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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
- 1½ cup oats (divided)
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut
- 5 Medjool dates (1/2 cup pitted and packed dates)*
- ½ cup walnuts
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 15 Medjool dates (1½ cups pitted and packed dates)*
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I like ½, but begin with ¼ and add to taste)
- Preheat oven to 325º f.
- Add ¾ cup oatmeal to a food processor bowl, and process until the oats form a flour.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg, flax and coconut oil. Add to the mixture in the food processor, and pulse until combined.
- Reserve ½ cup of oatmeal mixture to use as a topping.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Crumble the reserved ½ cup of oatmeal mixture over the top.
- Bake for 18 minutes.
- For best results, completely cool before slicing. I like to freeze them before slicing for nicer bars.
- These bars are best stored (and enjoyed!) from the freezer, but also hold up well as a travel snack.
Other Date Bar Recipes:
- 5 Ingredient No-Bake Vegan Date Bars, by OhSheGlows.
- The Best Date Bars Ever, by Vegan in the Freezer
- Crumble Date Bars, by Beard and Bonnet
- No-Bake German Chocolate Cookie Bars, by Vitamin Sunshine