All about date paste!! A complete guide to this natural healthy sweetener with my top quick and easy blending tip, VIDEO tutorial, and tons of uses and recipe ideas.
Would you believe that a couple of years ago I didn’t like dates? In fact, they kind of freaked me out with their jumbo-sized raisin resemblance. Worse was how they seemed to be essential for nearly every single raw dessert recipe on the internet. And there is no perfect sub for them either. If that sounds like you and yet somehow you are here reading this, don’t leave yet! I have some tips for making the jump from date hater to date lover at the end of this post just for you.
Nowadays I have to consciously refrain from putting them in every single baked or raw recipe on FOF. They add moisture, they add natural sweetness, they add a slight caramel flavor–why wouldn’t you want all those things in every baked good ever? But I get it, some people don’t. You will still see them pop up in a large percentage of my recipes, most of the time blended with some sort of liquid to make the ever-so-verstatile date paste!
And that is what this post is all about. My best tips and techniques, the right ratio, a video tutorial, recipes, and more! With how much I love date paste and how often I use it, this really should’ve been the first post on FF, but better late (and with much more attractive photos than if it was actually my first post) than never!
Dates + water.
Preferably Medjool dates, those are my go-to with more moisture and sweetness than smaller Deglet Noir (a.k.a. baking dates), but any will work since you are going to be blending them up anyways.
Soaking. If your dates are exceptionally dry or if you don’t have a high powered blender, soaking them for 30 minutes to an hour in warm water before blending can make things much easier on your blender and lead to a smoother finished product. I personally do not usually bother. If I am soaking them for a recipe, I will usually do so in the exact amount water/liquid called for and then just throw all of that in the blender together as opposed to draining and adding more liquid to blend. This way you avoid adding too much moisture. You can always add more liquid while blending, but you can’t take it away.
The ratio. This will vary slightly with how squishy vs. dry your dates are and the type, but I usually start with a 3:2 ratio of dates to water. So for simplicity (and for many of my recipes) that comes out to be 1 cup dates to 2/3 cup water.
Dates are a little awkward to measure out, so if you are using medium sized Medjool dates than 10-12 dates is equal to about 1 cup. If you are using smaller dates it will obviously be more. If you are using a cup measure, be sure to really pack them in. If you are measuring by weight, 1 cup of dates (before pitting) would be roughly 160-170 grams.
And I think this goes without saying, but pit the dates first. Nothing is worse than having to dunk your hand into a blender full of half-blended date paste and rummage around for that one pit that slipped by.
The goal. When it comes to baking and most applications, you want a really smooth but also really THICK date paste. That means more concentrated date sweetness and moisture per cup of date paste. No watered down not-very-sweet stuff, please! So my goal is to keep the date paste as thick as possible but still able to blend. Walk that fine line.
Dates + water + high speed blender.
That is the best combination for making date paste. You can use a food processor, but it will never get quite as smooth I have found. For using in recipes it’s no big deal, but for frostings and puddings and things that are supposed to be really creamy it’s not ideal.
My #1 tip! Obviously a high speed blender is best for this job, but even in my Vitamix it can be tricky sometimes. My number one tip for blending up the perfect date paste is turn on the blender and turn it up to high speed right away. This way it is vigorously blending and pulverizing those fibrous dates while there is the most liquid around the blades and the best flow. Blending on high will actually turn the date paste a lighter shade of brown, but it will return to a deep caramel color a few minutes after blending.
Eventually it will probably stop moving on high speed, but most of the chunks will be gone by then. I like to stop, give it a little shake/stir, and then blend for an extra 10-20 seconds on low (it will stop again if you go too high) just to ensure it is as smooth as possible. I actually rarely use a tamper when making date paste, once you get the technique down you won’t need to.
If you blend on low speed to start, it will quickly get stuck and you will still be left with chunks of dates hiding amidst the caramel-colored paste. Then your only option is to add more water, use a tamper to help it along, or blend on low for a long time to try to eliminate as many chunks as possible.
Thicker date paste, no chunks, and it’s faster to make–I highly suggest you give the straight-to-high-speed method a shot!
