses of wine, Portugal is also home to my waistline’s arch-nemesis: pastéis de nata (pastel de nata in the singular — but who stops at just one?)
These Portuguese custard tarts are dangerously delicious. You might think that one would be enough, but only if you’ve never tried one. Because there’s something addictive about the combo of blistered, caramelized custard and flaky golden brown puff pastry. Try one, and you’re hooked for life!
The most famous custard tarts come from the town of Belém, just outside of Lisbon. Here, in the Jerónimos Monastery, the famous recipe was born! The version below gives you as close a taste to the original as possible. For a real classic taste, serve the pastéis warm, dusted with cinnamon. I opted for pre-made puff pastry, but making your own from scratch is definitely an option too!
Read more: The history of the Portuguese custard tart
Pastel de Nata Recipe (Portuguese Custard Tarts)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups of whole milk
- 1⅓ cups white sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 lemon, peel only, cut into strips
- 1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
- Optional ground cinnamon for dusting on top
- Preheat your oven to 550°F (290°C), and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- In a saucepan, bring to a boil the sugar, water, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick. Cook until a thermometer reads a temperature of 220°F (100°C). Resist the urge to stir!
- Separately, whisk the milk, flour, and salt together very thoroughly. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes or until well combined and the milk is thickened. Take off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, whisk in the egg yolks. Then add the sugar syrup (first removing the cinnamon stick), and mix until everything is well-combined. Strain into a measuring jug.
- Meanwhile, cut the puff pastry sheet into two pieces and place them on top of each other. Tightly roll the sheets into a log, from the short side. Next, cut the log into 12 evenly sized pieces.
- Place one piece in each of the 12 wells of the muffin tin. Dipping your thumb in cold water first, press your thumb down into the center of the dough piece and press outwards to form a cup with the pastry. The pastry cup should have its top edge just above the top of the well of the muffin tin.
- Fill each pastry cup ¾ of the way to the top with custard.
- Put the tray in the oven and bake until the custard starts to caramelize and blister and the pastry goes golden brown (roughly 10-12 minutes).
- Serve warm, with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon (both optional, but delicious)!
Have you tried out my recipe for authentic pasteis de nata? Let me know if you got that blistered golden goodness that makes this pastel de nata recipe so good!
Don’t miss our full guide about where to eat in Lisbon!