Original Nanaimo Bars Recipe From Nanaimo BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

by Sherry Riter in Cooking  ,Dessert,Food,Recipe

Known as the place with one of the most beautiful Canadian waterfronts, Nanaimo, British Columbia, located on Vancouver Island is the birthplace of the Nanaimo Bar.

I didn’t change anything in the original recipe…this time…and I got it straight from the City of Nanaimo. There are so many sweet twists and additions that can be made to add to the delightful taste of the Nanaimo Bars, but I wanted to show you the original first.

Another thing we need to establish is how to say it! I have a really hard time remembering how to say Nanaimo and usually resort to calling them, “The Bars” or “Those bars from Canada.” Go ahead and roll your eyes! I can’t help it! With a little help from a friend, I am going to tell you how to say Nanaimo phonetically.

Nuh-neye-moe =

Nuh like when you say, “Uh in ‘Uh huh'”
Neye like “N + eye”
Moe like “toe”

So is that perfectly clear now? Say it with me…Nanaimo Bars!

Okay, I think you got it!

Now, let me show you a picture taken in Nanaimo.

In the City of Nanaimo BC on Vancouver Island in Canada

That photo takes my breath away and puts all my photographs to shame! It is so beautiful!

(Taking a moment to get lost in the photograph.)

Let’s stop dreaming of going to Nanaimo and make some Nanaimo Bars instead since it is much quicker and less expensive. (wink)

The Original Nanaimo Bars Recipe
From Nanaimo BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Here is a big surprise…You don’t bake this recipe for Nanaimo Bars!!! There is no reason that you can’t make them yourself EVEN if you don’t cook! Aren’t you surprised and excited?

Let’s start with the bottom layer!

Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in the top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, a glass or metal bowl sitting on top of a small pot with about 2 inches of water works great! Actually, I like it better because the bowl is curved and it is easier to keep all the ingredients stirred.

Add egg and stir to cook and thicken.

Remove from heat.

Remember those beautiful graham crackers that I made from scratch? Well, I told you I was going to use them in something yummy and this is the recipe!!!

Crunch up the graham crackers and stir in crumbs and…

coconut and…


Yum. Yum. Yum.

You will be very tempted to just eat this warm mixture, but don’t do it!!! I promise it will be worth finishing the recipe.

Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

This is the only thing I disagree with in this recipe. I would say to press into a “greased” pan because otherwise the bars REALLY stick to the pan, but you choose which you want to do.

Put it in the refrigerator for thirty minutes to an hour. Yeah, this recipe requires patience.

You’ve patiently waited for about an hour and now it is time to put the middle layer together.

Cream the room temperature butter and….

heavy whipping cream and

the custard powder (Bird’s really is the best and you can find it in the grocery store most of the time, but you can always order it online too), and…

icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar together well.


I almost forgot to tell you!

I did add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract because the custard powder I purchased was plain instead of vanilla.

Beat until light and fluffy.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spread the custard over the bottom layer.

Now guess what?

You have to put it back in the refrigerator for another hour.

I said you didn’t have to BAKE, but I didn’t say it wouldn’t take a while to prepare. I thought I would just remind you of that fact.

Another hour has passed and it is time for the third and final layer.

A recipe with chocolate squares has to be delicious.

Crush up the chocolate.


I love chocolate.

I love the way it looks and feels and smells and tastes and….

Oh, sorry.

So just crush it.

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in a double boiler.

After it has completely melted, remove from heat and let cool.

Once the chocolate mixture has cooled to the touch, but still liquid, pour over second layer.

Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours, but overnight is even better.

Oh, come on. You knew I was going to say that little bit about cooling. Just remember, you aren’t having to bake it!

Now it is time to drool.

Doesn’t the bottom crust look rich? Well, the whole dessert is rich and you won’t be able to eat a whole bunch of it at once.

I can not adequately describe how smooth the custard will feel on your tongue or

how the texture of the bottom crust and the silky chocolate on the top enhances the whole dessert.


Absolutely the epitome of deliciousness.

Do you know what this dessert makes me think of because it is almost as enjoyable?

Let me officially say that Nanaimo Bars make me think of this (click here).

Yeah. I’m very predictable, but you love me anyway and I appreciate you reading my blog!

I hope you enjoy the recipe!

