Date bars with creamy tahini, chopped walnuts and dark chocolate are your favorite childhood candy all grown up. This midday pick-me-up is vegan, with no refined sugar, no gluten, and no baking required. Supremely easy, these gluten free sweet treats just take a little planning: give yourself 2 ½ hours to allow them to set in your freezer.
These date bars are my go-to when I’m craving something indulgent. They’re sweet but not too sweet, with a nutty sesame flavor and a decadent chocolate coating. I know I can count on them to give me a little jolt of energy.
On a particularly long day, I pair them with a hot cup of coffee or Arabic Tea With Fresh Mint. When I’m short on time, even just a quick little dip into the fridge for a bite gives me that boost I need. And, trust me, I find myself dipping into the fridge quite a lot when I make these tahini date bars! They taste just like a Snickers candy bar, only better!
This recipe makes 36 bars, but they stay fresh for up to a week (and they’re always eaten well before then in my house)! If you’re making them for just yourself, you can freeze them for up to two months. Simply pop a few in your fridge to thaw the night before and you have a nice little snack waiting for you to enjoy.
Table of Contents
Date Bar Ingredients
These no-bake date bars require only four ingredients. And, you can find each ingredient at most any major grocery store.
- Medjool dates: Dates add a sweet, caramel-flavored layer to these bars. Look for the large variety, sometimes labeled “jumbo.” Pitted dates will save you some time, but pitting whole dates is easy and surprisingly fast. Simply use your hands to rip them in half and remove their pits. Specialty grocery stores will often charge a hefty price tag for small packages of Medjool dates. Since you need two pounds for this recipe, go for a more economical store or order online—you’ll find the same package for a fraction of the price.
- Tahini: Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It adds a creamy, nutty flavor to everything from hummus to brownies. You can learn all about this high protein, low carb Middle Eastern pantry staple in our guide What is Tahini? Find tahini in the peanut butter section of your local store, or order my favorite from Soom at our shop.
- Walnuts: Walnuts add a crunch and further deepen the nutty flavor of these date bars. If you have a sensitivity to walnuts, you can leave them off. Or, substitute with pecans or blanched almonds.
- Dark chocolate chips: Go for a rich dark chocolate that lives somewhere between 60%-80%, depending on how strong you like it. A deep dark chocolate balances the sweetness of the dates, graduating these candy bars from adolescence to adulthood. If you simply don’t like dark chocolate, you can use milk or even white, but keep in mind that only dark chocolate is vegan. When it comes to how much chocolate to use, I think 1 ½ cups is the perfect amount to drizzle over the bars. However, if you're a chocoholic then by all means use more.
What are Medjool Dates?
Medjool dates are a sweet fruit that comes from the Medjool variety of date palms. They’re soft and tender, to the point where they almost melt in your mouth. They have delicate edible skin that encloses naturally sweet and slightly nutty flesh. To me, they taste like bursts of honey.
A staple food in Middle Eastern cuisine, Medjool dates have played an important role in culinary traditions for thousands of years. They’re a symbol of hospitality, generosity, and good fortune. They’re often served to guests as a sign of welcome and respect, and sometimes given as gifts during religious festivals and other celebrations.
Medjool dates are commonly used in Middle Eastern desserts, like ma'amoul, a semolina flour butter cookie filled with dates, nuts, and spices. They are also used in savory dishes, such as tagine and stew, where the sweetness adds balance to rich, savory flavors.
Medjool dates are also high in fiber and packed with antioxidants and essential nutrients. If you haven’t cooked with dates, you have so many delicious uses just waiting to be discovered! Walk the sweet and savory tightrope with Stuffed Dates, filled with tangy goat cheese and finished with warm honey and Aleppo pepper. Or, start your morning with a nutritious Creamy Tahini Date Banana Shake.
How to Make Date Bars
These date bars make enough to please a crowd and are so simple. In fact, there’s very little cooking involved! Simply blend, spread, melt, and chop.
- Prepare the dish: Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper with plenty of overhang on the sides. (The overhang will come in handy once your date bars are frozen.)
- Turn the dates into paste: Add about 40 pitted dates to the bowl of a large food processor fitted with the S blade. Process on high until the dates turn into a thick paste, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Assemble: Transfer the date paste to the prepared baking dish. Using wet hands, spread the paste evenly across the bottom of the dish. Once the paste is pressed into an even layer, spread ½ cup of tahini evenly on top of the date layer using the back of a spoon. Next, coarsely chop 1 cup of walnuts and sprinkle on top.
- Freeze: Freeze until the layers have hardened, for about 2 hours (or overnight).
