Gluten-Free Vegan Nanaimo Bars made with a date, almond, and coconut base, a dairy-free buttercream middle, and a rich chocolate top. A healthier take on the favorite no-bake layered dessert bar.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never had a classic Nanaimo bar. I didn’t become aware of the no-bake dessert bar until after I had gone gluten-free.
But once the Nanaimo bar crossed my path, it looked so good I had to know what was in it.
What are Nanaimo Bars?
Named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, the layered bar is traditionally made with a base layer of cookie wafers and coconut, a middle layer of custard flavored icing, and topped off with a layer of chocolate ganache.
In my research I’ve discovered that there are many variations of this sweet treat (like one with a mint-flavored center!), and today I’m offering one without the gluten or the dairy.
Gluten-Free Vegan Nanaimo Bars Ingredients
For this healthy-ish version of the Nanaimo, the ingredients list combines dates, nuts, and oats with chocolate and powdered sugar. Balance, right? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Medjool dates
- raw almonds
- shredded coconut
- gluten-free oats
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- vegan butter
- coconut milk
- organic powdered sugar
- arrowroot starch or cornstarch
- dairy-free chocolate chips
Classic Nanaimo bars have a light yellow tint due to custard powder in the middle layer. This vegan Nanaimo bars recipe is without custard powder, so add 2-3 pinches of ground turmeric to get the same effect.
I recommend keeping your bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They are excellent chilled. But, storing them at room temperature is fine too.
So, whether you love the classic or prefer the Nanaimo bar in all varieties, I hope this one is a winner for you.
Looking for other classic dessert bars that are made gluten-free? Veggie Balance has gluten-free rice krispie treats you won’t want to miss!
More No-Bake Recipes
Gluten-Free Vegan Nanaimo Bars
- 1/4 cup vegan butter room temperature
- 3 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch
- 2 cups organic powdered sugar
- 2-3 pinches ground turmeric (optional)
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup) dairy-free chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, place dates, almonds, oats, salt, cocoa powder, and coconut. Pulse a few times then add melted butter. Process until "dough" comes together and almonds are in small pieces. If your mixture is not coming together, add a teaspoon of water.
- Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Press into an even layer and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- While the base chills, prepare your dairy-free buttercream. In a medium bowl, cream your vegan butter for about 30 seconds, then add coconut milk, arrowroot starch, powdered sugar, and a couple pinches of turmeric. Use an electric mixer on medium to high speed until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Take the base layer out of the fridge and spread the buttercream on top in an even layer. Place pan back in refrigerator while you prepare the chocolate topping.
- In a glass or microwave safe bowl, add your chocolate chips and vegan butter. Microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until mixture is almost completely melted. Stir until remaining chocolate chips dissolve.
- Remove pan from refrigerator again and working quickly, pour melted chocolate over top and gently spread it into an even layer over buttercream.
- Place pan in refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes. Using parchment paper, remove bar from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut 9 squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.