date breakfast squares Recipes

date breakfast squares

Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday, I may look forward to stuffing, green bean casserole and all the pie the way normal people might anticipate Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day, but there is definitely a point — let’s call it right now — when I’m about at capacity with fresh fun ideas for soft orange vegetables and clever new ways to swim foods in puddles of rich sauces. Also, I still need to eat.


pit/stone them
cook the dates to soften

Thus, when I was supposed to be pondering turkey this week, I instead went down a date bar rabbit hole. Date squares, aka matrimonial bars, slices or cakes, are one of these old-school cookies that I imagine at some point were so ubiquitous, everyone forgot to mention them because you barely hear about them anymore. I get that they don’t summon the kind of fervor of salted chocolate chunks cookies, three-ingredient peanut butter domes and brown butter cereal treats but I have a deep affection for — how can I put this politely — Grandma Cuisine, you know, the kinds of food steeped in nostalgia for the 70-plus set, and I believe there’s a time and place for all cookies, even the hopelessly old-fashioned ones.

making the wholegrain crumbs
press in the crumb base
date filling

Currently, I’ve decided that place should be breakfast. Hear me out: there are oats and there is a lot of fruit, i.e. my breakfast minimums have been met. Plus, with a little tweaking, there’s less sugar, you can use a slightly more wholesome fat instead of butter, whole wheat flour instead of white and then, because the season requires it, I really enjoyed adding some orange zest and winter spices to make this feel especially of the moment.

ready to slice

Because that moment — the busiest cooking season of the year — is great fun but can also be exhausting. I’m going to assume that as you’re the kind of person who ends up reading a site like this, you’re likely to be cooking for people this week as well and you, my friend, have to take care of yourself. Treat yo self! as the under-70 set says. This is a good place to start; make a double batch of these, put half in the freezer for a few weeks from now, half in the fridge for the week to come to ensure you eat more than stuffing scraps this week and maybe have a quiet little grandma moment with them too — a fancy plate, a cup of tea, a seat by the window, a sweet view — because as far as I’m concerned, it’s no celebration unless you get to enjoy it too.

date breakfast squares

Date Breakfast Squares

We cut these into 12 bars.

For the filling
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) pitted dates, chopped
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon finely grated orange (or mandarin or clementine) zest

For the crumbs
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup raw or turbinado sugar
1/2 cup olive oil, coconut oil, melted butter or a mix of the above
3/4 cups rolled oats, I used quick-cooking but old-fashioned should work just fine
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour, or a wholegrain flour mix of your choice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
A pinch or two of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Either grease bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch pan or line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, combine dates, water and zest over low heat, simmering for 5 to 10 minutes, until liquid has absorbed and mixture has thickened. Set aside while you make the crumbs.

In a large bowl, mix the sugars and oil or butter together. Add the oats, flour, spices, baking soda and salt and stir to combine; the mixture should form a coarse rubble.

Press half into the bottom of your prepared pan. Dollop the date mixture over it and use a small offset spatula (or whatever you have on hand) to spread the mixture smoothly over the crumbs. Don’t worry if the crumbs move around a little underneath; these bars don’t require perfection. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over date layer and press lightly to cover.

Bake bars for 25 minutes, or until light brown at the edges. Cool in pan. Cut into squares. They’ll keep just fine at room temperature but will last up to a week in the fridge and longer in the freezer.

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164 comments on date breakfast squares

  1. You’re totally on a date kick, eh? We’re having the cabbage salad for Shabbat dinner tonight and I can’t wait.

    I actually make a similar bar, but mine’s with dried apricots, seeped with either honey or maple syrup. But it also has the oats and whole wheat flour for the bar part. Found the recipe in a total 1970s hippie dessert cookbook from the restaurant The Common Ground. The place was in Burlington, VT, and my mom would take me there when I was a kid. She’s going to be 70 tomorrow, so I guess I should be sending her a care package of these. ;)

  2. Peg

    Not long ago, I made some Smitten Kitchen inspired Oatmeal Cookies with dates, orange zest, and the above spices plus a little cardamom. I was told that those were the best cookies in the world! These date squares will knock their socks off!! I will definitely use these for Thanksgiving morning when I am asked, “What can we have to eat until the turkey is done?” Thanks Deb, for having the same “Grandma Quisine” desires as the rest of us. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy that extra person at the table (or in the bouncy seat close by) this year. She is beautiful and it looks like Jacob is such a great big brother! You have a wonderful family!

  3. jwg

    You probably aren’t old enough to remember but at one point Betty Crocker had a mix for a version of these which was pretty good. These sound better.

  4. Grandma cuisine is a great place to go, because grandmas know what’s up. These look like a very reasonable treat- wholesome enough to make a regular appearance, and tasty enough to be a welcomed treat. Yum.

  5. Wendy

    Oh, my, these are my Kryptonite. Fair warning to my fellow readers to watch out for the health halo effect with things like dates and oats, though. I calculated the recipe and 1/12 (one small bar) is 330 kcal!

    That’s workable for a breakfast or an indulgent dessert, but good to be aware of. It would be easy to assume these were a lot lower-calorie than that, given the healthy-looking ingredients.

