Nanaimo Bars

Another yummy recipe to add to the list of holiday baking!


This one is pretty simple and it takes about 1 hour (maybe less) to make. No baking involved!

Nanaimo bars are a holiday classic. Creamy custard-buttercream icing sandwiched between layers of chocolate. What’s not to love! The layer of semisweet chocolate melts in your mouth, softening the chocolate coated graham crumb crust.

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

Nanaimo bars are incredibly decadent and rich. But they taste as delicious as they look. Plus, these squares are perfect for storing in the freezer!

I made a double batch in order to get piled high buttercream and thick layers of chocolate. I used a 7×12 pan, but I think you could easily make a double and spread it out into something larger (if you are going for quantity).

The ingredients below are for a 8×8 square pan – but they would have worked just fine with my 7×12 pan had I wanted thinner squares.


– 1 cup + 2 teaspoons butter (room temperature)

– ¼ cup sugar

– 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder

– 1 egg

– 1 ¾ cups graham crumbs

– 3 Tablespoons heavy cream

– 2 Tablespoons custard powder

– 2 cups icing sugar

– 1 ounce semisweet bakers chocolate

– Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts, 1 cup shredded coconut

Before baking these bad boys I had never heard of Custard Powder. Have you?! I feel like they are exclusive to Nanaimo bar baking. Either way, after searching the internet for alternatives I decided to go out to the grocery store and just buy the real thing. There it was, sitting beside the instant puddings and jello mixtures as though it had been right in front of my eyes with each trip to the baking aisle.

Note: I used 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (by accident) so I have quite the thick top layer. I found it did not stick as well to the icing, likely because it was so heavy.

Step One: Melt ½ cup butter, sugar and cocoa powder on low heat (over a double broiler-type setup). Stir until melted. Once melted, beat in the egg.

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

Step Two: Remove chocolate from heat and mix in graham crumbs (and walnuts and coconut). Press into the bottom of your pan.

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

Step Three: Cream ½ cup butter, heavy cream, and custard powder. Slowly add in the icing sugar until a smooth yellow icing forms. Spread into an even layer overtop of the chocolate base. Chill (fridge or freezer).

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

Step Four: Melt semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter over low heat (or in microwave). Spread over the icing layer. Chill.

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

A Canadian classic. You can’t go wrong stuffing these into holiday goodie tins or arranging them on a platter for guests!

homemade nanaimo bars recipe

homemade nanaimo bars recipe


Head back to my Holiday Section to check out other yummy recipes (and some pretty sweet gift guides).

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