Classic Nanaimo Bars


  • Prep Time20 mins
  • Total Time1 hr
  • Makes16 squares
*PLUS chilling time
Classic Nanaimo Bars

Photography, Erik Putz. Food Styling, Dara Sutin. Prop Styling, Krystin Leigh Smith.

Chatelaine Triple Tested

This decadent no-bake dessert bar is named after the city in British Columbia where the recipe originated, likely in the 1950s.


  • 3/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs, (77 g)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, (60 g)

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts, (40 g)

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, (20 g)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted


  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, (180 g)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2 tbsp custard powder

  • 2 tbsp milk

  • 1 tbsp vanilla

  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 1 170-g pkg dark chocolate, finely chopped

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter


  • Line an 8 × 8-in. baking pan with parchment, leaving overhang on all sides.

  • Crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs with coconut, walnuts, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter until combined. Sprinkle evenly over bottom of prepared pan, then firmly press down.

  • Filling: Beat icing sugar with 1/2 cup butter, custard powder, milk, vanilla and salt using an electric mixer on low for 1 min. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 min. Spread over cookie base and spread evenly to the edges. Refrigerate until just firm, about 30 min.

  • Topping: Microwave chocolate with 3 tbsp butter in a small bowl, stirring halfway, until smooth, 30 sec to 1 min. Pour melted chocolate over chilled custard and spread evenly to the edges. Chill until chocolate is semi-firm but easy to cut without cracking, about 20 min. Cut into 16 squares. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Squares can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Kitchen tip

Lining your baking pan with parchment will allow you to easily transfer the bars out of pan for slicing.

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories 280, Protein 2g, Carbohydrates 24g, Fat 20g, Fibre 2g, Sodium 105mg.

Get more Nanaimo bar recipes, including our staff favourite recipe for salted-almond Nanaimo bars (they're less sweet than the traditional version!)

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