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Mint Chocolate Nanaimo Bars

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Nanimo Bars

New York City is home to a critically-acclaimed restaurant called Dirt Candy, whose menu boasts some truly unique dishes: popcorn pudding, celery cheesecake, jalapeno hush puppies, mint chocolate nanaimo bars with a base of green peas…

You can all breathe a sigh of relief, because I did NOT use green peas in my mint chocolate nanaimo bars today.

No bake & secretly healthy!   While similar recipes can be full of empty calories, high fructose corn syrup, & heavy cream, these rich and chocolatey no-bake bars are made with wholesome ingredients you can feel good about eating! Plus, they taste out-of-this-world delicious! Recipe here:

However this relief might be fleeting once you see what I did use Winking smile.

Healthy Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo bars, a popular Canadian dessert hailing from Nanaimo, British Columbia, consist of three layers: a crumbly bottom later, creamy center, and a chocolate coating for the top. While Nanaimo Bars are traditionally full of butter, refined flour, and sugar, today’s recipe offers a much healthier alternative: with one sneaky ingredient you will never suspect!

Mint Chocolate Chip Nanaimo Bars

Mint Chocolate Nanaimo Bars

Cream Layer:

(For a nut-free bar, feel free to just substitute your favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream for the cream layer.)

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews or macadamia nuts (160g)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • scant 1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (40g)
  • 2 Nunaturals stevia packets, or 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (such as pure maple syrup)
  • 3 oz raw spinach (85g or 2 very-loosely-packed cups)

Place the nuts in a cereal bowl and cover with water. Let soak 8 hours or overnight. (You can make the crust layer while you wait.) Drain and pat completely dry with a paper towel. Combine all ingredients in a vita-mix or high-quality food processor, and process until completely smooth. (This can take a few minutes in a food processor.)

Crust Layer:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, or a combination of these (or sunflower seeds for nut-free)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (I used the full-fat kind)
  • scant 1/2 cup pitted dates (8 small dates) or raisins
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, optional

Process all ingredients until even crumbs form. (Blenders will yield sticky mixtures, so it’s best to use a food processor.) Transfer to an 8-in square baking dish lined with parchment or wax paper going up the sides for easy removal. Using a piece of wax or parchment paper, smush into the pan until the crust evenly fills the bottom. Make the final layer:

Chocolate Layer:

  • 1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder (40g)
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (80g)
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of choice) (28g)

Melt the coconut oil if it is not already melted. Stir together all ingredients to form a smooth sauce. Spread over the other layers. Freeze just until chocolate has started to set, then cut into bars. It is best to cut after 10 minutes or less have elapsed, to prevent cracking. Then place back in the freezer to firm up completely. Bars can be stored in the freezer for a few weeks; thaw before eating.

—> View Chocolate Nanaimo Bars Nutrition Facts <—

Mint Chocolate Chip Nanaimo Bars

P.S. Dirt Candy also sells a Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu.


Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. Lisa says:

    I love that you added spinach to these. These are totally my type of bars.
    I live super close to Nanaimo, so these bars have a close meaning to me 😉

  2. Very interesting! I love learning about new foods I’ve never heard of before … can’t quite imagine what this would taste like!

  3. I love when vegetables can seamlessly add into unconventional places! Spinach is especially a pro at that. Thanks for another creative recipe!!

  4. Oh I looooooooooove Nanaimo Bars! They’re one of my favorite desserts that my grandma used to make. I’m intrigued by your healthier version!

  5. Maggie says:

    As soon as you said, “sneak ingredient you’ll never expect!” I was like, “Spinach.”

    Which is why you’re awesome. I love your hidden (and not-so-hidden) veggie desserts!

    1. Haha I guess I should have said “you’ll never taste.” :)

  6. Lisa Ernst says:

    This is so creative! Its hard to imagine that the spinach is non-detectible, but I’ll take your word for it. I’ve been using cashews as my go-to raw pie ingredient so this will fit perfectly into my repertoire Love mint and chocolate so I’ll def have to try this one.

  7. Jacqui says:

    I live in Nanaimo, British Columbia! :) These sound way healthier than the original. We actually have a whole “Nanaimo Bar Trail,” with different variations on the Nanaimo Bar, including a pedicure!