  6. JP

    My favorite Hallmark quote “When things are bad and getting worse, keep a cookie in your purse”. These date squares would fill the bill. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and do enjoy the best holiday of the year (no costumes, no gifts, no extreme decorating, just plenty of the best food ever!).

  7. Nicole

    What do you think about subbing raisins for the dates? Or even maybe dried cranberries? My toddler loves dried fruit and we’ve been on a baking kick lately and are totally out of dates. PS — raisin pie. Try it. Love it. You’re welcome.

  8. Fabulously smart. Making these this weekend for sure to have around!

    Deb: On the note of “all the pies,” I thought to ask you: How do you store your pumpkin pie? There seems to be a norm to hold it in the fridge, but Rose Levy B says a few days at room temp! Opinions?

  9. My grandmother made not one but *two* different kinds of date cookies every year for the holidays. Date bars (which were kinda sorta like your date squares here) and date sticks, which were cut in narrow rectangles and rolled in powdered sugar. I remember both varieties being kind of dry and not something I ever got excited about, but now that I’d deep into my 30s and haven’t eaten them in about 20 years, I begin to wonder what I’d think of them now. You’ve inspired me to dig through my mom’s recipe box at Thanksgiving to see if I can find the recipes.

  10. Anne Smith

    Hi Deb- not only great for Thanksgiving but also for the challenging time ahead of me: about to go back to work after 4 lovely months of maternity leave. I previously made your other cereal bars and loved them, these will add some variety to my morning snack selection. Is it necessary to use raw sugar? This ingredient isn’t widely available in
    South Africa where I live. Could I substitute brown or muscavado sugar instead?

  11. vivien

    Grandma here. You’re hitting it out of the park with your recipes this season.Many thanks. Have a great Thanksgiving with your beautiful family.

  12. Tracey

    Hi Deb,
    I’m an East Villager (maybe you’re not too far away) and since you’re a big fan of dates I wanted to tell you about the incredible Israeli Holyland Market on St Marks: http://www.yelp.com/biz/holyland-market-new-york

    They are not big on welcoming storefront displays but inside are the best, juiciest and cheapest bags of dates you can imagine, fresh pita that are out of this world as well as these tiny savory pastries with flavors like olive, pizza, potato and spinach. It’s also wonderful for filling up your stores with Tahini and other Middle-Eastern favorites. I know you are a fan of Kalustyan’s but this would be a great additional arrow in her quiver.

    Best,
    Tracey

  13. Susan

    Can’t wait to try these as I love dates. My favorite cold cereal includes them and I always add them to your recipe for chewy granola bars.

    While most people think of this as pumpkin season, I think of it as date season. I love them…just like a Grandma! (which I am now and am loving it!) I had been thinking of sending you an email to try to persuade you to make and add your spin to, Krispy Date Bars. You must google it. They take Rice Krispy treats to a whole new level as a cookie with a brown sugar shortbread base and a cream cheese frosting. Honest to God, they are just the best!

  14. Katherine

    My grandma and I made date cookies and date everything all winter long, and I used to nab a few date bars when my college cafeteria kitchen made them occasionally. So if you tag things “Grandma Cuisine” from here on out, it will be pretty sure to catch my eye. :) Thanks for reminding me how much I love these and how long it’s been since I made anything like them.

  15. Nancy

    Oh goody! I’m down to 2 blueberry scones in the freezer and was thinking that I need to make more this weekend, but these look yummy for a real treat at breakfast and perfect for the holidays. I’ll do half now and half in the freezer as you suggest!

  16. Randi

    Seriously Grandma Cuisine is the best cuisine! I love fancy, artisanal la, di, dah too but the best stuff is the stuff from your childhood. My grandma’s stuffing and pies this week, holiday cheese ball, her soup made from turkey leftovers. That’s the important stuff!

  17. Gene

    My Grandma Laura’s date squares are all my aunt ever wants me to bring to her house when I offer to make something. Her recipe uses some lemon juice when you stew the dates, orange would work well too.

  18. K

    Yay! So glad to have this recipe. We always called these Date Mumbles and they are one of those great cookies that fell out of favor for a time, like snickerdoodles. I spent most of the ’90s searching out old cookbooks with recipes for snickerdoodles. Thank god for the interwebs, savior of old cookies. Now for a hermit cookie revival!

  19. june2

    Oh wow, we get fresh dates at the local health food store (and WF’s has them in their boxed nuts and snacks section) and they are perfect for this, thank you! Also love the addition of orange zest.

  20. Ana

    Hi, Deb! These look tempting! I have recently decided to cut on refined flours and sugar as I have a high probability of developing diabetes type II (all women in my family have it). This recipe looks like a good one to try, but I was wondering if it was a good idea to exclude the sugar. Do you think it would work out? Thank you for your marvellous blog! For some years now, I look at it as my first online resource as a reference cookbook!

  21. Veronica Leyva

    Hello! I like dates, but these can get a bit too sweet for me, but I LOVE figs. Can I easily replace the dates for Figs? Oh… And what about cranberries??? Or dried apricots? (Gosh, looks like I’m now going down the breakfast bar rabbit hole myself!). These look delicious and great for my breakfast. I can see myself eating these in the car on my way to work (and thus enabling me to actually eat breakfast in the morning).

  22. Bea

    why is it that you alway make the things that are on my mind as well …. I was thinking of making date squares yesterday ( haven’t made them in ions) and boom smitten kitchen rises to to the occasion… alway spot on Deb.. always !

