In winter, the constant desire to have something delicious baking in the oven, warming and perfuming the house, has me making a lot of savory tarts.
I love them: Add a pile of lightly dressed greens and you’ve got a meal, but cut off a sliver a few hours later and it’s a perfectly acceptable snack. And like many of my favorite baked goods, they are open to tons of possibilities, which leaves the window wide open for creative combinations.
Here’s my guide to making a few different kinds of savory tarts—complete with tips and tricks, plus 16 of our best recipes.
Start with a solid foundation. In this case, we’re talking about a very delicious crust. I make three main kinds of tart crusts: press-in crusts, roll-out crusts, and free-form crusts.
- Press-in crusts are just that: a simple dough that comes together very quickly and is pressed into a pan. I love Amanda’s version from her famous peach tart, and for savory uses, I just cut the sugar.
- A roll-out crust is, again, what it sounds like: a more traditional pastry, rolled out so that it's thin and used to line a tart pan.
- Finally, free-form tarts, which are very similar to galettes in my mind. I use my All Buttah Pie Dough to make these, but I mix the butter in much more (so that it's a little smaller than the size of peas) for a mealier texture than can stand up to an array of heavy tart fillings. (Other times, I use puff pastry.)
So what makes a savory tart different from a galette? Not much: a finer crust texture and sometimes a different shape. I really like making the free-form tarts square and either cutting a strip of dough and applying it to the edge with a little egg wash as a “wall” to contain the filling, or just folding the crust over, like a classic galette.
Regardless of the type of crust you use, follow the usual rules for crust, and chill whenever and wherever it’s applicable. Chill press in-crust after it's been put in the pan (and before baking); chill dough for roll-out crusts before rolling it and again once it's in the pan before baking.
The precise method will match the crust style and fillings. One of the best things about baking something with very few rules is that you can change it to suit your needs. But that doesn’t mean that the usual baking rules don’t apply.
Here are some things to consider:
- As listed above, each crust will require a different level of prep. Press-in crusts are delightfully easy, and the main concern is to make sure you apply it evenly inside the pan. I love Amanda’s trick of starting with the outside edges first: It really simplifies the process and yields consistently even coverage.
- Crusts that need to be rolled out will require chill time before and after rolling.
- Regardless of the type of crust being used, you want to mix and handle crusts as minimally as possible to keep them tender, and to get them to an even thickness. Refer to specific recipes, but you’re looking for a thickness between 1/8 and 1/4 inch; if the bottom crust is too thick, the tart might be very difficult to cut into. A thin crust ensures the right delicate texture, as well as the proper crust-to-filling ratio. When I'm working with a press-in crust, I like to use the base of a small measuring cup to help me flatten out the corners and achieve evenness inside the tart pan.
- When I’m handling a rolled-out crust, I roll the dough onto my rolling pin and then gently unfurl it on top of the tart pan. After that, the best way to ensure the dough fits nicely into the edges of the tart pan is to lift it up carefully and, with a gentle downward motion, drop and nudge it back into the pan: Work with a little section of dough at a time until you’ve made it all the way around.
- I like to chill both press-in and rolled-out crusts for a while before trimming excess from the edge. Holding a paring knife parallel to the pan's edge, I make short, swooping cuts. You can also roll your pin over the edge of the pan and the excess dough will simply fall away.
- Free-form crusts can be any shape, including the classic “this was exactly how it looked when it was rolled out” as well as neatly trimmed shapes. As long as the crust is the proper thickness, anything goes.
Because we’re talking about different types of crust and fillings, it’s important to remember that oven temperature may vary among recipes (or if you make up your own). Crusts tend to respond well to higher temperatures (400°F to 425° F), but fillings may need lower temperatures so that things don’t get overdone or burn.
General rule: Start at a higher temperature to help set the crust properly, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F to 375°F. And if things aren’t going the way you like, don’t forget you can tent parts of the tart (or the entire thing) with foil to control browning.
Par-baking your tart crust can be great (and is often necessary) for fillings with a lot of moisture. Basically, if you’re planning to bake a tart with a high-moisture filling, par-bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden brown.
Chill the crust well before you par-bake, dock the crust all over with a fork, and weigh it down gently with pie weights inside a sheet of parchment or foil.
If your tart is going to have fillings that don’t need to return to the oven (roasted veggies, a thin layer of ricotta, and so on), you can fully blind-bake your crust.
