A close up of classic Canadian Nanaimo bars with one on its side so you can see the yellow custard.

Mom’s Nanaimo Bars Recipe

  • Author: Kristen Stevens | The Endless Meal
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 20 large bars (or 40 more reasonably sized ones) 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Canadian


Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian Christmas dessert. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without them. This is my mom’s recipe and it is less sweet than most. That’s a good thing! They are made with a chocolate graham cracker, coconut, and walnut crust then topped with a layer of buttery custard and chocolate. They’re amazing!



Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoons (5 tablespoons) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 3/4 cup fine coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Middle layer:

Top layer:

  • 8 ounces shaved dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons butter


Bottom Layer:

  1. Lay a piece of parchment paper in a 9×11 inch pan, letting some hang over the sides. (This makes it easier to remove the Nanaimo bars.)
  2. Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar. Remove the pot from the heat then add the egg and whisk until it had thickened, about 30 seconds. Stir in the Graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and walnuts.
  3. Press the crust firmly into the prepared pan.

Middle layer:

  1. Add all the middle layer ingredients to a large bowl and cream them together using electric beaters. Pour the custard over the first layer and smooth the top.
  2. Place the pan in your fridge for at least 20 minutes, or until the custard is firm.

Top layer:

  1. Add the chocolate and butter to a medium-sized pan over low heat and let both melt. Whisk to combine then pour the chocolate over the custard. Smooth the top first with a spatula then by gently tapping the pan on your counter.
  2. Chill in your fridge for about 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is soft-set. Cut the Nanaimo bars into bars then place them back in your fridge until they are completely set. (Cutting the bars first prevents the chocolate from cracking.)

Store the bars in a covered container in your fridge for a week or up to three months in your freezer. The bars can be eaten cold or at room temperature – they take only about 10 minutes to warm once out of the fridge.