Gluten Free Date Bars {No Added Sugar}

These Oatmeal Walnut Gluten Free Date Bars are seriously dreamy! They make the perfect energizing on-the-go snack, and are a healthy option because they are free of added sugars.

Gluten Free Date Bars

Four years ago, I had never tried a date. Shriveled up, brown, ugly looking things, aren’t they? I don’t even remember what recipe convinced me to buy my first bag. All I know was it was love at first bite. The resemblance to caramel is uncanny- especially in a recipe with a sprinkle of sea salt.

I may not remember what started the date craze over here, but I do know a date bar recipe similar to this one continued it on. Cookies completely naturally sweetened? Got to love that. This new recipe for gluten free date bars will be made for years to come over here.

DateBarDoughDateBarLayers

Date bars have become Alex’s favorite cookie. The only problem with that original no-bake recipe? They are amazing, but in the tropics, coconut oil is liquid at “room” temperature- which means unless we’re eating them out of the freezer (I eat almost all cookies out of the freezer! Love them cold.), the base doesn’t hold together. So, when I pack them for travel, he ends up with crumbs held together by a layer of dates. Delicious mess, yes. Easy to eat on an airplane? No.

This new baked recipe also makes them packable for lunches. Portable delicious, nutritious energy.

Gluten Free Date Bars

We are headed to Australia in a couple of weeks for a wedding. The flight to Australia from here isn’t so bad- about 8 hours. (For those of you who haven’t lived 8,000 miles away from home, maybe saying 8 hours isn’t “so bad” sounds a bit crazy!) Regardless, I always like to be armed with healthy snacks on planes. Because of my allergies, I never eat airplane food.

I usually take enough travel snacks to get me there and back on a plane, but Australia has strict a strict no-food policy coming through customs. A delicate desert eco-system!

But I do plan on taking these for our Starbucks stop before we get on the plane (an airport travel tradition with us- bribes us to get to those international flights a bit earlier). And also these Sriracha Sesame Cashews, a great non-sweet packable snack.

Gluten Free Date Bars

I think we’re going to need another batch of these date bars! Luckily, in a post-Ramadan sale (Muslims traditionally break fast with dates, so they are sold everywhere during the season), I was able to pick up 4 boxes of Medjool dates at 50% off. My freezer is JAMMED. Totally worth it to have the ingredients to whip up snacks like these.

Tips for Gluten Free Date Bars

  • To make these gluten free, be sure to buy certified gluten free oatmeal. I use Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Medjool Dates work the best. If substituting a different type of date (smaller dates are usually harder), soak them in hot water for 1 minute, then drain fully, before using. I have used smaller dates before and had good results after soaking them.
  • A good quality food processor is needed to process dates into a smooth “caramel.” I suggest one that has at least an 8-cup capacity (the mini processors just aren’t powerful enough).
4.6 from 8 reviews
Gluten Free Date Bars {No Added Sugar}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A completely date-sweetened cookie bar. Processed dates take on a chewy-caramelly taste and texture, making these a special treat. I am a Medjool date convert. They really are much easier to work with. If using smaller dates, soak them in hot water for a few minutes prior to adding them to a food processor. Adapted from 5 Ingredient No-Bake Vegan Date Squares, by OhSheGlows.
Author:
Serves: 25
Ingredients
Dry
  • 1½ cup oats (divided)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 5 Medjool dates (1/2 cup pitted and packed dates)
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
Wet
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
Date Layer
  • 15 Medjool dates (1½ cups pitted and packed dates)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325º f.
  2. Add ¾ cup oatmeal to a food processor bowl, and process until the oats form a flour.
  3. Add coconut and dates. I find the mixture processes best if I break up the dates into quarters as I am adding them to the processor. Process until the dates are broken up and incorporated into the mixture.
  4. Add the other ¾ cup oatmeal, walnuts, sea salt and baking soda. Pulse 5-8 times, until the walnuts are chopped, but still a bit chunky.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, flax and coconut oil. Add to the mixture in the food processor, and pulse until combined.
  6. Reserve ½ cup of oatmeal mixture to use as a topping.
  7. Line an 8 x 8 pan with baking paper. Add the rest of the oatmeal cookie mixture to the pan, and press down into an even layer.
  8. Rinse out the food processor, and add date layer ingredients. Pulse 10-15 times, until the dates are broken up. Then, process for another 3-4 minutes, until the dates take on a light, whipped caramel color.
  9. Carefully, using wet hands to press it down and smooth it, add the date later on top of the cookie layer. Using wet hands will keep the layer from sticking and pulling up the cookie layer.
  10. Crumble the reserved ½ cup of oatmeal mixture over the top.
  11. Bake for 18 minutes.
  12. For best results, completely cool before slicing. I like to freeze them before slicing for nicer bars.
  13. These bars are best stored (and enjoyed!) from the freezer, but also hold up well as a travel snack.