  23. Holy wow. These not only look very, very delicious, but they remind me of the date bars that kept me from losing my mind in the first few months of my son’s life. He was a very, very hungry little guy (that hasn’t changed!) — long and skinny — and ate a lot. Date bars much like these got me through the pre-solid food nursing day. So I think I’ll make them and take a walk down memory lane. And maybe I’ll share them with my now 13 year old.

  24. We don’t do Thanksgiving here in Australia, but we definitely do love the odd grandma moment! These look beautiful, and I love that they freeze well to pull out at those busy, don’t have a moment to bake, times :)

  25. Lauren

    To JWG (#5) I remember that box of Date Bar Mix like it was yesterday. We LOVED them in my house and it was one of my favorite things to “cook” as a teenager. Been searching for that flavor combo ever since. Also K (#26) Deb did a hermit a while back and I was ecstatic to see that one back from the dead as well.I will look that one up in her archives because I don’t remember whether I actually made them, or just badly wanted to. There is a reason these cookies please us so, not too much bad stuff in them, and a “comfort food” quality that is hard to beat. Thanks Deb, for making these older foods new again.

  26. Cary

    The grandma who baked “date cake” passed 30 years ago and I hadn’t had it since until last winter when I decided to see if I could recreate. Between my sister and I we found old notes and I read many online recipes and after a few tries I had it. Loved the memories this project brought back. Tonight I stumbled upon your site and your version is nearly the same as what we came up with.

  27. Thanks for these.

    I love dates, and have been looking for a good homemade breakfast bar for ages.

    These look filling, and I already have everything in the house to make them.

    Something about a bar for breakfast does take me back to childhood. My mom thought breakfast bars were so modern (a bit like Tang, and Carnation instant breakfast drink). LOOL, now we know how bad that stuff was for us.

    But these give me hope for convenience and something healthy and sustaining in the morning.

    Off to breakfast.

    Cheers.

    GK

  28. I love date bars and plan on baking these later today and then indulging in multiple peaceful moments with them (not quite to the grandma stage yet!). I also am going to try them with apricot, lemon zest and fresh ginger-YUM. I’m sure my children and my co-workers will be willing taste testers this week! Thanks for yet more inspiration! Also, I’m not sure whether I want to thank or curse the person who posted the calorie count :( I’m deeply deluded by the healthy halo effect of dates and oats and would prefer to linger in that zone.

  29. These bar cookies look spectacular! I think the bars could take a variety of fillings (not that dates aren’t scrumptious)! So much fun to play with, Deb!!!!

  30. Just wondering, what is the function of the baking soda? I am used to seeing it with an acid to activate it as a leavened, but don’t see an acid (but I am no expert–one of the other crumb ingredients could function that way, I just don’t know which). Or does it have another function? These look yummy!

  31. Carole

    Thanks Deb, these look great, and I’ll bring them for breakfast, but we usually go right to leftover pie! Can you explain why you included both brown sugar and turbinado? I’ve tried a couple of recipes recently calling for different kinds of sugar and want to understand the properties and what you’re going for.

  32. I’m soooo happy you posted these! The local coffeehouse by my college campus makes a to die for date and oat bar. I’ve been wanting to make them at home!

  33. Kristina

    I love your recipes. I made your green bean casserole last year for Thanksgiving and I have been waiting all year to make it again :) These bars look amazing. My husband loves breakfast bars. We live in India and bars can be hard to come by – but we have oats and dates in abundance. Will be trying these out very soon!

  34. Charlotte

    Oh thank goodness. I bought a lot of dates a few weeks ago – I think I can accurately blame pregnancy brain for the purchase – and I have no idea what to do with them. I don’t like to eat them plain, they’re weird mixed into yogurt… but Smitten Kitchen saves the day!

  35. Susana

    My grandma made date bars. And also cranberry bars. Same thing but with homemade cranberry sauce as the filling. My favorite. and an excellent use of leftover cranberry sauce.

  36. Susan

    Hey, Just made these but had way too few crumbs. Covered the 8 X 8 pan with a super thin layer and did not have enough to cover the dates. Just kind of dotted the top. Delicious but no where near able to cut them after baking. Will eat with a spoon and try again but this time I will double the crumb recipe.

  37. Mel

    Deb I can’t wait to make these – I LOVE dates and/or bar cookies! And calories btw are more than reasonable (not that I really care if dates are involved lol) – a recipe analyzing website said 197 calories per bar! That’s great!

  38. Rochelle Eissenstat

    Anyone who says dates are dry hasn’t EVER eaten dates in Israel. The best IMO are Medjool dates. One might debate which middle eastern nation has the best dates BUT in Israel, with the top agronomists, most innovative farmers, and techniques like drip irrigation and careful conditions, Israel definitely has the tastiest, moistest, best dates! Israel has managed to get germination from a date pit of thousands of years old!

  39. Rachel

    I made these this morning and they taste great – my only concern is that my crust seemed a little dry and crumbly. If I wanted to make them moister and stick together more, would I add more butter? Maybe something like applesauce to just moisten the whole thing up? Maybe just press the crumbs down better?

