Homemade Pop Tarts

Homemade Pop Tarts that are 1000X better than store bought!

These melt in-your-mouth Homemade Pop Tarts are addicting!  They boast a brown sugar Nutella filling cocooned in buttery, flaky pastry smothered with Cinnamon Vanilla Icing.  They are made from scratch without any preservatives or food dyes and are worth every minute! –  you will never go back to the box kind again! 

two homemade pop tarts laying on top of each other with a bite out of them showing brown sugar filling

 

Pop Tarts 

I like to keep my desserts pretty simple here on Carlsbad Cravings (creative yet simple) – because I am lazy when it comes to desserts – as in lots of cakes so I don’t have to frost a dozen cupcakes lazy.  But sometimes a dessert is sooooo worth the extra time like these Homemade Pop Tarts! AKA sooooo beyond words delicious.

I have been wanting to make a homemade pop tarts recipe for a long time as the boxed variety and I go way way back.  This guilty pleasure of mine started in my college days at Design Institute of San Diego where I was pursuing my BA in interior design.

After hours creating 3D renderings using CAD or learning about the latest building codes, we would break for some mind and body nourishment.  I would drop my coins in the vending machine and a shiny package of pop tarts would emerge.  Pop tars and hot chocolate.  That was my favorite college snack.  Completely void of nutrition, completely packed with sugar and completely hit the spot every single time.

homemade pop tarts brown sugar cinnamon laying on a cooling rack
homemade pop tarts brown sugar cinnamon

Pop Tart Recipe

As I was reflecting on my college days obsession with pop tarts,  giddiness overcame me as I imagined how much more intoxicatingly delicious homemade pop tarts would be.  And then I made these Nutella Brown Sugar Pop Tarts.  Mind. blown.

You may or may not be a fan of boxed pop tarts, but I can promise these buttery, flaky homemade pop tarts glazed in out of this world cinnamon, vanilla icing, giving way to sweet, rich, crystallized brown sugar and creamy, Nutella will win your heart, mind and soul – AKA every part of you will be loving, craving, obsessing over these pop tarts.

Now these 100% from scratch Nutella Brown Homemade Sugar Pop Tarts recipe has a few steps, but I promise its so worth it and much easier than you might think.

I scaled down my favorite pie crust recipe for the pastry which you form into two discs, refrigerate then roll into 2 large rectangles that you then cut into 9 smaller rectangles as shown above.  I filled my pop tarts with a base of brown sugar and cinnamon topped with a layer of Nutella (DIVINE!) but the filling possibilities are virtually endless, and so will be your cravings!

Pop Tart Ingredients

Homemade pop tarts requires just a few pantry staples.  You will need your basic dough ingredients, filling ingredients (which can vary) and icing ingredients:

  • all-purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • salt
  • unsalted butter
  • vegetable shortening
  • ice water
  • brown sugar, Nutella or fruit jam
  • powdered sugar
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla extract
  • milk
homemade pop tarts with chocolate filling laying on a white plate

How to Make Pop Tarts

STEP 1: THE DOUGH

I LOVE using my food processor to make dough and it works fabulous in this homemade pop tarts recipe.  It saves you time and elbow grease- the dough literally comes together in a few pulses! Of course, if you don’t have a food processor, you can cut the butter in by hand.  

Two important notes about making dough – your butter and shortening need to be COLD in order to achieve a flaky crust.  When the dough is put into the oven, steam from the pieces of butter get released, creating small pockets of air in the dough.   The end result is the flaky, multi-layered crust.  If the butter gets too warm before it goes into the oven, the dough will still taste great but the texture will be more chewy and you will lose the distinct layers of the crust.

To make the dough, add flour, sugar and salt to your food processor and pulse a few times to evenly combine. Add COLD butter and shortening and pulse about 8 times, just enough to cut butter into smaller pieces. With processor running, pour ice cold water down the feed tube and pulse until the dough begins to clump together.  The ice water also helps the butter stay cold. 

two homemade pop tarts stacked on a plate

STEP 2: CHILL DOUGH

Turn dough onto a floured surface and gather into a ball. Divide into 2 even portions and flatten or roll each portion into an approximate 6” disc  – it doesn’t need to be perfect – and wrap each portion tightly with plastic wrap.

