An Irish Cheese Tart is not only popular in Ireland and the UK, but around the world too. It’s an easy recipe, involving a shortcrust pastry base filled with a blend of Irish cheeses and fresh thyme, then baked until golden brown.
So, this post includes how to make a shortcrust recipe and then how to make the Cheese filling, with step by step instructions to guide you along the way – now that’s easy!
This is a traditional Irish Cheese Tart recipe, eaten in Ireland and the UK. It is often accompanied with onions. I have intentionally left this Cheese Tart unadulterated. For add in ingredients scroll down to ‘Cheese Tart Variations’ to discover how to give this traditional Cheese Tart a bit more zap!
This is not a recipe for Hokkaido baked Cheese Tarts. Hokkaido Cheese Tarts are delightful little pastry tarts with an airy soufflé filling. Inspired by the rich creamy flavors from the Hokkaido Dairy in Japan, these tartlets are a treat enjoyed around the world, not just in Japan.
The first step how to make this easy Cheese Tart, is to make a food processor shortcrust pastry. Then the filling is made, in the same food processor bowl (no need to wash in between). Lastly, it gets oven baked. Serve warm, room temp or chilled.
Cheese Board Leftovers
I make cheese boards and Grazing Boxes frequently. I always have bits and pieces of cheeses leftover. Sometimes, especially if I use a mature Cheddar, I find the cheese crumbles easily. I save all these Cheese bits and crumbles and freeze them in a freezer bag. I find this is the best use for these leftover Cheese board scraps.
Ingredients Needed For Easy Irish Cheese Tart
- Butter: salted, cold.
- Flour: all purpose / plain.
- Cheese: assortment of hard and semi hard cheeses. I used leftover cheeses and Irish Cheddar.
- Cream cheese: room temperature.
- Cornstarch / cornflour.
- Thyme: fresh.
How to Make Shortcrust Pastry
Here’s the shortcrust recipe: this recipe is for an eggless shortcrust pastry:
Put flour and cut up butter pieces into the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until fine breadcrumbs appear (maybe 1-2 minutes.)
Add cold water (around 1-3 tsp) through the feed chute of the food processor, until a dough starts to form, then stop.
Remove the pastry dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Shape into a disc or ball and start rolling.
Roll the shortcrust pastry evenly until it is large enough in diameter to cover the bottom of a loose bottomed tart pan.
Push the pastry into the sides and bottom of the pan and trim off excess pastry. (Don’t throw excess pastry away, see below in the “A Tip From Me’ section for advice how to use leftover pasty trimmings.) Place the uncooked pastry base into the refrigerator to rest.
How to Make the Cream Cheese Tart Filling
Crumble up the Cheddar and any cheese scraps into the food processor bowl.
Add the cornstarch, egg, and fresh thyme leaves, and pulse until blended.
Add cut up pieces of creamed cheese.
Pulse until well blended.
Remove the chilled pastry base from the refrigerator and fill with cheese mixture.
Spread evenly over the pastry and bake the Cheese Tart in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes.
Cheese Tart Variations
There’s nothing like taking an original recipe, making a few adjustments and creating something different with it! Here’s some variations to this Cheese Tart recipe:
- Apple and Cheddar Cheese Tart: add 2 peeled, diced apples, and use only Cheddar cheese.
- Goat Cheese Tart: only use goat cheese, add other ingredients such as pear or caramelized onions.
- Smoked Cheese Tart: use only smoked Cheddar or Gouda or a mixture of both.
- Cheddar and Pineapple Cheese Tart: use only Cheddar cheese and add 2oz of crushed, drained, canned pineapple.
- Add ins, such as asparagus, tomato, caramelized onions and smoked salmon, are just a few ingredients that can be added to this basic Cheese Tart recipe.
- Irish Leek and Cheddar Tart: use only Cheddar and add 8oz of sautéed (in butter) fresh leeks.
