Make these flaky and buttery gluten free tart shells using a standard muffin pan. No special bakeware needed. The dough is freezer friendly and tarts can be baked ahead of time. Fill them with your favorite flavors for an impressive, but easy to make, dessert!
No fancy or over-the-top ingredients here! With just these 6, you can whip up a batch of rich and buttery gluten free tart shells for so many amazing desserts.
- Gluten free flour: I use a blend of white rice flour, tapioca starch and sorghum flour. (Find the recipe here.) You can definitely try pre-made blends, but please note that results may not be the same.
- Xanthan gum: an essential binder in gluten free baking. If you’re using a pre-made blend that already contains xanthan gum, omit it from the recipe.
- Icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar: to add a little bit of sweetness to our mini gluten free tart shells! Using confectioners sugar (also known as icing or powdered sugar) ensures there will be no grittiness in the crust.
- Unsalted butter: ensure it’s cold to get maximum flakiness! (The cold butter expands while heating to make all those light and flaky layers.)
- Cold water: also helps the butter achieve peak flakiness.
How to make this recipe
Ready to make your own gluten free tart shells?! It starts by mixing the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Add in the cold unsalted butter to the bowl and use your hands to toss it in the mixture. Then pinch each cube, incorporating it into the flour mixture until it starts to resemble sand. If you own a food processor, you can use it for this step – just pulse the butter in the dry ingredients until it looks sandy.
Add the cold water, tablespoon by tablespoon until the dough starts to come together. I’d recommend using a spatula for this step (if you aren’t using a food processor), because the dough is very, very sticky in the beginning. After working it for a few minutes, it will come together in a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough to a ⅛” (3mm) thickness, then use a 3 ½” (9cm) cookie cutter to cut out circles. Place each circle of dough into the well of a standard muffin pan and gently press on the middle and sides to guide it into place.
If you need to blind bake your tart shells (your recipe will tell you), dock the dough of each tart on the bottom with a fork, then bake at 375℉ for about 20 minutes. The tarts will be set and starting to turn golden brown.
Tips for making perfect gluten free tarts
Making homemade tart shells is so much easier than it may seem! Here are a few tips & tricks to help…
- Keep the butter and water cold. The cold butter expands in the oven, creating all those flaky layers that people go crazy for. If you want a light, flaky gluten free tart shell – keep that unsalted butter (and water) cold, cold, cold!
- Use a floured surface to roll out the dough. Gluten free doughs are known for being sticky – this one is no exception. Use a bit of gluten free flour on your work surface and rolling pin when rolling the tart dough to prevent it from sticking everywhere. (If you find the dough is so sticky that it’s completely unmanageable, you may need to chill it in the fridge a bit longer.)
- Gently press the tart dough into the muffin pan. No need to force it, just gently press in the middle, then guide the sides into the bottom of the pan. Don’t press it firmly into the pan, either – it could prevent easy removal after baking.
- Dock the dough prior to baking. Use a fork to pierce the bottom of the tart shells before baking. This helps steam escape and prevents the shells from getting too puffy during baking. That means more space for your favorite filling!
All about blind baking
Do you need to blind bake these tarts before using them? Your recipe will tell you.
If you’re making a recipe that doesn’t require baking after adding the filling (like Gluten Free Lemon Tarts), the tart dough will need to be fully baked. That’s what blind baking is intended for.
To blind bake tarts, pop them in the oven at 375℉ for about 20 minutes until the crust is starting to turn golden brown.
Normally, baking beans are used to hold down the dough during blind baking so it doesn’t puff up, but these tarts don’t need them. Dock the dough with a fork prior to baking and there will still be plenty of room for delicious fillings!
One of the best parts about this recipe is that it can be made ahead!
To store the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1-2 days. For longer storage, use a freezer bag and freeze for a few months.
To store fully baked tarts, place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature or in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Gluten free tart filling
If you’ve got a batch of delicious gluten free tart shells, but don’t know what to fill them with – here are a few suggestions!
- Whip up a batch of homemade lemon curd and make Gluten Free Lemon Tarts.
- Fill tart shells with fresh fruit and top with whipped cream for a light and fresh dessert.
- Make a tart version of the millionaire bar: add in some caramel then top with melted chocolate.
- How about mini key lime or lemon meringue tarts?!
- Use the filling from my Gluten Free Pecan Pie recipe and make mini gluten free pecan pies!
- Fill them with Gluten Free Apple Crumble. Is it an apple pie or a crumble? Who cares! It’s a dang tasty dessert!
- Add some chocolate pudding, top with marshmallows and you’ve got yourself a gluten free s’more tart!
Gluten Free Tart Shells
- 2 ¾ cups (350g) gluten free flour (see note)
- 1 teaspoon (3g) xanthan gum (if using a commercially available gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum, omit this from the recipe)
- 1 tablespoon (10g) icing sugar / confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon (7g) salt
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 6 tablespoons water, cold
To make tart dough:
- Mix gluten free flour, xanthan gum, icing sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the cold, cubed unsalted butter to the bowl. Using your hands, toss in the flour mixture then pinch each cube of butter to work it into the flour until it resembles sand. (You can also use a food processor and pulse until combined.)
- Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and gradually work the water into the dough using a spatula. The dough will be crumbly and it may seem like you need more water, but just keep working the dough – it will eventually come together.
- Using your hands, work the dough into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, roll the dough on a lightly-floured surface to a ⅛” (3mm) thickness using a rolling pin. If the dough is a bit too cold and crumbly, knead it with your hands a few times to make it more pliable. Alternatively, if your dough is too sticky, pop it in the fridge for a few more minutes to chill.
- Cut out circular shapes using a 3 ½” (9cm) cookie cutter. Transfer each cut out to a muffin tin and gently press down into the well.
To blind bake the tart shells (if needed):
- Preheat the oven to 375℉.
- Dock (pierce) the bottom of each tart shell with a fork to allow steam to escape during baking.
- Bake the tart shells for approximately 20 minutes until the crust is set and golden.
- Cool tarts in pan then gently remove.
- Gluten free flour: I used a blend of 50% white rice flour, 30% tapioca starch, and 20% sorghum flour. You can blend your own by following this recipe: Gluten Free Flour Blend (All Purpose). Another blend can be used; however, results may not be the same.
- Storage for dough: store wrapped dough in the fridge for 1-2 days. For longer term storage, use a freezer bag and freeze dough for a few months.
- Storage for baked tarts: fully baked tarts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for 1-2 days.