Vegan Nanaimo Bars are the ultimate in chocolatey treats! They’re perfect for holiday parties and Christmas treat boxes. This easy, no-bake recipe from Dreena's Kind Kitchen by Dreena Burton is eggless, dairy free, and gluten free.
Vegan Nanaimo Bars
When Dreena Burton’s newest book Dreena's Kind Kitchen arrived, I headed straight to the dessert chapter. I had a hankering for something chocolatey, and I heard the vegan Nanaimo bars quietly calling my name.
Before making these, I’d never had a Nanaimo bar, but I’ve drooled over photos of them online. Since they’re Canadian, I’ve never seen them available anywhere around me, and making them has always seemed too daunting. Trust me when I tell you that Dreena’s recipe is super easy to tackle. If you can work a food processor, you can make them!
What are Nanaimo Bars?
Nanaimo bars are a Canadian no-bake dessert that are named after Nanaimo, British Columbia. They have three layers: a crumb base, a creamy middle layer, and chocolate ganache on top. They’re traditionally made with lots of sugar, eggs, and butter.
Dreena’s vegan version uses coconut butter and nondairy milk, and it’s gluten-free and nut-free. That doesn’t mean it’s flavor-free though. These little bars are highly addictive!
How to make Vegan Nanaimo Bars
This no-bake recipe is easy to make!
- First you pulse the dates and oats together in a food processor until they start to come together and get slightly crumbly.
- Next you add the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla and process until the mixture starts to become sticky.
- Then you add the pumpkin seeds and coconut and process until the mixture is very sticky and holds together when pressed with your fingers.
- Now you press the mixture into an 8x8-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place you pan in the fridge while you proceed with the rest of the layers.
- Next you add all the ingredients for the middle layer to a mini processor and pulse it together until just combined and smooth. Dreena cautions against over blending, because the mixture will heat and become oily.
- Then you transfer the mixture to the baking pan, spreading it evenly over the base layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator.
- Now you prepare a hot water bath to make the topping by filling a small saucepan with several inches of water and heat it over low heat. You put a heatproof bowl on top of the saucepan to hover over the simmering water. Put the chocolate and coconut milk in the bowl and heat gently. You stir the mixture occasionally until the chips are totally melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Finally, you pour the chocolate topping over the top of your bar and refrigerate the pan until the bars are set.
Cut the mixture into 16–20 bars. You can store the leftover bars in an air-tight container on the freezer, if you have any left!
Dreena’s Kind Kitchen
Waaaay back in the early 2000s, when I first went vegan there weren’t very many vegan cookbooks available. My cookbooks took up one shelf on my IKEA Billy bookcase, and most of them were vegetarian. I’d adapt the recipes by taking out the eggs and dairy products. One of the first vegan cookbooks I bought was Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.
Since then, I’ve filled TWO Billy bookcases with vegan cookbooks, but I always find myself going back to Dreena’s recipes. So I was super excited to receive her newest cookbook Dreena’s Kind Kitchen.
Dreena’s Kind Kitchen is full of more than 100 plant-based recipes that prove that healthy vegan food is anything but boring. The recipes are all easy to make using ingredients that are easy to find. And they’re all family-friendly and will please the pickiest of eaters! I mean, who’s going to say no to Wow ’Em Waffles, Fiesta Taco Filling, 1-Minute Pasta Alfredo, or Crackle Blender Brownies?
Dreena starts the book with tips on preparing ingredients, instructions on batch cooking, and how to give your ingredients a makeover (like how to make sweet potatoes more exciting). She also includes frequently asked questions, like how to make ingredient substitutions and how to store your cooked recipes.
And then there are the recipes, which will take you from breakfast all the way through dinner and dessert, with snacks and salad in between.
Chapters in Dreena’s Kind Kitchen Include:
- Breakfast Vibes
- The Salad Bowl
- Noshing: Dips, Spreads, and Nibblers
- Dinner Plates
- Holiday Fare
- Home Sweet Home
No matter what your dietary preference, you need room on your bookcase for Dreena’s Kind Kitchen!
Dreena’s Nanaimo Bars
- 1½ cups pitted dates
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds or almond meal
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¾ cup coconut butter
- ¾-1 cup natural icing sugar (see note)
- 3 tablespoons vanilla nondairy milk or full-fat canned coconut milk (see note)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla bean powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup chopped nondairy chocolate bar or chocolate chips
- 2½ tablespoons full-fat canned coconut milk or other nondairy milk (see note)
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
- To prepare the base, put the dates and oats in a food processor and pulse several times, until they start to come together and get slightly crumbly. Add the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla and process until the mixture starts to become sticky. Add the pumpkin seeds and coconut and process until the mixture is very sticky and holds together when pressed with your fingers. Press the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Chill in the refrigerator while you proceed with the next layers.
- Add all the ingredients for the middle layer to a mini processor (see note) and pulse until just combined and smooth. Try not to overblend, as the mixture will heat and become oily. Transfer to the baking pan, spreading the mixture evenly over the base layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator.
- Prepare a hot water bath to make the topping: Fill a small saucepan with several inches of water and heat it over low heat. Put a heatproof bowl on top of the saucepan to hover over the simmering water (be sure it fully covers the top of the saucepan to prevent steam from entering the bowl). Put the chocolate and coconut milk in the bowl and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the chips are totally melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the chocolate topping over the top of your bars, and refrigerate until set. To serve, cut into 16–20 bars. Leftover bars can be frozen, if they last that long!
More no-bake treats you might enjoy include:
- Chocolate Gingersnap Bars
- Chocolate Marble Raw Cheesecake
- Grasshopper Pie
- Chocolate Almond Date Truffles