Chill dough for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Chilling the dough makes it much easier to work with and is also super convenient because you can make the dough, refrigerate and come back to it whenever its convenient for you to finish making the homemade pop tarts. 

STEP 3:  ROLL OUT DOUGH

Remove 1 disc of dough from the refrigerator and let rest 10 minutes to soften so its easier to work with.  Keep the other dough portion in the refrigerator- remember – always keep the dough chilled before it bakes! Roll dough into a little larger than a 9×12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured cutting board. 

Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, cut three 3” rows across the 9-inch side. Across the 12-inch side, cut four 4-inch rows. Transfer the 9 rectangles to one of the baking sheets (space them evenly) and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with remaining dough to create 9 more rectangles then transfer them to the other baking sheet.  These will be the top and bottoms of your  homemade pop tarts.

Step 4:  Nutella Brown Sugar Filling

Now the fun part!  I love brown sugar pop tarts – but I also love Nutella – combine them together and you have sensational Nutella Brown Sugar Pop Tarts! Before we add the filling, brush egg wash over all of the edges.  This will help help the top and bottom rectangles seal together.

Next, spread a combination of brown sugar, and flour down the center of each rectangle then spread it out towards the edges.  You want to make sure you leave at least a 1/2-inch dough perimeter so your pop tarts can seal together.

Top each brown sugar center with 1 teaspoon Nutella down the center.  You don’t have to worry about spreading it around because it will spread out as it bakes.

showing how to make homemade pop tarts by layering homemade dough with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutella

Step 5:  Assemble

Now we get to put them all together!  Remove the other baking sheet from the refrigerator and brush the entire surface of all of the rectangles with egg wash and place them WASH SIDE DOWN over each Nutella rectangle.  This helps the pastry melt into the filling.

Press the edges firmly together all the way around with your fingers to seal in the filling then go back all the way around with the tines of a fork to double-seal the perimeter – we don’t want any leaking surprises!

Prick the top of each homemade pop tart several times with a fork so steam can escape while baking and our pop tarts don’t explode.  You can also us a toothpick and prick the tops about 8 times.

STEP 6:  CHILL

Freeze pastries for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 1 hour.  This helps the pastries set, rest and chill – remember how we want cold butter?!  Chilling the pastries helps ensure their flaky goodness.

showing how to make homemade pop tarts by crimping the edges with a fork

STEP 7:  BAKE

When ready to bake, brush the tops of each pastry with remaining egg wash. This will promote that golden goodness.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden, rotating once while baking. Let pop tarts cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

STEP 8:  GLAZE

While your homemade pop tarts are baking, make the glaze.  Simply whisk together powdered sugar, milk, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract until smooth.

When pop tarts are cool, spread Glaze over the top.  You don’t want to glaze them any sooner or the glaze will just melt right off of the pop tarts.  Glaze will begin to harden after 30 minutes, but I can never wait that long!

showing how to make homemade pop tarts by drizzling pop tarts with glaze

CAN I USE STORE BOUGHT PIE CRUST INSTEAD OF MAKING THE DOUGH?

Yes, both store bought pie crust and puff pastry dough will work in this homemade pop tart recipe in place of the homemade dough – but they aren’t as good!

DO I HAVE TO USE SHORTENING? 

Pie dough and homemade pop tarts are the only time I use shortening-because it is worth it!  Shortening has a higher melting point than butter so it is harder to melt or overwork, this means you get a flakier crust.  Pastries made with shortening also hold their shape better during baking, which includes our beautifully crimped edges.

If you are opposed to using shortening, then you can use your own favorite all butter pie dough recipe.

POP TART FILLING VARIATIONS

Today, I shared with you my FAVORITE filling for homemade pop tarts, but it is super easy to customize them with YOUR favorite filling!

