Nanaimo Bars


With this being my very first experience, both making and eating Nanaimo Bars, I’m here to tell you not only are they so simple to make but they taste unbelievably delicious! Some of you are likely asking; what are Nanaimo Bars? They are a popular Canadian confection, basically a bar cookie,  that to me tastes very similar to a richly chocolaty, loaded fudge. They are named after the west coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. They consist of 3 layers, a cracker crumb and chocolate base, a custard flavored icing and then they’re finished with a chocolate coating. I love how there is so much going on in these layered bars, but it all so perfectly blends together. One candy bar came to mind when I first tasted these bars, Almond Joy bars. I’m sure it is due to the chocolate, coconut and nut combo.

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The instructions may appear to be long and tedious but these tasty treats are surprisingly super simple to make. They are a no bake bar after all. The hardest part for you will be the wait while they are chilling =). I’m glad I finally got around to making these delicious dessert bars. Now that I’ve tasted them I can’t understand why I waited this long. I guess I just didn’t understand there was so much more than just the stunning look of these famous bars. Their intricate taste is equal to their gorgeous, layered, multicolored look. Enjoy!

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Nanaimo Bars

Yield: 16 Servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes


Bottom Layer:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter , diced into pieces
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds (I used pecan cookie pieces)


  • 1/3 cup salted butter , softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp custard powder or vanilla/white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 oz . semi-sweet chocolate , chopped
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter


  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, add in brown sugar and cocoa powder and whisk until well combine. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in beaten egg. Return mixture to heat and cook for 1 - 2 minutes until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Add in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and pecans and toss until evenly coated. Press mixture into a buttered 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, place in freezer for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, using and electric hand mixer set on medium speed, whip together butter, heavy cream and custard powder until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute (mixture may seem dry at first but should start to come together). Spread mixture into an even layer over chilled graham cracker base. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Melt semi-sweet chocolate along with butter in a heat proof bowl, set over a pot of simmering water. Spread mixture into an even layer over filling layer, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes until chocolate has set. Cut into squares, store in an airtight container.
  4. Recipe Source: adapted lightly from Joy of Baking


  • Lisa@CreoleContessa: This looks real yummy, the first thing I thought about when you said Canadian was the great Cadbury Canadian Wunderbar. Canadian confections and candies are the best. January 2, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

    • Sharon Smith: would love the recipe for the Wunder Bar July 19, 2013 at 6:55am Reply

      • Jaclyn: I found a recipe here for it (which I haven’t tried yet) you might like: July 19, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

        • Lena Eggers: My mom makes these every year for Christmas… The only thing we still fight over as adults, only s she called them Napoleon cremes. They are in 47 years my very favorite. December 19, 2015 at 10:31pm Reply

  • Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen: Your shots are gorgeous. I want to go skating on that perfectly flat chocolate top!

    Then eat it of course… January 2, 2013 at 1:11pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Loretta! I love that what you said it. So fun to imagine skating on chocolate =). January 2, 2013 at 8:14pm Reply

  • Ramona: I have never heard of this sweet treat… but it sure looks delicious. I would love to take one off the screen and enjoy it. Don’t you wish you could actually do that? LOL! :) January 2, 2013 at 3:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I always wish I could do that! That would be a wonderful and terrible thing for me if it were possible =) January 2, 2013 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks: I made Nanaimo Bars a couple months ago! They were easy to make – just lots of steps/layers. I used a version of the Saveur mag recipe. The only issue I had was my chocolate top layer was prone to cracking – gah! Yours is gorgeous!

    I love the base so much and could just eat that and be happy! And yes, so much going on in them and I wish I had made them sooner, too!

    Did you use custard powder? I used dry milk powder which was fine but want to try custard powder. January 2, 2013 at 6:45pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Averie! I actually just used some of the instant white chocolate pudding mix because I had it on hand and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store for it. I really liked how it tasted but I’d love to try it with the custard powder sometime. January 2, 2013 at 7:59pm Reply

      • Niki: Oh yes you need to try it with the custard powder, it gives them the traditional taste, which is the best!
        I sometimes add 1 tbsp or 2 or corn syrup to the chocolate topping, and it won’t crack as long as you aren’t cutting the bars straight out of the fridge.
        yours are beautiful! January 3, 2013 at 8:22am Reply

        • Jaclyn: Thanks for your comment Niki and thanks for the tip about the corn syrup! January 5, 2013 at 2:56pm Reply

  • moniczkawkuchni: They look so tasty… I must try it out January 3, 2013 at 6:37am Reply

  • Judy: I love love love Nanaimo Bars. I had them on Victoria Island – they sell them at a gift shop right at the border/dock. I have made them numerous times and used vanilla pudding powder. I couldn’t find the custard powder for a long time and then I just didn’t worry about it since the pudding mix worked just great. Oh, and my chocolate top has Never looked that nice! January 3, 2013 at 7:16am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for your comment and compliment Judy! January 5, 2013 at 2:55pm Reply