  40. Heidi

    When you list ingredients, such as olive, coconut, butter etc, you are offering a choice, not all of them at once? Sorry, I don’t do much baking!
    These look so amazing that I want to try them!
    Regards
    Heidi

  41. Mia

    I’m with Talia. Can we sub almond or another non-wheat flour?
    From, an ulcerative colitis suffering bread lover, who, as proof that the world is unfair, gets flares from bread products.

  42. Dahlink

    We are definitely in the Date Zone. I made last year’s Sticky Toffee Pudding for a friend’s birthday this time last year and she made me promise to make it again. We had firsts and seconds this morning after the gym. A thermos worked nicely for keeping the sauce warm, and I got extra whipped cream from the coffee bar. Done!

  43. Ugh–way too few crumbs here as well. I’m wondering if the measurements were off? If I cover the bottom of my pan, I will not have much topping left. I actually stopped in the middle to see if anyone else had this problem–or better yet, a solution! Oh well….now I have to decide what to do….Guess I’ll improvise but I’ll be checking back for the official solution!

  44. Shelby

    One of my all time favorites! I spent years looking for this recipe! Finally found it in a “Seachlight” cookbook. I think Seachlight was a magazine- I am unfamiliar with it. Just re-read the foreword:” The testing was done by The Household Seachlight, which from1925-1942was maintained for the study of home products under actual home conditions.” Still don’t understand! Can anyone help with this? I find the book very interesting! The complete title is”Household Seachlight Recipe Book”. Compiled and edited by:Ida Migliario, Zorada Z. Titus, Harriet W. Allard-B.S. Home Economics and Irene Nunemaker, Journalism. Household, Topeka, Kansas Thank you so much if you can shed any light on this book.

  45. Glenda

    I just made these using dried cranberries with candied ginger, about 1 tablespoon. Based on a couple posts I upped the crumb by ½ and used half coconut oil and ½ butter. I had plenty of crumb for the bottom and top and the cranberries taste great. I also added a little vanilla. Really quick to make.

  46. Karen

    I saw the recipe and it reminded me of date bars my mother made from a mix in the ’60s. I made them and they are nothing like those. Yours are wonderful. I used oat flour instead of whole wheat, as my daughter in is on a gluten- free diet. Thank you. I will make them again.

  47. Anne

    Thanks for this recipe Deb! My grandma’s date squares were one of my favorites when I was a kid. Unfortunately, she can’t make them anymore, and sadly they were left out of the family cookbook she put together some time ago. This recipe looks like the ones she used to make. Yet another big fan of #grandmacuisine over here :)

  48. Anne

    We made these bars with gluten free flour. They were delicious but surprised by the fact that the base and topping was not a course crumble – it was quite moist. We wondered about why one would melt the butter and not integrate it more like an apple crumble…. Any suggestions.

  49. JanetP

    I must be an outlier, because I have never heard of date bars — but these look great! What do you think about adding some slivered or flaked almonds to the crumble?

    And I love this: “because as far as I’m concerned, it’s no celebration unless you get to enjoy it too.” Very, very true.

  50. Laura M

    I made these this afternoon using coconut oil. Followed exactly except I didn’t have orange zest. They are very good and not too sweet, which so many date squares are.
    The house smells great!

  51. Sandra Lea

    I made these today, and while delicious, next time I would double the crumb mixture. I had to use more than half to cover the bottom and had not enough for the top.

  52. Brady

    I loved loved loved the date bar mix when I was a kid; absolute favorite desert and so easy to make that I was allowed to whip it up when Mom was happy to let someone else bake something for our sweet-craving household. Cannot wait to try this recipe! I have been hankering for it for years, thanks for re-creating!!!

  53. Erica

    I made these and after eating one, I immediately ate another. Delicious crispy crust and a perfect gooey spicy date filling! I see that others have commented on the paucity of the crust, but I found that gently pressing/patting half of the crust into the pan and then doing the same for the top worked well. Thank you, Deb!

  54. Aimee

    I made these today with gluten-free flour, and I used coconut oil to make them dairy-free as well. The spice level was perfection, but I had the same problem as others re: an inadequate amount of crumb. The prescribed amount was barely enough to cover the bottom of my 8×8. Next time I make these, I will double the crumb. Aside from that bit of trouble, these bars were wonderful!

  55. Estelle

    I made these yesterday and they are delicious, but unfortunately I had the same issue with the lack of crumb. I agree with Aimee that around double the amount would probably be adequate.

  56. Emily Kay

    I just made these, oh my gawwwd they would be amazing with vanilla cream while they’re still warm.

    Thanks for such a great, simple, fairly healthy recipe!

  57. Shannon Ellis

    These are absolutely amazing. Just the right amount of sweet. The hint of orange is lovely. And, the ratios of date:bar is perfect. Thanks for this recipe!

  58. Susan

    Hi
    I made these yesterday and they are absolutely delicious. I just about had enough crumb but they are a little soft and crumbly, this might be because I had to cut them whilst they were warm – my kids wouldn’t wait any longer. I will definitely be making these again.