Date Paste Nutrition Stats
I don’t usually include nutritional information with my recipes, that is a very intentional choice. But since this is meant to be a thorough guide and I realize some people like to know, I thought I would include a quick nutritional breakdown here.
For the entire batch:
Calories – 822
Fat – 0g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Sodium – 24mg
Potassium – 1686mg
Carbohydrate – 198g
Fiber – 18g
Sugar – 180g
Protein – 6g
As for the micronutrients, dates and date paste are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and iron!
Uses & Recipes
Where to begin, there are so many! Date paste is naturally very sweet, so it will bring sweetness to anything you use it in. But that is not all it can do.
Date paste can…
-Sweeten and thicken creamy puddings and sauces
-Sweeten and add moisture to low-fat baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, or brownies
-Be the glue for healthy breakfast bars
-Sweeten raw and no-bake treats
-Sweeten frozen treats and keep them from freezing too solid
-Be the sweet base for frostings and spreads
-Sweeten your morning oats
-Fill a streusel-sprinkled tart
-Be the base for flourless baked treats
-Coat a crunchy sweet-tart caramel apple
-Be swirled up inside cinnamon rolls
-Make a killer caramel sauce
My faves. Of everything I’ve ever made with date paste, my two favorite recipes have to be these Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes and this Monkey Bread Mug Cake. So if you are completely new to baking with date paste, than I highly recommend starting with one of those to see what this sweet stuff is all about!
More delicious date paste recipes from around the web…
Vegan Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Pudding from Radiant Rachels
Cold Brew Caramel Frappuccino from Minimalist Baker
Four Ingredient Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies from Feeding Your Beauty
Vegan Gluten-Free Date Squares from Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen
Date-Sweetened Banana Bread from Sweet Simple Vegan
And if you are still in need of more date-sweet inspo, check out this epic roundup of 65 recipes all sweetened with dates -> The Ultimate Vegan Date-Sweetened Roundup
Date Paste: A Complete Guide + VIDEO + Recipes!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup 1x
The ultimate natural, healthy, fruit-based sweetener made from 2 simple ingredients and in just minutes!
- 1 cup Medjool dates (packed, about 10-12)
- 2/3 cup water
- Pit the dates.
- Add to a blender with the water.
- Turn on the blender and immediately turn the speed up to high. This will help break down the dates quickly so your date paste is smooth and chunk-free without having to add more water to get it to blend.
- If it really won’t blend, stop, shake it, and try again. Add more water only if absolute necessary.
- Once it is smooth, transfer to an airtight jar/container. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Don’t Like Dates?
Well I wasn’t born with a natural affinity for them either. But they are so versatile and one of the best secrets to baking heathy sugar-free treats! It was a process for me too, so here are my tips for learning to love them…
1. Don’t look at them very much. Yes, yes, I know that there is beauty in every bit of nature and all that jazz, but let’s be honest they are not going to win an award for prettiest fruit anytime soon. I would give them an award for sweetest though! Close your eyes if you have to, just give them a chance to let their sweet caramel flavor work it’s magic on your tastebuds.
2. Buy from a trusted source. There are enough horror stories out there about things people find in dates (or say they do, don’t google it), so buy from a trusted source. I always use the Natural Delights brand and have never had any issues.
3. Blend them. Smoothies, lattes, frappuccinos, ice cream–these things are only made sweeter by the addition of dates. Even just plain date paste can be a delicious spread, dip, or by-the-spoonful treat. Adding a few dates to blender recipes with lots of other ingredients will give the date flavor a chance to grow on you without being overpowering.
4. Bake (or no-bake) with them. Similar to the blender tip, sneaking dates into recipes surrounded by lots of other ingredients let’s your tastebuds get used to the subtle date flavor. Plus you will see just how amazingly versatile they are! No-bake date snacks were a huge help for me too. Dates made into bliss ball or bar form lessens the textural weirdness of the straight fruit.
5. Pair them with chocolate. In all cases of the the above two steps (sipping or snacking), chocolate is a good idea. Dates and chocolate are lovely together! Cacao brings the bitter, dates bring the sweet. Just think caramel + chocolate, but healthier.
