How to Make Date Paste (A healthy sugar substitute!)

I’ve been on a mission to sweeten more of my dessert recipes with dates lately. If you ask me, dates are the BEST natural sweetener because they are loaded with fiber and essential minerals, like calcium and iron.

Medjool dates in a bowl on white background

You may have already tried these amazing Date-Sweetened Brownies and Date-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cookies, but I also wanted to give you an option for using dates as a sugar substitute in practically ANY recipe. That’s where date paste comes in.

jar of homemade date paste

I remember hearing about date paste years ago, but I was always leery of trying it because the method for making it sounded so… vague. Recipe directions usually go something like “add enough water and blend until a paste is formed.” But how much water and how many dates you use could vary SO MUCH with those instructions! Especially if you soak the dates first.

Maybe that works for some home cooks, but I prefer hard and fast measurements so that I can easily follow along. (That’s why I’ve always loved baking– give me a set of solid directions I can follow and I’m happy.)

That’s why I’m sharing my exact measurements for making date paste today, along with some recipes that I’ve used it in, so you can see how you can use date paste as a substitute for sugar.

measuring cup of homemade date paste

Why are dates good for you?

  • They may help lower cholesterol. Dates are loaded with soluble fiber, which may help to lower the total cholesterol in your blood.
  • They’re good for bone health. Dates contain minerals like selenium, magnesium, manganese and copper, which are thought to keep bones healthy and help to prevent osteoporosis.
  • They’re good for constipation. Dates are known for helping to relieve constipation, most likely due to their soluble fiber and magnesium content.
  • They’re rich in iron. Dates are a plant-based source of iron, which may help to prevent anemia. (I ate a bunch of them during my second pregnancy, and I managed to avoid anemia like I had during my first pregnancy.)
  • They’re good for your skin. Dates contain vitamins C and D, which are thought to help with skin elasticity.

Are dates good for diabetics?

I know some people are scared of the “sugar” in dates, but research has shown that dates are a low glycemic food. A study that tested the effect of eating dates on healthy individuals and on those with diabetes found that dates do not cause significant glucose spikes in the blood, and therefore may be beneficial for diabetics as part of a healthy diet. (source)

How to Make Date Paste

The ratio I’ve been using to make date paste is 1 cup of tightly packed dates (about 8 ounces by weight) + 1/4 cup of water. I wanted to use as little water as possible, so as not to add too much hydration to a recipe when making sugar substitutions, but this seems to be just enough water to also make the dates blend in a normal food processor. (That way you don’t need a fancy high-speed blender!)

dates in a food processor, blended to make date paste

5 from 7 votes
Print
How to Make Date Paste (a healthy sugar substitute!)
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Here's how to make date paste, a healthy substitute for sugar, and how to use dates as a substitute for sugar and maple syrup in baking. 

Course: Dessert
Servings: 26 tablespoons
Calories: 104 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Medjool dates , pitted (about 2 cups tightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the pitted dates and water.

  2. Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl to make sure all of the dates are incorporated.

  3. Store the date paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks, and use it in your favorite healthy recipes.

How to use Date Paste as a Sugar Substitute

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me testing date paste as a substitute in various recipes. I wanted to see how date paste worked as a 1:1 substitute for various types of sugar in recipes, including coconut sugar and maple syrup. Keep in mind that when you use date paste as a substitute, the texture and sweetness will vary slightly from the original recipe– so maybe don’t experiment with this right before serving guests!

