Christmas Desserts: Nanaimo Bars, A Canadian Tradition

Chocolate for Christmas: The Canadian Tradition

Nanaimo bars are creamy, chocolatey squares that originated in Nanaimo (pronounced nah-NYE-moe), Canada, a small town just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, the origins of the bar (aside from its location) are unknown. When I lived in Victoria back in 2007, I was determined to make a trip to Nanaimo just to say that I had been there…and of course I ate a Nanaimo bar. The bars are so popular in that city that tourism officials produced a “self-guided trail” brochure, leading tourists to several locations offering traditional Nanaimo bars and variations.

It’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Nanaimo bars are incredibly delicious! They consist of a chewy graham, walnut and coconut crust layered with a creamy custard-flavor butter icing, and are topped with a thin layer of chocolate. They’re by far my favorite holiday dessert. I love them even more than Christmas cookies!

christmas desserts nanaimo

My Grandma June used to make the kids in our family a batch each year. She’d bring us a tin of assorted Christmas squares—thumbprint cookies, macaroons, etc.—and I’d always sift through the assortment, looking for the Nanaimo bars. Once I found them, I’d stash them to the side, hoping that no one would notice.

They are incredibly easy to make and even easier to enjoy. The recipe doesn’t require any baking, just a quick chill to set each layer before the next is added. Once made, you can package them in a cookie tin and store them in the fridge for a few weeks, or freeze them for even longer.

Click here for the full recipe: Nanaimo Bars


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