  • sally @ sallys baking addiction: one of my favorite bar desserts, yet one I’ve never made before! Jaclyn, these obviously look incredible. The perfect layers! And the beautiful photography. I love it all. And the Joy of Baking Cookbook is my very favorite! January 3, 2013 at 11:58am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Sally! January 5, 2013 at 8:43am Reply

  • Summer @ Mallow and Co: Nanaimo Bars have been on my to-do list forever now, I think you’ve inspired me to actually make them! These pictures are beautiful!!! January 3, 2013 at 3:42pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Summer =), I hope do get a chance to make them soon! January 3, 2013 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Mae of Little Fig: Oh, these are so pretty! Your photos are always so bright and crisp. Love. January 4, 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much! I love the photos on your blog! I love the contrast in the photo the beautiful lights and darks of the ginger browns you posted. It’s gorgeous! And the steam coming off your lemongrass coconut noodle soup. I’ve tried to capture steam but I think I may need a tripod. Do you use one? Thanks for your comment! January 5, 2013 at 3:01pm Reply

      • Mae of Little Fig: Well, thank you for stopping by my blog, Jaclyn, and for the comments on the photos. :) I do use a tripod, for reasons just as you stated: it’s so hard to capture little details like steam rising from a bowl! I highly recommend investing in a sturdy, moderately-priced one. Mine is a mid-level Dolica and personally I love it! March 6, 2013 at 6:49pm Reply

        • Jaclyn: Thank you so much for your advice and also for stopping by my blog =)!! March 21, 2013 at 10:20am Reply

  • Vespa Woolf: A Canadian friend used to make nanaimo bars and I always loved them. I didn’t know they were no bake. I look forward to trying them. Thank you for sharing your recipe and beautiful photos! January 5, 2013 at 5:00am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Of course, you’re welcome =)! Thanks so much for your nice comment Vespa! I hope you enjoy them. January 5, 2013 at 8:43am Reply

  • Kim: I would LOVE to try these, but can’t eat whole nuts. I saw that you used pecan cookies…can they be ground up so that there aren’t pieces of nut? Or is there something you can recommend that would give the same flavor? February 19, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Kim – when I said I used “pecan cookie pieces” I was referring to the type of pecans I bought, sorry for the misunderstanding. They are just nuts that are chopped up really small already – you buy them that way and that’s how they are labeled =). You can grind them up finer though if you’d like. I hope you enjoy! February 21, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

  • Bernice: Being a Canadian, I have made Nanaimo Bars many times. Just want to say, I don’t like coconut, so I substitute quick cooking oats. Tastes just as good! March 3, 2013 at 6:39pm Reply

  • Sarah: I was wondering if there was anything I could use to substitute for coconut, as I am allergic to it. These look and sound amazing otherwise. March 3, 2013 at 6:49pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Someone else just barely posted a comment right before you stating they don’t like coconut so they use quick oats instead (I just hadn’t published the comment yet) – so I would say to give that a try or just omit them. I hope you enjoy! March 3, 2013 at 9:22pm Reply

  • clarissa: Been preached to NEVER eat raw egg. Did we forget the raw egg in the bottom layer? March 4, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I didn’t want to use any of those recipes that have raw egg in them which is why I went with this one from joy of baking. March 4, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

      • elaine: Am I missing something? Are you saying that the recipe above does not have a raw egg in the bottom layer? (seems like it’s still there) Can it be left out? March 12, 2013 at 8:51am Reply

        • Jaclyn: A raw egg is added then the mixture is cooked for 1 – 2 minutes, but you could likely leave it out but you’d have to replace it with some sort of thickener + liquid like butter and flour or cornstarch and milk. Hope that helps! March 19, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

    • pat: The egg is not raw since you are cooking the bottom layer on the stovetop before adding the nuts, etc. July 2, 2014 at 8:50pm Reply

  • Para Agata, | Sweet Surrender: […] Nanaimo Bars & Chocolate Turtle […] June 10, 2013 at 3:38am Reply

  • Dave: Your bars are cut very sharp and clean. They look much better than what Saveur and JoB posted. The JoB lady emphasized frequent knife wiping and set-but-not-completely-hardened state of the chocolate. I wondered if you have any other tricks? It looks like maybe you did a better job of making each layer flat. I like the ratio of bottom layer to the rest of the bar as well. Good job! July 25, 2013 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Dave – that’s a huge compliment to me because I love both Saveur and Joy of Baking! It’s been a while since I made these so I’m trying to remember how I cut them like that :). I’d recommend cutting across instead of down – like sliding the knife down to make the first cut on the outside edge then cut to opposite end instead of cutting the bars downward or the chocolate will smear into the next layer. Also I’d recommend a sharp knife and like use said, keeping the knife clean between cuts. Hopefully that helps! July 31, 2013 at 6:34pm Reply

