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pitted dates

Substitute for Pitted Dates: My 12 Favorites

Considering that pitted dates are seedless dates, meaning without pit, I should make it clear from the beginning that the best substitute for pitted dates would simply be dates. The ones with the pit inside and you remove the pit at home.

You can buy those that still have the seed inside and it will be the perfect replacement.

If you need the pitted dates for desserts or for many other recipes, then all that’s left to do is to remove the pit yourself.

One of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten was made with pitted dates. I love them in all forms but in desserts they’re just fabulous.

Best Substitutes for Pitted Dates

1. Unpitted dates: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Medjool Dates

Getting unpitted dates and then removing the pit yourself is one of the best substitutes for pitted dates. Unless you don’t like how dates taste at all. In that case, read further to discover more interesting substitutes.

2. Date paste: Date Lady Organic Date Paste

You can use date paste as a substitute for sugar in drinks, smoothies and desserts. The paste mixes well with the other ingredients for desserts and brings the same sweetness to your recipes. You can even make your own paste at home.

3. Date syrup: Just Date Syrup

Date syrup works a substitute for pitted dates in whatever you want to make: desserts, drinks, smoothies, marinades, sauces, dressings.

4. Figs: Sunny Fruit Organic Dried Smyrna Figs

If you don’t like the taste of dates, you can replace them with dried figs.

5. Raisins: Sun-Maid California Raisins

Raisins are one of the best substitute for pitted dates because they’re easy to find in local stores, their price is pretty good and there aren’t many people who don’t love raisins. Plus, they work well both in savory and sweet dishes.

pitted dates alternatives

There are so many uses for pitted dates that it’s hard to enumerate them all. You can use them to:

  • sweeten smoothies
  • make milkshakes
  • make ice cream
  • they also go well with cured meat
  • with blue cheese, goat cheese
  • added in yogurt
  • they pair well with citrusy, tangy flavors
  • used in stews, rice dishes, tagines, stuffing, salads
  • make date-and-nut bread
  • healthy alternative to sugar and other sweeteners

Best Substitutes for Pitted Dates

When we’re talking about a substitute for pitted dates, you must first take into consideration what dish, recipe you’re trying to make.

If there are many ingredients involved, you must be sure that the substitute will work well with all the other flavors. That’s something only you can decide.


  • if you using pitted dates as a substitute for sugar or sweetener in various desserts, drinks and savory dishes, then you can use the following pitted dates substitute: date paste, syrup, applesauce, maple syrup or any other sweetener that you can find
  • if you’re cooking dishes that require the fruits to be whole, then you’ll have to use other dried fruits as a substitute: figs, apricots, prunes, raisins, cherries, jujube, cranberries

Dried fruits make an awesome snack for the days when you’re craving something sweet. I find them to be a much better alternative to eating sweets that are loaded up with sugar and all sorts of other ingredients.

With dried fruits you get an intake of very good things and delicious, natural flavors.

Even so, you shouldn’t eat too much of them because eating a big quantity can result in excess sugar and calorie intake. Just enjoy a few alongside some nuts or almonds and with a nice unsweetened cup of tea. Or maybe alongside a fruit juice if that’s more of your thing.

1. Unpitted dates

Obviously, my first recommendation for a substitute for pitted dates is to get unpitted dates.

Then, you’ll pit them at home and get on with your recipe.

This is incredibly simple. If you need a visual guide for how to pit dates, I found this YouTube video.

Take a chopstick and push the chopstick right in through the smaller side of the date.

You’ll feel some resistance from the pit. Push a bit more and the pit will come out of the bigger side of the fruit.

Another method is to use a small serrated knife or a paring knife. I think this is more complicated than the chopstick method.

Make a small incision into the center of the date and cut until you expose the pit, not all the way through. Open the date and remove the pit.

If you’re actually looking for a substitute that isn’t a whole, unpitted date, then you’ll have to make your choice from other dried fruits that have an awesome flavor.

2. Date paste

If you’re using dates as a healthy substitute for sugar then you can use date paste without problems. It will add the same sweetness and the paste will blend well with the rest of your ingredients for desserts.

It can also be used for making drinks and smoothies.

Obviously, date paste won’t work as a substitute for pitted dates if you’re making a dish where the fruits must be added whole to the rest of the ingredients.

You can make your own date paste or you can buy it.

If you want to make your own, here is a good recipe. It can be kept in the fridge up to 3 months. so you don’t have to search for substitutes after that.

