Homemade strawberry filling is tucked inside an easy-to-make buttery pastry, and finished with a simple vanilla glaze to make for the best homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts.
How to Make Strawberry Pop Tarts at Home
There is no comparing these homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts to anything you will find in a silver package, housed inside a cardboard box. These pastries are hands-down my favorite thing to ever come out of my kitchen. Starting with the delicate, flavorful pastry that was developed specifically for this recipe, all the way through to the strawberry filling that actually tastes like fresh strawberries... they are simply the best homemade strawberry pop tarts! Have I convinced you yet you need to bake these?
So, let's get to making it, shall we? The text below offers tons of tips and helpful notes, or you can scroll to the bottom to grab the recipe and get started!
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
- fresh or frozen strawberries
- all-purpose flour
- unsalted butter
- powdered sugar
- whole milk
- vanilla extract
Tools Needed for This Recipe:
Here is a list of some of the primary tools I used in this recipe. You won't necessarily choose to use them all, but they are exactly what I used here. The links may contain affiliate links.
Steps to Make Strawberry Pop Tarts
Put this in the "project" category of recipes, but not the difficult category! There are a few steps needed to make homemade pop tarts and you should plan to make them over two days. To make the pop tarts you will need to:
- make and chill the strawberry filling (at least 12 hours of chill time)
- make and chill the dough (at least 12 hours of chill time)
- roll / fill / bake the pop tarts
- frosting the pop tarts
Homemade Strawberry Filling
If I can convince you of one thing, it's that you should make your own strawberry filling for this. This recipe does not call for store-bought strawberry jam, because this homemade strawberry filling really makes this recipe stand out. You'll do your pop tarts a disservice using store-bought jam.
Traditionally, jam is made by long simmering strawberries until they concentrate in flavor. For these pop tarts, I really wanted the filling to taste of fresh strawberries to make it extra special.
To make this strawberry filling, you'll simmer strawberries with sugar until the juices release. Then, using either an immersion blender or a regular blender, the strawberries get pureed. Once smooth, the strawberries get heated up again, and a cornstarch slurry is added to thicken up the filling. Unlike jam, the moisture is not cooked out of the strawberries, so the cornstarch thickens it to the correct consistency.
It's important to use the best quality strawberries you can find! The juicier and sweeter the strawberry, the better tasting the filling will be.
This strawberry filling recipe yields more than you will need for the pop tarts. You can use the extra strawberry filling in other pastries, breads, with ice cream, with oatmeal or even in place of jam on bread. Or, you can use it to make more pop tarts! It also freezes well.
How Pop Tart Pastry Differs from Pie Dough
The pastry in this recipe is not traditional flaky pie dough. In fact, making a flaky pastry is the opposite of what you would want for a pop tart. Otherwise, you'd be making hand pies, right?
Traditional pie dough--when made properly--would act more like puff pastry when rolled out and filled to make pop tarts. So this dough is made slightly different than my pie dough recipe instructs, with a few extra ingredients that make this pop tart dough perfect.
The dough is made in a food processor. Instead of leaving large chunks of butter in the dough (like you would for pie dough) the instructions call for running the processor until the dough clumps together around the blade. This ensures the butter is worked into the dough enough, which will prevent the dough from rising too much in the oven.
A touch of sugar is added to the dough, as well as a bit of milk, to make the pastry more flavorful and tender.
Rolling Out the Dough
The dough needs to be thoroughly chilled before rolling out. Once it's chilled (I always recommend making dough the day before and letting it rest overnight), remove from the refrigerator and let it soften up for 5-10 minutes. The dough is ready to roll out when it makes an indentation when you gently press your finger into the dough.
Generously flour your work surface, as well as your rolling pin. Divide the dough in half, and set the other half aside. Roll out the dough to a rough rectangle with a thickness of ⅛" thick. I recommend having a ruler on hand. Then, using either a knife or a pastry cutter, cut the dough into 4 x 3 inch rectangles. Rolling out each dough piece to a rough 9 x 13 inch rectangle should yield 8 rectangles. Then, re-roll the scraps and roll them out one time. In total, you should be able to get 16-18 rectangles.
After making this dough several times, I noticed that the thickness of the rolled out dough is very important. If the dough is rolled out too thin, the pop tart will collapse after it has finished baking. Do use a ruler to make sure the dough has been rolled out to an even thickness of ⅛" for best results.
How to Seal the Pop Tarts Well
It's important to seal the pop tart dough well, so that the filling does not leak out. There are quite a few tricks used in this recipe to make sure all that delicious strawberry filling stays inside. I recommend you follow them all for the best result!
- Brush the bottom pastry with egg wash. This helps seal the dough together.
- After you place the second piece of dough on top of the filling, make sure to push down on all sides of the pastry.
- Use a fork and press down on the edges of the pastry.
- And finally, the most important step: use a pastry bench scraper to slice of the very tip of the edges. This not only cleans up the edges so the pop tarts look neat, but it also acts to truly seal the two pieces of pastry together. Using a knife doesn't work the same, because knives are sharp and instead of mashing the two pieces of pastry together it just cuts right through them. If you don't have a pastry bench scraper, I recommend using another tool that is dull, but not so dull that it can't cut through soft pastry. Even a ruler might work well!
Pro-tip: don't overfill the pop tarts. Most people have the urge to have as much filling as possible. But if you recall, store-bought pop tarts have just a thin layer of filling. It should be the same for the homemade version. If you fill the pastry too much, it will naturally leak out of the sides.
Baking the Pop Tarts
The most important step in the baking of these pop tarts is the chilling time beforehand! Chilling the filled pastries ensures that they keep their shape well. Chill the filled pop tarts in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or ideally 1 hour, before baking.
Once they are chilled, take a sharp knife and poke holes through the top of the pastry. This lets steam escape during the bake and helps prevent the dough from rising too much and leaving a gap in between the filling and the top of the pastry. Sometimes this just happens anyways, as the butter can have a mind of its own in the oven.
These pop tarts taste best when they are just lightly baked. The goal is to not get too much browning on the dough. They should be baked in the middle rack until the bottoms are lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
Freezing and Storing
The pop tarts will keep well for up to 3 days, at room temperature, in a closed container. Just make sure that the glaze is completely set before you place them on top of one another.
Un-frosted pop tarts can even be frozen, baked or unbaked, for up to 1 month in the freezer.
Watch How to Make Strawberry Pop Tarts
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