    Thank you for all your recipes
    from cold old London Town
    Susan

  59. Victoria Shulem

    Good Morning Deb and friends, I came to the computer to ask your advice about a recipe and found that we were both at “Dates”. I am making holiday Kugels, Pumpkin is done, and I was thinking about a “Biblical” one – Dates, Figs & Honey. I usually use 3/4 C of sugar – how do I translate that into honey? Also, for spices, I’m thinking of Cardamom and ___?
    I’ll make the Lemon/Blueberry one while I’m waiting for your advice.
    Happy TG to you all, Victoria

  60. Mels

    Does Deb or anyone else here have any tips for chopping dates? I love them but am hesitant to bake with them because I loathe chopping them. They stick terribly to my knife making chopping impossible, so I figured I would try the food processor…same deal. They just glue themselves to the processor blade. I usually buy medjool dates and they are always plump and a little sticky.

  61. Nicole deB.

    Made these this morning and they’re great! I doubled the recipe, made then in a 9×13 pan and also switched out King Arthur Gluten Free All-purpose flour(with a pinch of xanthan gum) and used GF oatmeal. No increase in baking time was necessary when doubling it, either. They turned out perfect! If I’m going to “double” the recipe next time, I’ll probably up the crumb to 3x the recipe instead of merely 2x the amount shown. It’s a bit thin on top! But still yummy.

  62. Talia

    Looks great. Here in Israel they sell dates in a form of a “brick”, pitted and minced. Saves a lot of work. Also I was thinking that a hint of rosewater instead of the citrus peel could also be yummy.

  63. Barb S.

    Thank you! A recipe I can make for my almost 2 year old grandson who is allergic to dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds… Also thank you to Lauren #36 for adding the (#) she was commenting on. I often scroll to your comments Deb and then try to find the corresponding comment and it can be hard to do when all you have is the name….

  64. Mel

    I’m in the same boat as Andrea up above: I have two huge containers of dried figs slowly being forgotten in the back of my fridge; do you think I could use those (in place of the dates)? And if so do you recommend changing anything else? Thanks :)

  65. dani

    hi deb!! I distinctly remember some thanksgiving cooking schedule/plan you posted a while ago but I cannot seem to find it anywhere. it had your whole day planned out, what dish you would start/when etc. any idea where it is on this website?

  66. Sheryll

    Just made these and they’re very good. Love the addition of the citrus! Doubled the recipe in a 9×13 pan and the amount of crumb worked well.

  67. Julia

    My mother used to make the Betty Crocker date squares…as well as brownies from scratch, ( recipe from Baker’s unsweetened chocolate box) for her bridge club or ladies’ luncheons. Yours look delicious!

  68. Sasha

    Hi Deb,

    I made these today with coconut oil & a mix of almond flour + coconut flour + amaranth flour instead of the whole wheat. I added dark chocolate chips (80% cocoa) to the crumb mixture. It was AWESOME! The bitterness of the chocolate enhanced the taste of the dates & wasn’t too sweet at all. (I suspect it will be different if using regular chocolate chips.)
    I see that others have had a problem with not enough crumb left for the top. I found that if I use exactly half the mixture for a thin bottom layer & pat it down really firm, then there’s enough left for a solid top layer of crumb as well.
    Also for someone above who was asking about chopping the dates, I didn’t. I simply pitted them & bunged them into the water – I just left them simmer for longer, maybe about 20 minutes, and they made a nice soft spreadable paste.
    This is definitely going into the vault! Thank you!

  69. Danielle

    These are delicious!! I made them for my mom, who used to make date bars when I was growing up. Now, she’s not able to cook much for herself and was delighted to hear that I’m bringing them over to her on Thanksgiving. Thanks, Deb!!

  70. Donna Metcalf

    We always made the Betty Crocker date squares in college. They were good and needed nothing but water. No eggs in a dorm! Great memories!

  71. Sheryll

    These are delicious! I pumped up the volume of the date filling by adding a few chopped dried figs and apple sweetened dried cranberries to make 2 cups. To the water I added the juice of the orange that provided the zest. Next time I will make more crust for the top and bottom. Overall love this taste of the holiday season. Thanks.

  72. Julia

    Do you think a 14 month old with 8 teeth could manage these? My daughter is all about finger food and these could be a fun alternative to her usual breakfast of kix, cheese, and bananas. :) I’m just not sure if they’d be too thick and gooey for an inexperienced eater. Thanks!

  73. MK

    In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, we found date bars as ubiquitous as chocolate chip cookies are in the States. What a wonderful trip we had — fish, fresh from a fish pound, exceptional dairy products, beautiful real strawberries — and great date bars. I want to go back!!! These date bars will help.

  74. Sharon

    Made these this morning and they’re delicious, but wish I had read the comments to double the crumbs. Even with vigorous pressing, I still didn’t have enough. Otherwise, amazing!

  75. Katie

    Made with coconut oil and all brown sugar, as I did not have any of the turbinado. Chopped the dates in the food processor, because it was already out for another recipe.. The date mixture came out lovely this way. Also struggled with not feeling like I had enough of the crumb mixture, though this may have been entirely my fault since I didn’t measure the dates precisely and that could have thrown the proportions off. I thought double the crumb would be too much, so I made an addition half of the recipe (or 150% of the crumb mixture) and am happy with it.

