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Packed with cozy seasonal flavors, this old-fashioned date nut bread is a perfect make-ahead breakfast, a sweet snack, or a simple dessert to enjoy all winter long. Everyone loves the warm spices, the bright orange zest, the cinnamon-sugar topping, and the moist quick bread that’s studded with chewy dates and crunchy walnuts!

Three small loaves of date nut bread on a holiday table

It’s the time of year when I love to have something small to share with friends and family. The gesture goes a long way in letting someone know that I appreciate them — and a homemade snack is always in good taste! Wrap a loaf of date nut bread in a tea towel and you have the perfect hostess gift, too!

Square image of hands holding a loaf of date nut bread

Recipe for Date Nut Bread

Maybe your mom made you date-nut bread sandwiches stuffed with cream cheese as a child, maybe you’re nostalgic for the grocery-store loaves of Thomas’ date-nut bread, or maybe you’re just craving a sweet, cinnamon-spiced, moist quick bread that epitomizes the coziness of the holiday season. Either way, you’re going to love this treat!

Tray of a loaf of sliced date nut bread

This recipe yields one standard-size loaf of date nut bread, or about 3 mini loaves. The small loaves are ideal for a couple of reasons: first, they bake in about half the time; and second, you’ll have more to share! You can also make these in advance, wrap them tightly, and keep them in the freezer until you need them. Tip: keep a few extras on hand for those folks that you may have accidentally left off of your list!

Adding walnuts and chopped dates to a large bowl

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a loaf of moist date nut bread. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step baking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • All-purpose flour: the base of the bread.
  • Baking powder: the leavening agent that helps the bread rise.
  • Salt: to balance the sweetness, add depth of flavor, and enhance the other ingredients.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves: warm spices that give the bread its cozy holiday flavor.
  • Orange zest: be careful to only scrape the outer peel of the orange — do not get any of the bitter white pith. The zest is where you’ll find all of the essential oils and bright citrus flavor. The acid in the zest also reacts with the baking powder to help the bread rise.
  • Eggs: give the bread structure.
  • Light brown sugar: for sweetness, with a hint of molasses and added moisture.
  • Milk: adds moisture and fat, which gives the bread a tender crumb.
  • Vegetable oil: for a moist date nut bread. You can substitute with another fat, such as canola oil or melted butter.
  • Vanilla extract: for warm flavor.
  • Chopped dried dates: make sure that they’re diced very small so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the loaf. They add a delicious sweet, chewy flavor and texture — similar to raisins or dried currants.
  • Chopped walnuts: the walnuts are a classic component of date nut bread, but you can substitute with another type of nut, such as pecans, pistachios, almonds, or hazelnuts.
  • Cinnamon and sugar: for topping the bread.
Process shot showing how to make date nut bread

How to Make Date Nut Bread

You’ll love how easily this date nut loaf comes together — no electric mixer required! Grab a whisk, a wooden spoon, and a couple of bowls and you’ll be ready to go…

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla extract in a separate medium bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Fold the dates and walnuts into the flour mixture.
  5. Transfer the batter to a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or divide it evenly between mini loaf pans (these are the ones that I use).
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
  7. Bake in a 375°F oven for 25-30 minutes for miniature loaves, or about 55-60 minutes for a larger loaf. The bread is done when a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  8. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely.
Hands holding a loaf of old fashioned date nut bread

Serving Suggestions

Serve Grandma’s date nut bread warm, at room temperature, or even straight from the refrigerator! It’s a great option for breakfast or snack when paired with a mug of hot coffee or tea.

The bread is delicious on its own, but you might also enjoy it with butter, cream cheese, almond butter, peanut butter, or apple butter. A classic date-nut bread sandwich made with cream cheese is always a hit! For dessert, try topping the bread with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Close up shot of slices of date nut bread on a tray

Storage

  • Make-Ahead: This bread just gets better as it sits! Bake a loaf the night before and enjoy it for breakfast or brunch in the morning.
  • Wrap your loaf in plastic wrap or foil to prevent it from drying out. The bread will stay fresh at room temperature on the counter for 2-3 days, and it will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • To Freeze: Cool the loaf completely, wrap tightly, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Square side shot of date nut bread on a table