6. Eat less refined sugar. This is a big one. Sugar messes with your tastebuds giving them unnatural expectations of how sweet things should be. And you crave what you know. Now I’m not perfect here, I use plenty of maple syrup and coconut sugar, but if you don’t eat a lot of other sugars then dates really can start to taste candy-sweet.
Tastebuds are very adaptable, which is what makes this whole date love process possible. It only took me a few months!
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Demeter | Beaming Baker says
“jumbo-sized raisin” <— YES!! This is exactly what I thought for decades!! Lolol. It's definitely gonna be a happy Monday with this tutorial today! If there's one person I could pick to create a very thorough tutorial/guide on date paste, it would absolutely, 10000000% be you. I am ALL for all FoF posts including dates as a sweetener. Love that you covered soaking. I'm always on the fence about it… but then overthink whether or not soaking adds too much extra moisture and then potentially messes up the recipe. <–see what I mean by overthinking? Lol. And oh my goodness YES on measuring dates. I've seen folks squeeze like 100 into 1 cup (okay… I'm exaggerating) to folks gingerly placing 2 into 1 cup. Totally makes me wonder… Haha. Love this guide! Thanks for sharing something so helpful and awesome. Made Monday so much better. Love ya! xoxo
Emma Haugen says
This looked amazing! Definitely gonna try it, but for how long and where should I store the paste?
Hi Emma! Oh good question, I will add that. You definitely want to keep it in the fridge, and in an airtight jar it will last 2-3 weeks 🙂
Hi! Could you tell me what blender you use to grind/blend your nut and fruit pastes. I’ve blown my machine making fruit and nut bliss balls. Maybe adding some oil in together with the paste might make a difference? But the crushed dates are just so dry.
Please forward copy your reply to [email protected]
I use a Vitamix blender for all my recipes, and LOVE it! This is the one I have: http://bit.ly/2BLnvH4
Natalie, this post seriously made me feel like we’re long lost baking friends!! I literally use dates in almost every. single. recipe. To the point that like you mentioned, I’m wondering whether people are over them. But honestly I just can’t get enough – too much caramely sweet richness to leave out! Your explanations in this are so awesome and so clear. I make my date paste the exact same way, and you’re so right – it definitely takes a little bit of experimenting to figure out the best method! Luckily you’ve saved people lots of time, and probably saved them these sweet little gems from going to waste. Oh and per usual, you’ve succeeded in making brown goo look absolutely gorgeous!!!
Haha I think we most certainly are long lost baking friends!! And I think other people are probably somewhat over them, but who really cares. Plus they still are the best natural healthy replacement for sugar, and sugar-free but still so sweet and scrumptious treats can never really go out of style, right?! Blending techniques are such a tricky thing to get across in words, I feel the same way with nice cream. It’s just a feel and a finesse that only comes with making copious batches of both 😀
Aimee | Wallflower Kitchen says
I love date paste and date-sweetened things and your blog is definitely the holy grail of datey goodness!
I think I should just change my blog name to that: HolyGrailofDateyGoodness.com hahaha!! Love it, thanks Aimee 🙂
Kaila @ Healthy Helper Blog says
Date paste is a STAPLE in my kitchen! I always have a batch made and whole dates on hand in general! Need for fruit-sweetened baking, of course!
For baking and apple dipping and putting on top of everything–yep absolutely a fridge must 🙂
Jess | Urban Alchemy says
Yesssss!! This post is amazing. Currently exploring monk fruit extract but dates have always been my go-to sweetener. On a semi-unrelated note, I saw a recipe for UNICORN hot chocolate… hahah immediately thought of you! If anyone can “healthify” it, it’s you! I saw that Cotton Candy Ice Cream Cake and know sprinkles are your fave ;). This was the original link if you want to take a look – http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2017/01/unicorn-hot-chocolate.html. xoo!!