  76. deb

    Re, not having enough crumbs — I’m sorry to hear this. I definitely had a thin layer but it covered (again, thinly) as you see in the pictures. Was everyone using the same size pan (8×8)? For those that didn’t find they had enough, did you use old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats? Perhaps this was the culprit. (I used quick…)

    Re, using other fruits — I definitely think you could. Fig and apricot would be natural swaps, but some adjustments might be needed. They may need more water to absorb, or to cook a little longer to get soft. Apricots in particular might need some sugar, or just a heads-up that they’re going to be much less sweet than dates, which are basically like candy.

    Julie — Maybe? Yikes, I should know this stuff but it’s been a while since I had a toddler. Soon enough, I’ll be an expert again. But from my end, nothing seems like it would be worrisome. (Also: KIX!! That’s my childhood. Is it back?)

  77. Not enough crumbs and used old-fashioned oats as well. Didn’t mean to be complain-y though—love your site and thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs and trying out recipes now and again!

  78. Rosa

    Just tried it and wanted to give more feedback….crust was very “sandy” and crumbly and it was a touch on the salty side….would probably not make again….which is a shame because I love dates!

  79. deb

    dani — (Apologies, comment responses are very out of order this week due to the stop-start nature of things these days!) I didn’t talk about a schedule per se (although I’d wanted to but — oh the irony — ran out of time) but briefly in this comment.

    Re, not enough crumbs — Again, I’m sorry to hear this. The crumbs are supposed to be thin, but they should also look like mine above, i.e. thin but mostly covered. You definitely have to press them evenly to get it to cover and as I mention in the recipe, the dates might pop through a dot here or there, but it bakes up just fine and of course, this is a breakfast bar and I didn’t want it to be thick like a dessert bar. I use the exact recipe I share here, to the letter, so I am indeed surprised there’s been trouble.

    Re, Joe Pastry — Nooo! Such a loss for the cooking web. I’d just caught up on him last week and hadn’t seen this coming. But, real life, I get it… (You’re not getting rid of me yet, though.)

    Mels — You could maybe oil your knife first? But honestly, you’re going to wash it either way when you’re done, a little grime shouldn’t be a huge hindrance. You only need to rough-chop them; they cook down into a kind of mush fairly easily. You’re just getting them started.

    Victoria, re, kugels — Honey is usually considered to taste a little sweeter than sugar so you might use a little less.

  80. Meredith

    Mels and everyone else- I use kitchen shears and cut the dates up. One hand gets sticky holding the dates, and the shears do too, but it’s the easiest method we’ve found for chopping dates. Made the bars this weekend because I LOVE dates, but I haven’t tried them yet. Mom and I make date nut cookies every holiday season from my grandpa’s recipe and I can’t get enough of the cookies. Hopefully the date bars will tide me over in the lean season.

  81. Monika

    Hi Deb! Happy Thanksgiving! Quick request; chance you could provide the quantities of flour, oats, etc. by weight instead of volume? Thank you!

  82. Dita

    Thank you Deb, for this wonderful post! I made a version of your recipe using dried figs (with a teensy wee bit of whisky) instead of dates, a mix of whole-wheat, corn, rice and linseed flours, olive oil, and a little less sugar, and they’re scrumptious! They came out of the oven after (a plentiful) dinner, and I still had to eat “the ugly” bits. I had them in mind for when I need to be at the office very early, but they seem too crumbly for safe transportation… I’m thinking of adding some water or apple juice (1-2 tablespoons) to the dough next time… I guess butter would also make them more stable, or maybe an egg?
    I think I’ll be making these (and many versions of) quite a lot!

  83. Dante

    Greeting from Barcelone and Happy Thxgvn !
    Im thinking about making these squares for my beloved celiac friend. Im thinking about replacing the oats for almond flower and the whole grain flour for rice flour, and follow the recipe as mentioned.
    Do you think it might work.
    Congrats on the new baby
    and thank you for your kind work

  84. Christina

    Love the idea and the recipe. Yet do have to say that they are just too sweet for me. So next time I’ll try them minus the additional sugar. Yet would also love to try them with apricots or figs. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  85. Hilary

    They were great with apricots — as others mentioned, apricots will need to be cooked a bit longer, with some sugar and more liquid, to be sticky enough. But they’re delicious, especially with a few chocolate chips sprinkled over, under the top layer of crumbs.

  86. deb

    Re, using a non-wheat flour — As others have noted, I think this would take well to a swap with a gluten-free flour blend. I also like using oat flour in baked goods though I cannot be confident it would work as a 1:1 swap (you’d probably need a little more, because it’s so light) without trying it.

    Heidi — It’s a choice. Any will work.

    Baking soda here — Acts as baking soda — both a leavening and browning agent. Oats are a little acidic, so is brown sugar…

    Re, sweetness — I kept it as low as I could. I think you’ll find these much less sweet than traditional date squares intended more as a dessert or cookie. Dates themselves are sweet, however, and there’s no scrubbing that out unless you want to use a mix of dates and another more tart dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, etc.).

    Re, the fat — I used a mix of coconut oil, olive oil and butter because I wanted a bit of the flavor of each.

    Tracey — Love the store, haven’t bought dates there. Thanks for the tip!

    salvegg — I keep pumpkin pie in the fridge. I don’t think it (or most things we keep in the fridge, you know, aside from milk and the obvious stuff) will actually go bad that quickly at room temperature and there’s no reason that pumpkin pie needs to be in there, except longevity. I just prefer it cold.

