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How do you cut puff pastry for tarts?

Puff pastry is a light and flaky dough that makes an excellent base for sweet and savory tarts. When working with puff pastry, it’s important to handle it properly so it keeps its signature lift and layers. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cutting puff pastry for tarts.


To make puff pastry tarts, you will need:

  • Puff pastry dough (either homemade or store-bought)
  • Flour for dusting
  • Rolling pin
  • Sharp knife or pizza cutter
  • Tart pan(s)
  • Filling ingredients (fruit, custard, cheese, meat etc)

Working with Puff Pastry

Puff pastry dough needs to be handled carefully to maintain its layering. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the dough cold. Only work with it once it’s thoroughly chilled.
  • Work quickly and gently. Overhandling will cause the butter layers to break down.
  • Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Add more flour only if needed.
  • Keep the dough, pan and filling chilled until ready to bake.

Rolling Out the Dough

Follow these instructions for rolling puff pastry:

  1. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Unfold the chilled puff pastry sheet and place in the center.
  2. Gently roll out the dough, lifting and turning it occasionally. Roll into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.
  3. Use a dry pastry brush to sweep off any excess flour. This helps the layers rise properly when baked.
  4. If the dough becomes too soft while rolling, place back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Cutting the Pastry

Once rolled out, it’s time to cut the pastry to fit your tart pans:

  1. Place the tart pan(s) upside down on top of the dough and trace around them with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Make sure to leave a 1-inch border all around.
  2. Carefully transfer the cut pastry rounds to the pans, gently pressing into the edges.
  3. For an even rise, use a fork to prick holes all over the bottom of the raw tart shells.
  4. Place the lined pans on a baking sheet. Chill in the fridge while preparing the filling.

Filling Options

Puff pastry tarts can be filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. Here are some delicious ideas:

Sweet Fillings Savory Fillings
Fresh fruit like berries, stone fruit, figs etc. Cheese, onions, tomatoes etc.
Lemon curd, pastry cream, custard Cooked meats like prosciutto, sausage, bacon
Nutella, chocolate ganache, whipped cream Sauteed vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, peppers
Jams, marmalade, honey Seafood like smoked salmon, crab, shrimp

Baking the Tarts

Bake puff pastry tarts in a hot oven so they get a good rise:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Brush the edges of the tart shells with egg wash or milk for browning.
  • Bake tarts on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.
  • If the edges brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
  • Check tarts a few minutes before the end time and continue baking if needed for the center to set.
  • Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

Serving Suggestions

Here are some ideas for finishing and serving your puff pastry tarts:

  • Dust with powdered sugar or icing sugar for a sweet treat.
  • Add whipped cream, ice cream or creme fraiche.
  • Drizzle with caramel, chocolate, fruit sauces or coulis.
  • Garnish with fresh fruit slices, berries, mint, toasted nuts etc.
  • For savory tarts, finish with fresh herbs, greens, sliced tomatoes or a poached egg.
  • Tarts taste best freshly baked but can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat briefly before serving.


Here are some common issues and how to avoid them when making puff pastry tarts:

Issue Solution
Dough shrinks when baking Make sure the dough is cold before cutting and shaping. Chill thoroughly before baking.
Pastry doesn’t rise or puff up Handle dough gently and work quickly to keep layers intact. Make sure oven is hot enough.
Pastry is tough Don’t overwork the dough. Make sure to rest dough if it gets warm and soft.
Filling leaks Leave a wide enough border when cutting shells. Chill before baking so filling sets.
Burnt edges Protect edges with foil or egg wash. Make sure oven rack is centered.

Storage Tips

To store leftover puff pastry or baked tarts:

  • Freshly rolled, unbaked puff pastry can be refrigerated for 2-3 days well wrapped in plastic wrap or stored frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Baked, unfilled shells are best eaten the same day but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.
  • Filled, baked tarts can be stored covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • To freeze baked tarts, let cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.


With the right techniques, cutting and baking puff pastry tarts is easy. Be sure to keep the dough cold, work quickly yet gently, and bake in a hot oven. Both sweet and savory fillings work beautifully encased in the light and flaky crust. Follow this guide for tender, golden tarts with perfect lift and layers every time.