Okay that is the most amazing mug of hot chocolate I’ve ever seen!! Unrelated but so fun, thank you for sharing that magical creation with me Jess. Monk fruit–yes I think I tried that once upon a time too. Similar to stevia, it would take some getting used to for me. My mind is totally working on healthier unicorn hot chocolate right now 😀
Hooray for dates! One of the many things I love about your blog is your genius use of dates to sweeten your desserts and do all kinds of other magical things! I love dates now too, but when I was younger I had this terrible preconceived notion that they were gross and mainly found in fruit cake. Well who’s the fruit cake now?! Me obviously because I couldn’t have been more wrong! Loved how informative this post was, I rarely make an actual batch of date paste these dates but now I think I’m going to have to! 🙂
Bahahaha loved the sassy fruit cake comment? But I totally had that bad mental notion of dates for the longest time too, they are very under-appreciated I think, although getting better within the healthy/vegan food world. I usually just blend dates for a specific recipe, but after filming this post and having a jar or two in my fridge I found all sorts of new ways to use it just because it was there! And of course, I am happy to include your delicious cookies–I love that you are a fan of the date-sweetened recipes too 🙂
*these days! Not these dates. Haha! Ps thanks for linking up to my pb cookies recipe. 🙂
Natalie, the date force is strong with you.
I didn’t want to read about dates, let alone look at them, but then lo and behold, I was sucked in and your video clinched it!!! I grew up thinking they were what “old people” ate, and I often confused them with prunes…….I guess I’m old now, because I now want to try dates!!!! Seriously, I’ve never knowingly eaten them. I tend to use other types of sweeteners when needed.
One question, do you buy them in bulk somewhere? I’ve seen them at my local store, but they were rather pricey. Thanks for what you do!
I am on a bit of date roll right now! Hahaha yes the old-people food stereotype–I had that one in my head too. Prunes…dates…close enough 😀 Well maybe just maybe enough chocolate and blending can convince you! My local grocery store doesn’t sell them in bulk, but I have occasionally bought them that way before. And yes they are pricey pretty much no matter where or how you buy them. The ones I get are about $9 per pound, and that’s a relatively reasonable price for them. You can order them online if it’s cheaper than grocery stores around you: https://shop.naturaldelights.com/products/whole-medjool-dates-8oz-tub
Thanks for the tip, I vow to give dates a chance. 🙂
If it helps with the old people thing, I’m 19 and dates are my favorite food! 😉 I seriously snack on them all the time. Also, if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you can get a substantial box of dried and pitted Deglet Noor dates for around $2.50. It’s a miracle. They also sell fresh medjool dates in the produce section. Those are a bit pricier, have pits, and need to be kept in the fridge, but they are more moist, a bit sweeter, and better for making things like date paste (although I have successfully made date paste with Deglet Noors!) And, as for recipes to help you love it (other than the wonderful ones posted here!)…my favorite thing I’ve ever created date-wise was a no-bake bar with three layers: frozen cacao chocolate, date paste (for a caramel-type layer) and peanut butter mixed with vanilla plant-based protein powder. SO GOOD!!
Oh my goodness, that sounds like the most delicious triple-decker dessert ever!!! Mmmm I want a piece right now. Chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel–the best parts of every candy bar ever combined into one <3 Thank you for all the lovely tips and thoughts, much appreciated Emily 🙂
The Vegan 8 says
Well, isn’t this the most amazing post everrrr?! I finally got a chance to read it all and am amazed at all you put together! Sooo many endless possibilities with dates and you’ve certainly proven that and shown so many ways to use them. Speaking of dates…have you ever tried date syrup? It’s got the consistency of honey…very thick, sticky and sweet but it’s not thick and gloppy like date paste. It’s totally different and smooth. I ordered several bottles off amazon and have been using it on Olivia’s breakfast toast and in oatmeal and even I like it! It isn’t as sweet as syrup, but sweet enough and I was totally amazed by the texture and taste. Very impressed. I’m just so excited that I can use it instead of syrup now for things for her. I’ve even used it in some tomato soup!
Anyways, this is an amazing post and wonderful that you put it together…especially me being newer to using dates. I agree too, they are so ugly. I can’t get past the cockroach appearance of them, which probably doesn’t help me and my trying to like them, lol!
