This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclaimer.
These easy Date Bars are a delightful sweet treat made with a buttery crust, a jammy date filling, and a pecan-oat crumble on top. Every bite tastes like nostalgia, with warm, comforting flavors and sweet dried fruit!
I am a bar connoisseur. No, not the drinking kind, but the dessert kind! I love bars and squares, like cherry crumb bars and mango crumb bars because they’re delightfully crumbly, almost always feature a fruity filling, and are a nice change from classic brownies or cupcakes.
Speaking of classics, these Date Bars are an old-fashioned Canadian dessert that still holds up today! They’re a three-layered treat made with a buttery cinnamon-infused crust, a sweet date filling, and a pecan-oat crumble on top. The result is a platter of gooey, sweet, and just plain comforting bars the whole family will love!
- An oldie, but a goodie; date bars are an old-fashioned layered dessert that might remind you of happy times spent at your grandparents' house.
- They’re easy to make with dates and simple baking staples!
- It’s a versatile recipe that can easily be made gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and egg free.
- With comforting warm spices and a sweet date filling, it’s no wonder why these oatmeal date squares are so popular!
Dates - Make sure the dates are pitted before you get started!
Oats - I made the crust with quick rolled oats but old-fashioned rolled oats should work just as well.
Flour - This is used for the base of the crust and crumble topping. All purpose flour works best, but whole wheat flour or a quality 1:1 gluten free flour should work just as well.
Brown sugar - Brown sugar sweetens the date filling and the crust/crumble topping.
Butter - Keep your butter in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to add it to the crust mixture. Cold butter melts slowly as it bakes, which leaves you with a more delectable, melt-in-your-mouth crust.
Egg - An egg helps bind the crust together. To make these egg free, replace the egg with one flax egg instead (1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 2.5 tablespoons of water).
Pecans - These add a nice crunch and nutty flavor to the crumble topping. You can replace these with any kind of nut you already have at home, like almonds or walnuts. Or omit the pecans if you have a nut allergy.
Step 1: Make the date filling. Add the dates, water, brown sugar, and lemon juice to a saucepan. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then reduce the heat. Stir the mixture occasionally until it’s thickened.
Step 2: Mash the dates. Once it’s ready, use a wooden spoon to mash the date pieces in the filling until you have a somewhat smooth mixture. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Step 3: Make the crust. Stir the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Add the grated butter and work it into the dough using a fork or your hands. Finish by stirring in the egg.
Step 4: Start assembling. Add some of the crust to the bottom of your prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. Spread the date filling over top.
Step 5: Finish assembling. Stir the pecans into the bowl with the remaining crust. Crumble it over the date mixture in the pan.
Step 6: Bake, then slice. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top is slightly golden. Let the date bars cool in the pan before removing and slicing them into squares. Enjoy!
Tips and FAQS
- Mix up the flavors by stirring shredded coconut, seeds, or dried fruit into the crumble topping instead of the pecans.
- Remember to leave a 1-inch overhang of parchment paper in the baking pan for easy removal.
- Always let the bars cool in the baking pan for at least 30 minutes before removing and slicing! This way, they won’t fall apart or crumble too much.
- For the cleanest slices, run a sharp chef’s knife under hot running water before slicing into the bars. Repeat after every slice.
What kind of dates are best for date squares?
Pitted Medjool dates are popular in date square recipes because they have the sweetest flavor. If you don’t have Medjool dates, feel free to use any kind of pitted date you already have at home.
How do you make gluten free date bars?
I’ve only tested this recipe with all purpose flour, but a 1:1 gluten free flour should work well as a substitute. I don’t recommend using any other kind of gluten free flour.
Also, make sure the oats you’re using are certified gluten free, as not all oats are naturally gluten free.
Can they be made dairy free?
Again, I’ve only tested this recipe with regular butter, but good quality dairy free butter or coconut oil should work well instead. Just make sure they’re very cold before you get started!
Refrigerator: Store the sliced bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Freezer: Once they’re completely cool, transfer the date bars to a freezer-safe container, separating each one with a layer of parchment or wax paper so they don't stick. Freeze for up to 3 months.
More bars and squares to try
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
- Preheat the oven to 350° and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper; set aside.
- Add the dates, water, brown sugar, and lemon juice to a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until it’s thickened, 3-5 minutes, using a wooden spoon to help break down the dates. Remove from the heat then stir in the vanilla.
- Next, make the crust: stir the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Grate the butter into the bowl, then use a fork or your hands to combine until the butter is small and pebble-like. Last, add the egg and stir to combine. The dough should stick together when you pinch.
- Add ⅔ of the mixture to your prepared pan, using your hands to press it down into the pan. Then, add the date mixture overtop, using the back of a spoon to smooth it out.
- Add the pecans to the bowl with the remaining crust mixture then stir to combine. Sprinkle it overtop of the date mixture.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake the bars for 35-40 minutes, until the top is slightly golden.
- Allow the bars to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before removing the bars. Slice into 16 smaller bars or 9 large bars and enjoy!