Happy Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bar Recipe!

Happy Thanksgiving!

You know, this is my very first Thanksgiving as an out-of-the-closet immigrant! Feels good to not have to worry if wishing “Happy Thanksgiving” in the beginning of October will “out” me!

Unfortunately, this is also my first Canadian Thanksgiving that I’m actually too busy to celebrate. Normally, we celebrate both Thanksgivings each year. It kind of snuck up on me, too. I was listening to the Z103.5 morning show online, as I always do.. and they were excitedly talking about their long weekend plans. Drat!

So, while I didn’t have time or energy to really do much for Thanksgiving this weekend (because today isn’t a stat holiday in the USA), I decided I’d do something that was at least Thanksgiving-ish and Canadian – I’d invent a new, Thanksgiving themed Nanaimo Bar! It may not be a full turkey dinner, but as desserts go – you can’t get more Canadian than a Nanaimo bar. Done! Click through for a photo and the recipe!

Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer:
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup coconut
½ cup butter (unsalted)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Middle Layer:
½ cup butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
4 tbsp Cook-and-Serve vanilla pudding powder (NOT instant!)
3 cups+ confectioner’s sugar

Top layer:
10 oz white chocolate chips
6 tbsp butter

In a large bowl, mix together graham crumbs, chopped walnuts, and coconut. Set aside.

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add sugar and cinnamon, mix well. Add egg, stir well. Egg will cook and thicken. Once thickened, remove from heat and pour into a larger bowl containing the last first 3 ingredients. Mix well and press firmly and evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 8 x 8 pan. Set aside.

Cream butter. Add pumpkin puree, beat until well incorporated. Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pudding powder, beat well. Slowly and carefully add confectioner’s sugar. Mixture should be VERY thick – add a little extra confectioner’s sugar if needed. Spread evenly over bottom layer.

Melt butter and white chocolate chips over low heat. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then pour over middle layer, spreading to an even layer. Chill in fridge before slicing into bars.

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Author:Marie Porter

Marie is an award winning cake artist based in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Known as much for her delicious and diverse flavor menu as for her sugar artistry, Marie's work has graced magazines and blogs around the world. Having baked and designed for brides, celebrities, and even Klingons, Marie was proud to share her wealth of baking knowledge in her two cookbooks: "The Spirited Baker" and “Evil Cake Overlord”. Marie has also authored a book about her experiences surrounding the 2011 Minneapolis tornado: "Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir"

5 Responses to “Happy Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bar Recipe!”

  1. October 12, 2010 at 6:13 am #


    I am SO excited to try this recipe! My husband is Canadian and I’m the American, and we’ve lived in both Canada and now back in the US and we miss Nanaimo bars down here. Not only that, but the pumpkin variety is perfect for Canadian Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to give it a try and share it with the whole family this year :) Thanks for sharing it with us! <3

  2. Chelsea Barr
    October 12, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Wow, what a fabulous idea. Yet another take on the ever so popular Nanaimo Bar. I love living in Nanaimo and trying ever cafe and bakery shop’s version. Haven’t seen a Pumpkin Spice flavoured one yet. I’ll have to give it a try myself. Cheers and happy thanksgiving!

  3. Bo
    October 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I came from Debbi’s…These look so awesome…I’ve never heard of them…I will be making them.

  4. November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Had a hankering for something pumpkin and missing my Canadian Nanaimo Bars now that we’re living in the US. Googled “pumpkin nanaimo bar” and taa daaaa! Your recipe! Making them right now. :)

  5. July 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    Sweet mother of Hell! You’re like a Smurf Angel, and this is your sweet ambrosia! <3

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