I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of Medjool dates substitutes to find the best one for every occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured I’ve got you covered.
Medjool’s cousin deglet noor dates are a no-brainer alternative – they have a similar flavor and they’re cheaper! Raisins are another budget-friendly substitute to consider. For low-sugar options, try prunes or dried figs. Date syrup and honey are great options if you just need a sweetener.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made small batches of (yummy) almond cookies to test different Medjool date substitutes.
Medjools are the most popular variety of dates, prized for their soft, chewy texture and intensely sweet flavor.
They’re a great addition to sweet and savory dishes, and cat act as a sweetener or a binder in baking.
Here are the substitutes I tested and me verdicts:
|Deglet noor dates||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Raisins||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Prunes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Ready-made Date Syrup||1 date = 1 tbsp of date syrup||9/10|
|Dried Figs||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Other Dried Fruits||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Honey||1 date = 1 tbsp of honey||8/10|
Common uses of Medjool dates
Here are some popular ways to use Medjool dates and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For snacking: Try using Deglet noor dates, raisins, prunes, dried figs, or other dried fruits.
- For desserts and baked goods: Try using Deglet noor dates, raisin paste, or dried apricots mixed with a bit of honey for sweetness.
- For charcuterie boards: Try using Deglet noor dates, raisins, prunes, or other dried fruits. Dried figs are also a great option, but the little seeds inside will bring a crispy bite.
- As a sweetener: Try ready-made date syrup or honey.
- For salads and other savory dishes: Try using Deglet noor dates, raisins, or prunes.
Deglet noor dates
Deglet noor dates are another very common date variety.
They’re smaller and less sweet than Medjools but have a hint of nuttiness that sets them apart.
They also have a firmer texture, so they are perfect for recipes where you want the date flavor but don’t necessarily need Medjool’s melt-in-your-mouth softness.
Pssst… they’re especially great for stuffing with cheese.
And the best part? They’re cheaper than Medjool dates!
Pro-tip: for those seeking something unique and who don’t mind spending a couple extra bucks, varieties like Barhi, Halawi, or honey dates are worth a try.
How to substitute: replace Medjool dates in a 1:1 ratio with Deglet Noor dates.
Raisins are my next go-to substitute for Medjool dates. They’re a great budget-conscious replacement.
Although they’re smaller and not as sticky, raisins still pack a punch with a sweet yet slightly tart flavor profile.
And if you want to use raisins purely as a sweetener or in baking, you can transform them into raisin paste.
It’s a straightforward process – soak, blend, and voila, your sweet paste is ready!
How to substitute: replace Medjool dates in a 1:1 ratio with raisins or raisin paste.
Prunes (aka dried plums) are a decent alternative to Medjool dates.
They’re large and slightly sticky, and you can turn the prunes into a paste by mixing them with a bit of water.
They have a subtle but noticeable sour note that gives them a more balanced flavor profile (compared to the dates intense sweetness).
The sugar content is also relatively lower than Medjools, making prunes a good option if you’re watching your sugar intake.
How to substitute: replace Medjool dates in a 1:1 ratio with prunes. Adding a bit of extra moisture if needed.
Ready-made date syrup
This syrup is a mixture of dates and hot water – so you can’t get much closer to the date flavor!
The only catch is you’ll miss out on the chewy texture of medjool dates (and some of the binding properties).
Date syrup also tends to be pricey, but I think it’s totally worth it. You can use it like honey – I’ve drizzled it over waffles and brownies, and even added it to my BBQ sauce!
You can also turn your Deglet Noor dates into date syrup if you prefer. Just soak them in water to make them softer and easy to blend.
How to substitute: replace Medjool dates with an equal amount of ready-made date syrup.
Dried figs are another easy alternative if you find Medjool’s potent sweetness too much.
They have a complex, almost berry-like flavor with notes of honey. YUM.
They’re just as chewy as dates (especially if you’ve partially rehydrated them) and they also come with little seeds that add a delightful crunch to every bite.
Although the seeds weren’t really noticeable in my cookies!
Pssst… like prunes, dried figs have less sugar than Medjool so they’re a ‘healthy’ swap in that sense.
How to substitute: replace Medjool dates in a 1:1 ratio with dried figs.
Other dried fruits
Aside from raisins, prunes, and dried figs, there’s a whole world of other dried fruits you can use in place of Medjool dates.
Dried apricots are a classic and they’re super easy to find.
Dried jujubes are less common, but they’re also know as ‘red dates’ because of how similar they look. The flavors are similar too, but jujubes have more tartness.
And if you want a complete departure from the sugary sweetness of Medjool dates, you can’t go wrong with naturally tart dried cranberries.
Pro tip: you can mix a few different fruits together to get the perfect flavor.
How to substitute: replace Medjool dates in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of dried fruits.
Honey is a convenient alternative for Medjool dates if you can’t make an emergency grocery run.
It’s an excellent sweetener with a sticky consistency that means it can work as a binder in baking – I’ve used it to make protein balls before.
The catch is that honey is liquid, so it won’t bulk up your dishes like other substitutes on this list will. But you can always mix in some pureed dried fruits to thicken it.
You can also use maple syrup, agave syrup, brown sugar syrup, or even peanut butter.
How to substitute: skip the sugar in your recipe and add an equal amount of honey.
Avoid using Turkish delight
I love discovering lesser-known substitutes, so I was really excited to give Turkish delight a try.
It’s made of starch and sugar, so it has an intensely sweet taste like Medjool dates and it’s delicious as a snack or an after-dinner treat.
I actually found it to be even sweeter than dates, and I think the flavor would be overwhelming in a lot of dishes (especially savory ones). The jelly-like texture also makes it hard to use in things like baking instead of dates.
And it’s such a nice treat – I don’t know why you’d want to mix it with other ingredients!
11 Best Medjool Dates Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- ½ cup deglet noor dates
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup prunes
- ½ cup ready-made date syrup, skip the sugar in your recipe, and replace with an equal amount
- ½ cup other dried fruits
- ½ cup dried figs
- honey, skip the sugar in your recipe, and replace with an equal amount
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen medjool dates substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.