The best classic South African unbaked milk tarts

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A recipe for classic South African unbaked milk tarts

These classic South African unbaked milk tarts are so easy and delicious. The base is made with the iconic Baker’s Tennis biscuits and melted butter.

Milk tart is a classic South African heritage recipe and it’s utterly delicious. The filling consists of either a cooked custard filling and the tart itself can be baked or unbaked. When it’s baked it’s the most similar to a Portuguese pasteis de nata and originates from the Dutch part of our heritage.

I have done a baked milk tart recipe on my site and it’s a really nice one. I added a twist and infused Earl Grey tea into the filling turning it into a London Fog rendition, but you could leave that out and make a traditional version. 

A recipe for classic South African unbaked milk tarts

These mini tarts are novel but they require more biscuits for the base and take a little longer to make. It’s much easier to go with one large milk tart and then use one packet of biscuits. I’ve included instructions to do it both ways. 

A recipe for classic South African unbaked milk tarts

After making this I was reminded how much I really love milk tart. There is something so comforting about eating a confection that can take you right back to your childhood and to other times throughout your life. It’s what heritage recipes are all about and I love the nostalgia of it. 

To make this into 1 large milk tart:

This recipe can be made into 1 large milk tart using 200 grams (1 packet) of tennis biscuits and 100 grams of butter as the base. To make 12 individual tarts you will need more crumb base so I have done 1.5 times the recipe to make 12.

I used a 25cm pie/tart tin which has an 18cm base circumference. It was a snug fit and it was perfect, but a 26cm pie dish could also work. This biscuit base is also generous which I like.

A slice of classic South African unbaked milk tart

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You might also like these South African recipes:

Earl Grey tea milk tart  -Baked milk tart 

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My grandmother Betty’s crunchy recipe

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The best classic South African unbaked milk tart recipe with a Tennis biscuit base

Here is my video of how to make a classic South African unbaked milk tart recipe:

Recipe – makes 1 big milt tart or 12 mini milk tarts

A classic South African unbaked milk tart

This is the best classic South African unbaked Milk Tart recipe
Print Recipe
A recipe for classic South African unbaked milk tarts
Prep Time:20 minutes


  • 200 gms 1 packet Tennis biscuits
  • 100 gms butter melted
  • 700 ml full cream milk
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 50 gms cornstarch
  • 50 ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon to decorate


  • Break the Tennis biscuits into fine crumbs by hand or by using a food processor and mix in the melted butter until well combined.
  • Line a 25cm-26cm pie tin with the tennis biscuit crumbs and press down to compact. Place in the fridge or freezer to set while you make the filling.
  • If you are making individual milk tarts, use 1 1/2 packets of tennis biscuits (300 grams) and 150 grams of butter. Line the base and sides of 12 x 8cm individual tart cases with the biscuit crumbs and press to compact. Place in the fridge or freezer to set while you make the filling.
  • In a medium-sized pot, heat the milk, condensed milk and vanilla over a medium until boiling point (make sure you stir until the condensed milk is dissolved).
  • While that is heating up, separate the eggs and whisk the eggs whites to soft peak in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In another bowl whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, water and salt. When the milk is at boiling point take it off the heat and allow it to cool for 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously all the time.
  • Return the pot to a low heat and continue to whisk constantly until it thickens, about 5 -7 minutes.
  • Add the egg whites to the milk mixture and whisk for about 2 more minutes until well combined.
  • Pour the filling into the lined pastry cases and allow it to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge to set completely.
  • Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and serve.


It is best to make this Milk tart the day before and allow it to fully set and cool in the fridge overnight. the flavour will also improve overnight. 
The filling can be used as a chilled thick custard for various other desserts.
To make 12 mini milk tarts increase the crumb mixture to 1.5 packets (300 grams) and 150 grams of butter.
Store the milk tart in the fridge.
Servings: 8


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  1. Wow, those sound and look divine! I make a crustless milk tart because I usually don’t like the pastry base. But this tennis biscuit base sounds yum

  2. Hi I’m from UK Can you describe a Tennis biscuit? Is it like a digestive biscuit or Rich Tea or shortbread? I realise I am relying on your knowledge of UK biscuits here but any help appreciated.

