Vegan Pasteis de Nata (Egg Custard Tarts)

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Years ago, I went to Lisbon for a week.  As I’ve mentioned before, I kept eyeing the famous egg custard tarts (pasteis de nata or pasteis de Belem) all over Lisbon, and I alluded to the fact that I planned to make them. Unfortunately back in 2013 vegan pasteis had not yet come to Lisbon, though times have changed (yay!), veganism is spreading and you can now get vegan pasteis in Lisbon.

Pasteis de nata consist of egg custard (normally flavoured with cinnamon and lemon peel, it would seem) on a pastry base.  I wanted to veganise it, but a lot of recipes made it seem really complicated to prepare (so I kept putting it off). 

Later I discovered the main reason the recipes are so complicated is to prevent overheating the egg when mixing it into the milk mixture, which could cause it to start to separate and get an almost scrambled egg-like texture. 

Vegan picnic recipes: Portugese egg custard tarts (pasteis de nata)

I figured there wasn’t the risk of the that with a vegan egg, so I opted for a much simpler technique, and it turned to be pretty easy to prepare with the Vegg (the vegan egg subsitute I used).  Instead of heating sugar, the milk and flour, and the egg separately (using up to 3 pans!), I opted to cook everything in one pan. You can buy vegan egg substitutes online or in some health food shops.

I’ve since used Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, and while it was still tasty, it actually seemed to separate a little. It was absolutely fine once I poured it through the strainer, though! So if you only have access to VeganEgg, use that.

A few things to consider:

  1. You can use a regular muffin tray or a large one, depending on how big you want your pasteis.
  2. Only fill the pastry cases 3/4 of the way full!  I made the mistake of over-filling mine and was greeted with an explosion of custard all over the muffin tray when I opened the oven door.  The entire tray was coated in extremely sticky custard.  I wish I’d stopped at 3/4, even if I would have had some custard left over.
  3. In bakeries, they cook pasteis at very high temperatures (up to 700 F).  If you want the characteristic blackened spots on your pasteis, broil them for a minute after they’ve finished baking.  But be careful and watch closely to make sure they don’t burn!
I’ve since had several Portugese readers tell me they tasted just like their mum’s — the highest compliment!  However, I can say that I loved them, and so did my non-vegan taste testers — meaning these recipes are suitable for non-vegans.

Vegan Pasteis de Nata/Pasteis de Belem (Portuguese Custard Tarts)


  • 350g package puff pastry sheet (I used Jus Rol)
  • 1 cup  (250 ml) soya milk, or other vegan milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour / cornstarch
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 2 slices fresh lemon peel
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Vegg + 1/2 cup (125 ml) water (or approx other vegan egg substitute making approx 1/2 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C.  Mix the soya milk, sugar, corn flour (cornstarch) in a small saucepan.  Add the lemon peel and cinnamon and cook over medium heat until it just starts to thicken.  Add the blended Vegg (vegan egg) and stir over medium heat until the mixture is quite thick and custard-like, 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain, so the solid bits (like lemon peel and cinnamon) are strained out.  I strained mine into a glass measuring cup for easy pouring.

  1. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
  2. Remove the puff pastry sheet from its wrapping and roll along the long end.  Cut into 12 pieces.
  3. Put a piece of pastry in a muffin tin hole, and press it until it starts to cover the hole in a rounded shape.

  1. Pour the custard (soya milk/vegan egg mixture) into the pastry shells, filling them only 3/4 of the way full.
  2. Bake at 375 F/190 C for 20 minutes.  If you want blackened spots on top of your pasteis like the traditional ones, broil them for 1 minute, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to  cool down for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the muffin tin and move to cooling rack to cool down completely.  Serve warm and coated in icing sugar/powdered sugar, if desired.



Looking for more (vegan) eggy recipes? Why not try my vegan silken tofu scramble for breakfast?

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27 thoughts on “Vegan Pasteis de Nata (Egg Custard Tarts)”

    • Well done ? for coming up with this. I wouldn’t overflavour the pastry …and I’d substitute soya milk for coconut cream/”milk” – the thick stuff in cans that you’d like in curries … Natas are richer than your average custard tart …

  1. This looks awesome, I’m going to give it a go – question though – you’ve said half a cup of mixed Vegg but given 250ml as measurement? Which is it? I don’t want to screw it up :)


    • Oops, it should be 125 ml (half a cup). I’ve updated it now in the recipe. Thanks for catching that!! Let me know how it goes, hope you enjoy :)

  2. My husband used to love these, we used to buy them in Chinatown in NYC before we went vegan. Is there anyway to make these without using Vegg? What about egg-replacer? I would love to surprise my husband for his birthday next month.

    Thanks so much.

      • Yes, I know it is vegan however I do not have any on hand nor do I want to order it online. That’s why I was wondering if one could substitute egg-replacer or another egg substitute.

        Thanks for replying anyway.

