The best Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Have you every heard of Nanaimo bars? These translate to a no-bake bar with a nutty base, which is mixed with graham crackers and melted butter, a vanilla custard in the middle layer, and then topped off with delicious chocolate. I’m telling you, you are going to love this Canadian treat, at least I fell in love with it and I don’t even like coconut that much, but in this nutty base combined with walnuts, it is a dream come true. Ah, just look at this deliciousness!

Nanaimo Bars

I was fortunate enough to spend a gap year in Canada after high school. Don’t ask me why, but Germans LOVE Canada. And there is a lot to love. So much untouched nature, such friendly people, and in general a very wonderful place to be in. Canadians are in general extremely polite and friendly, but if you tell them they are basically the same as Americans, they get offended and will talk about all the differences, such as Tim Hortons (the “Starbuck/Dunkin Donuts” version of Canada), their beloved queen, and, of course, the fact that they have public health insurance.

Be it as it may, conversations you are definitely going to have is about food. Canadians love their food. I don’t think I have ever eaten more salmon than during my gap year in British Columbia, it was sold EVERYWHERE. And the famous maple syrup, yes, I have actually seen Canadian pour it on their bacon, mashed potatos as well as into their coffee. So needless to say that of course I had to try Nanaimo bars. Nanaimo bars are originally from British Columbia, from Vancouver Island. The base usually contains coconut flakes, graham crackers and melted butter. Since I live in Germany and pecans are a little harder to find, I went with walnuts, but I believe you can use any nut as a wonderful addition to this mix.

Nanaimo Bars

The second layer is often store-bought, but since any custard cream is very hard to find in Germany, I simply decided to make my own. You will definitely taste the difference, home-made and from scratch is always better, believe me! It really is not as hard as it may look, I will guide you through it step by step.

The third layer is chocolate, melted chocolate, which has just a little bit coconut fat added for ease of cutting. I decided to sprinkle my bars with some sea salt, but that is completey optional. And voila, you will have very delicious bars that actually have it all, crunchy, creamy, chocolaty, just so good, I am pretty sure that you will only need one bite and you will be sold. Oh, and in case you didn’t realize, these are no-bake, welcome to Canada!

Nanaimo Bars

Best Nanaimo Bars from Canada

Serves: One 24cmx24cm brownie pan
Cooking Time: 30min preparation + several hours of chilling


  • Base Layer
  • 120 grams of pecans or walnuts, works with other nuts as well
  • 120 grams of graham crackers or similarly plain cookies
  • 125 grams of butter
  • 30 grams of brown sugar
  • 30 grams of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 grams of unsweetened coconut flakes

  • Custard Layer
  • 50 grams + 50 grams of milk
  • 100 grams of heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 15 grams of cornstarch
  • 15 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 125 grams of butter, at room temperature
  • 20 grams of icing sugar

  • Chocolate Layer
  • 200 grams semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut fat



For the custard layer measure 125 grams of butter and let sit at room temperature. Then heat 50 grams of milk with the heavy cream. Meanwhile combine egg yolks with 50 grams of milk, cornstarch, and flour in a mug and mix until you don't see any lumps. Once the milk and heavy cream came to a boil, add the egg yolk mix. Take off heat and stir, put back on heat on medium and stir until it has tickened considerably and gets the consistency of custard. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface and set aside.


For the base layer chop nuts and either make graham crackers into crumbs by using a sealed zip-lock bag and a pin roll or process in a food processor. Melt butter with sugar and cocoa poweder in a pot on the stove top, then add the nuts and graham crackers. Mix well.


Line a 24x24 cm baking pan with parchment paper and press the nut layer into it by either using a spoon of the buttom of a glass. Chill while preparing the rest.


Now take the soft butter from point 1 and beat for about five minutes until almost white in color. Add the icing sugar and mix well. Add the prepared custard, one tablespoon at a time and beat until the cream is smooth. I like to mix the whole combination for at least one more minute to get an even consistency. Smear onto the base layer and chill again for at least one hour or overnight.


For the chocolate layer melt chocolate with coconut fat on low while stirring. Put as third layer on the bars and sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Chill again for an hour, it will be easier to cut the bars nicely. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.


No idea what to do with the leftover egg whites? Check out see this blog post including how to freeze them properly.

Nanaimo Bars

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  • Reply
    Sharon McDowell
    Friday September 27th, 2019 at 04:06 AM

    It’s not Victoria Island it’s Vancouver Island and I’m sorry that does not look like any Nanaimo bar I have ever seen and I’m from Nanaimo

    • Reply
      Friday September 27th, 2019 at 04:14 AM

      Thanks for catching the typo I changed it. However, according to you what does a real Nanaimo bar contain this recipe doesn’t have?

  • Reply
    Friday December 20th, 2019 at 03:49 AM

    The middle layer is a buttercream frosting with custard powder in it not a custard filling for starters. The bottom layer has a chocolate custard type sauce mixed with the Graham cracker crumbs along with the nuts and coconut and the top layer of chocolate doesn’t have coconut oil. These are similar to Nanaimo bars but this recipe is NOT a Nanaimo bar!

    • Reply
      Friday December 20th, 2019 at 06:02 AM

      Hi Pamela, alright. However, according to my research and what I ate in Canada there are also other options available. Even Wikipedia mentions custard as a middle layer, not buttercream. To be honest, making the custard yourself will result in a much better flavor. In my opinion there isn’t “one” correct recipe, usually there are varieties available and each family makes their own version in the end. Sorry for disappointing you.

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