- Irish Potato and Cheddar Tart: use only Cheddar cheese and add 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced. Add a layer of half of the cheese mixture, then layer in the potatoes and cover with the remaining half of the cheese mixture.
- This can be a Cheese Tartlet recipe, simply divide the pastry and cheese filling between 15 individual baking pans (measuring 2.6 inches / 6.5 cms in diameter) to make mini Cheese Tarts.
Cuisinart 14 cup Food Processor available at Amazon.
9 inch / 22.8 cm diameter tart pan with removable bottom.
Tartlet pans from Amazon.
A Tip From Me
Always save scraps! In this recipe I used leftover assorted cheeses from a cheese board or Grazing Box. Place hard and semi hard cheeses like Cheddar and Havarti together, and soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert together, in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Blue cheese scraps can be treated the same way with regard to freezing them. Do not combine them with the other cheeses.
While I used scraps, I also created some. When I followed the recipe for pie pastry with butter, I ended up with pastry trimmings after lining the tart pan. Again, place scraps in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Weigh the bag and write the weight on the bag. Keep adding pastry scraps (and corresponding weight) to the bag. You’ll need about 8 oz / 225g of pastry to make one pastry base for a tart.
Alternatively, roll the pastry out and using a cookie cutter, cut out as many pastry discs as possible. Bake them on a sheet pan / tin, at the same time as the Cheese Tart is baking. Remove from the oven when golden brown, allow to cool. Choose your favorite jam and spread some on one half, put another pastry disc on top and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy your newly created ‘jam tarts’ with a nice cup of tea!
I’ve got answers – hopefully!
Quiche is a traditional egg custard baked in a butter shortcrust pastry. A little cheese is sprinkled on top to enhance the golden color of the finished product. This Cheese Tart is not a custard. The main ingredient in the filling is cheese with only one egg added. This Cheese Tart is cheesy and not eggy, so there is quite a difference in texture and flavor, however they both use a shortcrust pastry base.
Any type of Cheddar is going to be an ideal ingredient. Cheddar melts well (which is what happens in the oven when the tart bakes), and it provides a hearty, well balanced flavor. Of course, keeping it Irish, Kerrygold Dubliner cheese is the one I recommend, although any Cheddar, especially mature Cheddar will work. Other cheeses to use are Havarti, Gouda, Colby and Muenster. I would avoid using Red Leicester due to the color being a bit to orangey, and avoid all blue cheeses. Save the blues for another recipe such as Black and Blue Burgers.
I recommend serving a chilled bottle of Pinot Gris or an Alsatian wine such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer, alongside a lovely green salad and some crusty loaf.
Easy Irish Cheese Tart Recipe
- 8 oz flour all purpose / plain.
- 4 oz salted butter
- 8 oz cheese scraps Bits and pieces of cheeses, frozen leftover cheeses etc. See post for which cheeses are ideal.
- 8 oz Irish Cheddar
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp thyme fresh, use only the tiny leaves.
- Put flour and cut up butter pieces into the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse until fine breadcrumbs appear (maybe 1-2 minutes.)
- Add cold water (around 1-3 tsp) through the feed chute of the food processor, until a dough starts to form, then stop.
- Remove the pastry dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Shape into a disc or ball and start rolling.
- Roll the shortcrust pastry evenly until it is large enough in diameter to cover the bottom of a loose bottomed tart pan.
- Push the pastry into the sides and bottom of the pan and trim off excess pastry. (Don't throw them away, see below "A Tip From Me' section for advice for leftover pasty trimmings.)
- Place the uncooked pastry base into the refrigerator to rest.
Cheese Tart Filling Recipe
- Crumble up the Cheddar and any cheese scraps into the food processor bowl.
- Add the cornstarch, egg, and fresh thyme leaves, and pulse until blended.
- Add cut up pieces of creamed cheese. Pulse until well blended.
- Remove the chilled pastry base from the refrigerator and fill with cheese mixture.
- Spread evenly over the pastry and bake the Cheese Tart in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes.