If you’re like me, you love granola bars.
But maybe you don’t love dates.
Or maybe you just can’t be bothered to put them in there.
Either way, I get it.
I mean, who am I to force my opinions onto your baked goods?
So if your homemade granola bars are lacking a little something but you don’t want to add dates, here are 11 substitutes that will do the trick (and no one will know they aren’t dates).
11 Substitutes for Dates in Granola Bars
Dates are so perfect for granola bars—they bring a rich, caramel-y sweetness and help bind everything together.
But what’s a cook to do if they don’t have any dates?
And what’s the best substitute for dates in granola bars?
Raisins are a great substitute for dates because they already have a similar taste and texture, and because they’re so easy to find. You can also use prunes as a substitute, which are also dried fruits that have a similar taste and texture to dates. Other substitutes include figs, apricots, cherries, apples, pears, or bananas (which you can use if you want your granola bar to be especially moist).
Still looking for options?
Then keep scrolling!
Raisins are one of the best alternatives for dates in granola bars.
They have a similar chewy texture and natural sweetness, but they’re much more widely available than dates.
One of the best things about using raisins in your granola bars is that you can use them almost immediately, without any prep work.
If you need to make a last-minute change to your recipe, or if you’re just running low on time, raisins are a great option.
The two main types of raisins are golden and dark brown (or black).
Golden raisins are drier and sweeter, while darker brown raisins are moist and have a more intense flavor.
Both types will work fine in granola bars!
Swapping out the dates for applesauce is easy—just use the same amount of applesauce as you would dates and you’re good to go.
The best part?
Applesauce is actually packed with antioxidants, supports digestion, and is a low-sugar alternative to dates.
Prunes are high in potassium which is an important mineral that helps promote proper muscle function and water balance within your cells.
Second, prunes are a good source of iron.
Iron plays an important role in your body by producing hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your body.
Third, prunes help build bones and muscles.
This is because they’re high in vitamin K, a vitamin that helps calcium bind to bones and muscles.
Prunes are also a healthy alternative to dates because they’re low on the glycemic index (which ranks carbohydrates based on their effects on blood sugar levels).
Honey is just as sticky as dates, but it has a very different flavor profile.
It is smoother than dates, with just an ever-so-slight bitterness at the end.
Honey can be used to bind ingredients together in much the same way that dates do, but the flavor of honey is more subtle.
In my recipe testing, I found that honey works best when combined with additional sugar—it’s not quite as sweet on its own as dates are.
Molasses is a byproduct of sugarcane refining that has a nice caramel flavor; while it’s a little bit sweeter than dates, it has a similar consistency.
It’s great in granola bars because it helps the bars stick together and get chewy, which is what you want from this kind of snack!
6. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is a sticky, sweet liquid that you can use as a substitute for other sweeteners and syrups, like honey or agave.
It’s made by cooking down brown rice to get the starch out of it, and then breaking it down with enzymes so that the sugar molecules can be released and then used to make a thick, sweet liquid.
Brown rice syrup is very popular among vegans because it’s a sweetener that doesn’t come from bees or any other animal products.
It also helps add more flavor and nutrition to foods without adding extra fat or calories into them!
7. Agave nectar
Agave nectar is made from the same plant as tequila (the agave plant), and it has a similar caramel-y flavor.
It’s thinner than honey, but when you combine it with nuts and oats and any other goodies you want to throw into your granola bar mix, it firms right up.
It’s also not nearly as sweet as dates are (yes, even though they’re dried fruit), so your granola bar won’t taste like a sugar bomb exploded in your mouth.
Agave nectar is available at most grocery stores, and it keeps really well in the pantry or kitchen cupboard.
Figs are similar to dates in that they’re sweet and chewy, but they have their own unique flavor that I think you’ll love.
In my experience, figs taste sweeter than dates, even though they have fewer calories and less sugar.
The other thing I love about figs is how easy they are to incorporate into your recipes.
When you’re making granola bars, you can just slice some figs into thin strips, lay them on top of the oats and put them in the oven.
The figs will become soft and gooey once they’re baked, which is perfect for granola bars.
You can also chop the figs up into cubes if you want the texture of your bars to be softer overall.
The only thing about figs is that they’re easier to find during certain times of the year—late summer and fall are when you’ll see them in farmers’ markets or grocery stores.
Apricots have a similar texture to dates, but their taste is way different.
Apricots are slightly tart and very sweet, which means you can control how sweet your granola bar is by adding more or less of them.
You can use dried apricots as an alternative to dates in just about any recipe.
Since they’re so sweet, I recommend using only half as many apricots as you would dates (for example, if a recipe calls for 6 dates, use 3 apricots).
This will make sure your bars aren’t too sweet.
Peaches are sweet, soft, and chewy—everything you want in dried fruit in granola bars.
Plus, they’re full of nutrients like vitamins C, E, K, and iron.
Using peaches instead of dates means you won’t get that woody texture that turns so many people off from dates.
I recommend using dehydrated peach slices instead of whole peach slices because they’re easier to chop and mix into the batter before baking your bars.
Why not give them a try?
Nectarines are a great substitute for dates.
In fact, nectarines often work better than dates.
They’re sweet, juicy, and nutritious.
Dates have a tendency to be dry.
They can make your bars hard to eat, which is never a good thing.
Nectarines are juicier, so they keep your bars moist and easy to eat.
11 Substitutes for Dates in Granola Bars
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave nectar
- Pick one of the alternatives from this list to use in your bars recipe.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Be ready to munch in no time!