    So many comments about the crumbs — I’m starting to think I’ve lost my mind (it was going to happen sooner or later). I’ll retest these today or tomorrow and report back.

  87. Nancy

    These are my new favorite thing, but I did make a change that I like even better. The first time I made them just like the recipe. I thought the date layer was too thick in proportion to the crumb layer, so too sweet for my taste. So today I doubled the crumb mixture, kept the date mixture the same, and used a 9X9 pan. Perfect.

  88. Sue

    I’m afraid I must add my voice to those who say there isn’t sufficient mixture for base and crumble. By using just half the mixture for the base I wasn’t able to cover the bottom of my 8×8 inch pan so had to use the whole mixture. I then had to hastily make another batch for the top. It tastes great but if I make it again I’d double the base/crumble mixture and add less sugar as I did find it a bit sweet as the dates are very sweet.

    BTW I used old fashioned oats, not quick oats. Maybe this is why some of us had less mixture

  89. Emily

    I used quick cooking oats as well, with coconut oil (melted via microwave) and whole wheat flour as per the recipe, and the amount of crumb was fine for my 8×8 pan. 1/2 for the bottom, and 1/2 sprinkled and pressed down on the top.

  90. Growing up, my grandmother always made date squares. Honestly, I had completely forgotten about them until now. These look really delicious and have to be added to my Christmas baking list. Thank you!

  91. CK

    Just made these. Had PLENTY OF CRUMBS for the base and topping – not sure why all the complaints from others. Glad I followed the recipe and didn’t double the crumbs. Perfect as is if you can follow directions!

  92. Laura

    Woot Woot! Give a shout out for BAKING DATES! (A product, not an event with your loved one, though it could be both.)

    After skimming this recipe the day before, I was turbo grocery shopping before kid pick up and these luckily caught my eye (Ziyad “Baking Dates” in the international foods section of our regular grocery store). Though not adorned with a halo (they should have been), this was undoubtedly divine intervention. For under $2, I thought there would surely be nastiness like added sugar, guar gum, or some such polynitrooxidizedhydrogenatedsomethingorother but, lo!, it is pure date! I squeezed out “date snakes” in rows and, with oiled fingers, patted it down. Filling done! One package worked for the 8×8; my next step is doubling+ into a 9×13 and am trying two packages but might be a bit thin. However, for under $2/package, I could spring for a 3rd if need be ;)

  93. Sandra

    would these be giftable? I am looking for food gifts to send to loved ones in cities far away. The recipe says will last a week in the fridge…I’m thinking maaaybe it’d work to mail them–?
    Feedback is so welcome, please and thank you!!

    1. deb

      Sandra — They’d be okay at room temperature but wouldn’t be my first choice for gifting. They’re soft. In the fridge, the crumbs stay more crisp.

  94. Laura

    Reporting back about the baking dates. 1 package gives a generous filling to 8×8; 2 packages was just fine for 9×13. I use the food processor for the rest.
    1. Combine all crust/crumble ingredients except the oats and filling. I also add/sub in some almond meal and put the orange zest here.
    2. Pulse in oats (yes, a few get chopped up, no biggie.
    3. Pulse in the fat until mixture is a “coarse rubble.”

  95. Valerie

    These are wonderful. I didn’t add any sugar at all and they had just the right amount of sweetness from the dates. Thanks for a great recipe!

  96. KelBer

    I had seen all the comments about the crumbs before I made these a few weeks ago, but I always tell myself “In Deb we trust,” so I made the crumb mixture as-is. And you know what? It was great! I wouldn’t want more crumbs for a breakfast bar. But here’s my trick: divide the crumb mixture in half, maybe giving an extra handful to the half you’re going to put on the top. Pour the slightly smaller portion of the crumb mixture in the bottom of your 8×8, and use a piece of parchment paper to really press the crumbs down firmly. Basically, try and use the bare minimum on the bottom crumbs to achieve coverage, and you will have enough for a thin crumb layer that mostly covers the top.

    Also to “health” these up a bit, I replaced both sugars with coconut sugar and they came out great. This is definitely a wonderful addition to our breakfast rotation. Pair these with a green smoothie and breakfast is served!

  97. Leah

    I ran into the same problems as others with not enough crumb base; next time I’ll 1.5x the crumb mixture and dial back the salt. Mine were also very sandy and crumbly (as in, had to be consumed with fork on a plate), which is also a problem when I try to reduce the sugar in granola bars. I’m wondering if a liquid sweetener (golden or maple syrup) might help bind things better?

  98. Sarah

    Deb I have to say these are amazing! I could have eaten the whole panful in one go. I used a slightly larger pan and was a little short on crumbs but they worked out fine. My mum made these when I was a kid but she tells me her recipe had a heap more sugar in it! Finally made your pumpkin galette and have made half a dozen stonefruit galettes in the last two weeks, most of the recipes I cook these days are yours and I have to say they’re all wonderful! Thank you.

  99. Heather

    I printed this out the day it was posted and didn’t get to make them until yesterday. Wish I would have checked comments first. I also had the too little crumb issue. I was going to quick make a 1/2 batch more but decided to just sprinkle what was left on top. I LOVE the filling and I will make again using 1.5 crumb recipe (without increasing the salt). Also, I think these are better the next day.

