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How to identify the perfect Portuguese custard tart

pastel de nata


How to identify the perfect Portuguese custard tart


The Portuguese custard tart – Pastel de Nata – is the most iconic pastry in Portugal and one of the most delicious gifts that Portugal ever gave to the world.

In 2009, The Guardian considered Pasteis de Belém “one of the best foods in the world”. In 2011, they were the only pastry to be among the 7 Gastronomic Wonders of Portugal. Alain Ducasse, one of the most influential chefs in the world, dubbed it as “celestial”. Its fame knows no borders and nowadays you can taste pastel de nata all over the world.

From Rio de Janeiro to Macau, from London to Cape Town, from LA to Tokyo, you will be able to find these precious sweets, sprinkled with some cinnamon powder and icing sugar.


What makes pastel de nata the most wanted custard in the world?

Pastel de nata is the perfect combination of crusty flaky puff pastry and creamy luscious custard filling infused with lemon, cinnamon and vanilla.

Fact #1: All pastéis de nata are to die for.
Fact #2: Some of them are truly a piece of art.



Four steps to identify how perfect a Portuguese custard tart is:

1. Check the color of the top. It should be nicely browned but not burned.

2.  Test the texture of the crust. It should be light, flaky, and its layers should be well defined (you can see that by looking at the spiral on the bottom of the pastry).

  • Turn your pastel de nata upside down to make sure you find a spiral on the bottom of the pastry
  • Hold and slightly squeeze your Portuguese custard tart: if you hear the crispy sound of the flaky dough layers cracking, you may be sure it is a freshly baked one.

3. Verify the consistency of the filling: it should be nicely set but slightly runny.

4. Last but not least, taste the overall flavor of the pastry. The ultimate challenge. There should be a balance between the buttery dough and sweetness, lemon and vanilla custard with the cinnamon powder. Together, these five elements deliver an unforgettable gastronomic experience.


Pastel de nata pictures collage


Where to taste top-notch custard tarts in Lisbon?

  • Antiga Confeitaria de Belém – Rua de Belém 84-92 (Belém)
  • Confeitaria Nacional – Praça da Figueira 18B (Downtown)
  • Manteigaria – Rua do Loreto 2 / Time Out Market (Chiado / Cais do Sodré)
  • Pastelaria Aloma – R. Francisco Metrass 67 / Lisbon airport (Campo de Ourique / Lisbon airport)

Every day, the hosts of Taste of Lisboa are happily passing that experience to those who join us in our Lisbon Roots, Food & Cultural Walk and Lisbon Market, Food & Cultural Walk. It thrill us so much to witness that sparkle in their eye, the smile on their face and the delights of their tastebuds, that are the inevitable amazement and sudden pleasure one feels when tasting a top-notch pastel de nata for the first time. Doubt it? Book your ticket and come to check it by yourself!


Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:

Where to eat the best Portuguese custard tarts in Lisbon

10 pastries you should eat in Portugal (besides custard tart)

10 typical drinks from Portugal

10 Ways to Enjoy Lisbon Outdoors

7 unusual things to see, do and eat in Lisbon


Real people, real food. Come with us where the locals go.

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