To Substitute Date Paste for Sugar:

Use a 1:1 ratio when subbing date paste for granulated sugar, like coconut sugar. I tested this method with my Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies and found that the results were slightly softer and slightly less sweet, but the cookies still held together well. You can get away with adding slightly more date paste, for a sweeter flavor, but keep in mind that the date paste will create a more cake-like texture, rather than a chewy texture in baked goods. (I went ahead and used a full cup of date paste in this cookie recipe, and they still turned out well.)

chocolate chip cookies made with date paste

To Substitute Date Paste for Maple Syrup:

Use double the amount of date paste when subbing for maple syrup. So, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of maple syrup, I’d recommend using 1 cup of date paste. I tested this method using my Paleo Pumpkin Spice Muffins, and the results were super-dry when replacing the maple syrup with a 1:1 ratio of date paste, but if you double the amount of date paste, the texture and sweetness are much better.

pumpkin spice muffins made with date paste

One thing I’ve noticed when substituting date paste for either a granulated sugar or maple syrup is that the baked goods seem slightly drier than the original, which I found surprising! I thought the date paste would make baked goods too moist, but that hasn’t been the case so far. I imagine that it might vary per recipe, particularly since there are so many variables in baked goods, like the type of flour used and the amount of oil called for, so I’ll continue to update this post as I experiment with this super-healthy sweetener even more.

(Next time I’m going to try to add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the date paste, to help account for the dryness it adds. I’ll report back!)

You can bet that my daughter’s first birthday cake is going to be sweetened with date paste this year!

Reader Feedback: Have you used date paste before? Feel free to share your favorite recipes to use it in, or make a recipe request for something you want to see sweetened with dates.

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Comments

Noreen

Once again you amaze me with your innovations for everyday living. Thank you for guiding me along a healthful path where I no longer eat any sugar. Your recipes and advice have made living with no sugar a possibility and a joy.

Dahlia

Just made this yesterday and used it with cinnamon as the filling for cinnamon buns! (Used maple syrup in the actual dough) It was amazing!!!! I thought it might have a date taste but it doesn’t, really tasted like sugar and cinnamon! Thanks!!!!

Rach

I don’t have a food processor. Would a nutribullet be ok? Thanks

    Wendy

    Yes!!! Works great. I prefer to make mine in the bullet. Just add a tad more water, if needed.

Melodie

This is great! Thank you!

Jackie

I love dates, but it’s important to go easy on quantity. Between 2 to 3 dates contain 25 grams of fructose, so eating more dates, or more of any kind of food containing fructose during the same day, can have some pretty nasty impacts on the liver (which has to break fructose down) and the rest of the body. See more here:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-fructose-bad-for-you-201104262425

    Megan Gilmore

    I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can on the subject, and every study that actually compares the industrial fructose (like high fructose corn syrup or refined white sugar) to the fructose in fruit seems to show that fruit is EXEMPT from those negative impacts, possibly because of all the fiber and polyphenols fruit also contains. I’ve even seen a study where they studied fresh fruit juice, with the fiber removed, and it was still beneficial, rather than harmful. (And some of these studies have participants eat 20 pieces of fruit a day with no negative outcomes.)

    If you have a link to a study that shows where fresh fruit has shown to have a negative impact, I would actually be really curious to take a look at it. At the moment, it seems that Dr. Lustig has a tendency to lump all fructose into the same category, but that doesn’t seem appropriate with the studies I’ve seen.

Wendy

I make mine in my Nutri Bullet. Nice and creamy. No chunks. Love this stuff.

Christine

HI Megan, I wanted to let you know that the date paste worked perfectly for your cinnamon muffins.
I doubled the amount of date paste, and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. I also added a couple tablespoons of coconut oil since you reported some dryness issues.

Thanks so much!

Nikki

I just made your paleo pumpkin muffins and doubled the date paste. Turned out great! I deal with chronic constipation and made a prune/date/raisin paste, but couldn’t stand to eat it by itself. It’s so much better in baked goods! Thanks for the idea!

lizbeth

Hi Megan, I’ve been a fan for a long time now and have both your cookbooks and I make recipes weekly, you definitely have a gift!. I was thinking that the date paste could be used to make a chocolate frosting or nutella type spread, using whole ingredients. I’ve been experimenting with raw cacao powder, dates, macadamia nuts and water in the vita mix and the results have been promising, but i bet you could perfect something like that! just a hopeful suggestion. 🙂

    Megan Gilmore

    Ha, you must have read my mind! I was testing a date-sweetened chocolate frosting yesterday. 🙂 The results aren’t perfect yet, but hopefully soon!

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