6 Creative Ways to Eat Dates

dates in a blender

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Dates are sweet, flavorful fruits that grows on date palm trees. They are most often found dried and packaged. Dates are high in dietary fiber, several vitamins and minerals, phytosterols, carotenoids, and polyphenols. Research has shown dates have beneficial medicinal properties stemming from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Dates are nutritious foods high in natural sugars, making them an excellent natural sweetener. If you watch your sugar intake, you may want to consume dates in moderation. A 200-calorie (72g) serving of Medjool dates contain 11% of your daily recommended potassium, 48 grams sugar, and 4.8 grams fiber.

Health Benefits of Dates

  • High in potassium
  • High in fiber
  • Contains several B vitamins
  • Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Good source of folate, copper, vitamin A, and iron
  • May help relieve constipation and intestinal disorders

For more information on dates, please refer to Dates Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.

How to Use Dates

Dates are useful for adding sweetness to sweet or savory dishes. They also are versatile and can be purposed in several ways. Below are some creative ways to use dates and quick recipe ideas to try.

Energy Balls

Energy balls are convenient, nutritious, energy-dense snacks typically packed with nuts, spices, dried fruit, and other add-ins like coconut, chocolate, and seeds.

Date Energy Balls

Combine 6 Medjool dates with 1/2 cup of nut or seed butter of choice, 1/3 cup quick cooking oats (uncooked), 1/4 cup protein powder (optional), 2 tablespoons of flax or chia seeds, 3 tablespoons of honey (or maple syrup), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of hot water in a blender or food processor. Roll into 16 small balls and place on a plate in the fridge to set, about 10 minutes

Nutrition per serving: 102 calories, total fat 4.6g, saturated fat 0.8g, sodium 59mg, carbohydrates 14g, fiber 1.6g, sugar 9.8g, protein 3.5g.

Natural Sweetener

Dates can be processed in a few ways to create a natural sweetener that you can add to foods. Date caramel sauce is a plant-based version of caramel you can add to the top of desserts while date paste is useful for adding to baked goods.

Date Caramel Sauce

Soak 15 large, pitted Medjool dates in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and add to a blender. Blend dates with 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, and 1 cup almond milk, adding 1/4 cup at a time (may need more or less, depending on desired consistency). Store in an airtight jar for up to 10 days. Makes about eight servings of 1/4 cup each.

Nutrition per serving: 173 calories, total fat 2.1g, saturated fat 1.4g, sodium 2.9mg, carbohydrates 42g, fiber 3.1g, sugar 37g, protein 0.9g.

Stuffed Appetizer

Dates are perfect for stuffing. Once pitted, they have a natural pocket just waiting to be filled with sweet or savory fillings. Try goat cheese or cream cheese along with chopped nuts for a savory option or stuff them with almond butter for a sweeter treat.

Almond Butter Stuffed Dates

Fill pitted dates with almond butter and enjoy! Each date will hold approximately 1 tablespoon of almond butter.

Nutrition per serving: 165 calories, total fat 8.9g, saturated fat 0.7g, sodium 1.4mg, carbohydrates 21g, fiber 3.3g, sugar 17g, protein 3.8g.

Smoothies

Adding dates to smoothies creates thickness and a natural earthy sweetness. Their flavor combines well with bananas, oranges, nut butter, milk, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Get creative and develop a flavor combo that features all of your favorites.

Date Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Blend 1 cup of almond milk, 5 dates, 2 bananas (frozen pieces if desired), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (optional). Add ice if desired. Serves two people.

Nutrition per serving: 437 calories, total fat 9.9g, saturated fat 1.9g, sodium 104mg, carbohydrates 77g, fiber 8.8g, sugar 55g, protein 19g.

Roasted Vegetables

Chopped dates add sweetness and complexity along with a chewier texture to roasted vegetables. They work well with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and more. Try adding creamy goat or feta cheese, chopped nuts, and herbs to your dish to round out the flavors.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Dates

Combine 6 cups of cleaned, halved Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, and roast in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/3 cup chopped pecans and 1/3 cup chopped Medjool dates. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Serve with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley, if desired. Serves six.

Nutrition per serving: 157 calories, total fat 9.3g, saturated fat 1g, sodium 216mg, carbohydrates 18g, fiber 4.9g, sugar 10g, protein 3.8g.

Muffins and Sweet Breads

Adding chopped dates to muffins and sweetbreads adds sweetness and chewiness to your baked goods along with depth of flavor. They are especially tasty with apples, ginger, carrots, molasses, cinnamon, and similar taste profiles.

Date Carrot Muffins

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup quick cooking oats, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss in 1/2 cup chopped dates, 1 cup grated carrots.

In another bowl combine 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 cup milk, and 2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and combine. Fill muffin tins with mixture and bake for 25 mins at 400 degree Fahrenheit oven. Makes 12.

Nutrition per serving: 167 calories, total fat 5.2g, saturated fat 2.9g, sodium 246mg, carbohydrates 27g, fiber 2g, sugar 13g, protein 3.5g

A Word From Verywell

Dates are a versatile and delicious food that is packed with natural sugars, fiber, a plethora of vitamins and minerals, and plant compounds that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Creative ways to eat dates include adding them to baked goods, roasted vegetables, smoothies, and stuffing them with cheese or nut butter. Try the above recipes or experiment with dates by utilizing them in various ways to create new dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can dates be eaten raw?

    Dates are most often eaten raw. They are typically dried and packaged to purchase in grocery stores.

  • Do you peel dates before eating?

    You do not need to peel dates before eating them. However, they do need to be pitted if the pit is still inside the date.

  • What are the side effects of dates?

    Dates do not have any side effects per se. That said, they can help relieve constipation or make your bowel movements softer.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kamarubahrin AF, Haris A. Nutritional and potential planting of date palm: Review of recent trends and future prospects in Malaysia. International Journal of Fruit Science. 2020;20(sup3):S1097-S1109. doi:10.1080/15538362.2020.1775160

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. Dates, medjool.

  3. Assadi, I., E. Walid, A.B. Mohamed, H. Hédia, C. Wafa, and F. Ali. 2018. Nutritional quality and antioxidant capacity of a combination of pomegranate and date juices. Int. J. Fruit Sci. 1–16. doi: 10.1080/15538362.2018.1512438.