Date syrup–yes I love that stuff!! If it wasn’t expensive and hard to find I would use it all the time. It totally serves a different purpose than the paste, but I love that it can be an easy straight sub for maple syrup or other liquid sweeteners which date paste isn’t always. In tomato soup–that’s a new one to me. But I’ve seen date-sweetened ketchups before so why not! Perhaps this is the gateway to slowly get you to like dates hahaha 😀 Ugh yes, just like cockroaches!! That is all I could think about for months when I saw them, and those things freak me the heck out so not a good association. Still if one falls on the floor and I just see it out of the corner of my eye I’m probably going to jump and scream lol. Thank you for reading Brandi <3
I absolutely love dates, this post, and you!! As I mentioned in a reply to someone else, dates are seriously my favorite food. It’s dangerous to leave me alone with a box of them 😉 I regularly pack them with my lunch for a little sweet kick! My only problem with date paste is that I have to use up so many dates! 😉 Thank you *so* much for this beautifully detailed guide. I have yet to put date paste actually hidden in baked goods (I had it in cinnamon rolls once, but mostly just no-bake recipes and smoothies) so I am PUMPED to try your recipes!! Thank you again!
Haha they are dangerous for me too! Way too easy to just grab, pit, and snack straight from the fridge all day long and before you know it that container is gone. The fact that they are a little pricey is probably actually a good thing, helps me remember to pace myself 😀 I love them raw and in no bake treats too, those really showcase their flavor best. But they do wonders for baked recipes, I can’t wait for you to experiment with that too 🙂 Thanks for the lovely comment and happy baking!
My problem isn’t that *I* don’t like dates. I like them and my daughter likes them my problem is my husband is allergic to them. Mission figs or prunes are the only substitutes I can think of.
You could certainly use figs or prunes here! Figs is my personal preference between the two, but whichever you like. The taste of whatever you use the paste in will be much fruitier, I use dates mostly since they are more neutral tasting, but it will still work in most recipes 🙂
Is date sugar just dried, ground up dates and can you use it to make paste?
Yes it is made from dehydrated dates ground up very finely, but I do not think it will work to make date paste. It works great it recipes on it’s own that call for a granulated sweetener, but date paste needs the moisture and bulk of whole dates.
Ochi Sewuese says
Thank so much for the tips on dates
Absolutely! One of my favorite ingredients. And snacks 🙂
How long can I store it ,once it’s made ?
Two weeks in the fridge is my safe answer, it may be fine for up to a month but sometimes it will start to mold. You could try freezing it though to make it last longer 🙂
Thanks ! BTW I read in a comment where you said I could also use prunes instead of dates and I did (because that’s what I had) but it wasn’t as sweet ..did I do something wrong or are prunes naturally that way (it was my first time eating prunes )
Note : I used the prunes on your vanilla breakfast bar recipe
Prunes are naturally slightly less sweet than dates, but still quite sweet and the paste should be fine to use in recipes. I do pack the cup pretty tight when measuring or if you were measuring by number and your prunes are small then you may need more than 12. How is the consistency? If it’s still thick and similar to what you see in the video than it’s probably fine. If it’s a bit thinner than maybe add Moreno prunes for the same amount of water. Hope that helps!
It did seem a bit thinner ..thanks for help!! and make some Indian based stuff and spicy lunches .I will love you forever !.
Hey, can i use normal dates in this recipe? 😊
Sure, just keep in mind that they do have a different flavor and are less sweet for using the date paste in recipes. Also, you will want to use the same 1 cup packed, but that will equal more actual dates than with the medjools. Enjoy 🙂
Mary Kay says
I too have fallen in love with dates! I use date paste in my baked goods in place of other sweeteners and for my knock-off lara bars. I use date paste to make trail mix – roasted nuts, dried fruit, coconut, etc. I also love savory dates – not a healthy choice but for a quick appy try manchego cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon bake at 350 – yummy (I par-cook the bacon).
Anyhooo – so excited about date paste! Thanks for the tips and tricks!
They are the most versatile thing, and the paste is too I have found. Okay I must admit I’ve never tried them in a savory recipe before, but wow does that sound amazing–like a perfect super flavorful bite! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hello! Amazing video 🙂 which blender do you use?
Hi Aleyha! I use a Vitamix blender for all my recipes, the one shown here is the 750 with the smaller 32oz container. But you can make this in any blender or even a food processor it may just take a little longer🙂 Hope that helps!
