Nanaimo Bars

So addictively good, one bite and you’re hooked! A bottom crust with nuts, cocoa and coconut, a middle layer of creamy vanilla custard filling and then melted and chilled chocolate on top! This is a GLUTEN-FREE version of the Canadian classic sweet treat – Nanaimo Bars. Freezable.


Nanaimo Bars


About two weeks ago, we went to Connecticut where we are to relocate pretty soon. We went there to register our kids for the coming school year. It was a long journey from Michigan to New Haven.

We knew it would take us two days to do so especially since we were travelling with our kids which necessitated frequent stop-overs. So it wouldn’t be such a laborious trek, we decided to go via Canada instead of through Ohio and Pennsylvania. We thought it might be a more interesting and enjoyable to see something different along the way.

On route, we stopped by Toronto and stayed there overnight (both ways). Of course, when in Canada we had to have our favorite Canadian treat which we discovered a year or so ago. Perhaps some of you are familiar with it. I am talking about no other than the famous Nanaimo Bars.

Haven’t heard of it before? Well, you’re in for an amazing treat! It’s truly one scrumptious and mouth-watering dessert. Imagine this – a bottom crust with nuts, cocoa and coconut, a middle layer of creamy vanilla custard filling and then, as if that’s not enough – added as topping would be your favorite chocolate melted then chilled! How irresistible is that!

I have made this completely gluten-free so I depart from the original recipe which uses graham crackers in the crust. Personally, I believe it’s much better this way – the nuttier, the better but feel free to sub the graham crackers in place of the ground almonds and replace the pecans with almonds instead. Either way, your taste buds will be dancing with joy!

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Bottom Layer

1 1/2 cups ground Almonds or crushed graham crackers (if not doing the gluten-free version)
1/2 cup finely chopped Pecans (replace with almonds if not doing the gluten-free version)
1 cup, shredded Coconut
1/2 cup (4 oz, 1 stick) unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Sugar
5 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 Egg, lightly beaten


Combine the ground almonds, chopped pecans and shredded coconut in a bowl.

Using a double boiler or a saucepan over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Add the lightly beaten egg and stir frequently until smooth and the mixture has thickened about a couple of minutes.

Mix the sauce with the nuts and shredded coconut.  Press in a buttered 8 x 8 pan.


Middle Layer

1/2 cup (4 oz, 1 stick) unsalted Butter, room temperature
3 Tablespoons Milk (or Cream)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Custard Powder (like Bird’s Custard Powder)
2 cups Icing Sugar


Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and creamy. Spread on top of the nutty crust.



Top Layer 

4 (up to 4.5) oz 70% Dark Chocolate
1 Tablespoon unsalted Butter


Melt the chocolate and butter on low heat. Cool slightly. Pour over the second layer spreading it evenly on top. Chill in the refrigerator until all layers have set about 2-3 hours.



For easier cutting, rinse a knife in hot water (just to get it a little hot) and then dry it quickly and use it for slicing. Repeat as needed for the rest of the slices.


Nanaimo Bars
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  1. May 19, 2015 / 1:57 am

    I am OBSESSED with nanaimo bars! The first time I ate them I had to recreate but got lazy and just bought more- Now I have an amazing recipe to follow!

  2. May 19, 2015 / 5:37 am

    I have never had a Nanaimo bar (oddly) but yours are quickly convincing me I need to change that!

  3. May 19, 2015 / 6:24 am

    I've never had a Nanaimo bar before but am definitely drooling!

  4. May 19, 2015 / 11:28 am

    I've never heard of these bars before… what a curious name for them! Either way, this no bake version looks simply delightful and will be a must try 🙂

    • Anonymous
      October 21, 2015 / 6:00 am

      naniamo bars are named after Naniamo B.C Canada – on the west coast of canada- vancouver island.- ~ina~

  5. May 19, 2015 / 4:05 pm

    These look amazing!! Nanaimo bars can be hit or miss, depending on where you get them. Or so I've found anyways. I love the addition of ground almonds instead of graham crackers in these. I've never tried to make them myself, but will definitely try this recipe!

  6. May 20, 2015 / 1:08 am

    I can't even tell you how delicious these look! I grew up in Vermont (also near Canada) but have never heard of these. Definitely trying my hand at making them dairy-free!

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