When I first booked my recent trip to Lisbon, the first thing I was told to try was the Pasteis de Nata. Every single person, without fail mentioned these little custard tarts before describing the architecture, the wine AND the piri chicken.

Consider my curiosity piqued.

But what is it about these small, warm, sweet tarts that has everyone so enamoured (aside from them being small, warm and sweet)? I set off to Lisbon with a serious mission on my hands – to try enough pasteis de nata to find out.

The History of the Pasteis de Nata

Pasteis de nata (or pastel de nata in the singular, but who seriously only eats one?!), is a traditional egg custard tart common in Portugal but also across other Portuguese influenced countries such as Brazil. They were surprisingly created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem, just outside of Lisbon (hence why Belem is often referred to as the birthplace of pasteis de nata). This is because convents and monasteries often used lots of egg whites to starch clothing, leaving egg yolks to be made into sweet pastries and cakes.

Pasteis De Nata

In the 19th century, with monasteries closing in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution, the monks decided to start selling their pasteis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery. When the Jeronimos Monastery closed for good, they sold their recipe to this factory. The owners of this factory opened Pasteis de Belem in 1837, and it has been there in the heart of Belem ever since.

Making Pasteis de Nata At Home

I’m no pastry expert, and I would bet all the money I have that making them at home would never be as good as eating them out of the paper back on a Lisbon side-street, but these custard tarts are relatively simple to make.

I’ve collated some recipes below that require different levels of skill and slightly different flavours:

Have you tried Lisbon's famous pasteis de nata? They're gooey, creamy and absolutely lushClick To Tweet

Pasteis De Nata

Where To Find Pasteis De Nata in Lisbon

So you’re travelling to Lisbon and want to know where to find these amazing Portuguese jewels? Luckily, the minute you step out into the open you’ll find many a bakery selling them, usually for around 1 euro each. I’d advise you try AS MANY AS POSSIBLE, but here are some of the best places for a pastel de nata in Lisbon.

Pasteis de Belem

The original and best, right from the heart of pasteis de nata history and still run by the descendents of that sugar factory in 1837. In the height of season you’ll find queues round the block, but out of season in the early morning it’s simple to grab a couple and head for the Tagus River to enjoy them.

Pasteis De Nata

You can also enjoy a range of other goodies here from sandwiches, to patisserie and sweet coffee. It takes about 10 minutes to get here by train from central Lisbon, so no reason not to make the trip.

Tartine

Combining both French and Portuguese techniques and traditions, Tartine can be found in the Chiado area of Lisbon. As well as an awesomely rich version of the pastel de nata, you can also find a chocolate and almond filled croissant which will make your toes curl with pleasure.

Fábrica da Nata

Located in the heart of Lisbon, in a century-old building you’ll definitely not be able to miss. You can watches batches of pasteis de nata being made, and time your purchase for when a fresh batch has just come out of the oven. They’ve got plenty of seating if you want to savour your purchase, or you can just rush out furtively with a paper bag full, just like me.

Pasteis De Nata

Have you been struck with the love for pasteis de nata?

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Pasteis De Nata | Lisbon | Portugal | Travel Tips

Pasteis De Nata | Lisbon | Portugal | Travel Tips

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  • Aren’t they the freaking greatest things on the planet?! x
    Sophie Cliff

    • I would literally go back just to eat them. The best snack ever! xx

  • Lauren Craving Sunshine

    My mouth is watering just reading this! i LOVE these little tarts of joy! Nothing beats biting into a fresh out of the oven tart…YUM!

    • I know, having the fresh out of the oven tarts were honestly the best thing in the world!

  • Danik Bates

    EGG TARTS! Yummy. Theres nothing like eating the tarts in Portugal. They have a good eggy taste 🙂

    • They really do, especially fresh out of the oven. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • I tried these when I was there also! They’re so good b/c I don’t generally like sweets and these aren’t too sweet. They are really popular in Hong Kong as well.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed these! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • megan_claire

    Thanks for introducing me to a new sweet! Pasteis de Nata sounds quite incredible – I had never heard of it but am always up for an egg custard tart! I love trying local delicacies and it’s quite incredible to know that this specific treat has such a long history and affiliation with Lisbon. Obviously Pasteis de belem if it’s the original and the best!

    • Its really so yummy – I hope you get to try them one day, fresh out of the oven! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Well this made me hungry! I love trying and learning about local food, and the reason they have it. These looks really great a little pit similar to the Pasticciotto of Southern Italy. I love tarts, and these with the cool history are awesome!

    • I’ll have to try that food from Southern Italy too! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Jen Ryder

    Such an interesting post! I love pasteis de nata! I know them as ‘egg tarts’ here in Asia. They are popular in China because Macao was once a Portuguese colony. Thanks for the recipes-going to try and make them!

    • I didn’t realise Macao was a Portuguese colony, its great you can get them in Asia too! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • This is great. I’d be honest if I was just told it was an egg pastry I’d probably pass. Now I know I can’t skip them. Hope to make it to Lisbon soon.

    • I hope you do too! Lisbon is awesome. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Lois Alter Mark

    I was in Lisbon last year and never tried these! I’m going to have to go back now because you’ve totally got me intrigued!

    • You’ll totally have to go back haha! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • I LOVE PORTUGAL’S TARTS! I have such fond memories of hunting down these tarts every day when I was in Portugal. I like the NATA brand ones the best!

    • YES! I have found another egg tart lover. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Adventurous Travels

    I went to Portugal and I tried them. I have to be honest here, although they do look great and I had been so excited to try them, they disappointed me a bit. But I’m sure it’s just my taste as I saw long queues of people wanting to get them 😉

    • I’m so sorry you didn’t love them! Thanks for commenting 🙂

      • Adventurous Travels

        Yes, everyone has their own favorite flavors 😉 but overall I loved Lisbon and even more Porto and Azores in Portugal and the food in general was amazing!
        Tom @ adventurous-travels.com

  • Buddy The Traveling Monkey

    I’ve never had them, but I’d love to try them. I don’t think I’ll be traveling to Portugal for awhile though. 🙁 I wonder though… I live in Miami and there are a lot of Brazilians here. Maybe I could find some around here? 🙂

    • Oooooh let me know if you find any locally! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Aneesha Rai

    I’ve had these not in Portugal, but Macau where there is a big Portuguese influence. They were delicious!

    • I’m so pleased you liked them! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Ariane Petit

    Hi Sam, I am an absolute fan of Pasteis de Nata! There is a big Portuguese population in Luxembourg, so you can find them almost everywhere. But I’d love to try them in Lisbon as well 🙂 Also, I’m happy to know about the history of the pasteis, … Now I know something more about my best friend’s culinary tradition… and I will brag about it 😉

    • Oh I had no idea that there was a big Portuguese population in Luxembourg! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • I love pasteis de nata! I had three different ones in Portugal, one in Porto and two in Lisbon. I thought the ones at Pasteis de Belem were delicious and I was lucky because there was no line.

    • Pasteis de Belem is definitely the best! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Milijana

    I could easily gain on my weight because of Pasteis De Nata. Actually, you gave me an idea to try to prepare them by myself. Thanks for the recipes’ links!

    • No problem – good luck! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Yay – glad you can try them too. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Oh I’ll have to try yemmas. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Punita Malhotra

    Just thinking of Belem’s Pasteis de Nata makes my mouth water and my eyes go all starry! It’s become my favourite dessert in the whole world, after we went to Portugal two years back. Nothing like it…nothing at all.

  • Laveena Sengar

    I haven’t been to Portugal yet but I am sure if i did i am totally going to fall in love with it. I will try to make them by myself if I can.

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