Be sure to let par-baked and blind-baked crusts cool completely before adding filling. I often like to “seal” par-baked crusts with a little brush of egg white when they first come out of the oven. This protective layer helps prevent moisture-rich fillings from seeping in. For savory tarts, there’s another fun (and delicious) trick: Grate a layer of hard cheese over the crust once it is par-baked, then return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes.
Free-form tarts can't be (and don't need to be) par-baked: Their bottom crust gets nice and golden thanks to the combination of high oven temperature and direct contact with the baking sheet.
My favorite kind of savory tarts is the kind where I throw a bunch of yummy things into a crust and bake it (bim, bam, boom!)—but some fillings may require advance prep.
Some ingredients might need to be precooked, either for texture or flavor (examples: potatoes or caramelized onions, respectively). Other ingredients might benefit from precooking for other reasons. For example, sautéing greens ahead of time gives you a better idea of the volume you may really need, and can also release excess moisture, which makes for a better end result. Think about your fillings carefully, and treat them accordingly. That being said, there’s plenty of situations where raw ingredients can go straight into a crust.
Baking times will vary based on the size of your tart pan or free-form creation, as well as the types of fillings inside. Generally, tarts around 9 inches in diameter will bake anywhere between 25 to 45 minutes, so if you’re using ingredients that may take longer to become properly tender (root vegetables, squash, etc.), you may want to consider precooking those items—either fully or partially—before adding them to the tart.
Remember, the best tarts have evenly cooked centers and a crisp crust on the bottom and sides. Underbaking can lead to everyone’s worst tart enemy: the soggy bottom crust.
1. Caramelized Onion & Butternut Squash Tart
The contest winner for "Your Best Tart" recipe, this salty-savory number is complete with melty Gruyère cheese that takes it over the top (in the best way possible).
2. Potato, Egg, Kale & Manchego Tart
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? This very versatile tart can be all three—not to mention a snack.
3. Savory Plum Tart
This fruit tart nails the balance of sweet and savory: sugar-sautéed plums and caramelized onions with creamy mascarpone cheese and fresh basil.
4. Ham, Gruyère & Caramelized Onion Galette with a Fried Egg
This ham and cheese galette proves that yes, indeed, everything is better with a fried egg on top.
5. Savory Apple Tarte Flambée
This tart might sound fancy, but it's a cinch to make—all you need is your favorite pizza dough (like Jim Lahey's no-knead recipe), a few ingredients, and a cast-iron skillet (for the crispiest results).
6. Red Onion Tarte Tatin
Red onions and sherry team up in this rustic yet elegant tarte tatin.
7. Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese, Quark, Prosciutto & Gremolata
Nothing beats a tomato tart during the summer months, especially when it's topped with tangy cheeses, salty prosciutto, and a zippy gremolata.
8. Leek, Fennel & Mushroom Galette
Another recipe contest winner—wow, this list is chock-full of 'em.
9. Slab Galette with Swiss Chard & Gruyère
We love this cheesy Swiss chard galette for its ability to feed the whole family without so much as batting an eyelash; it makes up to 24 slices.
10. French Onion Tart
This onion tart recipe takes everything you love about French onion soup and transforms it into a sliceable, flaky-crusted wonder.
11. Leek, Prosciutto & Egg Tart
This tart needs no sauce or creamy drizzle, thanks to a runny egg yolk that gets soaked up by the toppings and crust.
12. Corn, Spring Onion & Ricotta Tart
Polenta in this tart's crust adds heft and texture, while also doubling down on the bright corn flavor.
13. Fig & Blue Cheese Tart with Honey, Balsamic & Rosemary
Blue cheese is just the right funky-tangy complement to all the earthy-sweet flavors in this tart, from the figs to the fresh rosemary.
14. Spicy Tomato Tart
15. Sausage & Kale Dinner Tart
Meet your new favorite winter dinner: a hearty sausage and kale tart that's extraordinarily riffable, depending on what you've got stocked.
16. Leek & Greens Tart with Cornmeal Crust
"Nothing heralds the arrival of autumn like a rustic tart, the perfect centerpiece to any harvest table," writes community member mitschlag. We couldn't have said it any better ourselves.
This recipe was updated by the Food52 editors in September 2020 to include more savory tart recipes and ideas.