Nanaimo Bars

When it comes to delightful desserts, Canadians have a secret that’s not so well-kept: Nanaimo Bars. Hailing from the charming city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, these layered, no-bake squares are a slice of heaven that will transport your taste buds to a place of sweet serenity. Imagine a luscious combination of crumbly, coconut and nut-laden base, a silky custard-flavored middle, and a glossy chocolate topping. Nanaimo Bars are not only a dessert but a culinary masterpiece, and we’re here to guide you through creating this Canadian classic in the comfort of your own kitchen.


For the Base:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup (85g) sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (60g) chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds work well)

For the Middle Layer:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the Top Layer:

  • 4 ounces (115g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter


Step 1: Prepare the Base

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the melted butter, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, beaten egg, and vanilla extract.
  2. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, shredded coconut, and chopped nuts until well combined.
  3. Press this mixture firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×9-inch (23x23cm) square baking pan.
  4. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the next layer.

Step 2: Create the Middle Layer

  1. In another bowl, beat together the softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla custard powder, and milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Spread this custard-flavored layer evenly over the chilled base, ensuring a uniform, luscious layer.

Step 3: Craft the Chocolate Topping

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the semi-sweet chocolate and butter.
  2. Heat in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring each time until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the middle layer.

Step 4: Set and Serve

  1. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for at least two hours or until the bars are firm.
  2. Once set, cut them into squares or bars as desired.


While the classic Nanaimo Bars recipe is a masterpiece on its own, you can always add your own twist to these sweet delights:

  1. Minty Fresh: Add a touch of peppermint extract to the middle layer for a refreshing mint-chocolate variation.
  2. Nutty Crunch: Experiment with different nuts like pecans or pistachios to give the bars a unique texture and flavor.
  3. Gluten-Free Goodness: For a gluten-free version, substitute gluten-free graham crackers or almond meal for the base.
  4. Fruity Fusion: Garnish with dried fruits like cranberries or cherries for a sweet and tangy contrast.
  5. Maple Marvel: Swap out the custard powder in the middle layer with maple syrup for an extra Canadian touch.

Tips for Perfection

  1. Chilled Bliss: Make sure to refrigerate each layer before adding the next. This helps in creating defined, distinct layers.
  2. Perfect Portions: Dip a sharp knife in hot water before slicing for clean, even bars.
  3. Creative Decor: Garnish with toasted coconut, chopped nuts, or a dusting of cocoa powder to make your Nanaimo Bars even more visually appealing.


In the world of desserts, Nanaimo Bars are a Canadian treasure that has won hearts all over the globe. With their irresistible layers of flavors and textures, they embody the essence of sweet indulgence. By following our detailed recipe and exploring the exciting variations, you can craft these delectable delights in your own kitchen. These bars are perfect for a casual afternoon tea, a sweet finish to a dinner party, or as a gift to brighten someone’s day.

As you create Nanaimo Bars, remember that each layer symbolizes a different aspect of this charming country. The crumbly base stands for the rugged landscapes, the custard layer represents the warm-hearted Canadian spirit, and the glossy chocolate topping mirrors the diverse culture. Every bite is an adventure in itself, taking you on a journey through the beauty of Canada. So, dive into this delicious recipe and experience the sweet bliss of the Great White North from wherever you are in the world.

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