Try these raw vegan Nanaimo bars in place of the traditional version! Filled with nuts and coconut, and sweetened with maple syrup. I'm from Victoria Island, where Nanaimo bars originate, and while these are a pretty far cry from the custard-based version, they're so good. If you're into less sweet, refined sugar-free desserts, try these bars.

For some more small chocolate-y whole food desserts, try my 4 ingredient vegan chocolate truffles, hazelnut chocolate balls, and sweet-and-salty miso chocolate chunk cookie bars.

A stack of three layered chocolate bars on white parchment paper.
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Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Dates: these don't need to be medjool dates. Any soft date will work well, and if they're not soft enough to blend, they can be soaked instead.
  • Coconut oil: if you want to avoid a slight coconut flavour, you can use refined oil, but note that the bars won't be fully raw.
  • Maple syrup: for fully raw bars, use all raw honey in place of any maple syrup. For fully vegan bars, use only maple syrup and no honey.
  • Cocoa butter: if you just want vegan Nanaimo bars and aren't worried about the raw aspect, the topping can be replaced with melted dark chocolate instead of making your own raw chocolate.

Top Tips

  • Slice with a hot knife: while you should let the bars warm up a bit before slicing, heating up the knife will also help to prevent the chocolate topping from cracking. Run it under hot water, then dry well before using.
  • Cut small bars: these are very rich, just like the traditional version, so it's best to cut into small pieces.
  • Prepare in advance: the cashews for the filling need to be soaked overnight, so plan a bit ahead of time. It's best to soak them in the fridge just in case.

How to Store

Storage: keep the bars in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. They shouldn't be stored at room temperature.

Freezing: transfer bars to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.

FAQ

How do you cleanly cut Nanaimo bars?

The very best way to cut Nanaimo bars is with a hot, dry knife. Heat the knife with hot water from the tap, then dry well with a tea towel. This will melt the chocolate as it glides through and make perfect slices.

Are Nanaimo bars a Canadian thing?

They are indeed, and named after the town of Nanaimo in British Columbia! There's some debate about where they originate, with many people saying they're actually from Victoria.

What is another name for Nanaimo bars?

Nanaimo bars are sometimes called Victoria bars or simply chocolate slice. As they've become even more popular outside of Canada, they are almost always called Nanaimo bars these days.

If you make this Vegan Nanaimo Bars recipe or any other vegan dessert recipes on Wholehearted Eats, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more WHE, follow along on Instagram or subscribe for new posts via email.

Recipe

A stack of three layered chocolate bars on white parchment paper.
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5 from 2 votes

Raw Vegan Nanaimo Bars

Try these raw vegan Nanaimo bars in place of the traditional version! Filled with nuts and coconut, and sweetened with maple syrup.
Prep Time10 minutes
Chilling Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 16
Author: Sophie

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Food processor
  • 8x8 in. pan

Ingredients

Base

  • 1 ¾ Cup Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1 ½ Cup Walnuts
  • ¼ Cup + 2 Tbsp. Dates
  • 3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup or liquid sweetener of choice
  • 4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 3 tablespoon Cacao Powder
  • teaspoon Sea Salt

Middle

  • 1 ¼ Cup Cashews soaked overnight
  • 4 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 5 tablespoon Maple Syrup or liquid sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • teaspoon Sea Salt

Topping

  • ¼ Cup + 2 tablespoon Cacao Powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Cocoa Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey or liquid sweetener of choice
  • teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions

Base

  • Puree all the ingredients together in a food processor. Once the mixture comes together, press into a parchment lined 8" by 8" pan. Set in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
    1 ¾ Cup Unsweetened Coconut, 1 ½ Cup Walnuts, ¼ Cup + 2 Tbsp. Dates, 3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup, 4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, 3 tablespoon Cacao Powder, ⅛ teaspoon Sea Salt

