Canadian Nanaimo Bars (No-Bake Recipe)

Nanaimo bars are popular traditional Canadian dessert that requires no baking. They are so delicious and simple to make. Olivia, my friend from Edmonton, gave me this recipe last year, and since then this became one of the most prepared desserts in my kitchen.


For the bottom layer:

  • 125 ml (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 75 ml (5 tablespoons) cocoa powder
  • 50 ml (¼ cup) white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 425 ml (1 ¾ cups) graham wafer crumbs
  • 250 ml (1 cup) shredded coconut
  • 125 ml (½ cup) almonds, finely chopped

For the middle layer:

  • 125 ml (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 40 ml (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) heavy/whipping cream
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) vanilla custard powder or vanilla extract
  • 500 ml (2 cups) icing sugar

For the topping:

  • 115 grams (4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter



To make the bottom layer:

  • Line an 8-inch (2 L) rectangular baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Pour 500 ml (2 cups) water into the bottom of double boiler. Set on the stove over medium heat; bring to simmer.
  • Then, in the top of double boiler; mix butter, sugar, and cocoa; put over simmering water and heat until butter has melted and you get a smooth mixture (stirring constantly).
  • Apply beaten egg and stir until thick; then, remove the top of double boiler and add in almonds, graham wafer crumbs, and coconut.
  • Spread into the prepared baking dish and press firmly to make an even bottom layer.

Note: In case you do not own a double boiler, fill a saucepan around ½ with water and heat over medium heat till water starts to simmer. Next, place a heatproof glass or metal bowl over the simmering water; proceed as directed.

To make the middle layer:

  • In a bowl, whisk together cream, butter, and vanilla custard powder or extract. Slowly apply icing sugar; whisk until light and fluffy.
  • Spread over bottom layer, flattening the top with palette knife or spatula.

To make the topping:

  • Melt butter and chocolate together in a clean double boiler or microwave. Remove and allow cool slightly. Once cooled, but still fluid, spread over custard layer.
  • To finish, cover and place in the fridge to cool completely and set. Slice and serve.