This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.
Are you looking for substitutes for dates? Whether you’re out of dates or just want to try something new, there are plenty of options available that can really work well. I know because I use them, especially when trying to cut down on sugar.
Dates are commonly used in baking and cooking but can be expensive or difficult to find in some areas. Or you just might not be a fan of them.
One of the most popular substitutes for dates is dried fruit. Dried raisins, apricots, figs, and berries can all be used as a direct replacement for dates in many recipes.
You can also experiment with different types of dried fruit to find the perfect substitute for your recipe. But before we dig deeper into dried fruit let’s learn more about what a date is.
I find this helpful when finding the best replacement for my cooking at home.
What Are Dates?
If you’re not familiar with dates, they are small, sweet fruits that come from the date palm tree. They have a chewy texture and a rich, caramel-like flavor that makes them a popular ingredient in many recipes. I like using them in making ice cream!
Dates are native to the Middle East, but they are now grown in many parts of the world, including the United States.
You can eat them fresh or dried, but they are most commonly eaten dried. I actually have not had the pleasure of ever eating a fresh date.
Dried dates are a popular snack food and are often used as a healthy alternative in baking (think cakes, cookies, and such) and cooking (in appetizers, and main dishes with meats). They bring such a beautiful caramelized sugar flavor to a dish.
Medjool dates are known for their large size and soft, chewy texture. They are often referred to as the “king of dates” because of their popularity and high price.
Deglet Noor dates are smaller and drier than Medjool dates, but they are still sweet and delicious. Zahidi dates are a bit less sweet than other varieties, but they are still a great option for snacking or cooking.
Dates are also a great substitute for refined sugar in recipes. They have a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means they won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Plus, they add a rich, sweet flavor to your dishes without the need for added sugar.
They are really a wonderful dried fruit to work with. But if you are here on this page then sadly, you won’t be working with them. That is 100% ok as there are lots of replacements for dates.
Substitutes for Dates
In this section, we’ll explore some of the best substitutes for dates and how you can use them in your cooking.
Using Other Dried Fruits To Replace Dates
One of the easiest substitutes for dates is other dried fruits.
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Figs
- Dried Cherries
- Prunes (dried plums)
- Dried Cranberry (remember they are tarter than dates)
- Dried Jujubes
Sure, here’s a comprehensive table detailing how to use various dried fruits as a replacement for dates in different recipes.
Don’t get hung up on all the specific types of dates. This is just a helpful guide to let you know which date closely matches the dried fruit.
|Dried Fruit||Best Dates Swaps||Texture||Sweetness||Flavor|
|Raisins||Common Dates||Chewy||Very Sweet||Rich and fruity, somewhat like a wine flavor.|
|Dried Apricots||Medjool Dates||Soft and slightly chewy||Moderately Sweet||Tangy and slightly tart, with a unique apricot flavor.|
|Dried Figs||Deglet Noor Dates||Chewy with slight crunch from seeds||Very Sweet||Mildly sweet with a hint of berry and nutty flavors.|
|Dried Cherries||Zahidi Dates||Soft and chewy||Moderately Sweet||Tart and sweet, with a distinctive cherry flavor.|
|Prunes (Dried Plums)||Thoory Dates||Soft and sticky||Moderately Sweet||Deep and complex, with a caramel-like sweetness.|
|Dried Cranberries||Halawy Dates||Slightly chewy||Tart-Sweet||Tart with a hint of sweetness, cranberry flavor is prominent.|
|Dried Jujubes||Common Dates||Crisp when fresh, gets chewy when dried||Sweet||Similar to apples when fresh, like dates when dried.|
Please note that the sweetness, texture, and flavor can vary slightly based on the brand and quality of the dried fruit. Always adjust the quantity according to your personal preference and the specific requirements of your recipe.
These fruits are naturally sweet and have a similar texture to dates, making them an excellent substitute in baked goods and other recipes. Dried jujubes will be the closest in flavors.
When using other dried fruits as a date substitute, remember that they may have a slightly different flavor profile. For example, raisins are sweeter than dates, while dried cranberries are more tart and bright in flavor.
Some of these dried fruits will rock as a substitute for dates but it will also depend on the recipe you are using.
If it’s a cookie recipe that uses chopped dates and I had to use one of the options above I would choose prunes or raisins as they would be the closest in taste and color to dates.
Using Sweeteners or Sugars
Another option for substituting dates is to use sweeteners. Maple syrup, molasses, cane sugar, date sugar, agave, honey, and coconut sugar are all natural sweeteners that can be used in place of dates.
But the KEY for this success is if the date is primarily being used for its sweetness. For example, when I make an ice cream and use dates I can easily swap a type a sugar since the date’s whole purpose in the recipe is to make it sweet.
If the recipes call for chunks of dates like in a cookie or cake then a dried fruit would be better suited.
When using sweeteners as a date substitute, remember that they may have a different texture and flavor profile. For example, honey is more liquid than dates, while molasses has a distinct flavor (use sparingly).
Using Date Paste
If you’re looking for a substitute for dates that has a similar texture and flavor, try using date paste!
Date paste is made by blending dates with a small amount of water until a smooth paste is formed. This paste can be used in place of dates in a variety of recipes, including baked goods, smoothies, and sauces.
This option will give you the flavor your looking for without the bite of a date!
Sugar Free Substitutes for Dates (Keto Friendly)
If you’re on a keto diet or looking for sugar-free alternatives to dates, there are a few options available. Here are two popular substitutes:
Stevia and Erythritol Blend
Stevia and erythritol blends are a popular sugar-free substitute for dates. Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, while erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally found in some fruits and fermented foods.
When combined, these two sweeteners create a sugar-free blend that can be used as a substitute for dates in most recipes (if dates are used as a sweetner).
If you want a little closer flavor profile add about a teaspoon of molasses. It won’t affect your carb count if the recipe is for multiple servings. One teaspoon
Monkfruit and Erythritol Blend
Monkfruit and erythritol blends are another popular sugar-free substitute for dates. Monkfruit is a natural sweetener extracted from the monkfruit plant, while erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally found in some fruits and fermented foods.
I personally enjoy monkfruit blends more than stevia blends.
When combined, these two sweeteners create a sugar-free blend that can be used as a substitute for dates in most recipes use them as a sugar.
My Final Thoughts On Date Substitutes
As we have explored several substitutes for dates that you can use in your recipes. Whether you are looking for a dried fruit, or natural sweeteners, or other alternatives for a specific. diet, there are plenty of options to choose from.
On the other hand, if you want to avoid dried fruits or are looking for a natural sweetener, you can try substitutes like maple syrup, cane sugar, or date syrup.
These sweeteners provide a great flavor without being too overpowering and can be used in baking, cooking, or as a topping for your favorite dishes.
In addition, you can also try substitutes like applesauce, small apricots, or cascara for a unique flavor and texture. These alternatives are versatile and can be used in various recipes, including smoothies, desserts, and snacks.
Overall, when substituting dates in your recipes, it’s essential to choose a substitute that fits your taste preferences and dietary needs.
With the many options available, you can experiment with different substitutes and find the one that works best for you.