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

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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

date paste in measuring cup
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How to Make Date Paste (a healthy sugar substitute!)

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
Cuisine American
Keyword dates, how to
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 26 tablespoons
Calories 104kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Medjool dates , pitted (about 2 cups tightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the pitted dates and water.
  • Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl to make sure all of the dates are incorporated.
  • Store the date paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks, and use it in your favorite healthy recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 0.6g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 2104mg | Fiber: 2.5g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 450IU | Calcium: 194mg | Iron: 2.7mg
Per Serving: Calories: 104, Carbohydrates: 28g, Fiber: 2.5g, Protein: 0.6g

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

Coco p.

Did you try adding the oil to make recipes less dry? How did it go?

Katherine Pearson

Love the date paste but curious about the nutrition info. What is the amount considered for your nutrition data? 1T, 1Cup ???

Kelly Holt

I’m looking for a recipe for an orange date pound cake. Need less sugar but thinking some maple syrup would be splendid in this kind of cake? I want to use the date paste and NOT chunks… family would revolt. I have been following you for some time now. 💙💙. My nutritionist In Little Rock recommended you.
So basically… I’m asking if you could create this recipe for me. 😬.
Luuuuv citrus.

Geri Habstritt

I believe you forgot to mention the dates need to be soaked first. My date paste isn’t smooth at all. Not sure what to do with it now. Maybe soak the lumpy mix and try blend again.

    Megan Gilmore

    The dates I use are very soft and squishy, so they don’t need to be soaked before blending. However, if the dates you’re finding at the store are dry or hard, you can definitely soak them in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes before getting started. You can always add more water, as needed, to help the dates blend, until you reach the consistency that you want!

bextermommy

Please edit this to specify that dates don’t cause significant spikes in TYPE 2 diabetics. If my T1D son were to eat this, he’d spike dramatically.

Kiesha

Do the dates need to be soaked?

Mary

Thank you for this great substitution recommendation! I have drastically cut out sugar in my diet, as well as gluten, but love to bake. I will definitely give date paste a try!

josephine Spiteri

how much dates can I use for the recipe of a fruit cake that 100gms sugar re required. The method used or this cake is the boiled method. Thank you.

Chad Prewett

Have you tried substituting date paste for white sugar when making a large amount of syrup for simmering fruits?

I make candied sweet potato (and pumpkin and squash), and the recipe calls for chunks to simmer in 5 Liters of syrup for 2 hours. I’ve been making a basic syrup with white sugar and some extracts for flavoring . . . . but I’d like to replace the white sugar with date paste. (I have a store near me where I can buy packaged date paste inexpensively.)

Carrie

Did you try adding oil to the date paste? Is it a good idea? What kind of oil?

Diana

I tried this date paste in oatmeal cookies. It replaces the white and brown sugar. Absolutely delicious! its so good, my husband even likes them. He is super picky. i have found that the cookies are a bit dry. I will have to try your idea of adding some olive oil. thank you!

Cynthia

Hi,

Thank you for this recipe. I’m sorry if so missed it, but how long does this date paste last in the fridge. I would love to use it as a sweetener for oatmeal and was wondering how long it lasts in the fridge. Thank you!

    Megan Gilmore

    It should last for up to a week in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

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