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No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Ultra creamy and ultra decadent this no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake is the ultimate in delicious desserts. I get asked what my favorite dessert is all the time. Without so much as a pause or second thought my answer always is and always will be: Nanaimo Bars. It was high time to use my beloved treat for flavor inspiration and boy oh boy did this vegan and gluten-free no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake ever turn out spectacular.


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A no-bake nanaimo bar cheesecake. it has three layers. The bottom layer is a chocolate crust, the middle layer is a yellow custard cheesecake, and the top is a thin layer of dark chocolate topped with white shredded coconut and yellow salted cashews.

The Best No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Buttery and rich chocolate, salty cashews, and sweet shredded coconut form the base of this iconic Canadian confection and will have any and all salty/sweet fans drooling. A thick glorious silky smooth layer of custard cheesecake comes next with a subtle tang that contrasts beautifully with the sweet custard. And last but certainly not least, a thin top layer of dark chocolate ganache. Come on, this no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake sounds heavenly, right?!

What Makes Up A No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

  • Chocolate Crumb Base – a buttery rich chocolate cookie crumb base with salted cashews and sweetened shredded coconut.
  • Custard Cheesecake Middle – silky smooth custard cheesecake with a subtle tang that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the custard.
  • Chocolate Ganache Top – a thin layer of luscious dark chocolate ganache topped with more salted cashews and shredded coconut.

A slice of no-bake nanaimo bar cheesecake topped with salted cshews and shredded coconut sitting on a white plate with a silver fork behind the cheesecake slice.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Ingredients & Substitutions

As always this recipe is gluten-free and vegan. That said, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it.

Here are a few key ingredients for this cheesecake but make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom recipe card for the complete ingredient list.

  • Chocolate Cookie Crumbs: Graham crackers, nilla wafers, or chocolate biscuits would all work as long as they are finely ground into a coarse sand texture.
  • Cashews: Traditionally Nanaimo bars have walnuts but I prefer the taste and texture of cashews. You could swap in any type of nut or omit and add more coconut.
  • Sweetened Shredded Coconut: Not a coconut fan? No problem! Swap in more nuts and/or more chocolate cookie crumbs.
  • Whipping Cream: Seeing as how this is vegan, I used Becel plant-based whipping cream. If you are not vegan or dairy-free use regular heavy whipping cream.
  • Cream Cheese: Again, as this is written vegan, I used plant-based cream cheese. Feel free to swap in regular full-fat cream cheese, the brick kind, in place.
  • Custard Powder: There is no substitute for this. You have to use custard powder. Most retail grocery stores will carry Bird’s custard powder and amazon has it as well.
  • Chocolate: As with the above ingredients. you can use either vegan or regular chocolate. We prefer the darker side of the chocolate spectrum but any type of chocolate would work.

A no-bake nanaimo bar cheesecake. it has three layers. The bottom layer is a chocolate crust, the middle layer is a yellow custard cheesecake, and the top is a thin layer of dark chocolate topped with white shredded coconut and yellow salted cashews. There is a slice cut out of the cheesecake.

Step By Step Instructions

Here’s how to make this no-bake Nanaimo cheesecake. You’ll need a large mixing bowl, a stand mixer or handheld electric one, a 9-inch spring form pan, parchment paper, and a spatula.

Step 1: Prepare the crust. In a large mixing bowl combine all the crust ingredients together and mix. Line the springform pan with a parchment round and pour the crust mixture in. Press the crust up against the sides of the pan and then use a flat heavy bottomed glass or measuring cup to press down and compact the crust base. Place in the freezer while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

Step 2: Make the cheesecake. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the room-temperature cream cheese on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Add in the icing sugar, custard powder, salt, and yellow food coloring (if using) and mix again until combined and smooth. Set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the whipped cream. Place a metal bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Beat the heavy whipping cream on high until stiff peaks are achieved.

Step 4: Fold the cheesecake batter. Add the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and with a spatula gently fold it in together. Take your time with this and be careful to not knock the air out of the whipped cream.

Step 5: Chill. Pour the custard cheesecake batter onto the crust and smooth the top even. Place the cheesecake into the refrigerator and allow it to chill for at least 9 hours but preferably overnight so it fully sets.

Step 6: Prepare the ganache. On the day of serving place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat the heavy whipping cream in a pot until it reaches a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 6 minutes. Whisk it together until fully melted and smooth. Allow the ganache to cool back to room temperature before topping the cheesecake with it.

Step 7: Remove the cheesecake. Run a knife or an offset spatula around the edges of the cheesecake to help release it. Remove the springform pan and transfer it to a serving plate or stand if desired.

Step 8: Decorate. Spread the cooled ganache over the top of the cheesecake evenly and decorate with extra coconut and cashews if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

a slice of no-bake nanaimo bar cheesecake laying on its side on a white late. It looks like a fork has taken a bite out of the end.

No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Success Tips

Let’s set you up for cheesecake success with a few helpful tips and tricks.

  • Give the springform pan a good spray with non-stick baking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then give it another spray. This will help the cheesecake come out without much fuss.
  • Be very careful when folding together the cream cheese mixture and whipped cream. If you are too rough it will beat the air out of the whipped cream and the cheesecake will not set.
  • Don’t skimp on the chill time. Cheesecake needs a long time to chill in order for the fat to solidify.

