These gluten free date bars are chock full of healthy, good for you ingredients, but have a flavor that is still rich and decadent. The taste reminds me of “mom’s cooking” with home cooked dates, oozing with maple sugary sweetness. To this day, they are still one of my bar recipes. The gooey date filling pairs perfectly with the brown sugar crumble topping.
Dates have loads of heath benefits and add a very hearty and rich taste to a dessert recipe while still keeping it on the healthy side.
When I was a child. I used to love walking into the kitchen when mum was making these amazing date and oat slices. I knew that my day had just turned much more tasty!
The flavor of these gluten free oatmeal date bars is something else. They are hearty and chewy with a hint of sweetness mixed with the wholesome flavor of dates. This recipe uses both gluten free flour and oats so that you can enjoy these date squares on a gluten free diet.
Dates, maple syrup and rolled oats give these bars such a heavenly taste. The yummy center oozes with sweetness with just a touch of texture.
Whenever I have a nostalgic moment and want to taste my mum’s cooking, I make a pan of these nutritious date bars. I’ve adapted her original recipe many times and no matter how I change it around, I still get that home cooked feeling that takes me back to my childhood. This gluten free version is no exception.
The benefits of dates
Dates are very high in fiber and are an excellent source of iron, as well as many other minerals. When you use them as a substitute for refined sugars, the results are much lower in calories but still give that natural sweetness that dates provide.
I wish I could say this date slice recipe is low carb but, alas, that is not the case. However they are not too high on the calorie department for a tasty dessert, coming in at 211 calories if you cut the recipe into 16 bars, or 281 if you splurge and make them bigger and cut 12 bars. (guess which I did?)
Making these Gluten Free Date Bars
These home made date bars require both cooking on the stove top as well as finishing in the oven. The stove top preparation is what gives the bars the rich, decadent center, so don’t short cut this step. I stir the mixture a bit and then assemble other parts of the recipe, and go back and forth so the time goes quickly!
Cook the pitted dates, water and maple syrup in a small heavy saucepan for about 12 minutes, stirring often. The water will soften the dates and make a syrupy like liquid that reduces quite a bit. When it is done, the mixture will look a bit like a chunky jam.
While the filling is cooling, combine the gluten free flour, rolls oats, baking soda and sea salt in a bowl. Beat the brown sugar and butter at medium speed in a stand mixer until smooth. Then add the flour mixture into the mixing bowl and beat until it incorporates well. The sugar mixture will be somewhat smooth but a bit crumbly.
Press about 2/3 of the flour and sugar mixture into bottom of a prepared 9 x 9 inch pan. Spread the cooled date mixture over the base and spread it evenly in the pan.
What self respecting bar recipe would be complete without a crumbly streusel topping? Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture over top. I just dropped it in pieces here and there. Don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the dates completely. That is the beauty of these bars. You WANT that date filling to ooze up!
Bake for 20 minutes or until the bars are golden brown, giving the topping a little fluffing up with a fork five minutes before the bars are done. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into 16 bars.
Tasting these nutritious oatmeal date bars
If you are craving something hearty, rich and completely satisfying, you will love these date squares. These bars are thick and chewy with the flavor of maple syrup through and through. The crumbly brown sugar topping gives a bit of crunchiness to the bars, and the sticky date filling just oozes out as you take a bite.
If you eat them soon after cooking, you’ll need a plate and a fork to handle all the sticky gooiness that comes from the date filling. You’ll want to at least try them that way, though, to take advantage of that gooey, rich center.
These gluten free date squares are a bit tricky to cut if you try to do this while they are still warm. They will be crumbly. I usually cut part of the pan so I can try them warm and then cool them and cut them later to make it easier.
When cooled, these date slices keep their shape well, which makes them ideal for bake sales and pot luck dinners. I guarantee that the platter will be cleaned if you serve these and will have lots of “seconds, please” requests!
Vegan Adaptation for these date squares:
You can make these bars vegan by substituting a vegan butter spread instead of normal butter. (Earth Balance Buttery Spread is one that is available in many grocery stores.) All of the other ingredients are fine on a Vegan diet.
Do you love adding dates to recipes? Try one of these ideas:
- Sunflower nut batter Energy Bites
- Whole30 Apple Coconut Breakfast bowl with dates
- Lemon coconut energy bites
- Healthy Cookie Dough Bars
Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in December of 2013. I have updated the post for this date and oat slice to make the recipe gluten free and to add the nutritional information.
- 1-3/4 cups finely chopped pitted dates
- ¾ cup water
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1.2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup gluten free flour
- 1 cup gluten free rolled oats (not instant oats)
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (substitute Earth Balance Buttery Spread for Vegan)
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Combine the pitted dates, water and maple syrup in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until most liquid is absorbed (about 12 minutes). The mixture will look a bit like jam. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Allow it to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, rolls oats, baking soda and sea salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the brown sugar and butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the flour mixture into the mixing bowl and beat until it incorporates well.
- don't over beat or you will end up with a paste. (You can also do this in a food processor.) The sugar mixture will be firm but still a bit crumbly.
- Line an 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press about ⅔ of the flour and sugar mixture into bottom of pan. Spread the cooled date mixture over the base. Sprinkle remaining flour mixture on top in small bits here and there.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the bars are golden brown. I ffuffed up my topping with a fork about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time to break it up a bit. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into 16 bars.