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Nanaimo Bars

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2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
2-1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Nanaimo Bars

  • Serves 24
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Even if you have never heard of Nanaimo Bars, you’ve probably tasted one. This classic no bake bar cookie hails from Canada. It’s named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Now, that doesn’t tell you much about the recipe. It’s made of a cookie crumb crust topped by a pudding mixture that’s thick enough to cut when the bars are cold, and topped by another layer of melted chocolate.

The pudding mix really adds a nice flavor and mouthfeel (what we call texture) to this simple recipe. It’s a great recipe to make with kids, and easy enough so they can make it on their own, once they are old enough to be trusted with the stovetop.

This is my version of Nanaimo Bars. I have never really been a fan of bitter chocolate, so I like to add milk chocolate chips to the top layer, and use chocolate cookie crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs to the bottom layer. Enjoy every bite.

Tips for the best Nanaimo Bars:

  • It’s difficult to mess up this recipe, since you aren’t measuring flour and the amount of mixing you do isn’t important. Still, measure everything carefully and follow the recipe.

Why this recipe works:

  • The custard that helps form the crust is cooked so you aren’t eating uncooked egg, which can be a food safety hazard. If you want to be precise, that mixture should be cooked to 160°F as measured with a reliable food thermometer.
  • This crust is richer than most, which usually are made of melted butter and cookie crumbs. The egg adds richness and the cocoa powder more flavor.
  • Make sure you use an uncooked pudding mix – the cooked version won’t set up when prepared this way and the filling will be runny.
  • Milk chocolate helps temper the sourness that can be a characteristic of semisweet chocolate.



In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, and cocoa and heat until the butter melts.


Beat in the egg and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the mixture thickens.


Remove the pan from the heat and add the cookie crumbs and pecans. Press into the bottom of a 9" square pan.


Then combine 1/2 cup butter, cream, and instant vanilla pudding mix in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Spread this mixture over the crust in the pan. Refrigerate the bars while you make the third layer.


In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the semisweet chocolate chips and the milk chocolate chips. Microwave on medium power for 1 minute, remove and stir. Continue microwaving for 30 second intervals on medium, stirring after each interval, until the mixture is melted.


Spread the melted chocolate carefully over the vanilla layer. Chill to set. Cut into bars when cool.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 50 books (49 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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