Pastel de Nata Portuguese Egg Tarts: Where to Find Them & How to Make Them
Although I have yet to visit beautiful Portugal, I have always been smitten with it. The beautiful coastal towns tucked into hillsides, cobblestone streets, and colorfully hand painted tiles that grace the façade of many houses… And of course the food; with one of the most well known delicacies being the Pastel de Nata Portuguese Egg Tarts.
The famous Pastel de Nata Portuguese Egg Tarts are a rich eggy custard-like tart encased in a crispy and flaky crust. And when Luciana from Foodie Bookings sent over an authentic recipe to try (you know it’s authentic when it has to be translated from Portuguese!), I had to make these little gems asap!
There are two types of this famous pastry: one being the Pastel de Belém, which was invented in Jerónimos Monastery and is where the Pastel de Nata Portuguese Egg Tarts originated from, and the second being the Pastel de Nata itself. The difference between the two is the Pastel de Belém is the secret original recipe given from the monks that invented it to Belem Patissery which is the ONLY bakery in Lisbon allowed to use the name. Pastel de Nata is a variation of that original recipe with every pastry shop having their own secret concoction (there’s even a national contest to choose the best one!).
The egg tarts were created in Belém (a neighborhood in Lisbon), by the monks at Jerónimos Monastery when they needed to bring in additional money in order to keep running. The monks would use egg whites to starch their clothing, and the leftover yolks became eggy desserts that were made in a small bakery connected to the monastery. They then sold those cream pastries to bring in the extra income they needed.
When the monastery closed in 1820 following a liberal revolution, the secret recipe found new life after being passed down to a sugar refinery owner. In 1837, he opened up a small trading shop where he sold the tarts made from that original recipe.
Today, as mentioned, Belém Patissery is the only café allowed to sell tarts under the Pastel de Belém name. In fact, the recipe is so secret, only a handful of people know that recipe, including three of the shop’s owners and three entrusted chefs who have been working in the bakery for more than 40 years!
Where to Find Them
Numerous pastry shops and cafes across Portugal now sell Pastéis de Nata, each with their own version of the original recipe. If you find yourself in Lisbon, do yourself a favor and try a few. You just might discover the secret for yourself. From what I hear, some of the best places to pick up the sweet treats are:
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
The original! Be prepared to wait in line. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this place sells up to 20,000 tarts a day.
Location: Belém near the monastery; Rua de Belém 84-92 | +351 21 363 7423 | website
Price per egg tart: 1,30€
Described as an egg tart bar, a simple set-up with a counter and a kitchen.
Location: Near Lisbon’s popular shopping area Chiado; Rua do Loreto 2 | +351 21 347 1492
Price per egg tart: 1€
This place has been around since 1829. The sixth-generation family pastry shop is fanciful and opulent, with decorative woodwork, a mirrored ceiling, and marble counters.
Location: Downtown Lisbon; Praça da Figueira 18 B | +351 21 342 4470 | website
Price per egg tart: 1,10€
How To Make Them
If you prefer something a little more hands-on, learn the secrets of how to make these little gems from true professionals Ana & Gonçalo during a Pastel de Nata Workshop in Lisbon from Foodie Bookings.
If you’re like me, and aren’t able to make it to Lisbon quite yet, you can try making them in your own kitchen with the recipe below!
The famous Pastel de Nata Portuguese Egg Tarts are a rich eggy custard-like tart encased in a crispy and flaky crust found across Portugal, but most prevalently in its birthplace of Lisbon.
2 packages of frozen puff pastry
1 liter heavy cream
400 g of sugar
9 egg yolks
80 g of flour
1 lemon peel (or zest of ½ lemon)
1 stick of cinnamon
½ vanilla pod
Flour for sprinkling
Butter for greasing pan
cinnamon powder or icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 260 degrees C or 525 degrees F. Generously grease tart pan or muffin tin with butter.
- In a medium sized pot, bring the cream, cinnamon stick, vanilla and the lemon peel to a boil (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
- In a large heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and flour. Slowly add the cream mixture through a strainer, stirring very well afterwards until no lumps remain.
- Return the mixture to medium pot and bring to a boil again, stirring continually to avoid burning. Boil until cream begins to thicken, strain and set aside to let cool.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and then add them to the cream mixture once cooled enough to avoid scrambling the eggs. Mix well using a wire wisk.
- Extend the puff pastry on a floured surface. Fold it and re-roll the roll until approximately 2.5mm. With a round cookie cutter or drinking glass cut circles in dough with the same diameter as the openings of the pan. Line them with a slice of dough, stretching it up the edge approximately the height equivalent of 2 fingers.
- Fill each form with the cream to just under the lip of the dough and bake them for about 10 minutes or until the dough edges and tops of tarts are nicely browned. Serve pastries hot or cold topped with cinnamon powder and icing sugar if desired.
If tarts aren’t eaten within 24 hours, store remaining in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Tarts will keep for 5-7 days.
Keywords: Portuguese Egg Tarts, Pastel de Nata
What’s your favorite place to get Portuguese Egg Tarts?