Pastéis de Nata – The Origins of Portugal`s Famous Pastry

Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon

Pastéis de Nata, the small vanilla tart, is one of Portugal`s most famous sweet treats. The origins can be found at Pastéis de Bélem, a historic café in Lisbon, where the tradition of marvelous Portuguese pastries has been continued until today.

The Origins

Pastéis de Nata (or Pastéis de Belém) is meaning cream tarts in English. The small cakes were originally created by monks in Belém, Lisbon. When in the wake of the Liberal Revolution in 1820, many monasteries faced closure, the monks started selling the egg tart pastry at a nearby sugar refinery. Today, Pastéis de Belém is one of Lisbon`s most famous historic bakeries. The airy café with blue and white mosaiks has been a magnet for fine Portuguese baking goods since 160 years.

A Secret Recipe

Vistiors from all over the world come to Belém to enjoy the heavenly pastry, but the recipe for Pastéis de Belém has been a secret and unchanged to the present day. The master confectioners exclusively hand-crafted the pastries in the ‘secrets room’. You can find a recipe below to enjoy Pastéis de Nata even if you are not in Portugal. The original, however, remains a mystery – and can only be found in Lisbon.  Rua de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal


“The recipe remains a secret – to the present day.”

Pastéis de Nata

Ingredients (for about 15 tartlets)

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 250 ml milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 175 g sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 20 g flour
  • 1 roll (275 g) puff pastry
  • 1 egg, 3 egg yolks


  1. Cut the vanilla pod open and remove some of the vanilla. Cook the milk with the butter, vanilla and vanilla pod. Mix the sugar with the flour and a pinch of salt. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk. Add the sugar mixture and quickly bring it to boil whilst stirring. Take the mixture from the heat and let it cool (stir every once and a while).
  2.  Roll up the puff pastry and leave it in the freeze until the cream is done. Preheat the oven to 240 Degrees (464 F). Now, finish the cream by mixing in the egg and egg yolk. Cut the dough into 15 pieces ( 1.5 cm each) and press each batter piece into the hollow of a muffin baking trey.
  3. Fill the tartlets with cream. Bake the pastry in the oven for about 25 minutes until the surface is golden with dark spots.

Serving Tip: Pastéis de Nata are best when they are fresh, like they are served at the Pastéis de Belém Café. In Portugal, it is common to sprinkle some icing sugar and cinnamon as a finish.

Bom proveito!