  3. Made this recipe today! It was lovely! Had to use Biscoff instead of Tennis biscuits as I’m in UK and no tennis biscuits available for spontaneity lol! Thanks/Dankie for the recipe!

  4. I live in the UK and I use Nice biscuits instead of Tennis biscuits because they have a cocunutty taste. I hope that helps 🙂

  5. HI Zin, thanks for letting me / us know about the NIce biscuits in the UK as a replacement for Tennis biscuits.

  6. Katie Gottlieb says:

    Sam – WOW! I made this for Father’s Day and it was such a hit! Its creamy and firm and just delicious! Thank you.

  7. I’m so glad you liked the recipe, Katie 🙂

  8. Jeffrey Vella says:

    Hi Sam. I’m making this for a SA friend on the weekend as we are having a Braii. I am wanting to make a large tart and have looked at a number of recipes. I love yours as I really want to use Condensed Milk but I am a bit confused. Just that most only include approx 500ml milk for a 9-inch pan. But I am presuming these recipes are for shallow pie tarts. Is your recipe for a high sided spring form type cake pan? Thanks – hope to hear from you soon.


  9. Hi Jeff, the quantities in my recipe are what they are and those are my ratios. It will make one large tart shape not a springform cake tin shape. I would make a baked milk tart in that as it holds together after baking. The unbaked milk tart is more fragile so needs to be served directly out of a flat pic dish. I hope this helps?


  10. OMG this has to be the best Milk Tart recipe around, and I’m not a milk tart person! I used half cream and half powdered milk mix (we don’t get fresh milk on the island). Thank you so much for this, honestly, it’s absolute heaven. Super light. I was going to share with neighbours, but have changed my mind now!!!

  11. I’m so glad you loved it Jeannie 🙂

  12. This is my absolute favourite Milk tart recipe!!!! Thank you for sharing.

  13. Chanel Snyman says:

    A stunning recipe! Tastes like home from a cold Netherlands.

  14. Thanks Chanel

  15. Andrea Adams says:

    What to use for those of us can’t get the biscuits

  16. Hi Andrea, if you live in the US Graham crackers works well or any biscuit/cookie you would grind up to use in a tart base. IN the UK tea biscuits of digestives.

  17. Hi Sam! Is it possible to exclude condensed milk from the recipe? I would like to cook a less sweet milk tart. If possible, how much whole milk should be used instead of condensed milk?

  18. Hi Natalya – I have not tested this recipe without condensed milk and it’s a key ingredient here and I wouldn’t change it because its perfect as is. Maybe better to try find another recipe.

  19. The flavour is wonderful! I baked off some frozen prepared mini tarts and used them. I found it didn’t set as well as I was hoping. Obviously something I did but can you offer any remedies? Yum, thank you!

  20. Hi Rose – glad you enjoyed it. You really need to cook it and keep stirring until it’s really thick. I’m not 100% sure what went wrong but its not a super firm filling anyway. A fir wobble and why it works really well as a mini tart.

  21. Best ever recipe this!!! It was a family favourite after SA won the rugby yesterday!

  22. Thanks Chrissie, I’m so glad you loved the milk tarts as much as I do

  23. Shannon Heaney says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe!

  24. So glad you love it Shannon 🙂

  25. Paula Snell says:

    Hi Sam mine didn’t thicken 🙁 but I did the eggs and whisked but I think it’s because I didn’t boil the milk and condensed milk ….

  26. Hi Paula, oh dear, you need to really cook the custard out until it thickens. I did mention this in the recipe. You take the condensed milk and milk to just at boiling point. Then you whisk in the egg yolk and corn starch mixture, then keep cooking and whisking over heat until it thickens, then you add the egg whites and cook for a further minute. or two. It takes a bit of time and effort.

  27. Craig le Roex says:

    Hi Sam
    The ingredients list the quantities for 1 large tart, with adaptation for smaller tarts (12x8cm), but nowhere does it say the size of the large tart option.
    Could you please give the actual dimensions for the tart case that’s appropriate for the single tart option?

  28. Hi Craig. I used a 25 cm pie dish which has an 18cm bottom base circumference. It was a snug fit and perfect but you could make it in a 26cm tart/pie dish too. Sorry that’s not clear, I’ll add that in.

  29. Craig le Roex says:

    Ah that’s perfect, thanks so much for the fast reply! 🙂

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