The Ultimate Guide to the 13 Best Substitutes For Dates

The 13 Best Date Substitutes

Dates are a delicious and versatile fruit that is often used in a variety of recipes. However, they are not always readily available or convenient to use. Fortunately, there are several excellent date substitutes that can be used in cooking and baking. In this article, we will explore the 13 best date substitutes and discuss their characteristics, flavors, and culinary uses.

1. Raisins

Raisins are a popular date substitute due to their similar texture and versatility. While they may differ slightly in taste, raisins offer a milder sweetness compared to dates. They can be used in baked goods and various culinary applications. To achieve a similar bite and texture as dates, raisins can be soaked in water overnight.

2. Dried Apricot

Dried apricots are another excellent date substitute. They have a fantastic flavor that is comparable to dates, and their texture makes them suitable for a variety of recipes. Dried apricots can be diced or sliced before adding them to your dishes. When hydrated, they become pliable and can be incorporated into cookies, bars, cakes, and more.

3. Dried Berries

Dried berries, such as dried cranberries, offer both nutrition and flavor as a date substitute. These fruits are not overly sweet and require minimal preparation. Adding a handful of dried berries to your favorite recipe can enhance the overall flavor and texture.

4. Dried Cherries

Dried cherries offer a similar nutritional and flavor profile to dried berries. They can be used as a direct replacement for dates due to their simple and less sweet taste. Dried cherries are easy to find and have a longer shelf life. If you don’t have dried cherries on hand, you can easily make them using a dehydrator or sun drying method.

5. Small Apricots

Small apricots, also known as unripe apricots, offer a unique and concentrated fruity flavor. They have a balanced sweetness and are easier to process than dates. Small apricots can be used as a substitute for dates in terms of flavor and texture. You can also choose tender and ripe versions of this fruit for a similar experience.

6. Figs

Figs are nutrient-dense and an excellent date substitute. They are easy to find and require minimal processing. While figs have small seeds that provide a different mouthfeel, they offer similar flavor notes to dates. Figs are not overly sweet and can enhance the overall flavor profile of various baked goods and savory recipes.

7. Raisin Paste

If you prefer to use a paste instead of solid date pulp, raisin paste is an excellent alternative. It offers more flexibility in use than regular raisins. Raisin paste provides most of the flavor found in dates and can be used in dressings, marinades, and general cooking. It can also enhance flavor and act as a binding agent in baked goods.

8. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup has similar flavor characteristics to dates, making it an excellent alternative. Although it is not as nutritious as dates and often contains corn syrup, it is a tasty and familiar ingredient that can mimic or replace the flavors of dates in dessert recipes. For best results, pair maple syrup with dried raisins for a nice combination of flavor and texture.

9. Cane Sugar

Cane sugar, also known as jaggery, can be used as a date substitute in a variety of recipes, including beverages. It offers similar flavor notes and comes in several varieties, allowing you to experiment with different flavors. Jaggery has a caramel-like flavor with hints of molasses and maple. Its lower sweetness compared to dates makes it suitable for baked goods, herbal teas, and other delicious recipes.

10. Jujube

Jujube, also known as Chinese date or red date, belongs to the same family as dates, but has a slightly different texture and flavor. While less sweet than dates, jujubes offer similar flavor characteristics with a stronger focus on fruity undertones. Like dates, jujubes can be difficult to process due to the seed in the center, but they are significantly less sweet and sticky.

11. Cascara

Cascara, the dried skin of the coffee cherry, is gaining popularity as a date substitute. It provides unique flavor notes and can be used in a variety of culinary applications. However, cascara offers a different flavor compared to dates and may not be an exact substitute. Experimenting with cascara can add an interesting twist to your recipes.

12. Prunes

Prunes, also known as dried plums, are a versatile date substitute. They have a rich and sweet flavor reminiscent of dates, making them an excellent choice for baking and cooking. Prunes can be easily pureed or chopped and added to recipes, providing a texture and flavor similar to dates. They are also a good source of fiber and can add moisture to baked goods.

13. Date Syrup

Finally, date syrup is a concentrated sweetener made from dates. It offers a similar flavor profile and can be used as a direct replacement for dates in recipes. Date syrup is ideal for sweetening beverages, dressings and desserts. It provides a rich, caramel-like taste and can enhance the overall flavor of your dishes.
In conclusion, if you find yourself without dates in your pantry, there are many alternatives that can be used in cooking and baking. Raisins, dried apricots, dried berries, and dried cherries offer similar textures and flavors. Small apricots, figs, and raisin paste are also excellent substitutes. Maple syrup, cane sugar, and jujube offer different but complementary flavors. Cascara, prunes, and date syrup offer unique flavor profiles that can add depth to your recipes. Experimenting with these substitutes can open up new possibilities in your culinary adventures.


Why do I need to replace dates in recipes?

There are several reasons why you may need to substitute dates. One common reason is that you may not have dates in your pantry. In addition, some people may not like the texture or taste of dates, or they may have dietary restrictions that require finding alternatives.

Can I substitute fresh fruit for dates?

While fresh fruit can be used in some recipes, it may not provide the same texture and flavor as dates. Dried fruits, such as raisins, dried apricots, and figs, are generally better substitutes for dates because of their concentrated sweetness and chewiness.

How do I use raisins as a date substitute?

Raisins can be used as a direct date substitute in many recipes. To achieve a similar texture, you can soak raisins in water overnight before using. This will help soften them and make them more similar to the texture of dates.

Are there any date substitutes that have a similar caramel-like flavor?

Yes, there are substitutes that provide a similar caramel-like flavor to dates. Maple syrup and cane sugar (jaggery) can provide similar flavor profiles in recipes. However, it’s important to note that they may not have the same texture as dates.

Can I use date syrup instead of whole dates?

Yes, date syrup can be used to replace whole dates in recipes. It offers a similar flavor profile and can add sweetness and depth to your dishes. However, keep in mind that date syrup is a liquid sweetener, so it can affect the texture and moisture content of your recipe.

Are there any date substitutes that can be used in savory dishes?

Yes, dried figs and jujubes can be used as date substitutes in savory dishes. These fruits offer a unique flavor profile and can add complexity to rice dishes, dressings and marinades.