  100. Beth L.

    I finally made these the other day. We had plenty of crumbs – I don’t think we needed any more. They were a bit crumbly – would an egg (or maple syrup or honey) help hold them together? That being said, they were absolutely delicious – thank you for the recipe. One of our family Christmas cookie recipes is my grandmother’s date cookies – a sweetened, cooked date filling sandwiched and baked between two brown sugar cookies. Everyone is always surprised by them and loves them. Dates may be old-fashioned, but they are still around for a reason!

    I always use pre-chopped dates because chopping them myself is always a big sticky mess, and I really can’t tell the difference in the finished product – we did a date cookie side-by-side comparison a few years back and there was no discernible difference. Thanks for this new, wonderful way to use dates!

  101. Grant

    Just made these and also found myself a little short on crumbs for the top, but granted, I did use a 9-inch pan. Also, my crumb mixture seemed a lot moister than in the photos, so I added a little extra flour and oats. But neither issue ended up causing any trouble – they came out absolutely delicious. I would make them again without changing anything.

  102. Rachel

    Just made these for a new mama and was definitely short on crumbs. Had to make an emergency second batch of crumbs to have enough for the top layer. Once I made the second batch it was perfect.

  103. Am

    Made these this past week, and had to use a LOT more of the mixture to actually cover the bottom, as many people have said. I used old-fashioned oats.

    Also, once I cut the squares, the bottom tended to fall off in pieces as we ate them. They were very crumbly.

    I found myself wanting some sort of other flavor besides the dates, oats, and sugar. They were a little meh to me.

    Maybe I’d try these again with pistachios, orange flower water, and a little less sugar?

  104. Erica

    Just made these and they were delicious! They were crumbly, but it didn’t matter – you just need a fork to eat them.
    I will definitely be making these again!

  105. AmberGale

    I have the second-ever batch of these in the oven right now, and I loved them after the first go, but I think the recipe still has some kinks to work out. Here’s my tale:

    Batch 1: 8×8 glass pyrex. Made 150% batch of crumbs after seeing early comments. Used old fashioned oats and coconut oil only, and used the mix of sugars as per the recipe. My crumb mix was more of a sludge, so I added quite a bit more flour and a little more oats to get it closer to your photo, but it was still pretty moist. Because of this, I definitely had enough crumbs for top and bottom, but the finished bars were very crumbly. But very delicious. I figured that my extra flour may have dried them out too much.

    Batch 2: 9×13 glass pyrex. Made 250% of crumb mix. Old fashioned oats and coconut oil. Again, very sludgey. Decided to try rolling with the sludge in hopes of a better finished product, and patted the sludge into the bottom of the pan. Pretty thin layer. Did not have enough remaining crumb to cover top, and I decided that I really had to add more flour to that in order to even get it sprinkled over the top of the date mix. I got about 90% coverage. Turns out I should have added the extra flour – after baking and cooling, the bottom layer is only really holding together as far as it is stuck to the date layer — it’s just a crumbly mess. Still delicious.

    I’m stumped. Maybe the fat matters? I guess I need to try it next with butter, or else just start cutting back the coconut oil if I want to follow the recipe as written. Or maybe try a liquid sweetener as someone above mentions.

  106. Jan

    I made these yesterday and Dad and I loved them. I had plenty of crumbs; used an 8×8 pan, coconut oil, and old fashioned oatmeal. My question relates to the crumb–the top is very crumbly as in we ate them over a plate to catch the crumbs. I did a little research and found that the average of 4 recipes (some were for jam bars) was 1/2 butter (other oils not mentioned, but vintage recipes), 2/3 cup sugar (I might try 1/3, since sugar = liquid in a recipe), 2/3 c. oatmeal, and a total of 1-1/4 cups flour. I’d thought it might need more butter/oil, but now I think it might be the sugar.

    I really don’t want to use more sugar: yours as written are plenty sweet. The spices take these into the ambrosial category!

    Did you ever remake them?

  107. Gail

    Hi Deb, I’ve made these a few times and like all your recipes- absolutely delicious! I did find however that they were super crumbly and didn’t really stay together, even though I did exactly as you said… Any ideas why? (not that it ever stopped us from demolishing them almost immediately).

  108. Connie Shafer

    Delicious! Made these this morning to serve with a quiche. Might have one for dessert tonight with a little vanilla ice cream. Super simple to make and I would love to cut myself another HUGE piece right now. Unfortunately, just because I have created a healthy, date filled morsel, consuming the entire pan would not be a good thing. Tempting.

  109. katesshortandsweets

    these are great! I added a little more water to my pot of dates because the 3/4 cup called for in the recipe didn’t cover them. Don’t do it! It was fine, it just took longer to cook down, though I did end up with lovely, spreadable date goop.

  110. gigi

    Love these. Parchment paper is the way to go for lining the pan and for firmly pressing down the bottom layer. We like juicing the orange after grating the zest and using it as part of the 3/4 cup liquid also.

  111. Anna

    I just put this into the oven. Smells heavenly :)
    Quick question though- the amounts you suggest in the recipe barely covered my pan at all. I had to add some more oats, etc. to get it to cover the pan on the bottom and on top of the date layer. My pan is the right size (8×8). Why is there so little of this? Am I doing something wrong? Seems odd. Otherwise very tasty though!