Nanaimo Bars

5 from 5 votes

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My Nanaimo bar recipe has layers of coconut-graham crust, creamy vanilla filling, and chocolate ganache. Make this no bake dessert for a delicious treat anytime!

stack of no bake chocolate coconut bars

What are Nanaimo bars?

OK, who is ready for a little sweet treat? This no bake, bar cookie is decadent and amazingly easy to put together.

This delicious Canadian dessert is named for the coastal city of Nanaimo, British Colombia. While the exact history and origin are a bit mysterious, it’s well known that these chocolate coconut bars were a common treat in the lunchboxes of local miners.

What are they made of?

The dessert has a chocolate-coconut graham cracker crust and is topped with a smooth chocolate ganache.

Traditionally, the yellow layer in the middle can be either a creamy vanilla-flavored custard or vanilla buttercream. And it doesn’t need to be cooked or tempered because it’s made with butter and heavy cream instead of eggs.

nanaimo bars stacked on a plate next to a glass of milk

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Graham cracker crumbs – either whole graham crackers or store-bought crumbs
  • Butter, melted
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa powder – use unsweetened, either regular or Dutch-processed
  • Shredded coconut – unsweetened
  • Slivered almonds – can also substitute walnuts or pecans


  • Butter, softened
  • Custard Powder
  • Powdered sugar – also known as confectioner’s sugar
  • Heavy cream – also labeled heavy whipping cream
  • Vanilla extract

Chocolate Shell

  • Butter, melted
  • Bittersweet chocolate – either a bar broken into chunks or chocolate chips
step by step photos for making nanaimo bar recipe

Nanaimo bar recipe instructions

  1. Make the crust: Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until crumbly and well combined. Pulse until there are no more large chunks.
  2. Form the crust: Lightly press the mixture along the bottom of a parchment-lined baking dish. Make an even layer with a spatula, spoon, or even your fingers.
  3. Mix the filling: Beat the ingredients for the filling together until smooth. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed to incorporate lots of air. This will be light and creamy.
  4. Add to pan: Spoon the custard into the baking pan and gently spread over the crust. Smooth into an even layer with a spatula.
  5. Melt the chocolate: Melt the butter in a pan on the stove, then add the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Finish dessert: Carefully spread the melted chocolate over the filling in a smooth, even layer.
sliced no bake bars on a cutting board with a chefs knife

Once you have assembled the chocolate coconut bars, refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until the dessert is completely set.

Then, use a clean, sharp knife to cut into evenly-sized squares before serving.


  • Storage – Keep these no bake bars covered or in an airtight container. They will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freezing – You can wrap each bar tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 6 months. Individual bars can be stored together in a freezer-safe plastic storage bag.
  • Cutting the bars – Cut across the bars instead of pressing downward to get cleaner slices. This will also help prevent the top from cracking.


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stack of no bake chocolate coconut bars

Nanaimo Bars

5 from 5 votes
This Nanaimo bar recipe has layers of coconut-graham crust, vanilla custard, and chocolate ganache. Make this no bake dessert tonight!
Servings: 9
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes


Base Layer

  • 8 tbsp butter softened
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (See Note 1)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds


Chocolate Topping

  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 tbsp butter softened


  • Line a 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper with some hanging off edges to lift out easily.

Base Layer

  • Melt 8 tablespoons of butter. In a food processor combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds, melted butter, cocoa and sugar. Pulse several times until mixture is ground and well mixed.
  • Spoon into prepared 8"x8" baking pan and press crumb mixture evenly into bottom using rubber spatula or hands. Set aside.


  • Using a hand mixer, beat 8 tablespoons of softened butter, powdered sugar, cream, custard powder and vanilla in a bowl on medium speed until smooth. Spread evenly over chocolate crumb layer. Set aside.

Chocolate Topping

  • Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and chocolate in saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend and let cool for a minute.
  • Spread evenly over vanilla layer. Chill until chocolate is firm and dessert is set, at least 4 hours. Cut into squares and serve.



  1. 4 crackers make up 1 sheet. 5 1/2 sheets ground make 1 cup. For this recipe we will need 6 sheets ground total.
  2. Bird’s Custard Powder is traditionally used in the filling. Substitutes include: 2 tbsp powdered vanilla pudding OR a quarter cup of powdered milk. Bird’s Custard Powder is available online.


Calories: 682kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 312mg | Potassium: 339mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 819IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
stacked nanaimo bars


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. Bird’s Custard Powder is available at Safeway stores in B.C. if u live here, comes in a tin. Also good as for making a custard to go over fruit, I make it in the winter using canned peaches. Carol Thomson-Ferguson Love Nanaimo Bar!

  2. 5 stars
    The layers all go perfectly together!! The fact that they are no bake makes them that much better!!! It’s too hot to bake, these are perfect!