How to Make Nanaimo Bars {Recipe}


For those of you unfamiliar with Nanaimo Bars, you don’t know what you are missing! These little cubes of deliciousness are a no-bake square with a Canadian origin and named after the west coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.  Every self-respecting Canadian baker has a recipe for these amazing squares in their repertoire.

They consist of a chocolate crumb-based layer topped by a layer of custard flavoured butter icing and then the entire works is slathered with melted chocolate. How could you go wrong?

I remember my Aunt Joan making these and bringing them to just about every family gathering.  I was quite young when I fell immediately in love with these squares, which my aunt called, Black and White Squares.  I can see how they came to have that name as there are definitely dark and light layers to these squares.

*The images you are going to see will sometimes show a different sized pan and two eggs. I don’t want to confuse you. This is because I doubled the recipe and divided it between a 9″x 13″ pan and an 8″x 3″ loaf pan.

 My daughter and I were splitting the squares so we wanted a bigger batch.  If you stick to the recipe below, which includes the proper pan size, these will turn out perfectly every time!


In the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water), melt butter, cocoa and white sugar together, stirring occasionally until mixture is warm (not too hot or when you add the egg, it will scramble).


Stir frequently until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth.


Beat egg with a fork  and then slowly add the beaten egg to the chocolate mixture.  Continue stirring for a couple of minutes, until the mixture thickens a bit and the egg cooks.


Because I like to dirty every dish in the house and I’m a bit lazy; I transferred the coconut, nuts, and crumb mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Then poured the chocolate mixture over them and used the paddle attachment to mix everything together.



Dump combined mixture into parchment lined pan. Using your hands, an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, press mixture evenly into pan.


For the middle layer, mix together butter, milk, custard powder and icing sugar.

Below is a pic of the custard powder I used.  I’m not promoting this particular brand, just giving you an idea of what to look for when you go to the supermarket.



Beat until light and creamy.


Spread evenly over bottom layer.

Now, oddly enough, despite the seemingly thousands of photos I have of these squares being made, I don’t have one shot of the melted chocolate or the chocolate being spread on the middle layer!

 However, if you just follow the directions below, you will be fine.  Just melt the chocolate and spread on top of the middle layer.

The delicious finished product!  These freeze very well.  (I have been known to eat a frozen Nanaimo Bar or two!)


5.0 from 1 reviews
Nanaimo Bars
Serves: 36
  • ½ cup butter
  • 5 Tbsp. cocoa
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fine coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  2. In the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water), melt butter, cocoa and white sugar together, stirring occasionally until mixture is warm (not too hot or the egg will scramble).
  3. Add beaten egg and stir to cook the egg and thicken the mixture.
  4. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts.
  5. Press mixture evenly into a 9"x 9" pan.
  7. Mix together butter, milk, custard powder and icing sugar. Beat until light and creamy.
  8. Spread evenly over bottom layer.
  9. TOP LAYER -
  10. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter.
  11. Cool slightly
  12. Spread over middle layer.
  13. Cool chocolate until firm but not hard.
  14. Score chocolate into 36 even squares to facilitate cutting squares without cracking chocolate.
  15. Cool completely
  16. Cut into 36 squares

I hope you will give these yummy Nanaimo Bars a try.  They are so good, I’m sure they will soon become a family favourite in your home too!

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask and I will do my very best to answer.





  1. Brenda McKay says:

    Did you know that Nanaimo Bars are a Canada dessert or treat. I did not know that they were not something that you baked in the USA. I was reading a history of Nanimo Bars back in October and that that was really unusual.

  2. I haven’t made these in years, but absolutely love the taste. They remind me of my (our) aunt Joan as she was the first person to give a similar recipe to me. Will have to “give them a go” soon. Thanks,

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