Grandma’s Date Nut Bread

This old fashioned recipe for Date Nut Bread makes two loaves—one to keep and one to give (or freeze)! It’s moist and flavorful, and delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea.

two loaves of date nut bread on a wooden board, one with slices cut out.

Grandma’s Date Nut Bread is a recipe that is straight from my grandma’s recipe book. It’s also known as Date and Walnut Loaf.

She baked with dates quite a bit, as the book also contains recipes for Date Bars and Old Fashioned Date Cake.

Judging by the splatters on the handwritten recipe, she made it more than a few times.

recipe for date nut bread hand printed on white notebook paper.
Grandma’s hand-written recipe

The loaf is sweet and moist, and I really love it spread with butter for breakfast or a snack.

Grandma made the date bread recipe in #2 cans, but I’ve adapted it here to be made in loaf pans. If you want to try your hand at baking in tin cans, you can make the recipe in five #2 cans (more on that below).

Also, if you love quick bread, don’t miss this Banana Bread with Pecans!

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Which dates are best for date nut bread?

Medjool and deglet noor are the two most popular varieties of dates. Medjool dates are considered fresh dates, whereas deglet noor are considered dried dates.

Deglet noor dates are typically best for baking. You can find them with the other dried fruits at your local grocery store.

Dates can come in a bag or a box, and may or may not be labeled “deglet noor”. As long as they are dried (and not medjool dates), they will work for baking.

The dates are sold either whole or chopped, and either is fine for this recipe.

The reason we want to use dried dates is that the dates will be soaked in a mixture of baking soda and water, which softens them.

Then, the dates, baking soda, and water get added to the bread. Using fresh dates could throw off the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients.

Ingredients

ingredients for date nut bread on a white table.
  • Dates are the star of this bread. I recommend deglet noor dates, or another type of dried date (which you can find with the dried fruit at your local grocery store).
  • The dates are soaked in baking soda and boiling water to soften them.
  • You don’t need much butter for this recipe—only 2 tablespoons!
  • Four cups of all-purpose flour may seem like a lot, but the recipe makes two good-sized loaves.
  • Chopped walnuts add crunch. Substitute pecans if you’d like.

How to make date nut bread

Start by pouring 2 cups of boiling water over the dates and baking soda. The mixture may bubble a bit. Let it cool before proceeding with the recipe.

dates soaking in water in a white bowl.

Next, whisk together the eggs, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. The mixture will be smooth and almost shiny.

egg and sugar mixture with a whisk in a white bowl.

Then, pour in the dates and the water/baking soda that they’re soaking in, and whisk to combine.

Pour in the flour and chopped walnuts, and stir gently, just until combined. Avoid over mixing the batter, which can make the bread chewy.

date nut bread batter in a white bowl.

Divide the mixture between two greased 8×4 inch loaf pans.

Bake for 55–65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs attached. If the toothpick still has wet crumbs attached (more like batter than bread crumbs), then cook in 5 minute increments until the bread is cooked through.

two loaves of date nut bread with slices taken out.

How to make date bread in cans

To make date nut bread in cans, you’ll need five or six 20-ounce cans (these were once referred to as #2 cans). Canned fruit, such as pineapple chunks, are often sold in in the 20-ounce size.

Prepare the cans by emptying them, removing the label, and washing with dish soap and water.

Grease the cans generously with cooking spray so the bread doesn’t stick (I use an oil mister). Fill the cans half full with the batter, and bake for 50–55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs attached.

One reader noted that some cans have a lip attached, which may affect your ability to get the bread out cleanly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make date bread without nuts?

To make date nut without nuts, simply omit the nuts in this recipe. It will still be delicious! You can also substitute pecans for walnuts, if you wish.

Why is my date bread dark in color?

Soaking the dates in boiling water and baking soda creates a brown liquid that makes the dough (and also the finished loaf) a medium-to-dark brown in color. This technique is unique to date bread and is common among old fashioned date bread recipes. I personally love the color, since it contrasts nicely with a pat of butter or cream cheese!

Can I make date nut bread in advance?

Date Nut Bread can be made 1–2 days in advance of serving. Keep it tightly covered at room temperature. It’ll keep for several more days, but I find that it’s best within those first few days.