  • brown sugar:  skip the Nutella and combine ½ cup light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon flour.
  • strawberry:  whisk 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon cold water together in  saucepan.  Add ¾ cup strawberry jam and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes then let cool completely.  This will yield a thicker filling then just strawberry jam which will melt and become runny otherwise when baked.
  • mixed berry:  follow the instructions above but use ¾ of your favorite mixed berry jam or combine part strawberry, raspberry and blackberry.

HOW DO I STORE HOMEMADE POP TARTS?

Store homemade pop tarts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. 

HOW DO I REHEAT HOMEMADE POP TARTS?

When ready to eat, you can reheat homemade pop tarts in the microwave at 20 second intervals but they will soften.  To preserve their flakiness, bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Can I freeze homemade pop tarts?

Yes, although it is doubtful there will be many – if any – left!

  1. After baking, allow the pop tarts to cool completely.
  2. Once they are cool, place them on a baking or cookie sheet in a single layer, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and place into the freezer.   This is called “flash freezing” and eliminates the risk of them turning into a solid pop tart brick when later transferred to the same bag.
  3. Allow the pop tarts to freeze for several hours or overnight until solid.
  4. Once solid, remove pop tarts from the cookie sheet and transfer to an airtight container or into a zippered bag and squeeze out any excess air in order to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Freeze homemade pop tarts for up to three months.

How to reheat frozen pop tarts

Although frozen pop tarts aren’t quite as good as fresh from the oven the first time around, they are still a satisfying treat.  First, thaw pop tarts overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave.  Reheat homemade pop tarts in the microwave, oven, or toaster oven just until warm.  The oven will take about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.   Do not reheat in an upright toaster or you run the risk of them falling apart or burning.

Nutella Brown Sugar Homemade Pop Tarts – a lifetime tradition of better-than-store-bought homemade pop tarts awaits.  Along  with your new obsession.

a hand picking up a brown sugar cinnamon pop tart


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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Melt in-your-mouth Nutella Brown Sugar Pop Tarts cocooned in buttery, flaky pastry smothered with Cinnamon Vanilla Icing are 1000X better than store-bought and so good you will never go back to the box kind again!

Nutella Brown Sugar Pop Tarts

These melt in-your-mouth Homemade Pop Tarts are addicting!  They boast a brown sugar Nutella filling cocooned in buttery, flaky pastry smothered with Cinnamon Vanilla Icing.  They are made from scratch without any preservatives or food dyes and are worth every minute! –  you will never go back to the box kind again! 
Servings: 9 pop tarts
Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Prep Time: 3 hrs
Cook Time: 30 mins

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Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, chopped*
  • 1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons ice water

Nutella Brown Sugar Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 9 teaspoons Nutella

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg, whisked

Glaze

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Dough: Add flour, sugar and salt to food processor and pulse a few times to evenly combine. Add butter and shortening and pulse about 8 times, just enough to cut butter into smaller pieces. With processor running, pour ice cold water down the feed tube and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. Turn dough onto a floured surface and gather into a ball. Divide into 2 even portions and flatten or roll each portion into an approximate 6” disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill at least one hour in the refrigerator.
  • Assembly: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Remove 1 disc from the refrigerator and let rest 10 minutes to soften (keep the other disc in the refrigerator). On a lightly floured cutting board, roll dough into a little larger than a 9×12-inch rectangle in order to create 9 3×4-inch rectangles. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, cut 3 3” rows across the 9-inch side. Across the 12-inch side, cut 4 4-inch rows. Transfer the 9 rectangles to one of the baking sheets (space them evenly) and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with remaining dough to create 9 more rectangles then transfer them to the other baking sheet.
  • Filling: To these rectangles, brush egg wash over all of the edges. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour then spread down the center of each rectangle leaving at least a 1/2-inch dough perimeter. Top each brown sugar center with 1 teaspoon Nutella down the center (it will spread more when baked).
  • Remove the other baking sheet from the refrigerator and brush the entire surface of all of the rectangles with egg wash and place them WASH SIDE DOWN over each Nutella rectangle. Press the edges firmly together all the way around to seal in the Nutella. Use the tines of a fork to double-seal the perimeter of each of the pastries. Prick the top of each pastry several times with a fork (so steam can escape while baking), or use a toothpick to prick about 8 times. Freeze pastries for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 1 hour. Refrigerate remaining egg wash.
  • Bake: When ready to bake, brush the tops of each pastry with remaining egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden, rotating once while baking. Let pop tarts cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
  • Glaze: Meanwhile, whisk together all of the Glaze ingredients until smooth, adding a teaspoon more milk at a time if needed to reach spreadable consistency. When pop tarts are cool, spread Glaze over the top. Glaze will begin to harden after 30 minutes, but I can never wait that long. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