Gluten Free Date Bars

Other Date Bar Recipes:

Oatmeal Walnut Date Bars / This delicious, gluten free and sugar free treat is full of high energy ingredients for a portable snack.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Well, you’ve convinced me that it’s time to try dates, it’s on my bucket list but haven’t committed yet. Similar to caramel?!? really? I must incorporate these into recipes because. I love these bars because there’s no sugar added and oatmeal is such a healthy snack food. And anything in the shape of a bar just tastes better =)
    Laura recently posted…Winter Squash – What’s In Season NowMy Profile

    • says

      Dates will change your dessert world! I would much rather know I am getting whole fruit, even if it’s high sugar fruit, than something processed! The flavor is incredible, and you won’t miss added sugar AT ALL!

    • says

      I never used coconut oil when I lived in the States- so being here, when I read people’s recipes that say to “melt the coconut oil,” I think, melt what??!

  2. Gina says

    I am in the process of making these and had to make 2 batches of the date mixture to fill the 8×8 pan. When making the date layer, does it turn into a ball when finished processing? It does help to have wet hands. I spread it very thin and still only had enough for half the pan. They are in the oven now so I will let you know how they turn out. Thanks.

  3. Gina says

    I’m not sure what went wrong but it turned out so crumbly that I had to turn it into granola. I also had to make two batches of the date mixture to fill the 8×8 pan. I don’t know what I could have done different.

    • says

      Were you using Medjool dates? If you use dates that aren’t as soft, it helps to soak them in water first. I am sorry to hear they didn’t work out well for you! I will double check the recipe when I make it again, but have made these at least 5 times with success.

  4. Rosemary says

    Sounds great! I am making them now and notice a discrepancy in the recipe. Ingredient list says 1/2 tsp baking soda, but instructions (#4)refer to baking powder. Soda or Powder? Thanks :)

      • Rosemary says

        Success! Thanks – I went with the soda by instinct and they were fantastic :) One thing I added (since I was using packed dates) was half a cup of organic mango juice to the 1 1/2 cups dates – put them in the microwave for a minute or so and it softened them right up, as well as adding a twist to the taste. This recipe is a keeper for sure :)))

  5. Katherine Bishop says

    Please, these sound wonderful, but they are not gluten free as long as they have oats in them. even the so called “gluten free oats” have some gluten in them. People with Celiac Disease should know this is not gluten free. Just because it doesn’t have wheat flour in it does not make it gluten free. I will try these though because I am not Celiac (just my daughters and grandchildren are). I am trying a vegan lifestyle however. Dates are wonderful!

    • says

      Many people who don’t eat gluten, like me, do eat gluten free oats. I trust that people with diseases such as celiac know what they can and cannot eat, and take care of their own health.

  6. says

    I made this recipe tonight for the first time. It was relatively easy and most of the ingredients are things I normally have on hand so that’s a plus. I had to play with the dates a little bit to get them to the right consistency but other than that this recipe was simple and straightforward. The results are incredible, chewy, naturally sweet bars that have a delectable rich flavor and slight crunch. You only need one small bar to feel satisfied. This will become a go-to in my home, thank you!

  7. says

    Such beautiful photos Michelle! I am a huge date lover and my youngest loves lara bars so we are always experimenting. Will have to try yours next time. Yeah, 8 hours is a breeze! Can you contact the airlines you are on to make sure that they can accommodate your food allergens on the way home from the land of OZ and what can they do to accommodate a little mama… Pinned, yummed, shared and sent smoke signals…
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted…BBQ Oolong Tea Smoked Chicken & GIVEAWAYMy Profile

    • says

      I have no problem buying food in Aus and bringing it back with me– there I can actually buy bars and healthy snacks!

      I love Lara Bars, too — always bring them back from the States. Do you always end up with bags full of totally random stuff? Security always ends up searching because I have jars of spices, containers of whey, boxes of bars, man, the list goes on… !

    • says

      No, oats do not have gluten– If you buy certified gluten free oats. The gluten in oats is from contamination from being grown in fields near gluten containing grains. Some people who are celiac or gluten intolerant are also sensitive to oats, but it is not from gluten.