- Melt the chocolate: When the layers have fully hardened, make a double boiler. To do this, add a few inches of water to a medium saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to simmer, place 1 ½ cups of dark chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl and set the bowl on top of the saucepan with simmering water. Don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir continuously, scraping the sides of the bowl, until the chocolate is fully melted. Set the chocolate aside off the heat.
- Cut the date bars. Once hardened, remove the date and tahini layer from the freezer. Holding the parchment overhang on opposite sides, pull it out of the pan and set on a large cutting board. Peel off the parchment. Using a good knife or a bench scraper, slice into 36 bars.
- Coat the date bars in chocolate. Arrange the bars on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When ready, drizzle the chocolate over the top. And don't worry! It’s okay if the chocolate does not fully cover each bar.
- Freeze again. Stick the tray of chocolate-covered date bars in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until the chocolate hardens. Store any uneaten bars in a tightly closed container in your fridge for up to 1 week. Enjoy!
The Case for the Double Boiler
Melting chocolate in a double boiler may have your red flags firing. Why make more dishes and take an extra step when you can just use the microwave? I totally get it, but ignore this voice in your head!
Chocolate easily scorches or burns in the microwave. Even a few seconds too long may ruin its texture and flavor. And, the uneven, fast heat often makes your beautiful chocolate chips clumpy and grainy.
A double boiler gently lures the chocolate into a melted and delicious state. Mixing over simmering water applies an even heat, which preserves its quality and flavor. Don’t zap your chocolate in the microwave it could end up all tense and grainy. Coax the chocolate into melting and it will relax and reward you with a silky-smooth texture.
Tips for using a double boiler:
- You only need a couple of inches of water in the sauce pan, as you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Make sure you're using a heatproof bowl—a glass pyrex bowl works great.
- Stir the chocolate the entire time it's melting, this is just an extra step to prevent scorching.
What to Serve with Date Bars
These date bars rarely make their way to a plate. But, if I can resist the urge to eat them standing somewhere near my fridge, I’ll make myself a hot cup of Arabic Tea to sip between bites.
They're also great for a packed lunch, along with Focaccia Sandwiches with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Goat Cheese. Or you can serve them as finger food for a casual afternoon party. I’ve found that some of my most lively get-togethers involve a good cocktail, like an Aperol Spritz, and no need to bother with silverware.
Serve alongside a spread of equally fuss-free snacks. Your guests will move on from savory delights like Arancini (Fried Risotto) and Italian Antipasto Skewers and their sweet tooth will start calling. These date bars will be there to answer, in a nutty, semi-sweet, totally satisfying, and unexpected way.
More Not-Too-Sweet Treats
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No-Bake Chocolate Covered Date Bars
- 40 large Medjool dates (about 2 pounds), pitted
- ½ cup tahini
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips
- Prepare the dish: Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, making sure to have a good bit of overhang on the sides.
- Turn the dates into paste: Add the pitted dates to the bowl of a large food processor fitted with the S blade. Process on high briefly until the dates turn into a thick paste, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Assemble: Transfer the date paste to the baking dish. Using wet hands, spread the paste evenly across the bottom of the dish. Spread the tahini evenly on top of the date layer using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts evenly on top.
- Freeze: Freeze until the layers have hardened, about 2 hours (or overnight).
- Melt the chocolate: When the layers have fully hardened, make a double boiler. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring a few inches of water to a simmer. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl. When the water begins to simmer, place the bowl of chocolate chips on top. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. As the chocolate begins to melt, stir continuously, scraping the sides of the bowl until the chocolate is fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.
- Cut the date bars: Remove the date and tahini layer from the freezer. Holding the parchment overhang on opposite sides, pull it out of the pan and set on a large cutting board. Remove the parchment. Now, using a good knife or a bench scraper, slice in half from top to bottom. Slice each half in half to make six even pieces. Turn and slice each piece into six even portions to make 36 bars.
- Coat the date bars in chocolate: Arrange the bars on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the chocolate over the top. It’s okay if the chocolate does not fully cover each bar entirely.
- Freeze again: Stick the tray of chocolate covered date bars in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the chocolate hardens. Store any uneaten bars in a tightly closed container in your fridge for up to 1 week. Enjoy!
- You can store these date bars in your freezer. Assemble in a container, tightly seal, and freeze for up to two months. Thaw a few bars at a time overnight in your fridge.
- Opt for a super smooth tahini for better texture. The smoothest, creamiest tahini I’ve found in the states is Soom, but any smooth variety you find will work well.
- Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams and spices.