    • stasha: Hold knife under hot running water March 27, 2014 at 8:58pm Reply

  • Dagmar: Found a recipe of Nanaimo Bars in a German magazine and had to google because I never heard about those. At least my son knew that Nanaimo is a town in Vancouver Island!
    And now I found you wonderful website!!!
    So many recipes to explore!! Just great!
    I’ll definitly make the Nanaimo bars as soon as I’m back from our vacation (will tell you how it worked out).
    All the best from Germany
    Dagmar September 13, 2013 at 4:49am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the compliment Dagmar and I hope you love these Nanaimo Bars! Have a wonderful vacation! September 14, 2013 at 7:12am Reply

  • sabrina: I plan to use chopped cashews instead of almonds. Do you think its an ok substitute? October 9, 2013 at 4:49am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think that should work fine. I hope you love these Sabrina! October 14, 2013 at 8:01pm Reply

  • charlotte: i never tried these but i would definitely make my own batch and have my family and friends try them out..i’ll will be making a batch of these to give away for christmas!!thanks for sharing the easy recipe Jaclyn… October 25, 2013 at 11:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re welcome Charlotte! I hope everyone enjoys them! October 26, 2013 at 5:35am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Growing up in Canada these were a favorite of mine as a kid. For my peanut butter loving husband and father-in-law I add a couple tbs of peanut butter to my filling or sometimes peppermint extract at christmas time :) November 1, 2013 at 1:44pm Reply

  • Krisi: I love these bars…. There to die for……. December 22, 2013 at 9:50pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you think so Krisi :)! December 22, 2013 at 10:40pm Reply

  • Sue: These are totally worth the time to make. Have made them on a number of occasions and everyone loves them. March 2, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear that Sue :)! March 18, 2014 at 8:43pm Reply

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  • Happy Canada Day! Bon Fete du Canada! | My Delights: […] adapted this recipe from All Recipes and Cooking Classy. Without boasting too much, I think these turned out great! I’m so excited to share this with […] July 1, 2014 at 2:48pm Reply

  • BlackBird: Living in Houston, Texas I’ve never even heard of these but thanks to MasterChef Canada I’ll be trying these soon. Thanks for the recipe. October 29, 2014 at 9:56am Reply

  • Karen Howard: Wow! The bottom of these bars are like German Choc. Cake filling & frosting-only fudgier-Yummy! January 2, 2015 at 11:29am Reply

  • Charlotte: Hi :) Just wondering if these should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or if they are at room temperature? They are delicious!! Thank you so much. Charlotte January 18, 2015 at 6:46am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I recommend storing them in the fridge. I’m glad you like them :)! February 5, 2015 at 6:29pm Reply

  • Nancy Franske: I made these bars last night and so anxious to share today. I’m wondering are they to be kept in airtight container in fridge or at room temp. Also any reason I couldn’t freeze them for later use? January 23, 2015 at 5:23am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’d store these in the fridge. I’d imagine they’d freeze okay, just not sure because I haven’t frozen them before. January 23, 2015 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Bobbi-Jo: These are one of my favourites. Being Canadian I have made these many times. For those who can’t have nuts in theirs, I have a friend with the same problem. She substitutes Rice Krispies for the nuts and coconut. It gives them a bit of a crunch so you don’t seem to miss the nuts as much. Also, these DO freeze great. I do it all the time, as one batch is too many to eat all at once. April 7, 2015 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Diane: Hello! This is for Bobbi-Jo~~Thank you so much for your information regarding the nuts in the recipe. Rice Krispies sound like a wonderful substitution! I was just going to post the question when I saw your comment. August 14, 2015 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Stephanie: I wonder do i replace the exact amount of coconut and nuts for rice crispies December 10, 2016 at 9:40pm Reply

      • Juliana Ramsey: Yes, Rice Krispies would work great in = amounts. :) December 10, 2016 at 10:50pm Reply

  • Nicole: Awesome recipe! I’m living back in Australia after 18 months in Vancouver and loved these over there! Have made your recipe a few times now and everyone raves about them. :) June 5, 2015 at 7:40pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad everyone has enjoyed them Nicole! Thanks for your review :)! June 6, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Lisa: Looks great but is having uncooked eggs in the crust safe? August 8, 2015 at 7:43pm Reply

    • R: The egg is cooked in the chocolate sauce. That’s why you have to whisk it so long because otherwise you just get scrambled egg floating in your chocolate. October 23, 2016 at 3:13pm Reply

  • deborah: make these often, and they freeze very well. I score with a sharp knife after topping is in place then frig. Will cut easier November 25, 2015 at 8:38pm Reply

  • FrancesSim: They are way too sweet. March 15, 2016 at 9:47am Reply

    • Barb: Compared to what? Do you normally like sweet things? Would the flavor be something you’d enjoy if you added less sugar? October 24, 2016 at 10:22am Reply

  • Stephanie: Would I be able to make the bottom layer with out nuts and coconut, maybe rice crispie cereal in place would work along well with the graham crackers? December 10, 2016 at 9:37pm Reply

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