How to freeze date nut bread

Quick bread, such as banana bread or this date bread, can easily be frozen and enjoyed later. To freeze, wrap the bread tightly in aluminum foil, then transfer the wrapped bread to a resealable plastic freezer bag. Seal and freeze for up to two months.

To defrost, place the bread on the countertop for 12 hours. Slice the bread and enjoy!

date nut bread on a wooden board with dates and walnuts on the side.

Uses for leftover dates

Any leftover dates can be used a variety of ways.
– Enjoy in a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar
– Make peanut butter chocolate energy bites
– Blend them into a smoothie
– Stuff whole dates with peanut butter and eat as a snack
– Add chopped dates to trail mix

slices of date nut bread leaning onto each other.

More old fashioned quick bread recipes

This recipe for date nut bread makes two loaves, and I love giving the other one away. Quick breads are great to include with a baby meal (or a meal when someone is sick or grieving).

Here are a few other quick breads that I love for sharing:

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

slice of date nut bread next to a whole loaf.

Grandma’s Date Nut Bread

Published by Kate
This easy recipe for old fashioned date nut bread comes from Grandma's recipe book. It makes two loaves—one to keep and one to give!
4.82 from 27 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 20 servings
Calories 245 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans.
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Place the dates and baking soda in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling water over the top and allow to cool. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the bowl in the refrigerator.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt.
  • When cool, pour the water and dates into the sugar and egg mixture. Whisk to combine.
  • Use a spatula to gently stir in the flour and nuts. Take care not to overmix the batter, which can make the bread tough.
  • Divide the mixture between the two greased loaf pans. Bake for 55–65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs attached.
  • Alternatively, you can bake this recipe in tin cans. Grease five or six clean #2 cans (#2 cans typically hold 20 oz of fruit, vegetables, etc.). Divide the mixture between the cans, filling each can halfway full. Bake for 50–55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs attached.

Video

Notes

Make sure to pour all of the water that the dates were soaking in into the batter. You’ll need it to soak up all of the flour! 
Use dried dates for this recipe (not medjool dates). I used deglet noor dates, and I found them with the other dried fruits at my local grocery store. They may be simply labeled as, “dates” or “chopped dates”. 
You can substitute pecans for walnuts if you prefer, or leave out the nuts altogether. 
The bread will keep for up to 1 week at room temperature. Keep it tightly covered.

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 233mgPotassium: 107mgFiber: 2gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 59IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg
Keyword date nut bread, quick bread
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a star rating and comment below!

8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Aw I remember my mom making date but bread in old coffee tins for our family and as teacher gifts. Delicious with cream cheese. So fun to a recipe I know from a stained note card with beautiful photos and complete directions. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! My mom did it in the old coffee tins, too. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This is close to my grandmother’s recipe too. I still have the old orange juice cans she baked it in, back in the day when oj came in tins. How fun to see this!

  3. 5 stars
    I think I FINALLY found a recipe close to what mom made when we were growing up. She always had a loaf of some kind on hand for Sunday company (pretty much every week lol) and odd as it seemed at the time my favorite was the date loaf! I remember her recipe only had a tiny bit of butter in it – same as this one – and it rose beautifully! I made one loaf and a dozen muffins out of the recipe. I prefer the muffins for portion control, hubby prefers the loaf for whatever reason so…something for each of us. This was easy to make and tastes soo good! Thank you!

    1. Oh I love hearing that, Jane! I’m so glad that this was close to your mom’s recipe. I, too, loved it as a kid. 🙂 Thanks for your review and for taking the time to comment!

  4. This date nut leaf is definitely a winner! My family all loved it and I enjoyed it with coffee for breakfast!
    I tried the tin can version and while the little loaves were darling with their round slices, it was difficult getting them out of the cans – there’s a slight lip on the can and the cans have a sharp edge which makes cleaning them a “pain”. I tossed the cans and made traditional loaves the next time (but I’m glad I tried).
    Thanks again for another great vintage recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Morag! Thanks for letting me know about the cans—that is really good to know. I wonder if cans have changed over the years?? I’m glad you tried, too. 🙂

4.82 from 27 votes (24 ratings without comment)

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