You only need two ingredients:

  • 12 oz. pitted Medjool dates (about 18-20 dates)
  • water

Simmer 4 cups of water and remove the pot from the heat.

Place the dates into a 4 cup glass measuring cup and cover with hot water. Let them sit for 10 minutes.

Drain the liquid until only 1.5 cups of liquid remain.

Blend 1 cup of liquid with the soften dates. Use the remaining of half of cup of liquid to add more to the blender if its needed. It depends on what kind of consistency you prefer for your date paste.

3. Date syrup

This is yet another product made from dates that can be used as a healthy substitute for sugar in smoothies, drinks, desserts, coffee, oats, marinades, dressings, sauces, etc.

It’s highly versatile. It’s absolutely worth it of being a very good substitute for pitted dates if the recipe doesn’t call for the whole fruits.

You can also find organic date syrup.

People usually buy date syrup to be used in recipes that call for brown sugar or honey. Those can be both desserts and savory dishes. Asian cuisine is one example of a cuisine that frequently uses sugar for savory dishes.

Someone mentioned that instead of 3 tablespoons of honey, they used one tablespoon of syrup.

Thus, you’ll have to use three times less. It’s sweeter and more delicious.

Some mention that it’s so much better than sugar, honey and blue agave nectar.

4. Figs

Dried figs are not my favorite in the world, I much prefer dates but if you’re looking for a substitute you might want to give this one a try.

Dried figs are sweet and the best part about eating them is all those tiny seeds that they have.

Their fresh counterparts have a sweet honey-like syrup. You’ll find that in the dried variety, too but in smaller quantities because most of it has been absorbed into the fig’s flesh.

You can use an equal amount of dried figs. The same goes for all the other dried fruits that are used as substitutes.

5. Raisins

As we all know, raisins are dried grapes. They’re also very sweet and pair well with both sweet and savory dishes.

I love this substitute because it’s so versatile.

Plus, they have a soft interior that has an awesome texture. You definitely don’t want raisins that have become too dry and have a gritty texture.

6. Jujube

Jujube is a fruit that’s also known as the Chinese date or the red date.

They even have a similar shape and size. The difference is that jujube has a lighter color.

Dried, they have a similar texture and even a taste similar to dates.

The only reason why I didn’t make jujube as my first recommendation for the best substitute is that it’s not a dried fruit that is as easy to find as dates, raisins, figs, apricots, prunes.

However, if you want to match the taste of dates, jujube is your best option.

7. Cranberries

Unlike figs and raisins, dried cranberries have a characteristic tart flavor. They have a lower sugar content.

If you’re looking for a less sweet substitute for pitted dates, then these tiny dried fruits with a deep burgundy color might be what you need.

On the other hand, if you’re making desserts and you want to replace cranberries for dates, then you might need to increase the overall amount of sugar needed.

By the way, if you want to see something really cool, you should watch a video about cranberries harvesting, it’s a sea of color and it looks awesome.

8. Apricots

Apricots are not overly sweet either. Those who long for the fresh, flavorful apricots outside the season, can substitute them with dry apricots.

The taste becomes slightly more intense and sour but they still retain that summer taste of the fresh apricots.

It’s a nice balance between sweet and tart, almost a cross between a peach and a plum.

9. Cherries

Dried cherries are another interesting substitute for pitted dates.

Moreover, they can work as a nice substitute for those who don’t particularly like either raisins or dried cranberries.

You only have to pay attention to what you’re buying.

Some are sweetened to taste like candy. If you don’t want the added sugar, get the unsweetened ones.

10. Prunes

Prunes are dried plums.

Unlike some of the above dried fruits, dried prunes are not particularly sweet. They’re not particularly flavorful either. Especially not as flavorful as plums are.

But I’m sure that many of you would find them tasty so they need to be included among substitutes for pitted dates.

Just like dates, you can buy them pitted or whole. If you just get them for snacking then it doesn’t matter if they’re whole.

If you want to cook with them or use them for drinks, you can get the pitted dried prunes.

11. Applesauce

If you’re using dates as a substitute for sugar in various recipes then you can use applesauce if you don’t have any pitted dates.

You can also use applesauce instead of oil to reduce fat. It has multiple purposes.

12. Maple syrup

Maple syrup is another ingredient you can use instead of sugar.

It can be used both in desserts and savory dishes to substitute pitted dates as a sweetener.

As you saw, there are many options when it comes to finding a substitute for pitted dates but my first recommendation would be to get whole dates and remove the pit yourself.