The Best Gluten Free Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Nanaimo Bar

**This is a re-post of last years blog post with some updated pictures**

So I tend to have a habit of taking yummy treats, you know those not so healthy treats and try to make them ‘healthier’.  Although when I do this, I keep it a secret in my home or I get groans and moans of ‘Why..why must you change a good thing’.  Then when they try, they will never know..Sneaky!!  But I think in this case, I have mastered a treat that no one would even know is less sugar and gluten free.   The Best Gluten Free Nanaimo Bar.

The Nanaimo Bar is a Canadian tradition dating back to the 1950’s, where it first showed up in Nanaimo, BC. ( hence the name).  Over the years there has been many versions of this no bake treat from mint to peanut butter to egg nog or coffee.  The nanaimo bar has also provided some inspiration for cheesecakes, ice cream or even the martini. (gotta try that one!)

For us, Christmas time is when this yummy treat makes it to our dessert platter and over the years I have made some adjustments to it and in my opinion has made it even better and more decadent.  Not only is it gluten free and less sugar used but I have omitted using custard in the middle and basically have just made it a buttercream centre.


Some of the ingredients that I like to use for this recipe.

It is a three step process to make this treat.  Bottom Layer, Middle Layer and Chocolate top.

First you melt the first 3 ingredients in a double boiler.  I do not have a double boiler, but managed to DIY one with a saucepan and a glass mixing bowl.  I have also switched up the nuts used in the bottom layer.  Most recipes call for walnuts, but I prefer almonds, so I finely chop raw almonds with my ‘chopper‘.

Once the ingredients are melted in the double boiler, you add an egg and stir until thickened.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients (graham wafer crumbs – gluten free, almonds and coconut).  Press firmly into your 8×8 pan.


Set in the refrigerator to chill.  While that is chilling, prepare the middle layer by creaming together the ingredients (butter, cream, corn starch, vanilla and icing sugar).  Spread over the bottom layer and chill once more.

There’s a lot of chilling going on.. 🙂

Melt your chocolate and once cooled slightly,  pour onto the middle layer.


Chill until ready to cut and serve.

Note: You can also freeze at this point and bring out a few hours before you slice it so that the chocolate becomes room temperature and then will not crack when you slice it.

'Healthier Nanaimo Bars'

Bottom layer

1/2 cup coconut oil or unsalted butter

1/4 cup cane sugar

5 Tbsp cocoa ** I used Camino brand**

1 egg, beaten

1-1/2 cups graham wafer crumbs – gluten free **I used Kinnikinnick**

1/2 cup finely chopped raw almonds

1 cut unsweetened shredded coconut

– Melt first 3 ingredients in a double boiler.  Add egg and stir to cook and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Press firmly into an ungreased 8×8 pan

Second Layer

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 tbsp plus 2 tsp heavy cream

1-1/2 tbsp corn starch

1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups icing sugar

– Cream butter, cream, corn starch, vanilla and icing sugar and beat until light.  Spread over bottom layer and chill.

Third Layer

4 squares or approx 120g of 70% dark chocolate ** I used Green and Blacks Organic **

2 tbsp unsalted butter

– Melt chocolate and butter over low heat (or use the double boiler).  Cool slightly, pour over the second layer and spread evenly.  Chill until ready to cut and serve

** see above note**

These gluten Free Nanaimo Bars have been known to disappear quicker then the blink of an eye.

Tip: you may want to hide a few for yourself 😉

Don’t forget to check out this another one of our favourite gluten free treats..Davy Crocketts.



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4 thoughts on “The Best Gluten Free Nanaimo Bar Recipe

  1. the nanaimo bar was originally invented in alberta canada in the 1920’s where it was called the london fog or smog bar, this is confirmed by Canadian food expert jean pare

    1. omg- I haven’t heard the name Jean Pare in so long. I used to have all of the cookbooks – and I still adapt a stew recipe from one of the books!! 🙂 Super cool – thanks for the info!

  2. In the second layer the instructions say to mix together the ingredients, corn starch being one of them, but there is no mention of an amount for corn starch ????

    1. Oh my gosh!! Thank you for catching that. It is 1-1/2 Tbsp of corn starch. The post has been corrected. 🙂

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