Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars

A quintessential holiday treat, these Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars are rich and gooey with a crisp oatmeal topping. Always a family favorite!

Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars

Today is my birthday and while I do love German Chocolate Cake; that’s a big dessert to make without a party planned so I decided to make myself a whole bunch of these old fashioned Date Nut Bars that I’ve loved since I was a young girl. A cake will happen but not today and I love these bars so much that I’m OK with that!

There is another well known recipe for Dromedary Date Nut Bars…I prefer my family version but if those are what you are after, you can find that recipe here.

Funny but even with this recipe online, I still had to find my little yellow binder with the handwritten recipe card. Some of these recipes are more than the sum of their ingredients; some are precious memories too and seeing those cards can take me back in time quickly to the moment of first discovery so I keep that little binder and was so hoping it had not been lost in the move.

My Grandma Bathe (my Dad’s mother) and my Mom made these Date Nut Bars for holidays for as long as I can remember (and they were my Dad’s favorite too!). When they were both gone and no longer carrying the torch of keeping this a family treasure I was happy to take on that role.

Wondering now if those simple things that meant so much to me will matter to my own girls; they don’t seem as much inclined to be vested in family baking ventures as I have always been so maybe it’s perfect that I’m sharing this today in hopes many of you will love them and hold this recipe precious as well.

recipe-binderNot made just for tradition though; I love them. I mean as in I have to package them away and hide them from me so I don’t eat the whole pan love them. They are a simple treat; simple to make, simple to serve and simple to eat.

But they are also a delicious one; especially if you love dates in any fashion like I do. Slightly crispy crust that is replicated as the topping with a creamy date, walnut and coconut filling sandwiched between. Mine has coconut but I think I might have made that addition a long time ago but other than that?

I could almost see the faded recipe card and I remembered fondly the ‘olden’ days when cooks shared their creations with their friends and family and no one yelled about owning a recipe…sharing it was all that mattered.

One last foray into one more box and I’m surprised if you didn’t hear me squeal; seems almost silly but I have few real treasures from those many, many years ago and this little ugly yellow binder is one of them.

Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars

These Date Nut Bars had fallen out of my consciousness and I’m glad I thought of them and took the time to re-discover the recipe; they are absolutely going  back in the rotation.

These are for you too Dad; I will think fondly of you every year when I make these for the holidays. Hope you know you are missed but we’ll be thinking of you and every time I make these you and Mom and Grandma will be close by. I owe you. 

I will never forget how you fought to convince Mom to let me have that Princess phone in my room for my big Christmas gift when I was twelve. Still love talking on the phone more than texting. πŸ™‚

They may be old-fashioned but they should not be out of favor. Even my friend Sam (who I should really call Mikey), professed a sort of ‘meh’ attitude about something with dates and surprise…he really liked Date Nut Bars!

PIN IT ‘Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars’

Date Nut Bars on Holiday Plate with Coffee Cups in Background.

Date Nut Bars Served on White Plate with Coffee

Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars

Date Nut Bars

Print Recipe
These Date Nut Bars are an old fashioned treat that never go out of style. Rich and so yummy!
Course Cookies, Brownies and Bars
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 18 -24 Servings
Calories 251
Author Barb

Ingredients

For the Date Filling:

  • 1 lb chopped dates See Notes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts toasted
  • 1 cup coconut

For the Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter melted

Instructions

  • To Make the Filling
  • Boil dates, sugar, and water until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Add the butter, vanilla, walnuts and coconut and mix thoroughly.
  • Set aside to cool a bit.
  • Prepare the crust
  • Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Firmly press half of the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.
  • Cover with filling mixture.
  • Top with remaining half of crust mixture. Press lightly.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; watch carefully and do not overbake.
  • Cut into squares when cool and store in an airtight container.

Notes

Dates are a pain to chop so I used to buy the pre-chopped ones from the grocery store but they were always dry. I noticed that they were coated in sugar too and it hit me one day that this is how they kept them from sticking together. Duh.
So, I put my pitted dates into a food processor and combine the dates with the sugar and chopped until they were a uniform size. So easy and no sticking!
No food processor? Simply put sugar and dates on cutting board and keep mixing them together; it will help to keep them from sticking to your knife and to each other!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 251kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 174mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 27g

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42 Comments

  1. Just too out of oven and cannot wait to try! Only had whole dates so used food processor to make quick work of chopping. So excited – used to love the box mix way back when.

      1. I saw your first comment and responded before I saw this…like a kid I would say, ‘told ya!’ So glad you are enjoying them. Now why do I only make those over the holidays? I’m craving one right now!

  2. instead of using water to simmer dates, i use apricot nectar and they not only result tender but also with a little of the flavor. I also know of the neat trick to use sugar to chop but don’t add as much sugar to simmer.

