Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Low-carb, Keto Nanaimo Bars

Low Carb Gluten Free Nanaimo Bar
  • Prep Time
    30 mins
  • Cook Time
    1 h 30 mins (Chilling Time)
  • Serving
  • View

Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Low-carb, Keto Nanaimo Bars

It sounds funny, but this Nanaimo Bar dessert was shown to me by a dear friend of mine living in Hungary. He said this is loved by Canadians and it will definitely be a great success if I make this in keto version as well. 

I started researching to also see original Canadian recipes about what this cake is like. The first written recipe dates from the 1950s in Nanaimo, Vancouver. This was first called “chocolate square” or the “chocolate slice”. The Nanaimo bar was popularized nationwide after being highlighted as a classic Canadian dessert at Expo 86. 

The original Nanaimo Bars are made without baking from crackers/biscuit crumbs, with lots of cocoa, coconut, walnuts, butter, pudding, vanilla, and lots of sugar. The top is coated with thick chocolate.  I also found Nanaimo Bars in other flavor variations on the internet, such as in strawberry, menthol and chocolate flavors.

My imagination also started right away, what other flavor variations could make these bars, but for the first time, let’s see the original recipe in keto version, based on my own idea.  

The Bottom Layer

I didn’t have to change too much on the bottom layer, most of all I just had to replace the non-keto raw materials with ingredients that could be used in keto diet. Luckily, I had homemade, sugar-free butter biscuit leftovers made from coconut and almond flour at home, which I crushed into crumbs with the pulsating stage of the food processor.  And I replaced the amount of sugar prescribed in the original recipe with a sweetener.  

The Middle Layer

The middle layer was already more problematic, I had to think about it more because for this the original recipes used “custard powder”, which thickens the milk. Tha custard powder actually is corn starch, which the keto doesn’t accept. Not just because of starch, but also because of corn.  Many keto recipes use Xanthan gum as a thickener, but I honestly admit I’m averse to it. Not only does its name sound too artifical to me. After reading what and how they are made, what they are used for, I thought I didn’t want to use that in my food. E415 is also known as an additive, a bacterially fermented form of sugar. This bacterium is also responsible for the black rot of cauliflower or broccoli. The additive is used in many foods as an emulsifier, or in the oil industry for thickening drilling mud and as a gelling agent in cosmetics. ( 
So, I don’t know who thinks what about it, but I’d rather do not use it.

So there is the gelatin that is well known to me, which behaves a little differently than starches during cooking, because it doesn’t thicken immediately during cooking, only when it cools … but for me the end result matters.
However, it is difficult to calculate how many grams of gelatin are needed for the perfect result. 5 g proved to be low at first, and 10 g became almost a lot. Therefore, to soften the jelly butter I used whipped cream. The amount of whipped cream should be decided by everyone because someone likes softer cream, but the other one likes harder cream. You can add whipped cream to the jelly butter, which is obtained from 100-300 ml of cream, and then mix into the “pudding” gradually by spoonful.  When you feel the texture of the cake cream is fluffy enough, stop adding more whipped cream.

Anyway, the gelatin is from animal origin so, if someone doesn’t want to use this, try Agar Agar, which is actually vegetable gelatin derived from seaweed. I haven’t tried this yet, so I don’t know how it behaves.

 (Of course, anyone who doesn’t want to experiment with gelatin and isn’t afraid of the effects of either corn starch or xanthan gum, feel free to use these as in the original recipes.)
I have one more comment about the creams in the original recipes. Many recipes use around 50 g of butter with more than 200 g (2 cups) of icing sugar(!!!). Well, if I would put that amount of sugar in the cream of cake, I guess I wouldn’t feel anything from the taste of the cake, just the taste of the concentrated sugar and probably I would get a sugar shock after the first bite. That’s just my opinion and experience, but I think Canadian desserts, which I tasted so far, are incredibly and extremely sweet.
They are inedible to me, such as ice creams, cakes, biscuits… Even though I no longer use sugar for my desserts (or any food) and that sweetener, what I use replaces sugar in 1:1, but I will not use as much as sweetener in my recipe of the Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Low-carb, Keto Nanaimo Bars as the amount of sugar used in the original recipes. 