        • Hi Sue,
          In this recipe, the Vegg is doing to things: 1. thickening the milk (making it into a custard-like consistency) 2. adding flavour. The cornstarch (cornflour) in the recipe is already thickening it, so I think if you add another half tablespoon or so of cornstarch you could leave the Vegg out completely. It won’t have the same eggy taste or colour (you could add some vegan yellow food colouring if you want it to look like an egg custard tart) but it will still be nice, and have a nice lemony and cinnamon flavour! You could add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to give it a flavour boost if you like. Hope that helps :) And I hope your husband likes the surprise if you make them!

          • Thank you so much, Caitlin. I will try the extra cornstarch and see how that works. He will be a happy vegan as will the kids, who never had the non-vegan version anyway.

  3. That’s crazy!! So the vegg doesn’t exist in Montréal (boohoo), but I’m thinking of ordering some since the shipping is free. Ya know, why not? And so my question is: how do we use it? And is it good? and does it go bad quickly? Oh and, would you say I should buy it? :) Thanks Caitlin, my non-vegan (but soon) portuguese boyfriend will ffrrreeeakk!

    • Hi Gabrielle! Buy it buy it buy it! It just came to Spain where I live and I’m obsessed! Scrambled “eggs” are exactly like I remembered them and they come together in just 6 or 8 minutes. As long as you add a pinch of salt to them they’re perfect. And now I can’t wait to make these pastries. Caitlin created such an easy recipe for them!

      • Haha. Yes, either one is a good option! :) Vegg seems to work slightly better in this recipe for some reason than VeganEgg, but VeganEgg is great for doing scramble…(and still works here, it’s just more prone to the ‘separation’ problem, nothing on the scale of eggs though, and easy to fix with a strainer!). Both Vegg and VeganEgg are wonderful inventions so you can’t go wrong with either one, Gabrielle! ;)

  4. Hi :) nice recipe!
    They look good. I tried making them yesterday but used a custard mix instead – they didn’t taste bad but they didn’t taste like pasteis de nata – that’s why I decided to see if anyone had a vegan recipe for it. I will try yours and see how it goes (if I can find Vegg here).
    Just a little addition to your recipe ( I don’t know if you did it that way or not, but as you don’t mentioned I thought I would share) – to get the same texture as the original ones, instead of cutting cubes of puff pastry, you should roll it out into a large rectangle and they roll it into a cylinder. Then cur the cylinder in slices and use those instead. Also it is important to keep the dough really thin in the bottom.
    Thanks for the recipe :)

    • Thanks! If you have a chance, let me know how it goes – would be really interested to hear from someone who sounds pretty well-versed in pasteis de nata! :) And thank you for the tip on the pastry – I didn’t realise it should be rolled out that way. Next time I make it I will do it that way!

  5. I have eaten pasteis de nata since I was little, but when I switched to Vegan this is one of the Portuguese foods that I have been craving! I can’t wait to try this, in your recipe you put in the lemon skin in the milk, which my mum does also :)

    • Sarita – that’s so great, hope they turned out how you remembered (or close enough)! I read a lot of different recipes to try and get as close to a traditional version as I could so I’m glad to hear your mum put the lemon skin in the milk too!

  6. thank you SO much for this! I’m portuguese (from portugal) and I’m starting to become vegan so, yeah, no Pastéis de Belém for me! my Grandma made pie (of Pastéis de Belém style) and she asked me to find out a vegan recipe in order to have a ‘Pastéis de Belém’ Pie for myself, eheheh. this one was the only one i could find!! so thank you so much!

  7. Oh my goodness!!! You have made my dreams come true! I’ve been trying to create a recipe for this for Brownble and I keep putting it off because of that custard! I can’t wait to try this one Caitlin! I did eat these Belen pastries as a non-vegan before (I think the person who invented them is a pastry genius), so I’ll be happy to report back and tell you if they’re spot on… my guess is they will be because they look EXACTLY the same!!! Ok… so excited right now.

    • Yay!! Please report back if they taste authentic! I really hope they do – I made them for a potluck last week and a girl who’d been to Lisbon in her pre-vegan days and had them said she thought they were but it had been many many years since she’d had one and she wasn’t 100% sure she remembered. Anyway I think they are delicious and I hope you love them!

      Making the custard is so much easier as a vegan – vegan for the win! It sounds like it’s a real pain to make with eggs because of the separation… Even though my VeganEgg separated a little bit it was nothing like what a chicken egg would do. Just remember to strain your custard through a sieve thoroughly before pouring into the pastry and you’re good to go! :)


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Caitlin Galer-Unti

Hi, I’m Caitlin and I’ve been vegan since 2008 and vegetarian my whole life. Since going vegan, I’ve lived in 4 countries and travelled to over 30! I’ve also published two bestselling vegan books (The Essential Vegan Travel Guide and The Barcelona Vegan Guide) and had my work featured in The New York Times, Vegetarian Food & Living and Vegan Life magazine. I’ve veganised my life and I’m here to help you design your life around your vegan values. 


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