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The Original Nanaimo Bar

The Original Nanaimo Bar

The Original Nanaimo Bar

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The Original Nanaimo Bar
4.7 rating based on 12,345 ratings
4.7/5 (13)
Course: BarsCuisine: CanadianDifficulty: Medium



Creamy, chocolaty three-layer Nanaimo Bars are a traditional Canadian bar cookie whose origins are in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The bottom crust is graham cracker, almonds and coconut, the middle filling is a sweet custard-like buttercream, and the top is melted chocolate. Divine.


  • Bottom layer:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 5 tablespoons cocoa

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1-3/4 cup graham wafer crumbs

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

  • 1 cup coconut

  • Second layer:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons and 2 tsp. cream

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (such as Birds — see Note* below)

  • 2 cups icing sugar

  • Third layer:
  • 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • Make the bottom layer:
  • Melt first 3 ingredients in top of a 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.
  • Make the second layer:
  • Cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
  • Make the third layer:
  • Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool When cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.


  • * Birds custard powder is widely available in the UK and Canada and is available in the USA at Cost Plus World Market and online at Amazon.com. If you are unable to find it, try the Napoleon Creams recipe which uses vanilla pudding. It’s not quite the same, but it is a good substitute.



Name & Location
(example: Sue in LA)

To the person below who said these are not authentic, they absolutely are. This is the exact recipe from the website of the city of Nanaimo...which uses almonds, unsalted butter and cream. You may enjoy your altered version better, but the City of Nanaimo's official recipe is indeed the original and thus, the authentic recipe. These are amazing. Source: https://www.nanaimo.ca/about-nanaimo/nanaimo-bars
- A Canadian

These are ok though certainly not original. I could give more stars if you hadn’t titled the recipe with the word authentic. Never almonds - it’s walnuts. Salt is important to the taste of these bars. Salted butter is necessary. Cream isn’t necessary. The recipe is rich enough without it. I’ve been making these bars for over 50 years. What you have is a good recipe but authentic it ain’t.
- Kay in Winnipeg
Love this bar cookie recipe.
- A Baker
These are delicious. Big hit, had many requests for the recipe.
- A Baker
Had these in Vancouver & asked for the recipe, they are very good & easy to make. The hardest part is finding the vanilla custard powder but I found it at Winn Dixie! Try them you will love them!
- marie brady
My mother and her friends always made these at Christmas. It was my all time favourite. Infact,one Christmas will our family was visiting friends,my mother commented that I would never guess what was for dessert. Of course, I knew that if it was so good that it must be Nanaimo bars -- and I said so!
- Kathy
I went to Nanaimo 30 years ago and purchased the different flavored bars they had in the shop. I fell in love with them. Later, I met someone with the recipe and was sworn to secretly. So glad it's out now.
- A Baker
Loved these from day one. I've got everyone from my work hooked on them too.
- Richard married to a Canuck
I've been making these since I got the original recipe back in the 1960's. They are still my favorite Christmas cookie!
- Rise
I found the Birds Custard Powder at Cub Foods so I thought I would make these. Wonderful! Will make again for special events.
- Shelly
WOW! My son enjoys his chocolate and gave this a big thumbs up!! That creamy middle layer just melts. . . Yum!!
- A Baker
These are a MUST for any self-respecting Canadian baker at Christmas time....one thing my kids love is adding 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract and a few drops of green food coloring to the custard layer. Very pretty! You can also mix 3 tbsp of coffee liqueur with 2 tsp instant coffee granules and use that instead of the cream (in the custard layer) and then you have mocha Nanaimo bars. And use walnuts instead of almonds in the first layer.
- Sarah
I have been making this recipe for over 50 years and it is always a hit. I am a Canadian and every time we go back to Canada I pick up a few tins of Bird's custard powder and get some for my friends. For the third layer I have been using my recipe for chocolate ganache and after the bottom two layers have cooled I use it. Goes over just as well and is much easier. Caught onto this a few years ago.
- A Baker
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