    1. Tani says:

      I am from a small country town in New Zealand, but for some bizzare and unknown reason grew up with Nanaimo bars! We could never pronounce the name, and it sort of degenerated into No-MY-Bars. Every birthday and Christmas my Mum would make a batch of No-my-Bar. A year or so back we took the family to BC and spent a week on Vancouver Island. I was DELIGHTED to learn the origin of No-My-Bar and was excited about doing the trail. Before I did, I bought one slice of it (which was the size of about 10 of my mothers slices) and managed to get through a third of it before I felt green. You guys make ’em rich!!

      I just made this version, hopefully no nausea this time around

  8. Being Canadian, Nanaimo bars are one of my absolute favourite winter treats! I’ve always wondered how they could be re-made vegan while still being delicious- this looks like a winner for sure!

  9. Laily says:

    Wow yesterday I was thinking of asking you for a Nanaimo bar recipe and you read my mind! These look great. I think I will make them for dessert tonight! Thanks for another great recipe

  10. Laily says:

    Maybe I will also try it with thin mint brownies as the bottom layer.

  11. Love the bright green–and love that it’s from spinach and not green food coloring!

  12. mochi says:

    What a nice cake, and love the idea to use raw spinach to catch the nice colour, thanks!
    May try it later. :)

  13. trajayjay says:

    “with one sneaky ingredient you will never suspect!”

    I was thinking avocado.

    But it was spinach

    Damn you!

  14. jill goldman says:

    these sound ammmmazing! can’t wait to try them! thanks, katie.

  15. Kimberly says:

    Love this, Katie! Once again, you’ve hit it out of the park. These will be attending my next play date with me.

  16. Jeni says:

    Ok honestly, these sort of terrify me. But I didn’t believe the black bean brownies would be good and they were great. So I suppose I trust you… I may actually make these soon… eek! :)

  17. Syd says:

    Hi Katie,

    These sound great! I discovered your blog last week and have been loving it. Just wanted to ask if there’s something you could do so the main photo of the recipe will show up when I save it to ziplist. I started using that for recipes since it works better than pinterest for me for cooking. When I add one of your recipes to ziplist all that shows up for the photo is the pinterest logo.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Syd,
      Unfortunately I don’t really know much about Ziplist… maybe contact their help staff if they have one? Sorry I can’t be more helpful 😕

  18. Karly H says:

    Ah! That moment where you have all the ingredients except one… (in this case, spinach…) I can’t wait to make!

    1. Amanda says:

      Normal Nanaimo bars have a custard flavored center (made with custard powder, which is kind of like yellowy vanilla pudding mix), so I think you could probably skip the spinach, and maybe add more vanilla.

  19. Shayna says:

    I’m scared…… But I want to try it…..

  20. Claire says:

    Hey Katie! I have always loved your recipes! Would you ever consider doing a college dorm friendly edition? I’m a freshman, and would love to know some tips on healthy eating in college, or in any cafeteria setting. Just an idea! :) I’ve been making your microwave oats for breakfast, and that’s been a great start, but I’d love some more ways to get creative in a tiny dorm kitchen, or even with items that are available in a cafeteria. :)

    1. Hi Claire! Here is a giant list of (mostly) college-friendly recipes on the site:

  21. Liz says:

    Hi! My stomach is not like dates :( What can I substitute for this?

    1. Alanna says:

      Are raisins okay? She lists those as an alternative, but you need a sticky fruit to hold the nuts together. Or, you could do a more traditional graham cracker crust if you don’t mind that they’ll taste different than the original recipe!

  22. The eggplant tiramisu actually sounds kind of good…

    As for those Nanaimo bars, they look fantastic!

  23. Alanna says:

    Lol I figured either spinach or pistachios based on the color… never heard of these before!

  24. Caroline says:

    Katie! There’s chocolate/cocoa powder in the crust of nanaimo bars! It’s okay, they look delicious anyway. :)

    1. You can add 2 tbsp of cocoa powder to the crust recipe if you wish. I’ve done it before for a similar recipe, so I can vouch for it working :).

  25. Ellen says:

    Hmmm indeed. I would like to try that popcorn pudding you mentioned though!

  26. Niki F says:

    I’m from close(ish) to that area of Canada so love that you made some healthy Nanaimo bars!!! Can’t wait to try these!!

  27. these look awesome! I love that they’re undoubtedly a dessert, but loaded with spinach! I’ll have to try these with you mock mint- chocolate- chip milkshake– also loaded with spinach! 😉

  28. eValerie says:

    Oh cool — am I the first to report back after making these?

    I made a batch this evening. They came out lovely, and yummy!!