  3. Date squares use to make them for my Dad. I made for hubby and he adored, next day I made them for a friends Dad who shared with his family in from NFLD, everyone gave rave reviews. My new go to Date Square . Thank you

  4. cut recipe in half…….made them twice in 4 days next time full batch. Hubby said the best i’ve ever made
    can’t take the credit it was all you
    thanks

  5. I used to have a recipe for date bars long ago, that used lemonade in place of the water. It added a little spark to the recipe.

  6. These were delicious! My mother used to make them from a box, but I haven’t seen it for years. It finally occurred to me to search Pinterest and found your recipe! I always liked the box kind, but these are WAY better! I am thrilled – a childhood treat, but fresh ingredients and no preservatives! And they are even better the next day. Love this recipe! And by the way, I threw the dates and sugar into my Vitamix and in just a few seconds they were chopped perfectly. Genius idea!

    1. I remember the box mix from when I was a young girl and I agree…with EVERYTHING you said! Making another batch today; my neighbors have cleaned me out! So glad you enjoyed them…Happy New Year!

  7. Many were saying how difficult it is to chop the dates, my solution is get a sharp knife, dip in hot water from a glass full of hot water.
    Do this with each cut. They are chopped in no time.

    1. I’m 70 yrs old have not made these in a long time, but my grandmother had me cut the dates with kitchen scissors work every time Got them in the oven now can’t wait, I remember when I was so little how much I loved this recipe .!

  8. Thank you for the memories. For me, it was my dear Grandmother that always made these as a special treat during the holidays. It made me think of her in her little kitchen and brought a tear to my eye. That was many, many moons ago but the memory is still vivid. I will be making these soon and will think of her the whole time. Thanks again!

  9. I’m definitely making this recipe. My sisters and I have fond memories of date bars our Mom would make regularly. Always a hit.

    A trick I learned from one of Maida Heatter’s baking books….Use kitchen scissors dipped in cold water to “chop” dates without them sticking. Keep dipping in cold water as needed. Works like a charm. Also works with a big chopping knife held under the cold water faucet.

    1. I tried them all Elizabeth but for me, adding the sugar to the dates in the recipe and chopping them was the easiest of all; I could put them into my Cuisinart and have them done in seconds! You know I recall the box I think now that you mention it…wow that is a memory from way back…and probably why I loved making them from scratch!

  10. I’m so glad you have given this recipe to all of us that have sweet memories of these bars. I’ve never had the toasted nuts and looking forward to tasting them. Sharing family recipes keeps our memories alive. Thank you for sharing yours!???

  11. Oh Dear Yes, yes. I love these bars from my childhood. As with you, I didn’t want just “any” recipe, I wanted the original real one. Thank you so much. I have made these a few times without any receipt, but they weren’t the same. I’m going to make these this week. I love em!

    Tony S.

    1. I’m making them this week too…I just love them so much! So glad we found each other; kindred date bar souls. πŸ™‚

      1. The really old old recipe from the Dromedary packet is very different AND it includes coconut so maybe one of your fore-bearers combined the two. Our family always had this kind with the walnuts or hickory nuts in the top layer of oat mixture.

        1. Who knows…for me I know I change up everything I try so would not be surprised if a revision was made somewhere along the way. Truth be told who knows if the original of this recipe was the one and the same as what is on a package of dates. I sort of love how recipes get told and retold and shared all over the world!

    1. You say dessicated and I say shredded…and that’s what I use. Gotta keep it simple! Be careful, I think these are totally addictive.

  12. Barbara,

    Happy belated birthday.

    Glad you found your binder. I remember sitting down with my mothers metal recipe card file and copying down all my favorite recipes (some from 4 generations!) before leaving for college. I still have the ones I copied plus some originals from my mother and grandmother so I know how much you cherish yours.

  13. Happy Birthday Barb! Wishing you a wonderfully happy year.

    How nice that the yellow binder was found. It’s a little treasure that you want to always hang on to.

    Love date squares and while I’ve never made them with nuts I can imagine how delicious of an addition the walnuts are.

    1. Thanks so much Paula and YES you need to add the nuts. Toasted before adding. SO good. I seriously hid them from me. But I also seriously know where are. Uh oh. πŸ™‚

  14. Funny, I just bought dates today which I rarely do. Although it is for a savory dish I was thinking about the date nut bread my mom always had in the house. I love old fashioned foods like that date nut bread and your date nut bars that have a family history behind them. I hope you had a very Happy and Delicious Birthday, friend xoxo

  15. My mom used to make a recipe very similar to this. Might be the same recipe (or very close) but I can’t check it at the moment — my copy is buried somewhere! Although I know more or less where it is — just don’t want to dig for it. Reason enough to put it on my blog, right? This looks terrific. Oh, and Happy Birthday!

  16. Barb, I have some tattered, handwritten recipes in a loose binder, and how they transport me to another time too. The memories of your loved ones are poignant, and fitting to remember on your special day. Thank you for the nod, my friend. Wishing you a Happy Birthday full of wishes to come true!

    1. I do thank you for the recipe Brooks; of course I would have much preferred that the finished result appear on my doorstep. Guess I’m gonna have to get to it huh? πŸ™‚

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