Nanaimo is not only well-known for it's beautiful harbour, great outdoor recreational opportunities, friendly people, bathtub race and vibrant city, but for our World Famous Nanaimo Bars! You've seen them in your local bakery, Tim Horton's and in the baking section of your local food store. Well they came from here and we're darn proud of it. And our website has the best recipes you'll find!

The ever popular Nanaimo Bar, known internationally, and a favourite dessert in many restaurants, has a notable thermal significance. During Nanaimo's heyday as an international coal provider, families of miners sent care packages which often included this sweet treat. 

According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby publishing the town as much as her cooking. Some American tourists claim sovereignty over the dessert, referred to as "New York Slice" which is sold in many other places in the world. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs.

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 confectionery were submitted. The winner was Joyce Hardcastle.

We have collected many different Nanaimo Bar recipes for you. Give them all a try and why not experiment yourself. Let us know if you come up with a new twist to a traditional favourite!


½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

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.

½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

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

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

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

Judy from Lake Havasu let us know that she used egg nog in place of the cream in the custard and it was a huge hit (December 17, 2004).


3 semi-sweet chocolate squares
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Melt chocolate and butter for 2 minutes in microwave. Mix in sugar, vanilla and egg. Add crumbs, coconut and nuts, then press in pan. Chill. Then add filling.

2 Tbsp custard powder
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups icing sugar

Melt 5 squares semi-sweet chocolate with 1 Tbsp butter in microwave (or on med heat on stovetop) for 3 to 4 minutes.
Spread over filling.


From Canadian Living Magazine, September 1988, adapted from the Captain Kennedy Tea House Cookbook, by the Captain Kennedy Tea House in Lockport, Manitoba.


  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 c. chopped almonds, toasted
In heavy saucepan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and egg until thickened and smooth, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. (or, in microwave-safe bowl, cook same ingredients, whisking every 30 seconds, at 50% until thickened and smooth, about 3 minutes) Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Add graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds. Pat firmly and evenly into greased 9" square pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.


  • 2 c. sifted icing sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/3 c. chopped maraschino cherries
In bowl, using electric mixer, beat together icing sugar, butter, cherry juice and almond extract until smooth. Stir in cherries. Spread over bottom layer. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.


  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. butter
In top of double boiler over hot not boiling water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring until smooth. (or melt chocolate with butter in microwave at 50% for 3 minutes, stirring once) Spread over filling. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen several months if well wrapped.


Chretien LePiece is the Chef to the Ambassador of Canada to the United States.


1 cup butter
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup coconut, shredded

In top of double boiler, melt butter and cocoa, add sugar, and stir. Cook over boiling water until well blended. Add egg and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat, add vanilla, stir, add crumbs, nuts, and coconut. Blend well. Press in buttered 13x9 pan. Cool.


1 cup soft butter
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups confectioners sugar (icing sugar)

Cream butter until fluffy, blend in pudding mix and milk. Gradually blend in sugar until smooth. Spread over base. Chill in refrigerator.


2 tablespoons butter
six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate

Melt chocolate and butter together. Spread over filling. Chill until firm. Cut into squares. Keep in refrigerator, but can be frozen. Enjoy!

While in Nanaimo you can purchase one of these delicious little bars at bakeries and stores throughout town. The Nanaimo Bakery on Bowen Road, Thrifty's Food Store, Tim Horton's at South Parkway, Rock City Centre and across from Woodgrove Center all stock them! Enjoy one here and take some back for your family and friends! Many local grocery stores also have Nanaimo Bar mixes you can transport without refrigeration.


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