Grandmother’s Date Nut Roll Recipe


4.92 from 23 votes
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Date Nut Roll Candy is a traditional, Southern candy served during the holidays. This recipe is easy to follow and a family-favorite!

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.

Grandmother’s Date Nut Roll Recipe

4.92 from 23 votes
Date Nut Roll Candy is a traditional, Southern candy served during the holidays. This recipe is easy to follow and a family-favorite!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 48


  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 – 10 ounces dried dates, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Line four baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Stir milk, sugar and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter together in a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat. Add dates. Stir constantly while cooking until the temperature reaches 235º F on a candy thermometer or when drops of the mixture into a bowl of cold water reach a soft ball stage.
  • Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter and vanilla. Beat until starts to thicken and add chopped pecans.
  • 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.


Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 126IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Merry Christmas!

Robyn xo

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review



    I grew up in an orphanage. Mrs. Turner was one of my dorm mothers. She would bless me with date nut candy. I am now 73 and still remember her love & ministry to me.

    I am looking forward to trying some of your fantastic recipes.

    Thank you bunches for having a website. This really is a ministry.

    Linda Patterson

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Linda. I always looked forward to having this candy at my Grandmother’s house every Christmas. I love that one of the dorm mothers always made this for you, too.

  2. Laura B says:

    My grandma made this every year while I was growing up. It was one of my favorites. She would use black walnuts from her trees. I liked the bite it gave.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Laura B, my grandmother made the date nut rolls with black walnuts when she first started making these until she couldn’t find the black walnuts and then started making with pecans. My mother said it was an entirely different flavor but she loved it with the black walnuts, too.

  3. Charlsie Moore says:

    Do you have any idea how long to beat the candy before rolling it? Can a mixer be used?

  4. sandra taylor says:

    I have been looking for this recipe. I hope it is the right one that my grandmother Vick made for me. She kept it wrapped in wax paper and she would slice me off a piece. It was so good. Thanks

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Sandra, I hope this is the one or similar to the one your grandmother made for you. Enjoy!

  5. Wendi Weston says:

    I was wondering how would you recommend storing them and how long? Would they freeze well do you think? Super excited to try making these.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Wendi, I store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I separate each layer of candy with waxed paper or parchment. You can freeze the candy. Place in an airtight freezer safe container, and freeze up to 3 months.

  6. Jean Coutts says:

    My mother-in-law, who is Indian and lived in Mumbai, made this for my husbsnd and his siblings growing up. The recipe is amazingly similar, just a little less butter, so I would say this is an international favorite! Now that our parents have passed, I make it for my husband’s extended family on special occasions to contribute a taste of childhood. We all love it. BTW, sometimes I overboil the sugar/milk mixture and the whole batch ends up with sugar crystals. Better to undercook it and let cheese cloth absorb some of the moisture or just eat it gooey. Yum. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks, Jean. I have no idea where this recipe originated. My granddaddy’s aunt gave the recipe to my grandmother. She always made this candy for us when I was growing up. It’s interesting that your mother-in-law in India made it for your husband, too.

  7. Kathy Erickson says:

    5 stars
    this is our Christmas candy. it is yummy!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      My grandmother always made this candy at Christmas, too, Kathy.

  8. Cheri says:

    Has anyone tried halving the recipe? Was it successful? Thanks so much

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Cheri, I haven’t made half this recipe but you should be able to do that.

  9. Pam Potter says:

    My dad used to make this recipe when he was a kid and then it has been passed along. Part of the process was to collect black walnuts in the fall when they fell from the trees. We would let them sit until December, shuck the hulls off, then crack them to collect the nuts. The walnuts definitely add add a different flavor (even better than the store bought ones).

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Pam, my mother said my grandmother made this candy with black walnuts for several years until she had a hard time finding the walnuts. Then she started making it with the pecans. Mother said it was really good with the walnuts but a completely different flavor. Thanks, Pam, for telling me the story of your dad.

    2. Bev Harper says:

      This sounds like my mother’s handed-down recipe, except we grew black walnuts on our northern Indiana farm, so used them, which gives a completely different flavor. I think she used condensed milk, too.
      And she definitely wasn’t a southerner!

    3. Robyn Stone says:

      Bev, my grandmother originally made this candy with black walnuts but later started making it with pecans. I never had hers with the black walnuts but my mother remembers them.