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of the cinnamon-sugar topping, finish the cooled bread with a cinnamon glaze. In a small bowl, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons of heavy cream until completely smooth. If the glaze is still too thick, add more heavy cream, one teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin enough to pour on the bread.
  • Swap out the chopped dates and use raisins, dried cranberries, or dried currants instead.
  • Try chopped pecans, almonds, pistachios, or hazelnuts in lieu of the walnuts.
Overhead shot of three mini loaves of old fashioned date nut bread

Tips for the Best Date Nut Bread Recipe

  • Bake the bread in a standard loaf pan (about 9 x 5-inches) or in three mini loaf pans.
  • When zesting the orange, be sure that you’re only scraping off the outer layer of the peel (this is where the essential oils and delicious flavor can be found). Be careful not to grate any of the bitter white pith.
  • Start with room temperature eggs and milk, which will blend together more easily.
  • Do not over-mix the batter. It should come together so that everything is combined, but then stop stirring! Mixing too much will result in a dry, dense loaf.
  • The total baking time will vary depending on the type of loaf pan that you use. A large, dark metal, nonstick pan cooks the bread faster, so it will likely be done within 45-55 minutes. By contrast, a lighter metal pan, a glass pan, or a ceramic pan can easily require up to 60-65 minutes of baking in a 375°F oven. You can tell that your loaf is cooked through when you insert a toothpick or cake tester deep into the center of the loaf and it comes out clean.
Three loaves of date nut bread on a table

More Quick Bread Recipes to Try this Holiday Season

Gingerbread Loaf {Better than Starbucks!}

3 hrs 10 mins

Glazed Eggnog Bread

2 hrs 55 mins

Cranberry Bread

3 hrs 25 mins

Square side shot of date nut bread on a table

Date Nut Bread

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 1 standard-size loaf (about 10-12 slices) or 3 mini loaves
Calories 191 kcal
With warm spices, bright orange zest, chewy dates, and crunchy walnuts, this moist date nut bread is a perfect treat for the season!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • teaspoon ground allspice
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • Zest from 1 small orange (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • cup milk
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup chopped dried dates
  • cup chopped walnuts

For the Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or 3 small loaf pans. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and orange zest.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir just until the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix.
  • Fold in the dates and walnuts.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pans.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the batter.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes for the mini loaves, or 55-60 minutes for a standard-size loaf. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Tent the larger loaf loosely with foil during the final 20-30 minutes if it starts to get too dark on top before it’s cooked through.
  • Cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Notes

  • Bake the bread in a standard loaf pan (about 9 x 5-inches) or in three mini loaf pans.
  • When zesting the orange, be sure that you’re only scraping off the outer layer of the peel (this is where the essential oils and delicious flavor can be found). Be careful not to grate any of the bitter white pith.
  • Start with room temperature eggs and milk, which will blend together more easily.
  • Do not over-mix the batter. It should come together so that everything is combined, but then stop stirring! Mixing too much will result in a dry, dense loaf.
  • The total baking time will vary depending on the type of loaf pan that you use. A large, dark metal, nonstick pan cooks the bread faster, so it will likely be done within 45-55 minutes. By contrast, a lighter metal pan, a glass pan, or a ceramic pan can easily require up to 60-65 minutes of baking in a 375°F oven. You can tell that your loaf is cooked through when you insert a toothpick or long stick deep into the center of the loaf and it comes out clean.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (about 1/12 of the recipe)Calories: 191kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 119mgPotassium: 238mgFiber: 2gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 56IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 88mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: date and nut bread, date nut bread
Course: bread, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in December, 2014. It was updated in December, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Oh yum! I love a good quick bread and this is a flavor combination you don’t see too often! Thanks for linking up at #FoodieFridays!

  2. These mini loaves look wonderful!! I’d be so happy if someone gave me something like this as a gift! Thanks for sharing them with us at #FoodieFridays! Just sent a tweet your way, stumbling and sharing on my Facebook page tomorrow! Have a great weekend!

  3. 5 stars
    Hello Blair!
    First time on here and saw your recipe which I loved as a child …so did my Mother. Do you pour hot water on the dates to soften them? I didn’t see that in the directions. Thank you for a good recipe.

    1. Hi, Doris! I don’t soak them, and I don’t think that you need to…but you can certainly do so! It won’t hurt anything so long as you dry them thoroughly before adding them to the batter. In my experience, the dates soften nicely in the heat of the oven, and turn almost gooey in the bread. Either way is fine, though!