        • says

          Raspberry bars without sugar sounds awesome. Unfortunately, I am living in Asia, where berries are very expensive. I have bought frozen raspberries a few times and they are SUPER sour, so attempting a sugar free version of anything raspberry wouldn’t turn out well. But, raspberries are a favorite of mine, so when I am back in the States next summer I will put that on my list :)

          Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed these! We are huge date fans over here. Such a great sweetener. It’s the only way I will ever drink a beverage sweetened– I have a recipe for an Iced Caramel Mocha sweetened with dates, and I also sweeten my Hazelnut Iced Chai with dates. Tastes so much better than anything sugar sweetened :)

  8. says

    Love♡♡♡! I made these last night, they are awesome, this is the only truly sugar free recipe I found and these are the best. Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

    • says

      Thank you so much for letting me know Janice! And for reminding me I need to make them again. I have been out of dates (gasp!) for a while and need to grab a new box. These are a favorite in this house! My husband would be really pleased if he came home to them.

  9. m says

    these bars are amazing!! thank you for the recipe! well worth the extra effort!
    do you have any more fruit sweetened recipes? i dont use any sugar, honey, sweeteners…. so i’m always on the look out for these type of recipes

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you enjoyed these! We love them too. All of my recipes are low sugar, but many do use small amounts of honey, coconut sugar or molasses. Some without any kind of added sweetener are my breakfast cookies, the mint chocolate chip smoothie (of course, omit the choc. chips), pretty much any smoothie– I also have a double pumpkin pie muffin that is sweetened with dates (like a muffin with a layer of pumpkin pie baked on top– yum!). I actually have been wanting to experiment more with fruit sweetened recipes, so more will be coming soon!

  10. MaryRae says

    These look great! We are always looking for low-sugar snacks that satisfy that baked goods craving.
    I was hoping to try these today. I just picked up a fresh batch of dates, so I’m almost ready to go!

    Have you had any luck substituting the fresh coconut with anything else? Perhaps more nuts or oatmeal? I’m not a big coconut fan.

    • says

      There is no fresh coconut in this recipe- just shredded coconut. If you don’t like coconut, just omit it. I wouldn’t even sub anything. It’s really not an essential ingredient. That said though, I can’t imagine not loving coconut! I use coconut oil, coconut milk, shredded coconut, coconut butter– I was so thrilled when “they” decided it was healthy and not evil :)

    • says

      No, I’ve never calculated it! It is something I’m trying to make more of an effort to do though.

      These certainly aren’t low calorie treats. I don’t worry about calories a lot when i am eating whole foods– enjoy in moderation!

  11. Rachel says

    Couldn’t stop eating them last night when I made them! They are a little salty though, I think. Other than that, pretty good. I added chocolate chips to the top of mine.

    • says

      Hi Rachel! Thanks for letting me know you tried these! Funny you say they are salty– I just made an adaptation of this recipe last night, and I was thinking the same thing about the crust! I think I will remake these soon and test them with half of the amount, and possibly update the recipe. The new recipe I will be posting soon (with a sugar free blueberry filling, instead of dates) has a reduced amount of salt :)

      • Deanna says

        I just made these date squares and absolutely love them! It is wonderful to find what I have been searching for – a healthy treat/dessert to enjoy without any sugar or wheat. This is definitely a keeper for me. The only thing I changed was the amount of salt, reducing it by half, and they were perfect! Thank you so much for this great recipe.

        • says

          I’ve heard from several readers the salt in these was a bit too much– I have been meaning to make them again to test that so I can change the recipe if needed– it sounds like I do! I guess I like the dates salty because they remind me of caramel that way! Thanks for your comment. I love hearing these are working out for so many people! I also have a recipe for Blueberry Breakfast Bars that are totally gluten and sugar free (based off this date square recipe), and I have a recipe for Double Pumpkin Pie Muffins (an old kind of strange recipe that I absolutely love eating!) that are also all date sweetened!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Oatmeal Walnut Date Bars. We often grab groceries on Friday nights. We’ll swing through Trader Joe’s first, then hit Whole Foods for anything left on our list. The girls will often get a cupcake or other treat from the bakery. I’ve tried a few gluten free treats, but none were very good. And then I found a crumb date bar in the freezer. It was perfection! The right amount of sweet with the right amount of baked treat. These bars are close to Whole Foods bars. The dates taste enough like caramel to make this a great dessert. […]

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