    My notes:
    * I didn’t have fresh spinach available, so I used half of a ten-ounce box of defrosted frozen spinach, which tasted fine to me but made a darker green than the picture, so I think I would go with 1/4 of a box the next time I make this recipe.
    * I also didn’t have peppermint extract, so I skipped that — though I think the recipe would come out yummier with it.
    * I used melted chocolate chips for the topping, which was okay, but when I make this again I think I’d go with Katie’s topping instead, because the chocolate didn’t break cleanly when I sliced it.
    * Finally, I never soak cashews before blending, I just add some extra water to match the amount that would have been absorbed while they soaked — but since the spinach already had extra water from being frozen, I just blended all of the filling ingredients as listed, without doing any soaking or adding any water, and that worked fine.

    Katie, thanks for yet another yummy and lovely recipe!

    (I’m eagerly looking forward to fresh pumpkin season, so I can make your no-bake chocolate pumpkin pie again. That stuff is addictive!!! This recipe reminds me of it.)

    1. Thank you so much for trying them… haha I think you ARE the first to make them :)

  29. Susann Codish says:

    Even though I lived in Canada for 3 yrs. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, not British Columbia), I’ve never heard of Nanaimo bars and would never consider eating one given its nutritional makeup, but your version looks absolutely divine!!! Next week is Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – and we traditionally wish one another “Shana Tova Umetuka” (have a good, sweet year). In that spirit, I’m going to try to make these, but will first have to figure out where to score virgin coconut oil. BTW, I adore your blog.

  30. Cecilie says:

    These look absolutely delicious! But I was wondering; do you think that cocoa butter would work instead of the coconut oil for the chocolate layer? 😀

    1. I haven’t tried it… texture-wise it should be fine, but I can’t vouch for the taste.

  31. Carol says:

    Katie – is your cookbook going to be available this year?

  32. What a brilliant idea! My husband is always requesting Nanaimo bars and now I’m totally going to try these out on him. Plus I used to live right by Nanaimo before moving down to the States, so they’re meaningful! Thanks for the recipe!!

  33. I love the green color of these. Awesome recipe!!

  34. Lauren says:

    I love the spinach in these. Not a fan of artificial colors.

  35. Marfigs says:

    Yes! I’m so chuffed there’s actual greenery in this! 😀 AND it looks delicious enough to fool suspicious types (I tend to colour everything green). This is on my weekend to-do list!

  36. Jill says:

    These look delicious. One overall question for your site – is there a “print” button somewhere that I am just missing?? I end up having to copy and paste all your recipes over to word to print and it would be awesome if you could add a “print” link.

    1. Hi Jill,

      I am working on it! For now, just highlight the recipe portion and press control c. Open a word document and press control v :)

  37. I love the green color!!! These look amazing!

  38. Haleigh says:

    I have only tried this once at a friends, her grandma made this. It was one of the best things that has ever gone in my mouth!!! I haven’t ever made it cause of how unhealthy it was. I can NOT wait to make these! Thank you so much!

  39. Lisa says:

    I live in Nanaimo and am always making Nanaimo bars they are a family favourite. We also make an ice cream version. I will be trying this healthier recipe asap!

  40. Emma says:

    Just when I thought I was at the end of my spinach répertoire, and a fresh patch has sprung up in the garden, you come up with this!! My kids love spinach in all it’s forms but I think this is definitely going to be a winer. And quite by coincidence I used to live on 4th and Nanaimo, Vancouver!

  41. I’ve never had Nanaimo bars before! I’ll have to try these “healthified” version. Thanks for sharing! Cheers :)

  42. Lauwchen says:

    that color! Must try this one day!

  43. Love this, Katie! The spinach makes the green so vibrant! I love using natural FOODS to add a bit of coloring – in my mint truffles, I use a pinch of chlorella powder and it does the trick :)

  44. I was wondering if you used some sort of food dye, but then saw the spinach ingredient. Very cool!

  45. Liz says:

    “Bars can be stored in the freezer for a few weeks”


    Good one.

  46. Skatie says:

    These look great, and my kids are used to me trying to shove greens in pretty much everything, this won’t phase them. I’m wondering, though – does the color go off as they’re exposed to air? Once they’re thawed, if not eaten right away, I can’t imagine that vibrant green staying vibrant past a few hours…

    1. They pretty much stay that color (the one in the photos) even after weeks in the fridge.

  47. Debbie Brooks Riffel says:

    I just love this recipe! It is a great way to get veggies into kids (and some adults!) diets! Thanks for all you do and share. God bless you and yours!

