The Legendary Nanaimo Bar

Nanaimo Bar from Home - 20%

This creamy, chocolatey treat's origin is elusive, shrouded in mystery, and claimed by many as their own. Of course, we know that Nanaimo Bars originated in Nanaimo, or they would be called New York Bars, or New Brunswick Bars.

If you're interested in the facts and fables of this slice of heaven, you can read all the conjecture on Wikipedia about Nanaimo Bars. If you actually own or know the whereabouts of a cookbook or other publication dating back to the early 50s or beyond, we would very much like to see it and put an end to all this confusion with documented proof.

In 1986, Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts, in conjunction with Harbour Park Mall, initiated a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo Bar Recipe. During the four-week long contest, almost 100 different variations of the famous confection were submitted. The winner: Joyce Hardcastle.

Nanaimo Bar Trail

Visit Tourism Nanaimo for a guide to all the locations and varieties of Nanaimo Bars you can find here. Warning: do not try to eat one from every source on the same day - may lead to overbliss.

Nanaimo Bar Stamp

As a part of Canada Post's 'Sweet Canada' stamp collection, Nanaimo's legendary treat was featured on its very own stamp. The collection features a total of ten famous Canadian desserts, including Saskatoon berry pie and blueberry grunt.

The stamp itself features a variation of a Nanaimo bar, rather than a traditional bar, and stirred up some debate since its release. Nonetheless, the stamp has brought attention to this delectable dessert and is helping to spread the sweet news about Nanaimo.

Sweet Canada Nanaimo Bar Stamp small

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer

1/2 cup unsalted butter (European style cultured) (125 ml)
1/4 cup sugar (50 ml)
5 tbsp. cocoa (75 ml)
1 egg beaten
1 3/4 cups graham wafer crumbs (425 ml)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (125 ml)
1 cup coconut (250 ml)

Melt first 3 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.

Second Layer

1/2 cup unsalted butter (125 ml)
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream (40 ml)
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (30 ml)
2 cups icing sugar (500 ml)

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

Third Layer

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (4 oz)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (30 ml)

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

View this recipe as a PDF.

Last updated: June 20, 2024

Thank you for your assistance. One of our website team will look into the reported issue shortly. Loading animation

Help us improve our website

Don't include private or financial information in this form.

Collection and use of your personal information

Information collected on this form is done so under the general authority of the Community Charter and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), and is protected in accordance with FOIPPA. Questions about the collection of your personal information may be referred to the Legislative Services Department at 250-755-4405, or via email at Please also see our Privacy Policy.