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Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing, no bake treat that’s a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

The Best Nanaimo Bars - These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing sweet treat that's a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

Have you ever had a nanaimo bar?  When I originally posted this recipe almost two years ago, I discovered that they’re actually a Canadian thing and many, many people have never heard of them, let alone tried them.

Now, clearly I should have known this was a Canadian treat.  They’re named after a city that I visit every. single. summer.  This should have been obvious to me.  

For some reason I just thought this was a strange coincidence.  I can’t even believe that I’m admitting that because I feel just slightly ridiculous for not knowing.

These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing sweet treat that's a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

I guess I just can’t imagine anyone not knowing about these little treats.  How does everyone not know and love nanaimo bars?  They’re too amazing to only be a thing in Canada!

Nanaimo bars have always been a favourite of mine.  

When they were on the dessert table at a buffet, there was no question about what to choose.  But the first time I remember having an absolutely amazing one was the first year that I spent Christmas with my husbands family.  

My mother-in-law makes the best nanaimo bars.  That’s just a fact.

The Best Nanaimo Bars - These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing sweet treat that's a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

Nanaimo bars were actually not a dessert that I considered a Christmas treat until I was married.  Although I’m certainly on board with that little tradition.

The best part about making them every year at Christmas is that I’m no longer too tempted by them when I see them at restaurants.  

They’re always a bit disappointing.  These are the best, so why bother with any others?

They are also so simple to make.  

These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing sweet treat that's a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

It takes minutes to make each layer, and there is no baking required.  Mix a few things together, spread it in the pan and chill.  Repeat.  That’s all you do for these.

They’re pretty, they’re easy to make and they’re so delicious.  That’s a perfect Christmas treat in my opinion.

If you love nanaimo bars, you need to try these.  

And if you’ve never tried one – you most definitely need to make these this Christmas.  They shouldn’t be just a Canadian thing, they’re far too good for that.

The Best Nanaimo Bars - These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing sweet treat that's a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

How to make The Best Nanaimo Bars:

  • I always use pasteurized egg whites for the base (the kind you buy in a carton), but you can use a whole large egg instead if you don’t mind raw egg in your desserts.
  • custard powder can be found in the international section of some grocery stores – in Canada it’s available in the baking aisle of most stores, but I’ve been told it’s more difficult to find in the States, although people have found it in the international section (it’s a British product), or you can buy it on Amazon – I use Bird’s brand.
  • I always use unsalted butter, but my mother-in-law uses salted and I have never noticed a difference in taste so use your preference.
  • I prefer to use chopped chocolate (I like this brand) instead of chocolate chips as it tends to melt better.

Here are some more great bar recipes for you:

Yield: 24 bars

The Best Nanaimo Bars

The Best Nanaimo Bars

These are the absolute best nanaimo bars, an amazing sweet treat that's a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes


For the base:

  • 2 ounces (57g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (114g) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons (60mL) pasteurized egg whites (or one large egg)
  • 2 cups (244g) graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup (74g) unsweetened coconut

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup (114g) butter
  • 4 tablespoons (34g) custard powder
  • 4 cups (454g) powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (90mL) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) vanilla

For the glaze

  • 4 ounces (113g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter


  1. Place the 2 ounces of chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is almost melted. Continue to stir until it is completely melted.
  2. Add the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, egg whites, graham wafer crumbs and unsweetened coconut and mix well.
  3. Press into a 9x13 inch pan and chill for 20 minutes.
  4. In another bowl, cream the butter for the filling.
  5. Add the custard powder, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  6. Spread the filling evenly over the chilled base.
  7. Chill for another 15-20 minutes.
  8. In a microwave safe bowl, place the 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate and the butter and heat at 50% power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is almost melted. Continue stirring until it is completely melted.
  9. Spread evenly over the chilled custard layer.
  10. Chill for several hours or overnight.
  11. Cut into bars and store covered in the refrigerator for a week, or remove from the pan and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I actually prefer these just slightly thawed straight from the freezer!


I’ve used both unsalted and salted butter for these and both are fine, so use your preference. I use baking chocolate for both the base and the glaze. You could certainly use chocolate chips instead, but I wouldn’t recommend it as they don’t melt as well as the baking chocolate.

Source: Slightly adapted from my mother-in-laws recipe. I use pasteurized egg whites rather than a whole egg for the base.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 bar

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 2g

Nutrition Information is estimated based on ingredients used and may not be exact.


Wednesday 20th of December 2023

I cooked the egg in the melted chocolate and it worked well as I didn’t want to use raw egg. I stirred it really well. Worked wonderfully. Delicious recipe. Thanks. Next time I will try the pasteurized egg. I am a home economist that’s why I cooked the egg in the chocolate.


Monday 19th of August 2019

I'm Canadia but from the Province of Quebec living in Georgia for more than 40 years. I did have a similar recipe using 2 T. of vanilla dry pudding mix into powdered sugar with a graham crumb mix base, the top layer was also semi sweet melted chocolate . It sounds like someone adapted this Nanaimo Bar recipe to where the custard powder wasn't available 50 years ago and the recipe traveled from the west coast of Canada to the east coast. I do remember making them and they were very good.


Wednesday 14th of March 2018

Hello, I’m looking to make these delicious bars soon for a potluck. I had a question: adding custard powder to the buttercream without cooking sounds a bit odd to me. Can it be cooked in anyway before adding to the buttercream? Or it doesn’t matter?


Wednesday 14th of March 2018

I've never cooked it in any way so I wouldn't do that - it's definitely not necessary to cook it! That's the best part of these bars, no cooking or baking at all - hope you enjoy them!


Thursday 30th of November 2017

I made these and they're lovely. Just a little meltey at room temperature. This is probably a normal nanaimo thing, but I need to make them for a potluck and they'll be out of the fridge for an hour and a half to two hours. Any suggestions for how to make them a little firmer at room temperature? Thanks!


Tuesday 8th of January 2019

If you add 1 cup of chopped nuts to the base you will get the proper consistency. I add that to my recipe.


Friday 1st of December 2017

Hi Abby - they DO get a little melty at room temp after a bit. I find they last a little longer if you freeze them first - you can eat them straight from the freezer as they don't get too terribly hard (I actually prefer them frozen!), and they will last a bit longer before they start getting really soft at room temperature.

Jon Golsteyn

Sunday 25th of December 2016

I made these yesterday and they are amazing.I never heard of custard powder before until I read this recipe.I couldn't find it at any stores here in the Milwaukee,Wi. area,so I looked and found some at the Walmart website.A 10.6 ounce box of Bird's custard powder for 6.99 and free shipping.The only thing I did different from the recipe was to not add all the powdered sugar.I added 3 cups instead of 4,and I think the next time I will only add 2-2 1/2 cups.I don't like too much powdered sugar in recipes.I have never heard of nanaimo bars before,but I am glad I tried them.This recipe is a keeper.I will be taking them to the Christmas get together today and see what others think of them.Thanks for this recipe.


Tuesday 27th of December 2016

I'm so glad you liked them! They're a Canadian thing, which is probably why you've never heard of them, but I make them every year at Christmas time. They're a favourite!

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