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peanut butter Nanaimo bars with pretzel crust stacked on a white plate

Recipe for Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars with Pretzel Crust

In this Nanaimo Bars recipe, the iconic Canadian dessert gets a sweet and salty treatment. The classic vanilla custard filling and cookie crust are replaced with a creamy peanut butter layer and a pretzel crust!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword peanut butter nanaimo bars, peanut butter pretzel bars, recipe for nanaimo bars
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 39 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 340 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson


  • 2 1/2 cups pretzels - 230 g
  • 1/2 cup sugar - 100 g
  • 3/4 cups melted butter - 180 ml
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g shredded coconut
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder - 40 g
  • 320 g peanut butter smooth
  • 1/3 cups butter 75 g
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups icing sugar + 2 tbsps - 270 g
  • 1/3 cup milk - 80 ml
  • 1,5 cup dark chocolate chips 70% - 230 g
  • 3 tbsps butter - 40 g


  1. Line a square baking tin (23 x 33 cm) with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180 C.

For the crust:

  1. Grind your pretzels in a food processor. A few bigger chunks are no problem at all. Cream sugar with melted cooled butter and eggs for about 3 minutes. Add ground pretzels, coconut, cinnamon, and cocoa. Press this mix into the baking tin firmly. I use wet hands or a metal measuring cup to do that. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the crust loses its shine. Let cool completely.

For the filling

  1. In a microwave-proof dish, heat peanut butter, butter and salt and stir. Now whip that mix in your stand mixer until cool, adding powdered sugar and milk in small increments until a smooth filling forms.
  2. Spread onto the base and chill.

For the ganache:

  1. Melt chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and butter over a hot water bath. Stir and pour over the chilled peanut base. Smooth out and return to the fridge to set for another 2 hours.

Recipe Notes

  • To avoid the chocolate layer cracking when you cut your bars into squares, run your knife under hot water for 30 seconds. Now quickly wipe dry and then cut the bars. 
  • Another tip for cutting these neatly is to score the top chocolate layer before refrigerating the Nanaimo bars. After they are chilled simply cut through the bars in the same place you scored them. I use a hot knife as well.
  • While you can use any kind of peanut butter– smooth or crunchy, I suggest is you taste your peanut butter filling and add a pinch of salt, if necessary. 
  •  You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut in the base. I actually prefer unsweetened.