Vegan Nanaimo Bar Pie


If you are not Canadian, the name of this recipe might leave you scratching your head. What the heck is a “Nanaimo”? Nanaimo is a city on Vancouver Island. My mom was born there. One of Nanaimo’s greatest claims to fame is the Nanaimo Bar. A traditional Nanaimo Bar is an intensely sweet treat, commonly sold in bakeries and coffee shops. My Nanaimo Bar Pie is an homage, but not a replica of the original recipe. My version has been adapted to be a healthier alternative; it is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and primarily raw.


A traditional Nanaimo Bar has three layers. The bottom layer is a coconut/chocolate/cookie mixture, the second layer is a vanilla custard icing, the top layer is a mixture of chocolate and butter. When I developed my recipe, I really wanted to stay true to the traditional textures. I think I’ve done a pretty good job! Since I use nuts to replace the icing/custard layer, mine is definitely nuttier. I chose macadamia nuts and cashews for their mild flavour. You could always use another type of nut, but traditional Nanaimo Bars are not nutty.


Anyone who has had a Nanaimo Bar will tell you that a little goes a long way. The same can be said for my recipe. I used a 6-inch cake pan, and got 8 servings out of it. Although I used a round pan, I highly recommend using a square pan instead. This treat is easier to eat when its cut in to squares. Another word of advice, after you initially freeze it…let it stand at room temperature for an hour or so before you try to cut it. If it’s still frozen, the top will crack when you cut in to it.


Vegan Nanaimo Bar Pie

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 Servings


  • Bottom Layer:
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup granular sweetener of choice
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • Middle Layer:
  • 1.5 cups macadamia nuts or cashews
  • 2 tbsp granular sweetener of choice
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder (I used Sun Warrior Raw Vegan Protein)
  • Top Layer:
  • 3 oz Dark Chocolate 70% or darker
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil


  1. Starting with the base layer, mix all the dry ingredients together in a blender, food processor or bowl. Don’t over-process this layer. You want to get some texture from the shredded coconut.Mix in the melted coconut oil with a fork.
  2. Press this mixture in to the lined cake or loaf pan. Put this in the freezer while you work on the middle layer.
  3. In a high-powered blender or food processor, mix up all the middle layer ingredients. I did it in the Vitamix. If you don’t have a blender of food processor, you could use pre-made cashew butter. You want this layer to be smooth, no chunks.
  4. Pour this layer on top of the coconut layer and spread it evenly.
  5. Put this all back in the freezer and get started on the top layer.
  6. Chop up your chocolate in to small pieced for easier melting.
  7. Melt it over low heat (double boiler if possible) with the coconut oil.
  8. Once it’s melted, pour it on top of the other two layers and make sure it’s evenly spread.
  9. Put that bad boy in the freezer for atleast 30 minutes.
  10. Let it defrost slightly before cutting.


As with many of my recipes, I advocate tasting as you go along. You can tweak the sweetness to meet your preference.

  1. Kelsey Parks

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to give it a try! Never would have thought of using blended nuts in the middle layer, genius!

    • Enjoy! It’s definitely less sweet and more nutty than traditional bars…but I like that!

  2. Wow! This looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it (when I have lots of company so I don’t eat it all myself 🙂 ). Beautiful photos too!

  3. as i stated before…………being the only diabetic (controlling by diet…..low carb no sugar) in the family and i unable to
    eat this favourite of the family ……..make it for all special occasions especially christmas………… i will be able to enjoy mine when they have theirs………………i am a 67 yr old and only 2 yrs into diabeties so still missing my foods but thanks to you and brenda bennett and carolyn ketchum i am slowing being able to feel like a normal person again
    thanking you again from the bottom of my heart……………..edna

    • Edna, thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot to me! This is exactly why I started sharing my recipes!

      • well jasmine……..all you wonderful people on this site are sure doing your jobs right…….you say it means alot to you but to us it means ” normal eating” which means alot to me

  4. That looks super decadent! I made vegan nanaimo bars from Ms. Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town cookbook and they were pretty tasty!

  5. Dominique

    Would you have an alternative for vanilla powder? 🙂

    • Jasmine Lukuku

      You could omit it all together and it would be fine, I use it because it gives a bit of a custard flavour.

  6. any chance you think a seed for nut sub would work for those with nut intolerances? 🙂

    • Jasmine Lukuku

      I think you could sub in a seed butter, although I’ve never eaten one so I don’t know which one to recommend. I would try to find the most neutral tasting one. You could use ground sunflower seeds in the crust instead of almond flour.

  7. My goodness, this looks so pretty! I can even eat it thanks to your revisions! thanks!

  8. Until today I’d never heard of a Nanaimo Bar But now I really really want one!! Thanks for the craving

  9. Any suggestions for something to use instead of the coconut and coconut oil? I’m allergic. Thanks for the recipe – it looks delicious and I hope to be able to make it!

    • Jasmine Lukuku

      You could probably use Earth Balance shortening. You would melt it first. I haven’t tried it, but that would be my guess. Let me know if you try it!

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