DIY: Homemade Pop Tarts

As you know, I really enjoying finding common store-bought foods that I can DIY. I make my own vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, and pizza crust. I love that my homemade versions are less expensive and full of ingredients that I choose myself and can easily pronounce.  In general, most of my DIY recipes are pretty simple and don’t take much work. With two Little Ones running around I don’t have the time or energy to commit to labor-intensive recipes just for the sake of making everything from scratch. There are some things that I can make at home, but I still choose to buy because the homemade version isn’t worth the extra work.

However, once in a while I find a recipe so good it’s worth the time and effort involved to make it. Such is the case with these homemade pop tarts. I can’t tell you that they are simple to make, or that you’ll have them done in less than an hour. In fact, I usually make them on days when I have a bit of extra time on my hands and the kids are out with Big Man or at a grandparents’ house. But I can tell you that they are totally, completely worth the time and effort. I feel bad calling them “pop tarts” because they aren’t even in the same league as the boxed toaster pastries.

Seriously, these things are awesome. Flaky crust, decadent filling, and a simple glaze in a hand-held pocket of deliciousness. And they freeze and re-heat beautifully so spending the time to make a batch is worth it to have a freezer stocked with tarts ready to be heated and devoured. Yep, totally awesome.

You can use any type of filling you like. I’ve tried various fruit preserves, jams, and of course Nutella. It’s all good. I’m planning to try a pumpkin pie version in the near future, and maybe a brown sugar/cinnamon combo as well.  Homemade jam or preserves are the best, but if you don’t have any on hand, just use a high-quality store-bought version.

I hope you’ll take the time to make these. I promise you, they’re worth it. You’ll feel like a gourmet superhero when you serve these to your family and they’ll never want store-bought pastries again. DIY win!

Homemade Pop-Tarts

My own method; makes 9 tarts

Crust (adapted from Joy the Baker, original source King Arthur Flour)
2 cups flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes and chilled
1 egg
2 Tbs. milk
1 egg, beaten, for brushing dough
10-12 Tbs. high-quality jam, preserves, or Nutella
Vanilla Glaze (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 Tbs. milk
Food processor (or mixing bowl and pastry cutter), rolling pin, ruler/measuring tape, pizza cutter or sharp knife, pastry brush.


Step 1: Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture is homogeneous and most of the butter pieces are the size of peas. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl and add all at once to the flour/butter mixture. Pulse until liquid is distributed and the dough just starts to come together. Do not over-process.  Remove dough to a generously floured work surface and knead until dough is a cohesive ball. Separate into two halves, flatten each into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2: In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until well-beaten. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or spray with cooking spray. Generously flour a work surface and roll out one half of dough into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle. If necessary, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to even out the edges. It is important to measure and make a nice rectangle so the tarts can be a uniform shape and size. Use the pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into thirds both directions, creating nine 3 x 4-inch rectangles. Brush each rectangle with the beaten egg and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Step 3: Roll out the remaining dough into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle, and cut into nine rectangles using the same technique as above. Place a rounded tablespoon of filling in the middle of each dough rectangle (on the baking sheet), and use the back of a spoon to spread in an even layer. Be sure to leave a 1/2-inch border all around so that tart can be sealed properly. Brush the second set of dough pieces with the beaten egg and place, egg side down, onto the tarts on the baking sheet. Using a fork, crimp all 4 edges of each tart, sealing in the filling and creating an outer crust. Use the tines of the fork to poke steam holes in the top of each tart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Step 4: Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Remove the chilled tarts from the fridge and brush the top of each one with the rest of the beaten egg. Bake for 25-32 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove tarts to a rack and allow to cool completely before glazing.

Step 5 (optional): In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until a thick-but-pourable glaze forms. Add more sugar or milk as needed to create desired consistency. I find it best to be quite thick, just barely thin enough to still drizzle/spread. Drizzle the glaze onto each tart or use a knife to spread glaze in an even layer.

Step 6: Enjoy the best hand-held pastry you have ever tried, and debate whether or not to share with others! 🙂

Freezing and Re-Heating: Make sure tarts are completely cool and glaze is set. Arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes. After this period, the tarts can be stacked on top of one another and placed in a zip-top freezer bag. To reheat, microwave a single tart on high for 30-45 seconds. You may also reheat in an oven or toaster-oven. I do not recommend using a toaster to reheat tarts that have been glazed.


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