Grandmother’s Date Nut Roll Recipe

Date Nut Roll Recipe

Every year for Christmas, my Grandmother Verdie would spend a day in the kitchen making family-favorite candy recipes that had been given to her from my Granddaddy’s aunt.

As Grandmother would test to see if her candy was ready by dropping bits into a bowl of water to see if it had reached just the right stage, she’d tell us of favorite Christmases when she was a child. She’d tear up and tell us of the year her family had nothing for Christmas, yet the kindness of friends, family and even strangers supplied even more than she could have prayed for that year. She’d continue on to tell us of funny Christmas stories from her childhood and later when she grew up and had a family of her own.
Date Nut Roll Recipe 2


So this year as I am in the kitchen with my Mama and Little Buddy baking and making candies to share with family and friends, I can’t help but think of my Grandmother and even my Great-Great Aunt  Lorene whom I never had the opportunity to meet. I think of the strangers who blessed my Grandmother’s family that one special Christmas and for so many years after.

But mostly, I think of my Daddy whose favorite Christmas candy was this Date Nut Roll that Grandmother made each year and I am thankful for the life he lived.

I wish you each a very Merry Christmas and pray you have many blessing in the New Year.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Grandmother’s Date Nut Roll Recipe
Date Nut Roll Candy is a traditional, Southern candy served during the holidays. This recipe is easy to follow and a family-favorite!
Serves: 12
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 8 - 10 ounces dried dates, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Bring milk, sugar and ½ cup (1 stick) of butter in a heavy bottom pan. Add dates.
  3. Stir constantly while cooking to a soft ball stage.
  4. Remove from heat and add ½ cup (1 stick) of butter and vanilla. Beat until starts to thicken and add chopped pecans.
  5. Divide onto four baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Carefully spread across parchment paper to form a roll. Roll smoothly and cool completely before slicing.



Merry Christmas!




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  1. 1


    Just in time! I have a huge thing of dates in my fridge from Costco and I’m running out of things to do with them. Question though – since we have nut allergies, what would you suggest subbing for the pecans? Would another dried fruit like cranberries work?

    • 2

      Robyn says

      Yay! I’m so glad! My uncle did not eat nuts and my Grandmother would just omit them from a batch of the candy that she made especially for him. You could substitute in another dried fruit like a cranberry or just omit the pecans entirely. I hope you enjoy them! Let me know how they work for you!!!

  2. 5

    Sharon says

    Robyn — I have searched high and low for this recipe and plop! …it just landed in my inbox from you!! What a gift!

    My grandma made this every Christmas for my entire life up until she passed away several years ago …and I could not find the recipe anywhere (many recipes for ‘date nut loaf’ out there but that’s not hers) This is it! Thank you, thank you!

    Merry Christmas!

  3. 7

    Cj says

    I had a gramma Verde too. She made date pinwheel cookies. Yumm. Her Christmas specialty was rosettes. This date candy sounds a lot like date skillet roll cookie with rice krispies in them. My favorite

    • 8

      Robyn says

      How special, CJ! Those Grandmother Verdie’s {or Verde in your case} are extra special people, aren’t they? Merry Christmas!

  4. 12

    Mary says

    Robyn – My mama’s name was Verda (but I always called her Verdie as a nickname), and this was her favorite candy at Christmas. I would give anything to make her some this Christmas, but I know Heaven is more special than any candy. Have a truly wonderful and blessed Christmas.

  5. 13

    Armen says

    My mother made this, but with the addition of coconut. I remember well the evenings she spent cracking nuts, something I don’t have to do. I also remember that she passed me the stuff to beat as soon as I was old and strong enough too.

    Do you know anything about where this recipe may have come from? My maternal grandmother was white and from Missouri (her family goes back to at least before the Civil War) and I’m pretty sure the recipe came from her.

    Stories are welcome!


    • 14

      Tami says

      Armen, my grandma made this too and she was white and from Illinois but not far from Missouri border. Interesting huh? :) My boyfriends mom sent us some dates this year since they grow them all over the valley she lives in and I have been looking for recipes to try out. So glad I found this one!

      • 15

        Ami says

        My Great-Grandmother is white and Cherokee and from MO from before the civil war and we’ve all always made this ‘Date Loaf’ around Christmas. I always wondered about the origin. You don’t hear much about this type of candy.

  6. 16


    This was always a favorite at Christmas at my Grandmothers and mothers too last Christmas I made some for the family Chritmas and my Uncles went crazy because they had been trying to make it for years after the lost of their mother and my mother who always made it. But the trick they always used was to use a wet dish towel almost twisted dry to pour out the candy on and roll it up in to the log . It always made a beautiful log .

  7. 17

    chris malkemus says

    Robyn this was made by my mother when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s,thank you for posting this I never found her recipe. She used a wet towel also to roll hers. What size baking sheets do you use? Would anyone tell me how to roll it by the towel method?

  8. 18

    John Hollis says

    My Aunt Frankie lived in middle Georgia and used pecans out of her yard to make these. I have her recipe but I never could make it work. Old terms like; 1 box of dates, about an egg shape of butter, pinch of this, etc. I really thank you for this recipe! It is one of my favorite candies and memories. Aunt Frankie would roll these candies up into a log and hand press whole, perfect pecan halves over the outside. Adults got a whole log, we kids only got slices. Now I can have a whole log to myself!

  9. 19

    Brenda says

    My Grannie in MS used to make this at Christmas time also. She passed the recipe down to my mother who began making it when we moved here to VA. I am now the candy maker in the family and make tons of “logs” of Date Nut Roll at Christmas. I also make it for Thanksgiving and I just finished off a big chunk Yummm…it’s my favorite! I do have a devil of time rolling them though. Does anyone have any tips or tricks to roll them? I used the “wet towel” method also but they just never seem to get completely ‘hardened’. Still tastes delicious but messy to eat haha Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas to All!

  10. 20

    Kaye Martin says

    I have looked for this recipe for many years. My mom made this each Christmas when I was growing up. I’m 63 now, so you know it was special to still remember it. Thank you so much!

    • 21


      Hi Kaye,
      I’m so glad you found it! There’s nothing like those special treats that our mother’s and grandmother’s made, especially around the holidays. I do hope you enjoy it and have a very Merry Christmas!!!

      Robyn xo

  11. 22

    Lisa Potter says

    This is the recipe my grandmother used to make too! When I asked for the recipe before she died she handed over a card with only the ingredients written on it. She used to make this from memory. I thought it was a lost memory, but you’ve brought it back. Now if I can just recreate it the way Grandma used to make it … Thank YOU!

    • 23


      Oh Lisa,
      I am so excited for you! Those family recipes are such wonderful heirlooms and I’m so glad I could play even a small part in helping you rediscover this one from your Grandma! I hope you have a Merry Christmas!


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