Nanaimo Bars

nanaimo barsThese. are. so. good.

My friend from Canada told me about Nanaimo bars, and after making them they are now on my top 5 favorite desserts list! They are made of three layers: the bottom layer is made of graham crackers, cocoa, walnuts and coconut, the middle layer is made of custard/vanilla pudding and confectioners’ sugar, and the top layer is made of ganache. I have never heard of them before, and even though my husband and I were just in Nanaimo, BC last month, we didn’t see them anywhere. Speaking of our BC trip, here are a few photos from Tofino, which is just a few hours from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island:


Our first day in Tofino, we took a water taxi over to Meare’s Island and hiked the Big Tree Trail. The scenery was breathtaking…

DSC05473 DSC05562



We made it back in time to watch the sunset at our hotel, which was right on the beach.

DSC05616 DSC05594

I fell in love with Tofino, it was such a friendly small community surrounded by gorgeous scenery. The first day we were there when the weather was nice and sunny, but when we left it was rainy and windy. We heard this was how it was most of the year, so I decided I would not want to live there. The whole not seeing a lot of sun situation is already bad enough in San Francisco!

I do, however, highly recommend making these Nanaimo bars!

nanaimo-1 nanaimo-2 nanaimo-3 nanaimo-4 nanaimo-bite

5.0 from 1 reviews
Nanaimo Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Type: Dessert
Serves: 9-16
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (~12 graham crackers)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp custard powder or instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Add all crust ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
  3. Press the mixture into a greased 8x8 inch baking dish and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Add all filling ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, or to a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 4 minutes.
  6. Spread the filling over the crust and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Note: If you want a thicker filling, you can add more instant pudding, but the texture will be different (not as firm).
  7. In the meantime, melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or small saucepan on low heat.
  8. Add the heavy cream and stir until smooth.
  9. Spread the chocolate quickly over the filling, and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Makes 9 large squares, or 16 smaller squares



  1. Kari@Loaves n Dishes says:

    Victoria is my hometown and Vancouver Island is my favorite place on earth! One of my favorite treats on earth are Nanaimo Bars. I bought the custard powder to make them when I was visiting this summer, you’ve inspired me to do it sooner than later. Love the pics, makes me a little homesick.

  2. Hotly Spiced says:

    At first I thought this was a Japanese word. The bars look lovely and I do like the sound of that middle layer – custard and sugar! And the hotel looks like it’s in a stunning location. Such beautiful scenery xx

  3. Erika says:

    I’ve heard so much about nanaimo bars but I’ve never made them–you make them sound so easy! Not to mention delicious ๐Ÿ™‚ Your trip sounds like so much fun!

  4. Carina says:

    Hi Kristianne! Happy holidays! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry i’m kind of desperate hehe. I live in Vegas and I plan to give my friend who lives in San Bruno this dessert the Nanaimo, would you know where I can buy these in that area or in San Francisco? ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you very much! Stay safe ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.