*After you chop your butter into ½ inch pieces or smaller, return to refrigerator to chill.
Total time includes chill time.

POP TART FILLING VARIATIONS

Today, I shared with you my FAVORITE filling for homemade pop tarts, but it is super easy to customize them with YOUR favorite filling!
  • brown sugar pop tarts:  skip the Nutella and combine ½ cup light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon flour.
  • strawberry pop tarts:  whisk 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon cold water together in  saucepan.  Add ¾ cup strawberry jam and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes then let cool completely.  This will yield a thicker filling then just strawberry jam which will melt and become runny otherwise when baked.
  • mixed berry pop tarts:  follow the instructions above but use ¾ of your favorite mixed berry jam or combine part strawberry, raspberry and blackberry.
 

How to Freeze Pop Tarts

  1. After baking, allow the pop tarts to cool completely.
  2. Once they are cool, place them on a baking or cookie sheet in a single layer, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and place into the freezer.   This is called “flash freezing” and eliminates the risk of them turning into a solid pop tart brick when later transferred to the same bag.
  3. Allow the pop tarts to freeze for several hours or overnight until solid.
  4. Once solid, remove pop tarts from the cookie sheet and transfer to an airtight container or into a zippered bag and squeeze out any excess air in order to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Freeze homemade pop tarts for up to three months.
  6. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or microwave.
  7. Bake thawed pop tarts a 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
 

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Melt in-your-mouth Nutella Brown Sugar Pop Tarts cocooned in buttery, flaky pastry smothered with Cinnamon Vanilla Icing are 1000X better than store-bought and so good you will never go back to the box kind again!

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8 Comments

  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    Oh My!! I don’t know whether to hug you or scold you!! I have no control when it comes to Nutella and pop tarts? I could just grab one and run — no evidence to leave behind. This recipe is a must for me to do — I’ll wait until we go and visit the grandsons. They will inhale them!!! Great recipe. Have a wonderful day.

    • Jen says

      hahahah, maybe hug me and scold me? 🙂 This would be so fun with your grandsons – and then you would have to share – or maybe not :)! I hope you have fun making them – and eating them!

  2. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! Truthfully I never liked pop tarts, but these look so good! Your pastry is so flaky and who doesn’t like Nutella?

    • Jen says

      Hi Dorothy, if you have never liked pop tarts, I think now is the time to be converted! I really think you will fall in love with these! Let me know if you try them!

  3. Rachel says

    Just discovered you via the lasagna soup recipe which I CAN’T wait to make. This one is also definitely on my list for a day when I have plenty of time to devote to it. Your story and recipes are amazing!

    • Jen says

      Hi Rachel, welcome to Carlsbad Cravings! I am so happy you found my site and I am excited for you to try some of my recipes! I think you will love the Lasagna Soup and these pop tarts are definitely worth the time! Thank you for your kind words, I am grateful every day and more grateful for kind people like you that make my life so rewarding!

  4. Elizabeth King says

    How much of this can be made ahead? Obviously the dough, but after you assemble them you say “refrigerate up to 1 hour”, should it be no longer than 1 hour? AKA Can I make these at night and refrigerate to bake the following morning?

    • Jen says

      Hi Elizabeth, refrigerating the dough for 1 hour firms up the pastry because it has been at room temperature for so long at this point but I don’t recommend refrigerating overnight or it will dry out. Sorry probably not what you wanted to hear!

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