Middle

  • Puree the soaked and drained cashews in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the oil, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and continue to puree until smooth. Spread the filling over the base (using the back of a spoon helps to create a smooth surface) and refrigerate until the filling is set, approximately 30 minutes.
    1 ¼ Cup Cashews, 4 tablespoon Coconut Oil, 5 tablespoon Maple Syrup, 1 teaspoon Vanilla, ⅛ teaspoon Sea Salt

Topping

  • Melt all the ingredients over a double boiler and pour over the filling. You might have to swirl the pan a bit to spread the chocolate all the way to the sides. Set in refrigerator until the chocolate is hard. Before slicing into bars, it's best to let it warm up a bit on the counter as to not crack to chocolate top.Store in the refrigerator.
    ¼ Cup + 2 tablespoon Cacao Powder, 2 Tbsp. Cocoa Butter, 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, 2 Tbsp. Honey, ⅛ teaspoon Sea Salt

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 192kcal

15 Comments

  1. These bars are delicious and decadent with all great ingredients! I'm wondering if they can be frozen? I want to make them to take on a trip and would like them to keep for a week or more.

  2. So happy you like the site! I've never tried it, but I think using soaked macadamia nuts or brazil nuts might work. Maybe even blanched almonds, too? I hope this helps <3
    All the best,
    Sophie

  3. So happy you like the site! I've never tried it, but I think using soaked macadamia nuts or brazil nuts might work. Maybe even blanched almonds, too? I hope this helps <3
    All the best,
    Sophie

  4. I'm wondering if there is another way to make the middle filling? I'm not a fan of the cashew taste in raw desserts. (in fact I hate it) But I saw this and would love to make raw Nanaimo Bars! Do you think another nut would work? Maybe you've never tried it...but if you have ideas, I'd love to hear them. And thank you for such a wonderful website!

  5. I'm wondering if there is another way to make the middle filling? I'm not a fan of the cashew taste in raw desserts. (in fact I hate it) But I saw this and would love to make raw Nanaimo Bars! Do you think another nut would work? Maybe you've never tried it...but if you have ideas, I'd love to hear them. And thank you for such a wonderful website!

  6. Awesome, E! I am so happy you enjoyed the recipe. I had some ugly bars too, but I fed those ones to my roommates 😉

  7. amazing recipe. Made it this morning. thank you so much for sharing. Not as neat as yours but pretty tasty!

  8. Thanks for asking, Janelle! They were so liked in my house that my roommates and I ate them all! But I did get a very sweet email from my mum saying how she wanted one of all my cookies. I am going to make a special batch for her and bring it over next time I visit. I have also decided not to tell my dad whats in them and see if he even notices that they aren't the original 🙂

  9. Great story, so what happened then? Have you shared this Nanaim... er uh Victoria Bar with Ma and Pa yet?? Would love to hear of the end results, hopefully it's a thumbs up from both parents!! 🙂

  10. Great story, so what happened then? Have you shared this Nanaim... er uh Victoria Bar with Ma and Pa yet?? Would love to hear of the end results, hopefully it's a thumbs up from both parents!! 🙂

  11. Hello Dolores, thank-you so much for contacting me. I am so happy to hear that the brownies were a hit! I hope you enjoy the Victoria Bars too (I am currently having one right now with a cup of tea!) Take care, Sophie <3

  12. Hello Dolores, thank-you so much for contacting me. I am so happy to hear that the brownies were a hit! I hope you enjoy the Victoria Bars too (I am currently having one right now with a cup of tea!) Take care, Sophie <3

  13. I made your basic raw Brownie last night. It was so amazing and anyone who tasted it could not believe how good it was for just a few very simple ingredients. These ones look even better so I am going to make them tomorrow. Thanks for sharing some really wonderful recipes.

  14. I made your basic raw Brownie last night. It was so amazing and anyone who tasted it could not believe how good it was for just a few very simple ingredients. These ones look even better so I am going to make them tomorrow. Thanks for sharing some really wonderful recipes.

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