Nanaimo Bars


Apparently, Nanaimo is a city up in Canada where they don’t have ovens.   That’s what the Google told me.

Ok, they probably have ovens, but it IS a city in Canada somewhere near Vancouver and it seems at some point someone there invented a dessert that didn’t require an oven.   Because, the last thing you want in Canada is heat, I guess?   Anyway, if your oven is broken, this one’s for you.

As best as I can tell there isn’t a specific “Nanaimo Bar” recipe – the name has sort of become synonymous with a bar dessert that you don’t have to bake.   So, I looked around, found some on the interwebs, played with them a little, and came up with this one that I like, and so do most of my guests.

The beauty of it is, it’s SUPER flexible!   Like butterscotch chips?   Throw ‘em in!   Have some leftover cookies that you don’t know what to do with?   Crunch ‘em up and add a layer here!   It really doesn’t matter.   Start with this recipe as a base and just throw in whatever sounds good to you.   Let me know how you’ve customized it!


Layer 1

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups coconut
  • ¾ cup walnuts, chopped up
  • 2 t vanilla

Layer 2

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 T butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 ½ t milk

Layer 3

  • 1 T butter
  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips 


IMG_6072Melt the ½ cup butter and first ¼ cup of chips together.   Take off the stove and stir in the sugar, oats, coconut, walnuts and 2 teaspoons vanilla.  Put the mixture into an 8” or 9” square pan (whichever you have) and press it down with your fingers.   Chill it for an hour, go do something else – you’ve already done so much.


For Layer 2, mix the powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of butter, the 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the milk.   Just use a wooden spoon – you don’t need a mixer here.    Spread it over the first layer and let it chill for another hour.


For the final bit, melt together the last tablespoon butter and the remaining ¼ cup of chips.   Pour this over the previous layer.   It will barely cover everything, but that’s ok….it’s basically just your crispy chocolate shell.


Chill this for a couple hours and then take it out of the fridge.   Let it sit out for maybe 15 minutes so that it warms up just a little, and then cut it.   If you leave it out too long the chocolate on top will get melty, but if you try and cut it right out of the fridge you’ll bust a forearm muscle trying to cut through the thing.

Word to the wise:   cut it into small pieces.   This thing is rich.   It’s really good, and incredibly easy to make…but really, really rich.


2 thoughts on “Nanaimo Bars

  1. Oh! Lovely layered textures of sweetness. Small chunks or large chunks, glad these are in your kitchen, out of reach. How on earth can you resist!? 🙂 They look awesome. It is difficult to stay focused on work. But must get back to it. Thanks for the sweet show and tell.

    Liked by 1 person

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