Nuggets of caramel-sweet desert gold, dates are unlike any other fruit. Try them in our recipes—and get your fix from an unlikely source in the Missouri Ozarks.

By Hannah Agran
December 28, 2020

Our five date recipes will introduce you to the possibilities of this nutritious fruit. Below, find more information about date snacks, date FAQ and a Missouri shop with date-based products.

Credit: Paul Lowe

CITRUS-DATE SALAD Hello, sunshine! Shingle sliced blood oranges and tangerines across a platter, then top them with arugula, pine nuts, dates, feta, a drizzle of olive oil and a flurry of cracked pepper. As you eat, the citrus juices mingle with the oil, so you don't even have to mix up a dressing. Get the recipe.

Credit: Paul Lowe

DATE-AND-NUT ENERGY BARS Jam-packed with mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and steel-cut oats. Kissed with salt. And naturally sweetened with dates and maple syrup. These chewy, crunchy snacks provide a definitive answer to the question, “Why on earth would I DIY a granola bar?” Get the recipe.

Credit: Paul Lowe

DATE SHAKE Legend holds that a California date farmer thought to blend dates into vanilla milkshakes in the 1930s. Nearly a century later, they remain the iconic roadside drink of Palm Springs. The fruit adds an undercurrent of brown sugar flavor. Get the recipe.

Credit: Paul Lowe

CHICKEN WITH OLIVES AND DATES After searing thighs on the stove top, add a mess of dates, olives, garlic cloves, thyme and lemon, then slide the pan in the oven for 35 minutes. This dish couldn’t be easier, but the payoff is succulent, sweet, savory and so much more than the sum of its parts. Get the recipe.

Spiced Rice Pudding with Date-Pepper Syrup
| Credit: Jason Donnelly

SPICED RICE PUDDING WITH DATE-PEPPER SYRUP Egg yolks make this rice pudding extra indulgent. The spices are bold but are tempered by the rich sweetness of the dates. Get the recipe.

Date Q&A

IS IT LIKE A RAISIN? Kind of. Dates are jammy-chewy and often a bit wrinkled, like other dried fruits—but they aren’t fully dehydrated, and they eat more like candy, with a supersweet brown sugar flavor. They’re also bigger, usually an inch or two long.

Credit: Andy Lyons

WHERE DO THEY GROW? On palm trees in arid climates. Dates are native to the Middle East (evidence of their cultivation goes back 7,000 years), and hundreds of varieties are grown around the globe today. Here in the U.S., it’s easiest to find Medjool dates, sold packaged in the produce section, whole or pitted. (Skip the chopped ones in the baking aisle; they’re a poor excuse for dates.)

Date palms
| Credit: Kolderal/Moment/Getty Images

ARE THEY HEALTHY? Dates are high in natural sugar, but they fall low on the glycemic index and are nutrient-rich. Upshot: They beat out a lot of sweet foods; just don’t eat them by the fistful.

WHAT'S A GOOD FIRST DATE RECIPE? If you've never tried these classics, start your date adventure with one of these. Stuff 'em Jam a walnut or an almond (raw, roasted or even smoked) inside a pitted date for a quick, nutritious snack. Bake 'em Wrap a pitted date (stuffed as above, if you like) in a third-strip of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Bake at 400° about 15 minutes or until bacon is crispy.

Meet the Date Lady

Colleen Sundlie
| Credit: Courtesy of Date Lady

In 2005, Colleen Sundlie moved to the United Arab Emirates and fell hard for dates. Back in Springfield, Missouri, she and her husband founded Date Lady, selling all kinds of date-based products. Last year they added Cafe Dhibs, a tiny coffee shop, to keep spreading the date love.

Pantry Stock-Up

Pantry Stock-Up
| Credit: Courtesy of Date Lady

A few Date Lady faves, all available at

DATE SYRUP An all-purpose multitasker akin to honey or maple syrup—as happy on pancakes as it is glazing roasted Brussels sprouts. $8.

DATE SUGAR Sprinkle dried date “sugar” on yogurt or oatmeal, or experiment with swapping it into baked goods. $9.50.

CHOCOLATE SPREAD Like that one you know that starts with an N, but nut-free and organic, with notes of caramel from the dates. $11.

SWEET CHILI SAUCE This lightly kicky sauce blends five date varieties and tastes great with any grilled meat, or even drizzled on pizza. $1