The Top Layer

As I wrote, I looked through many recipe pages on this topic and many confectioners or confectioner bloggers make this cake with a crazy layer of thick chocolate. Obviously, it’s also a matter of taste. Just like there is a good Hungarian saying to this: “Tastes and slaps are different” So, I don’t like this very thick chocolate on top of the cream. Nor is it because my cream is much softer because of the whipped cream added to it. And the thicker chocolate is hard to slice (even with the added butter). Which results in the whole cake being completely compressed when the chocolate is cut. Plus, at the second bite, you’ll already feel like there’s too much chocolate in this cake (the bottom with cocoa and the top with chocolate) On the other hand, if we apply the chocolate layer only lightly, we can easily cut it with a knife heated with hot water and we will have a much more sophisticated, softer taste experience.


All in all, I ended up creating a very delicious carbohydrate reduced Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Low-carb, Keto Nanaimo Bars based on the original Nanaimo Bars recipes, which I highly recommend to everyone. Remember, you don’t even have to bake, mostly just chill and you will have a homemade, beautiful, delicious chocolate flavor bomb on your table. 

I still have this Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Low-carb, Keto Nanaimo Bar in my fridge, but a recipe for a fruity version has already been born in my head. I’ll be making this soon, but in the meantime, I wish you a lot of success with this recipe, make it as soon as possible, and then please write to me your own experiences about this great Canadian cake. 


Have you tried this recipe?

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The Bottom Layer

The Middle Layer

The Top Layer


1 slice of cake

  • Daily Value*
  • Calories: 307
    15 %
  • Fat: 29.9 g
    18 %
  • Total Carbs: 5.8 g
    8.9 %
  • Sugar: 2.4 g
    5.9 %
  • Fiber: 2.2 g
    8.8 %
  • Net Carbs: 3.4 g
    8.4 %
  • Protein: 4.2 g
    5.6 %
  • Potassium: 955 mg
    27.3 %
  • Sodium: 144 mg
    6.3 %


    These Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Low-carb, Keto Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian treat. Delicious, three layers, no-bake and super easy to make!

    Step 1

    Prepare the ingredients and line the 23x23 cm / 9x9 inches baking tray with aluminum foil. This will make it easy to remove the finished cake from the baking tray.

    Step 2

    Put the biscuit or biscuit crumbs, chopped walnuts, and unsweetened coconut shavings in a deep bowl. Mix.

    Step 3

    Melt the butter on the stove at medium temperature, add the cocoa powder.

    Step 4

    Add the sweetener and lower the stove temperature.

    Step 5

    Add the lightly beaten eggs, stirring constantly.

    Step 6

    Stir at low temperature until denser.

    Step 7

    Add the cocoa mixture to the biscuit crumb-coconut-walnut mixture.

    Step 8

    Mix well to make the biscuits absorb the cocoa.

    Step 9

    Pour the crumbly mixture into a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and spread and compact with a spoon.

    Step 10

    Put it in the fridge until you make the cream.

    Step 11

    Soak 5-10 g of gelatin in 5 tablespoons of light cream (taken from 200 ml of light cream) with constant stirring. (5 grams of gelatin will give you a thinner cream, 10 gs thicker)

    Step 12

    Start heating the remaining light cream, add the vanilla, and then, stirring constantly, add the yolks of the two eggs.

    Step 13

    Stir on medium heat for a few minutes then cool completely. Note: Because of the gelatin, the milk will not thicken as if xanthan gum or corn starch had been added. Gelatin will thicken the milk only after cooling.

    Step 14

    Stir the room temperature butter into the foam with the powdered sweetener.

    Step 15

    Stir in the fully cooled jelly butter by spoonful with the butter previously frothed with sweetener, then put in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

    Step 16

    The jelly buttercream will solidify completely in the fridge so if you press your finger in it, it will leave a mark on it (because I ended up putting in all 10 g of gelatin)

    Step 17

    You can add whipped cream to the jelly butter, which is obtained from 100-300 ml of cream, and then mix into the "pudding" gradually by spoonful.  When you feel the texture of the cream is fluffy enough, stop adding more foam.

    Step 18

    Smooth the "pudding" cream on the cake base evenly and then put in the fridge.

    Step 19

    Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in the microwave for 2x25-30 seconds, stir until smooth, then pour on top of the cream and smooth out thinly and evenly (the full amount of chocolate may not be necessary).

    Step 20

    Put back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

    Step 21

    When the chocolate has frozen on top of the cake, remove it from the baking sheet (using aluminum foil), and slice.

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