9 Best Medjool Dates Substitutes
Medjool dates are some of the sweetest and most luxurious date varieties. These dates are used in various cooking and baking recipes.
If a recipe calls for Medjool dates and you don’t have any at home, you can use other dried fruits and sweeteners instead.
What are the best Medjool date substitutes? Date syrup, raisins, prunes, date paste, and dried apricots and figs are some of the best alternatives to Medjool dates. You can also use honey, maple, syrup, and brown sugar.
Keep reading to learn about the best Medjool date substitutes, why they work, and what each of them is best used for.
What Are Medjool Dates?
Medjool dates are a variety of dates coming from Morocco. These dates are now grown in different regions of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as warm regions of the United States.
Being a stone fruit, a Medjool date has a single pit surrounded by moist and meaty flesh. Medjool dates are bigger than normal dates. Due to their larger size, these dates are also known as the king of dates.
Another thing that makes Medjool dates stand out is their flavor. These dates are very sweet with an intense, caramel-like flavor.
There is a misconception that Medjool dates are dried. In reality, these dates are never intentionally dried — they are harvested and packed. As the dates sit in the package, they get wrinkly which is a naturally occurring process.
The more these dates dry, the sweeter they get! Aside from being sweet and delicious, Medjool dates are also very nutritious.
These dates are rich in vitamin B and such minerals as copper, magnesium, and potassium. Medjool dates are also a source of insoluble fiber, which is good for digestion.
Note that Medjool dates are quite high in calories and carbs. If you are trying to lose weight, limit yourself to 3 to 6 Medjool dates a day.
Medjool dates can be blended into a smooth paste and used in baking recipes, sauces, smoothies, and salad dressings.
You can also eat Medjool dates “as is” as a sweet snack — we like to stuff them with peanut butter and nuts to make delicious energy balls. They also make a great appetizer when stuffed with soft cheese and a bit of prosciutto!
Substituting Medjool Dates
Medjool dates are one of the most widely available date varieties, but you may not always have them at home. Luckily, you can substitute Medjool dates with other foods!
Choose a Medjool date substitute considering the recipe you will be using it in. You may also need to consider the overall flavor, texture, and nutritional value of the substitutes.
Best Medjool Date Substitutes
Medjool dates have a unique caramel-like flavor with hints of wild honey. It is hard to find a Medjool date substitute with the exact same flavor profile!
Here are some of our favorite Medjool date substitutes for occasions when you don’t have Medjool dates or want to use something different instead.
1. Date Syrup
Date syrup is a very sweet syrup made of dates. It is made by boiling chopped dates and blending them into a puree, which is then strained to extract liquid. The liquid is then boiled to a honey-like consistency.
Luckily for all of us, you can skip the hard work and buy a bottle of date syrup! Date syrup is great on toast or drizzled over pancakes and ice cream. It works great for savory dishes too!
You can use date syrup to bake cakes and cupcakes. Using Medjool dates in the form of a syrup also works great for sauces, salad dressings, and smoothies.
Date syrup made of Medjool dates will work best as a substitute for these dates as the flavor of the syrup will be identical to the fruit, but any date syrup will work.
Raisins are dried grapes and they are incredibly sweet, just like dates, as well as being soft and juicy.
While all raisins taste sweet, they may have different flavor notes depending on the grape variety. However, raisins are not as sweet as dates. If you find Medjool dates to be a little too sweet for your taste, raisins will be perfect for you.
Raisins are a good snack. They are great for smoothies, salads, and baking recipes. If you are using raisins instead of chopped dates in baking recipes or salads, go with dark raisins as they look more like dates color-wise.
You can also use raisin paste instead of Medjool dates.
Prunes are simply dried plums. As Medjool dates are wrinkly and have slightly dried-up skin, using prunes as a substitute for dates makes more sense than using plums!
Prunes are also sweeter than regular plums, but considerably less sweet than dates.
Similar to Medjool dates, prunes have pits. The texture of prunes is chewier than the texture of plump Medjool dates. This said, prunes work well as a substitute for Medjool dates for baking recipes and smoothies.
Prunes are very healthy. They are a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Since prunes have less sugar than dates, snack on prunes instead of Medjool dates if you are trying to cut down your sugar intake.
4. Dried Figs
If you don’t have Medjool dates at home but happen to have dried figs, go ahead and use them instead of dates!
You can eat dried figs as a snack instead of Medjool dates. Dried figs can also go into baking recipes, smoothies, and salads. You can even add them to oatmeal instead of dates.
Dried figs and dates are both very healthy. They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Dried figs, however, contain less sugar and they are less sweet than Medjool dates.
Dried figs and dates are slightly different in terms of texture too. Figs are chewier than dates and slightly crunchy due to the many seeds inside.
The flavor of Medjool dates is often described to have notes of wild honey. For this reason, honey is a good substitute for Medjool dates for certain cooking tasks.
You can use honey instead of dates for various baking recipes. You can also use honey to make salad dressings and sauces. Add honey to smoothies to give them a mild floral flavor.
We don’t recommend you substitute dates for honey if you are trying to lose weight. Honey has a higher glycemic index than dates which means that it provides short bursts of energy. Unlike dates, honey doesn’t contain any fiber.
So, if you need a substitute for dates that will provide sweetness and good flavor, use honey! But from the point of its nutritional value, honey is not the best alternative to dates.
6. Date Paste
Date paste made of any type of date will work well as a Medjool date substitute.
This paste is a natural sweetener that you can use for smoothies, salad dressings, marinades, and in baking recipes. You can even spread it on toast if you are craving a sweet breakfast.
If you use dates often, it is a good idea to make date paste. Making date paste is easy — simply soak dates in boiling water for a few minutes, remove the pits, and blend them with some water to make a smooth paste.
Transfer homemade date paste into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 months. While Medjool dates last a few months in the fridge, they will lose their moisture — having some date paste at hand is certainly a good idea!
7. Dried Apricots
Dried apricots are not as sweet as Medjool dates, but you can use them instead of dates in many recipes.
Both Medjool dates and dried apricots are good for sweet and savory recipes, especially chicken recipes and salads.
You can use dried apricots for smoothies and oatmeal. Dried apricots are widely used in baking and preparation of various desserts.
Dried apricots typically have their pits removed before they are dried, but you can also find whole-dried apricots that still have the pit in them.
8. Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is very sweet and has hints of caramel flavor, which makes it a good substitute for Medjool dates for certain recipes.
As maple syrup is a liquid and Medjool dates are not, you are limited to using maple syrup instead of dates for such cooking tasks as making sauces and salad dressings. You can also use maple syrup as a sweetener for baked goods and smoothies.
9. Brown Sugar
If you don’t mind using sugar for your recipes, use brown sugar instead of Medjool dates. While the texture is very different, brown sugar is very versatile and can be used for a variety of cooking tasks.
Brown sugar has caramel and toffee undertones which makes it the best type of sugar to use instead of dates.
You can use brown sugar to sweeten your smoothies. Brown sugar is a good alternative to date paste in salad dressings and sauces. You may notice differences in the consistency as date paste is creamy while brown sugar simply dissolves in liquids.
Brown sugar is a 1:1 substitute for Medjool date paste in baking recipes. It may not work well in recipes where the dates need to be chopped.