Custard Powder Substitute For Nanaimo Bars (Top 8 Choices)

custard powder substitute for nanaimo bars

The classic Canadian dessert Nanaimo bars are a delicious treat that is often requested for birthdays and other celebrations.

The key ingredient in these bars is custard powder, but if you do not have access to this ingredient there are many substitutes you can use.

When picking your substitute make sure it does not contain any lumps so the consistency of the filling will be smooth and creamy like the original recipe.

And in this post, I will share with you some of the best substitutes you can use for this famous treat.

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Best custard powder substitutes for Nanaimo bars

custard powder substitute for nanaimo bars

Tapioca pudding

This is the same as cornstarch. It has a smooth texture and can be used to thicken things like custard and cakes. If you need an alternative, use tapioca pudding.

To make it, use equal measures of tapioca pudding and custard powder, and add enough vanilla extract to taste good.

Some people confuse tapioca pudding with pearl tapioca when in reality they are two different things.

Pearl tapioca is used in making the pudding which needs to be soaked before it can be used so don’t substitute them for each other.

Pudding mix

You can use a mix of instant pudding vanilla instead of custard powder. Stir in the same amount. This will work for baked goods and puddings as well. It can also be used as fillings for different dishes, and sauces.

You might also use chocolate pudding or plain one in equal measures as well for a great result.


Custard powders actually have cornstarch in them. A lot actually. So it is not surprising that you can use cornstarch as an alternative for your recipes.

It’s easy to make starch thickener at home by measuring cornstarch to custard powder with a 1:1 ratio, then adding vanilla to taste best.

Water chestnut

A popular custard replacement is water chestnut. To make it, you need water chestnut, castor sugar, flour-based water chestnut, and hot water.

Mix the ingredients together to make a batter that can be used for cake or ice-cream desserts. Boil the mixture and then cool it off so that the dessert doesn’t get too hot.

Pastry cream

You may be wondering how to get that vanilla flavor with pastry cream.

This is easy. You can use vanilla extract or real vanilla beans and incorporate them into the pastry cream.

Then cook on a stove and leave it cool. The vanilla flavor will come bursting out.

Baking soda

Baking soda is a substitute for custard powder. To make it, you need to use equal parts of baking soda and sugar crystals. It should do well, just like custard powder would.

Milk and eggs

Another solid way to make homemade custard is to use ingredients that you already have. You will need four eggs, three cups of milk, half cup sugar, one and a half teaspoon extract of vanilla and salt (around a quarter of a teaspoon).

The first step is to heat the oven hot enough to about 250°F and then add cold milk. Heat it, but don’t bring it to a boil. Let the milk cool for 5 minutes. Then start mixing everything together.

Add the mixture to eggs and hot water in 6 custard cups that are half full with water (about 1 inch starting from the top). Start baking for around 25 minutes and let them cool for around 10 minutes before serving.

A combination of cornstarch & cornflour

Custard powder is a type of dessert. You can make custard with cornstarch and cornflour. Add vanilla essence, or other flavors like annatto or curcumin, sugar, and milk. You can use it for most standard dessert recipes.

What is the yellow stuff in Nanaimo bars?

The yellow stuff is custard and the other two layers are chocolate and a crust made of coconut and graham crackers.

Do Nanaimo bars need to be refrigerated?

Nanaimo bars need to be refrigerated. If you don’t put them in the fridge, the top chocolate layer will get soft and won’t taste good anymore.

How do you cut Nanaimo bars without cracking them?

First, wait for one hour after refrigerating. Then, take two knives and put them into a measuring jug that is filled with very hot water. Take the bars out of the fridge and then use those knives to cut them into squares.

What flour can replace custard powder?

You can use cornstarch, which is thicker than regular flour. You can also add vanilla or almond extract to make your custard taste more like the original recipe.

Are cornflour and custard powder the same?

No, they are not.

Cornstarch is a substitute, though. It contains its main ingredient, which is also called water chestnut flour. Some people also prefer to add some sugar with vanilla essence, which is an excellent substitute.

Is pudding powder the same as custard powder?

Pudding is not the same as custard, even though they both use eggs. Custard has eggs for thickening and pudding uses starch. Custard’s texture is usually firmer than pudding’s texture.

Why are they called Nanaimo bars?

Nanaimo bars are named after the city of Nanaimo. They are easy to make and they do not need to be baked.

Why are Nanaimo bars Canadian?

The Nanaimo bar was first made in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It was popularized after World War 2 and became even more popular after Expo 86. In 2006, a poll declared it to be Canada’s favorite candy bar.

Can you freeze Nanaimo bars?

Yes. You can store them in an airtight container and they will keep them for up to 3 months in your freezer. Just take them out of the freezer when you’re ready to eat and allow them to thaw in the fridge.

What is the best way to cut Nanaimo bars?

Cut Nanaimo bars by scoring the top and then cutting them once you have scored them. Make sure to use a sharp knife and not a table knife. Cut when the chocolate is 75% hardened, not cold from the fridge.

Who first made Nanaimo bars?

Susan Mendelson was a university student in Vancouver in the 1970s. She made Nanaimo bars, and she sold them at a theater. They became popular, so she started her own business called Lazy Gourmet with her friend selling these.

Can you freeze Costco Nanaimo bars?

Yes, you can. I recommend cutting them before freezing for the best results.

Are Nanaimo Bars vegan?

Nanaimo Bars are vegan. The custard powder they use is vegan. Surprised?

How do you store Nanaimo bars?

Nanaimo bars need to be covered in plastic wrap and then put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once set, you can take them out of the fridge and let them get warm for a little while before cutting them into 25 small squares.

They should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for 2 weeks or 6 months, respectively.


If you are looking for a custard powder substitute for Nanaimo bars, the top 8 substitutes are listed:

  • Tapioca pudding
  • Pudding mix
  • Cornstarch
  • Water chestnut
  • Pastry cream
  • Baking soda
  • Eggs & milk
  • A combination of cornstarch & cornflour

These custard powders can be used to create an authentic tasting Canadian dessert recipe that is similar in texture and flavor to its more expensive counterpart.

Let me know if you have any questions about these ingredients or need help finding them at your local grocery store.

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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