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Puff pastry tartlets

Updated: Tue, 18 April, 2023

70s throwback: vol-au-vents or mini puff pastry tartlets filled with delicious mixes are still a crowd-pleasing party staple.

puff pastry tartlets

Love the puff, don’t love making it

Puff pastry is party food rescue, the carb-rich solution everyone craves when they’ve had a couple of drinks in them. And it’s the fallback for when you can’t be bothered to make elaborate en croute dishes with meats or fish.

I’ve never tried making proper puff pastry at home, I’m ashamed to admit.

The experience of producing laminated dough which I have scored on my bedpost is traumatic enough.

Rolling out the butter. Encasing the butter in impossibly stiff dough. Rolling it out while butter happily peeks through the layers of pastry and sticks mainly to the worktop, rather than the dough. Folding and folding, pure Spinal Tap.

Trying to roll out the finished dough thinly only for it to maliciously spring back into a plump cushion.

Admittedly, my Danish pastries and croissants are divine but the work involved is soul-destroying.

mini savoury tarts

It's all right to outsource puff pastry

Safe in the knowledge that even the great chefs say there’s nothing wrong in buying good quality puff, I use it for all kinds of lovely concoctions: sausage rolls, tarts and pies, sweet morsels or cheese puffs.

These little tartlets are cut out in rounds and baked in a mince pie tin. But of course, use individual pastry cases if you have plenty of them for your purpose.

I supply my favourite fillings below: prawn, spinach and cheese and bacon. They are usually the most popular with crowds. But there are plenty of variations you might want to consider.

Make a mushroom filling adopting my mushroom ragu recipe.

In the season, chop up some lightly cooked asparagus in butter.

Use the caramelised courgette recipe and fill the pastry cases with that – it will be a hit disproportional to the common popularity of the vegetable.

Piperade, red peppers cooked with mild chilli flakes is another fabulous option.

Or cook pork mince until crisp, like in the recipe for crispy mince and beans salad and top it in the pastry cases with grated cheese.

mini tarts with prawns and spinach

How to make the prawn pastry filling

You can use cooked prawns in the recipe, in which case just thaw them if frozen, chop them up and stir with some garlic sweated gently in a teaspoon of butter.

But raw prawns are sometimes much better value and if they are cooked lightly, they won’t turn rubbery when further baked in the pastries.

Just chop them up roughly, soften minced garlic in butter in a little skillet, then add the prawns and up the heat a little. They will only need a minute of tossing and turning in the pan before they turn pink.

Let them cool down before loading the pastry shells with them.

The same mix can be used to dress pasta, with gorgeous results.

cooking prawn filling

How to make spinach filling

This is spinach filling 101, the go-to spinach recipe that can be a standalone side dish or a filling for anything you want, really.

Either fresh or frozen spinach can be used but in the latter case it’s good to let it thaw, so you can discard some moisture even before cooking it down.

A little butter, salt, black pepper and grated nutmeg are standard seasoning for spinach but a little blue cheese of your choice (nothing too pricey, obviously) will both thicken and liven up the spinach filling.

cooking spinach filling

How to make bacon and cheese filling

The easy way: finely chop up the bacon and mix it with coarsely grated or shredded hard cheese: Cheddar, Gruyere or similar. Fill the pastry shells with the mix.

The super-easy way: crumble the cheese straight into the prepared tartlets, then arrange some bacon chunks on top.

How to handle puff pastry

Puff pastry requires a bit of toing and froing from the fridge. To roll it out (unless ready-rolled), it needs to be thawed to almost room temperature, otherwise it’ll crack.

But once cut and prepared, it needs to chill again before baking. Always bake puff pastry confections straight from the fridge, otherwise the butter in the pastry will melt too soon and leak out into puddles instead of staying put making the pastry flaky.

Unless you have dozens of individual tartlet cases, use a mini pie or Yorkshire pudding tin, any kind with shallow indents.

Cut your pastry rings with a cutter slightly larger than the diameter of the holes in the tin. Line them by pressing pastry discs in gently, then dispatch the tin into the fridge while you prepare the fillings or preheat the oven.

Before loading the fillings in, pierce the bottom of each case with a fork, to stop pastry puffing up in the wrong places. You can also brush the bottom with beaten egg, to prevent soggy bottoms.

oven ready tartlets

Baking and serving

Baking takes all of fifteen minutes or thereabouts, until the pastry edges turn puffy and golden and whatever was raw in the fillings (bacon) is cooked.

They will need to stand for a minute before extracting from the tin and they can be served straight away or kept at room temperature until required.

More party food recipes

Bacon wrapped chicken chunks, grilled and served with pan fried mushrooms, are a wholesome main course. On their own, bacon chicken bites are a classic appetiser.

Brown sugar bacon - crispy bacon baked with brown sugar and mustard glaze, the best sweet and salty party hit. To make it, bake bacon until crispy, then bake it again with the glaze.

Corn tortilla chip nachos with easy homemade beef chilli, sweetcorn and cheese. Homemade nachos are the perfect recipe for a crowd-pleasing supper or snack.

More puff pastry recipes

Crunchy puff pastry bites sprinkled with cinnamon sugar – an irresistible way of using puff pastry offcuts.

Mini party rolls, filled with chipolata sausages or ham and cheese filling. They are easy to prepare and invariably the biggest hit with party people.

Burger wellington with mushrooms and shallots wrapped in puff pastry, an easy version of beef Wellington. It’s a fancy dish for dummies, it’s your Valentine’s Day dinner this year.

Puff pastry tartlets

Servings: 12Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 sheets of all butter puff pastry
  • For the prawn filling:
  • 100g uncooked frozen prawns, thawed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • For the spinach filling:
  • 200g frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 30g blue cheese, Saint Augur, Danish Blue or similar
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • For the bacon and cheese filling:
  • 50g Gruyère or Cheddar cheese, crumbled
  • 2 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into small pieces
  • beaten egg, to glaze


1. You’ll need a 12 x pie/pudding tin or individual tartlet cases. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

2. Unroll the puff pastry and cut out discs with a round pastry cutter, slightly larger than your pie/pudding tin hollows and insert them in the tin by pressing very gently from the edges. Chill until ready to fill and bake.

3. For the prawn filling: roughly chop the raw prawns, peel and finely chop the garlic. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the garlic and cook gently for a minute. Turn up the heat and add the prawns with plenty of salt and pepper. Stir fry them for a minute until just starting to turn pink. Leave to cool down.

4. For the spinach filling: squeeze as much moisture out of the spinach as you can and chop it roughly. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the spinach to the pan with the butter, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook covered for a few minutes on medium heat.

5. Crumble in the blue cheese, stir well and cook covered for further 5 minutes. If there is still some liquid in the mixture, take off the lid and cook, stirring frequently until all of the moisture evaporates. Leave to cool.

6. Remove the pastry lined tin from the fridge and pierce the bottom of each tartlet with a fork – this will stop the pastry puffing up all over and ejecting the filling. Brush the bottom and the rim of each tartlet with beaten egg. Spoon the prawn and the spinach filling generously into the pastry nests.

7. For the bacon and cheese: crumble the cheese on the bottom of the pastry nests, then arrange the bacon pieces on top.

8. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges of the tartlets are golden. Let the tartlets rest for a few minutes in the tin, then scoop them out with a spoon.

Originally published: Mon, 12 January, 2015

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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