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!

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.

Nanaimo Bars

What is a Nanaimo Bar?

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.

Nanaimo Bars

How do You Make Nanaimo Bars?

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. You’ll make three separate layers and chill briefly between each so the layers don’t blend.

Then use a clean sharp knife to cut into bars – cut across instead of downward for cleaner cuts.

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

5 from 2 votes

A no bake bar made with three layers of pure decadence! You get a chocolatey, graham cracker-coconut base, a sweet cream filling, and they're finished with a layer of rich semi-sweet chocolate.

Servings: 16
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 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
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Nanaimo Bars
Author: Jaclyn


  • Sawyer: Hey Jaclyn,
    Do you have any video tutorial of this recipe? March 22, 2019 at 1:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Unfortunately I don’t but you can find similar on youtube to get the right idea. March 25, 2019 at 11:07pm Reply

  • macie: Love love love this recipe! I made them for a cultural food project and my friends absolutely loved them!!!!! March 7, 2019 at 1:24pm Reply

  • Deborah Tortorella: What size pan ? February 9, 2019 at 6:40am Reply

    • Jaclyn: 8 by 8 or 9 by 9-inch. February 17, 2019 at 1:02am Reply

  • Linda: I thought u cannot eat raw egg February 4, 2019 at 12:52pm Reply

  • Alecia: Im excited to try this! I do have a question before I get started..After you “melt semi-sweet chocolate along with butter in a heat proof bowl”, how long is it suppose to set over a pot of simmering water? January 26, 2018 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Christa: I just made these but they are not as heavenly as true Canadian ones. I’ll just have to keep practicing! Next time I want to try with the custard powder and a thinner bottom layer, mine came out pretty thick. Great recipe! December 2, 2017 at 1:33am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Christa! December 4, 2017 at 12:49pm 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

  • 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

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