These mini, gluten-free pecan tarts are one of the recipes I look forward to most come Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are quite possibly my favorite cookie, probably because they taste like mini pies. 🤗 PLUS, these babies are gluten-free and are naturally sweetened. What?! Oh yes, keep reading.

Close up of pecan tarts in a mini muffin tin.

Mini pecan tarts

Every year my mother-in-law makes mini pecan tarts for Christmas. They have a brown sugar pecan filling and a tender pie crust, and they stole my heart when I first tried them over a decade ago (James’s mom keeps them in a tin on top of the fridge, and that first year I made many surreptitious trips into the kitchen to get “water”). When I had to cut gluten from my diet I sorely missed the cookies (truth be told, I sorely missed all holiday cookies).

Overhead shot of gluten free pecan tarts in a mini muffin tin.

Gluten free pecan tarts

A few years ago I started tinkering with his mom’s recipe. I swapped out the all-purpose flour for a mix of sweet rice flour and almond flour (although the cookies can still be made with all-purpose flour; see the recipe below). I also used maple sugar instead of brown sugar, which is a natural sweetener that lends loads of flavor (I buy it online, but you can use brown sugar in its place if you prefer).  And I switched out the vanilla extract for vanilla paste, which has a much more robust flavor (but, you guessed it, you can use vanilla extract if you wish). WOOHOO! I had my cookies back.

Process shot divided into 4 quadrants showing how to press the dough in the mini muffin tins.
Close up of unbaked pecan tarts in the muffin tin.

Gluten free pecan tassies

The tart crust is ultra tender and just a tad salty, balancing the maple- and vanilla-sweetened center. These gluten free pecan tarts are now a staple on our Thanksgiving table and in our holiday cookie tins. They store well (see below), and I think they’re even better after a day or two. Since they’re not too sweet they can easily be justified as a snack or breakfast. Your morning coffee has never been better.

Spoon drizzling chocolate over a gluten free pecan tart.

Chocolate pecan tarts

While the gluten free pecan tarts are delicious just as they are, you can take them over the top by introducing a bit of chocolate, which Ella and James strongly advocate for. To appease my two chocolate fiends, I’ll sneak a piece of chopped chocolate—either white or dark—in the tart shells before adding the filling, and then I’ll drizzle the tarts with more chocolate after they’ve cooled. This is a very good idea, indeed.

Overhead shot of chocolate drizzled pecan tarts.

Can you make the pecan tarts ahead?

Yes, these mini pecan tarts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, and they freeze beautifully! Meaning you can whip up a batch weeks before the holiday craze even begins.

Tips for making mini pecan tarts

  • You will need a mini muffin tin for this recipe.
  • These tarts use a mix of white rice flour and almond flour in the crust, making them gluten-free. However, for a non-GF version, you can use 3/4 cup of a regular all-purpose flour instead.
  • I love baking with maple sugar, an unprocessed sugar that has a rich, maple-syrup like flavor. However, you can use brown sugar instead.
  • Vanilla paste has a more robust flavor than extract (and it lasts forever!), but you can absolutely use vanilla extract instead.
  • These cookies taste even better the next day, so go ahead and make them ahead!
Close up of a mini pecan tart with a bite taken out.

Other holiday desserts to try:

Get the recipe!

Hand grabbing a gluten free pecan tart off of a marble surface.
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Gluten Free Mini Pecan Tarts (Naturally Sweetened)

With a buttery nut crust and a maple pecan filling, these mini pecan tarts taste just like the holidays. You’d never know they’re made without refined sugars or gluten, or that they can be made in under an hour! The cookies are sweetened with maple sugar, a natural sweetener that lends loads of flavor, but brown sugar can be used in its place. The slightly salty, nutty crust, made with a mix of rice and almond flours, balances out the sweet center. (If you prefer, the crust can be made with ¾ cup of all-purpose flour instead of the almond and rice flours.) While I love the cookies just as they are (and they’re even better the next day), I’ll sometimes sneak a piece of chopped chocolate—either white or dark—in the tart shells before adding the filling, and then I’ll drizzle the tarts with more chocolate after they’ve cooled. *Be sure to take the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge a few hours before beginning (or even the night before), to soften.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free pecan tassies, mini pecan tarts, mini pecan tarts gluten free pecan tarts
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 16 tarts
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups pecans, divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • ½ cup (2.5 ounces) white rice flour
  • ¼ cup (0.8 ounce) almond flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (1.7 oz) packed maple sugar, OR ¼ cup (1.7 oz) packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla paste OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Spread ¾ cup of the pecans on a baking sheet. Bake until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 7-9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place the remaining ½ cup of pecans in the food processor and process until the nuts are ground into a coarse flour.
  4. Put the cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use hand mixers), and beat on medium-high speed until well-blended and smooth.
  5. Scrape the sides, and add the rice flour, almond flour, cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and the finely chopped pecans (from the food processor). Mix on medium-low just until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll the dough into 16 rough balls (about 1 inch wide) and press them into the bottoms and up the sides of mini-muffin cups (use damp fingers if the batter is sticky). Pop the tin in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, stir together the egg, maple sugar (or brown sugar), vanilla paste (or extract), remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon softened butter, stirring and smashing the butter until mostly incorporated (it’s ok if there are still little bits of butter). Coarsely chop the toasted pecans and stir them into the mixture.
  8. Divide the filing among the muffin cups. Bake 20-23 minutes, or until the tarts are golden. Cool in the tins set on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of each tart, and carefully transfer them to the rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Do Ahead: The tarts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

Tips:

  • You will need a mini muffin tin for this recipe.
  • These tarts use a mix of white rice flour and almond flour in the crust, making them gluten-free. However, for a non-GF version, you can use 3/4 cup of a regular all-purpose flour instead.
  • I love baking with maple sugar, an unprocessed sugar that has a rich, maple-syrup like flavor. However, you can use brown sugar instead.
  • Vanilla paste has a more robust flavor than extract (and it lasts forever!), but you can absolutely use vanilla extract instead.
  • These cookies taste even better the next day, so go ahead and make them ahead!

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