  48. Melissa says:

    Never, ever would have guessed that spinach was your secret ingredient! Very fun :) I’m not familiar with Nanaimo bars so this was fun to learn about. Thanks!

  49. Tani says:

    Hi Katie

    I have been eyeing up your recipes for some time, but this is the first I have attempted. It was a bit of work, but being a fan of Nanaimo bars I was prepared for that!
    Personally the fat and calories in my final count were a little high for me, but I mainly made these for my kids. I love that I can feed them treats and genuinely not feel bad about what I am giving them. Infact, I WANT them to eat this! I ended up adding an avocado to my filling for some extra creaminess and nutrients, it worked perfectly.
    We are yet to try the end result, it is in the freezer right now, but the kids devoured the ‘licks’ so I think it will be a winner. Now, just don’t tell anyone its healthy…!

  50. Chandra says:

    These sound delicious thanks for sharing them!

  51. Alisha says:

    I visit your blog daily and I was super excited when I saw Nanaimo bars. I live in Nanaimo with my boyfriend and nanaimo bars have been the topic of dicussion recently. I wish you would make a non mint version though :)

  52. How creative! The spinach is a great idea; that green color is so bright!

  53. Dirt Candy sounds like my kind of place!

    I desperately want to make these but I don’t do coconut oil. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll turn out with coconut butter instead. I can’t imagine it’ll be that much different.

  54. Ziahlily says:

    I made these yesterday and they taste great!

    I put the first two layers in the freezer to harden up a bit so I could spread the chocolate layer on easily. I waited for the chocolate to harden for less than ten minutes but it still broke when I cut them. Still tastes great but they don’t look as nice as yours. Maybe I don’t need to freeze the first two layers since the chocolate is so runny and will spread easily? I also thought the middle layer would be too soft to cut easily without freezing it. Any thoughts?

    I love your recipes and can’t wait for your cookbook!

    1. Thank you so much for making them.
      Yes, definitely don’t freeze the first two layers before the chocolate… I did this the first time, too, and the coconut oil got hard too fast and cracked.

  55. Kristine says:

    I just whipped up these green beauties this morning. I didn’t have enough spinach, so used some Swiss chard, too. Great flavor and healthy ingredients. Thanks, Katie!

  56. Phoebe says:

    We don’t do coconut. Any thoughts on possible substitutes? These sound (and look!) really good. Thanks. :-)

  57. laughtercastle says:

    Wow Katie! These were another big win for me in the kitchen, I finally feel like my healthy treats can compete with our friends’ not so healthy ones 😀 The only hard part for me was the chocolate sauce got a little too thick (mostly as my blender takes forever) and was hard to spread out but I just needed to add a bit more oil and heat it up (I live in a cold, cold place), and it tasted great even if it wasn’t very pretty. FYI for those who asked, I can vouch for the green staying vibrant and wonderful even after they defrost a little too long – we took these to an event over the weekend and just ate with a fork when they got too soft (ie a few hours out of the freezer). Delicious! You are a total lifesaver :)

    1. laughtercastle says:

      Oh, and as I don’t have access to peppermint extract (at least that I can figure out, just moved to Europe), two drops of peppermint essential oil was just perfect and didn’t overpower the other flavors (no chocolate toothpaste for me this time, ha ha!). (I use oils that are food grade or whatnot if people wonder) 😀

  58. Paul says:

    I just made these and loved both how easy they are and how healthy they are! And such a great flavor. These would be a lot of fun around the holidays with the bright green color and the peppermint flavor.

  59. Liv says:

    Amazing! I was just wandering around your website looking for replacements for the middle and top layer of my Midnight Mint bar (a mint version of Nanaimo bars). And here it is! I’ve gotta try this!

  60. Tracey says:

    Wow! I made them! And the kids loved them!! Thankyou!

  61. Chrissy says:

    Dear Katie,
    when are you going to come out with a recipe book already! I love your site, and I’d be one of the first to purchase a book with your recipes. :) Pretty Please!
    -A Fan :)

  62. Misha Lentz says:

    Made these last night…SO good! I made mine with kale instead of spinach, because it’s what I had. I have no idea if the taste is different this way, but they are pretty darn good. I would note that they really MUST stay chilled. At room temperature, they are a gooey mess, and they don’t really taste as great either.

  63. tigerstew says:

    OMG – just made these, I was skeptical but they are utterly, deliciously devine and completely guilt free. I will never buy a choc-mint slice again! You rock!

    1. tigerstew says:

      oh, I made it with baby spinach and agave syrup and I added chia seeds to the base – yummy!