That’s so helpful thank you! Can’t wait to make this and very happy to have found your wonderful website 🙂
Chris Farley says
I am interested to see if the paste goes well with meat cooking in any sort or way, such as smoking, grill, rub etc. Would love a reply, my wife has a 2 pound container of Medjools that needs to get used.
Hmm I haven’t tried it but I definitely think it could. I’ve seen multiple date-sweetened barbecue sauce recipes floating around the web before (like this one: https://rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com/medjool-date-bbq-sauce/) so the sweetness combined with spices and some sort of acid perhaps could make a great rub/sauce for cooking meat as well. Great idea!
Gabriella Davidson says
Hi thanks for the geat post. If a recipe calls for sugar, in what quantities would you sub with date paste?
It really depends on the recipe, there is no set substitution formula unfortunately. And because date paste adds so much more moisture than a granulated sweetener, it’s really best used in recipes that are designed for date paste. But I have lots of those and am happy to recommend a few favorites 🙂
Thank you for your paste recipe and blog. I’d like your readers to know that silam (also known as date syrup or date honey) is used in many savory recipes of the Middle East. Example is its use in roasted chicken dishes. Date paste would work as a substitute for silam in many of these delicious dishes.
I’m going to try your blender method. A year ago I tried to blend dates without water and my blender was smoking! I added nuts, vanilla, etc. It was a good thick consistency and very tasty.
Oh no!! Yes the water is very necessary for date paste, I’ve overheated my blender before too with dates…not good😬 Ooooh but that nutty vanilla situation sounds yummy too! I hope this method works much better for you😊
kelly grady says
So you don’t peel them? I would love to leave the peel on for added fiber…
Nope, you don’t need to peel dates. Just pit them before blending, and yes lots of fiber!
Jennifer Gulley says
I’m on my second Whole30, and I was looking for a way to incorporate that Korean sweetness into bulgogi. Your method is the only one I’ve seen that doesn’t require soaking (awesome, as I’m not patient), and you’ve totally solved my Vitamix problem! I often have stuff stuck on the bottom of my vitamix when making pesto, for example. Starting on high worked like a charm! Thank you times a million!
Haha I am totally impatient too, but with the vitamix soaking is really not necessary here🤗 And I’m so happy that little tip helped for more than just date paste!
Ed Magowan says
I’m also a recent convert to dates and truly pi$$ed at all the years I missed out. I satisy my sweet tooth with a concoction of my own – almonds chopped in a blender, mixed in with dates in a food processor (VERY thick), rolled into balls and tossed in bowl with shredded coconut to coat them. I’ll sometimes put in a little cacao powder, I use Hershey’s Cocoa, 100% cacao, but not too much, it packs a lot of flavor and will overwhelm the dates and almonds. I no longer own a Vitamix but when I did I always felt you could liquify golf balls with one. The whole rolling into a ball thing is seriously messy and sticky. My next experiment will be to mix the chopped almonds (and maybe cashews) with dates cut in half (on the equator, not longwise), run that through a meat grinder to mix it all together and goopify the dates, then put the goo into a sausage maker and cut the mix as it extrudes, every inch or so, letting the pieces drop into a bowl of shredded coconut. I’ve seen dates referred to as ‘nature’s candy’, I can understand why. Reading through the comments is giving me cooking ideas. I’m retired but my wife still works, luckily she enjoys coming home to my experiments. Most of the time….
She chooses the restaurant on failure days.
Hahaha!! The “liquify golf balls” is a hilarious but almost accurate description😂😂 Those things are definitely powerful. But aren’t dates highly underrated?! And I am loving the sound of your super simple coconut date balls–those sound like the perfect little snack😋 And such an intriguing method too, almost sounds like DIY date rolls with the sausage maker method. I’m so happy you are enjoying them too and having fun experimenting! There really is no end to what you can do with them, and isn’t having to taste our kitchen experiments what family is for?!😂 Have an awesome weekend, Ed!
What are your tips for replacing sugar with date paste in a recipe? i.e 1 to 1?
It really depends on the recipe, but you typically will need more date paste than sugar since it’s not as sweet. However since date paste also adds a lot of moisture its best to find recipes that are designed for it than try to substitute!