A big shout out and lots of {{{{hugggggggssss}}}} for all my Canadian friends. Do you think I do your dessert justice?

So who is going to make Nanaimo Bars this weekend?!!!

Original Nanaimo Bars Recipe
From Nanaimo BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Ingredients for Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg beaten
1-1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs (I used my homemade graham crackers)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Directions for Bottom Layer:

Melt first three ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Ingredients for Second Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird’s works great)
2 cups icing sugar

Directions for Second Layer:

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Ingredients for Third Layer:

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions for Third Layer:

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Cut with a warm knife and wipe it clean after each cut.

The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cynthia September 8, 2012 at 10:12 am

Holy smokes those look good!


2 The Redhead Riter September 9, 2012 at 5:23 am

Believe me, they taste soooooooooooooooo yummy. LOL They really are rather easy to make, so give them a try and let me know how you couldn’t resist eating too many pieces!


3 Sharon November 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I have been making nanaimo bars for 31 years now, I know the recipe off by heart. Thank you for another wonderful recipe. I will surely cherish this one forever, and pass it down to my children and theirs respectively. I am an enthusiastic cook and baker, and make most things from scratch. When I was a young girl, I grew up in a very abusive household, exactly the same story, in fact, as Cinderella. Because I was the household cook, among other things, at such an early age, whether I liked it or not, I became fantastic at it! Cooking and baking is so very therapeutic for me now, and I’m tremendously proud of that. Thank you so very kindly for sharing so passionately such a wonderful memory. Be blessed, stay blessed.


4 Sherry Riter November 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Wow! You’re an expert nanaimo bar baker!

I’m so glad you took the negative experience of childhood and turned it into a positive one in adulthood. {{{hugsss}}} Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your experience.


5 wendy mccance February 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm

This has got to be the best looking recipe I have seen in a long time. I seriously want to go to the store right now and buy the ingredients. YUM!!!


6 Sherry Riter February 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm

It was fun to make too! I liked that it was “authentic Canadian”

Made me feel like a real cook. LOL


7 Doreen Pendgracs January 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

This looks like a pretty complicated recipe, although I do love Nanaimo bars. I think I’ll just stick to eating chocolate. 🙂


8 Sherry Riter January 30, 2014 at 8:41 am

Nah, it’s not complicated, but it does have lots of steps! LOL How can you go wrong eating chocolate, though? Umm, you can’t!!!! Pass me a piece of it! LOL 😛


9 Lorraine Wilkie July 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Oh my goodness this looks good!! I’m not much for lengthy recipes, but just might have to try this one!


10 Sherry Riter July 28, 2014 at 10:33 pm

It’s well worth the effort Lorraine! 🙂


11 June Blais September 20, 2014 at 1:11 am

I am going to try this and see if I can make them for is the first time making Nanimo bars as its for a birthday party sure they will turn out for me.I”LL let you know what happen and how all the women like them.


12 Sherry Riter September 20, 2014 at 6:23 am

I look forward to hearing all about it! I really enjoy making them, so I hope you do too! 🙂


13 Nonah September 20, 2014 at 11:35 am

I am just making the 3rd layer right now. Everything looks great so far! By the way, I have made your graham cookies several times now, my infant daughter is addicted to them and they are the perfect texture for her and her budding teeth. I substitute malt sugar for honey, but will try it with honey in a few months when she is a bit older. I am Canadian, but have been living abroad for 15 years and miss nanaimo bars so much. My husband has never tried them before but I am sure he will love them. Will let you know !! Thank you for this recipe and especially for the graham cookie recipe.


14 Sherry Riter September 21, 2014 at 3:18 am

Cool! 🙂 I’m so glad to hear you love the cookies too!


15 Nonah September 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Update: These turned out AMAZING ! Hubby loves them and will definitely be making more. Finally got to have a taste of Canadian treats !! Thank you so much.


16 Sherry Riter September 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Yay!!!!!! Woohoo! I’m so glad they are a hit! Thanks for letting us know how they turned out! 😀


17 Annie April 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm

How long do these stay good for in the fridge once you make them?


18 Victoria April 17, 2016 at 9:53 am

Thank you for this recipe. I had the bars in Vancouver while on a tour. They were served after a salmon dinner by native Canadiens but for some reason I remember the ones we had being minty with a green custard layer . Is that possible?


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