How To Store/Freeze Cheesecake

This no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 7 days in the fridge. If you’d like to freeze it, I recommend wrapping individual slices in plastic wrap and placing them in the freezer for up to 6 months. To thaw, remove from the freezer and sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

The Best No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

I cannot wait for you to try this indulgent decadent dessert. A buttery chocolate base, silky smooth custard cheesecake center, and a rich chocolate ganache top. This is Nanaimo Bar delight in every single no-bake bite.

Make sure you leave this recipe a star rating and review. I can’t wait to hear all about it! You can also tag me on Instagram @cakedbykatie or follow along for more delicious recipes on Pinterest.

A no-bake nanaimo bar cheesecake. it has three layers. The bottom layer is a chocolate crust, the middle layer is a yellow custard cheesecake, and the top is a thin layer of dark chocolate topped with white shredded coconut and yellow salted cashews. There is a slice of this cheesecake sitting on a white plate in front.

Nanaimo Bar Love

Need more Nanaimo Bars in your life? Ya, me too! Here are a few other Nanaimo bar recipes I think you’ll love.

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A no-bake nanaimo bar cheesecake. it has three layers. The bottom layer is a chocolate crust, the middle layer is a yellow custard cheesecake, and the top is a thin layer of dark chocolate topped with white shredded coconut and yellow salted cashews. There is a slice of this cheesecake sitting on a white plate in front.

No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake (Vegan & Gluten-Free)


  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 9 Hours 45 Minutes
  • Yield: 16 Slices 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This no-bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake is full of classic Nanaimo Bar flavor. Silky smooth and ultra decadent, it has three easy no-bake layers and makes the perfect holiday dessert.


Ingredients

Scale

Chocolate Crust

  • ½ cup (113g) vegan salted butter, melted
  • ⅛ cup (24g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups (210g) gluten-free chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1 cup (120g) sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup (80g) chopped salted cashews

Custard Cheesecake

  • 24 ounces (3 packages) vegan cream cheese
  • 1½ cups (180g) icing sugar
  • ¾ cup (126g) custard powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cup (296ml) vegan heavy whipping cream
  • optional: yellow gel food color

Chocolate Ganache

  • ½ cup (120g) vegan chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup (70ml) vegan heavy whipping cream
  • optional: shredded coconut for decor
  • optional: cashews for decor

Instructions

Chocolate Base

  1. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. Combine all of the base ingredients together and stir until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and firmly press the mixture down with a heavy-bottomed glass or measuring cup. Place in the freezer to chill.

Custard Cheesecake

  1. Place a metal bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer.
  2. In a stand mixer or large bowl with electric mixers, beat the cream cheese on high for approximately 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Add in the icing sugar, custard powder, and salt and combine until smooth. Add in the food coloring (if using) and mix until combined. Set aside.
  4. Remove the metal bowl and whisk attachment from the freezer and beat the heavy whipping cream on high until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and gently fold in with a spatula. Be very gentle while folding to not beat the air out of the whipped cream.
  6. Pour the cheesecake batter over top of the crust and spread evenly. Place in the fridge and allow to chill for a minimum of 9 hours, preferably overnight.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. On the day of serving, heat the heavy whipping cream in a small pot on medium-high until it begins to simmer.
  2. Pour the whipping cream over the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and allow it to sit for 6 minutes.
  3. Stir together until fully melted and smooth. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  4. Spread the chocolate ganache over the chilled and removed cheesecake (see above tips for removal) and decorate with shredded coconut and cashews if desired.

Notes

* Use a sharp clean knife to cut the cheesecake. Wipe the knife clean before each cut.

** This can be prepared 1-2 in advance.

  • Prep Time: 45 Minutes
  • Cook Time: Chill Time: 9 Hours
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 487 Calories
  • Sugar: 36 Grams
  • Sodium: 344 Miligrams
  • Fat: 42 Grams
  • Saturated Fat: 27 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 41 Grams
  • Fiber: 2 Grams
  • Protein: 7 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 141 Miligrams

Keywords: no bake nanaimo bar cheesecake, nanaimo bar cheesecake, vegan nanaimo bar cheesecake, gluten free nanaimo bar cheesecake

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8 Comments

  1. We made this Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake for our Christmas dessert! Very delicious and rich, easy to make and decorate!

  2. I had trouble finding any chocolate GF graham crackers or nilla wafers so just used some generic GF chocolate cookies I found, and instead of cashews used salted pistachios…and it came out AMAZING!! Everyone loved it so much and one friend even took some home and had it for breakfast the next day they couldn’t wait! Thanks for a delicious recipe!!

  3. I made this cheesecake for dessert at Christmas! It was really easy and delicious!!! I wanted to keep eating it!

  4. Love this light and yummy cheesecake! It’s a perfect level of sweetness to finish off the night, although much less sweet than a typical Nanaimo bar so if you want the ridiculous sweetness of a Nanaimo bar add a bit more sugar. This recipe was perfect for us! We will make it again and again.

    1. I’m thrilled to hear you made this Bobbi. I think I make it less sweet so I can justify eating more. 😉

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