      1. tigerstew says:

        We now make these weekly but have experimented with the “cream” flavours because my boys don’t like mint as much as I do. Vanilla and Coconut cream flavours in the centre is yummy too and protein powder in the base works really well. Without the mint flavour they have a pleasant “Halva” taste to them.

  64. Anto says:

    These are delicious! I read through the comments. Am I the only one who had a very crumbly bottom layer? I used almonds. Any suggestions as to how to fix this for next time?

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      Hmm I didn’t have that problem. But try adding a little water to get it to stick more if you have that problem. And be sure to press down extremely firmly.

      1. Antonella says:

        Thanks for this. Pressing down VERY firmly will probably help me.

    2. tigerstew says:

      or a couple more dates, protein powder. And yep – pushing down really hard with the rolling pin or back of a spoon

  65. Maggie says:

    I just picked up the Dirt Candy cookbook from the library. I’ve been vegetarian for 22 years (vegan for 15 of those) and I’ve been developing my own recipes forever… I thought I’d seen pretty much everything. HELLO???? Between the Broccoli Icecream and the Zucchini Ginger Cake with Zucchini Cream & Candied Zucchini, I’m beside myself. Definitely have to cross the boarder to check that place out sometime (from another Canuck, and yes Nanaimo bars are Canadian) xo

  66. Colleen says:

    This is a fantastic recipe… made it twice so far and I will be making it many times more. Thank you so much for this great recipe.

  67. Alexandra says:

    Can i sub coconut butter for this? :)

  68. Robin says:

    Oh my…these are AMAZING! I purposely told my husband there was spinach in the middle layer to gross him out, so I wouldn’t have to share…shame on me.

    I added the cocoa powder to the crust like you suggested and found that all I needed for the top layer was a drizzling of chocolate.

    Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!

  69. Kim says:

    I cannot wait to try this! I’ll record on a video and mention you on my blog.

    Thanks for posting.

  70. Sarah says:

    My friend made these and brought me some to try, and it was INCREDIBLE. I’ve never had nanaimo bars so I don’t have a frame of reference, but these are wonderful. The only problem is that they’re so delicious it’s hard to stop eating them. I’m making a batch for my brother today, hopefully they’ll be as delicious as my friend made them!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey, just a little follow up! I set out all the ingredients for these, which I already had on hand, and became very confused. Looking over the ingredients, I couldn’t see any way for these bars to work. But I’d tried them already and loved them so I gave it a shot. Oh my god! It’s like magic! I used liquid stevia drops as the only sweetener and these bars are so incredible! The ingredients themselves are so off-putting to me, but they transform into awesome. I have no idea how it works. It’s like the blender works magic. Seriously. I’m not a health-food type of gal, and I LOVE these. Don’t taste healthy at all. :)

  71. Rayca says:

    I’m going to try adding a little pureed avocado to the cream layer. They look awesome.

  72. Candace says:

    These look soooo good! Thank you for sharing healthy recipes. I love the cookies and treats at they always come out so perfectly. It’s nice though that your whole site is devoted to yummy desserts!!

  73. Is there something low sugar/ glycemic index that can be used in place of the dates?

  74. Hayley says:

    As someone who lives in British Columbia and only 25 minutes away from nanaimo, these bars taste like a pretty great vegan version of the bar. I of course still love the original but I also love that these don’t have unsweetened coconut in them.

  75. Annie says:

    Hi Katie! I just made these the other day because my casein allergy has gotten way worse and I love mint chocolate. I reposted your recipe and pictures of my final product here! I live in Cape Town and we don’t have mint extract or oil in stores, so I ended up cutting open the mint oil pills you can usually find in the pharmacy. I also added a few mint leaves. Worked perfectly! My man and I both LOVE these and I’ll be making them again soon. Thanks so much!

  76. I’ve had success using fresh mint leaves as a replacement for mint extract. These bars are my absolute favorites! My friends and colleagues thank you, and so do I!

    1. Thank you so much for making them!

    2. Victor says:

      Hey Katherine, I also had GREAT success using whole peppermint leaves! If I make this again, I actually might just skip the spinach all together and use 2-3 cups peppermint leaves!! I just made it and used about 1.5 cups spinach and 1 1/4 cup peppermint leaves and I was so pleased with the strong peppermint flavor. I live in China and peppermint extract is hard to come by but I was able to come by peppermint leaves. Really lucky.

  77. Angela says:

    Yum! I’ve got to give these a try, your recipes are never disappointing!