Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars are rich, creamy, and best of all…. no bake!

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Happy *early* Valentine’s Day!

Usually, I can’t come up with any festive recipes for any holiday, but this year I totally did! I couldn’t get red velvet out of my mind so I turned my Mom’s Nanaimo Bar recipe into a red velvet version. I can’t think of any other dessert I could make that would taste nearly as good or addicting as these sweet bars.

If you aren’t familiar with what Nanaimo Bars are, then clearly you don’t have enough Canadian friends. Lucky for you, I’M HERE. Nanaimo Bars are a three layer, no-bake dessert that originated out of Nanaimo, British Columbia. Generally, the middle filling is yellow and tastes like custard buttercream. But, because this is a Red Velvet Nanaimo Bar, I changed that traditional filling to taste like red velvet. I love the originals, but these are just as tasty, if not more so because they are festive for Valentine’s Day!!

Because this recipe uses Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening Baking Sticks, I end up with a moist and tender finished product that still holds together well. Also, All-Vegetable Shortening is a great alternative to butter, with zero grams trans-fat per serving*. Not to mention, using Crisco® in the top layer allows for perfect cutting! Your Nanaimo Bars will cut just as easily as mine if you use Crisco® and follow my directions, guaranteed! No cracking chocolate for us.

Here’s how to make them:

So, our first ingredient needed is Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening Baking Sticks. We are going to use half a cup {half a stick} of it in our first layer.

So, unwrap half of this and place it into the top of a double boiler.

Or a heat-proof bowl over some simmering water. Along with Crisco® shortening in the bowl, add in some cocoa powder and granulated sugar.

Using a rubber spatula, break apart the shortening and stir it into the dry ingredients. As the water heats the bowl, it will melt the Crisco® and you’ll end up with a smooth chocolate sauce.

Like so!!

Beat an egg really well and whisk it in vigorously to the chocolate mixture.

You’re going to have to whisk it for about a minute before you will understand and realize that you didn’t make a mistake. When you first start mixing in the egg, you will start questioning all things in life. BUT, keep mixing! It will all come together into a thick and shiny chocolate mixture before your eyes.

Now you can add in some coconut and graham cracker crumbs. Stir to moisten everything and then press into a foil-lined, lightly greased 8×8 pan.

Like this! Place into the refrigerator while we work on the second layer.

This layer is much easier than the first. Add 1/4 cup melted butter into a bowl filled with…

…milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, cocoa and red food coloring. I use a no-taste red food coloring and would highly recommend finding a no-taste food color. You want to taste the red velvet filling, not the bitter food coloring taste!

Blend all the ingredients together to create a thick and creamy {and very red!!} filling.

Spread this filling over the chilled bottom layer as evenly as possible and pop back into the refrigerator.

Now, this top layer is simply melted chocolate chips and more Crisco® shortening. SO easy! Melt that in the microwave until completely smooth and spread over the chilled middle layer.

Like this! Now, you can refrigerate this whole thing for 20-30 more minutes or until the chocolate is set. It’s hard to wait, but I assure you it’s worth it.

After that quick half hour, we can peel away the foil and cut into pieces.

I used a large, sharp knife to get 36 even squares and would highly recommend doing the same.

With your recipe completely finished, you can sit back, relax and enjoy every last bite of this dessert.

After testing this recipe FOUR {yes, 4!} times, I assure you there won’t be leftovers. If necessary, you can hide a few of these in an airtight container at the back of your fridge…not that I’ve done that before 😉

Anyways, hope you give this recipe a try. Totally worth it!!

Have a great day, friends!!

As a participant of the Crisco® Ambassador Program, I received compensation and samples for my review. All opinions are my own.


Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

Yield: 36 squares

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Total Time:


  • For the bottom layer:
  • 1/2 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening Baking Sticks
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • For the middle layer:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Red No-Taste Food Coloring Gel
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • For the top layer:
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening Baking Sticks


  1. Line an 8x8 glass dish with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Create a double boiler by placing a heat-proof bowl over a pot with about 2 inches of simmering water. Keep in mind the bowl should not touch the water.
  3. Into the bowl, add in Crisco® shortening, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla. Break apart the shortening into smaller pieces and stir with the other dry ingredients. Once all the Crisco® has melted and the ingredients have all melted together to be smooth, whisk in beaten egg vigorously. The mixture should thicken almost immediately. Continue whisking until the mixture turns smooth and shiny; about 1 minute of whisking. Remove from double boiler. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and coconut until completely moistened. Press evenly into the prepared pan and refrigerate.
  4. For the second layer, measure all ingredients into a large bowl and using an electric hand mixer, stir until thick and smooth. Spread over bottom layer as evenly as possible and return to the refrigerator.
  5. For the final layer, place chocolate chips and Crisco® shortening into a small bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 20 seconds. Pour over red velvet layer and spread until smooth. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  6. Remove bars from glass pan using the edges of foil to pull out completely. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 36 small squares. Serve.
  7. Can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, though I doubt they will last that long!


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  1. Hi Lauren… I’m a Canadian and a longtime lurker… thanks for posting a wonderful twist on a family favourite. I also wish to add that if making in mass quantities that this also freezes very well. thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipes, and love your travel updates as well! Take care, eh!

    • Hi Charles!! Happy you found me 🙂 I’ll have to try to freeze these in an attempt to hide them from my family…more for me!! Don’t be a stranger! Keep the comments comin’.

  2. hey 🙂
    any substitute for crisco ?

  3. Where is the recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Donut Bread???? Want to make but have no idea on measurements!!!