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

Date Nut Roll Candy is a traditional, Southern candy served during the holidays. This recipe is easy to follow and a family-favorite!
4.84 from 12 votes

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Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Cooling Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 12
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch


  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup butter 2 sticks
  • 8 - 10 ounces dried dates chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 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.
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Merry Christmas!

Robyn xo

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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62 Comments Leave a comment or review

  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?

    1. 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. 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!

    1. I too have searched for my Momma’s recipe. This is lose I think except she used homemade butter and fresh cream….it was so yummy. I’m going to make this 🙂

  3. 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

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

    2. My family has made this for years we called it bologna candy(looks like old fashion bologna you slice) and we rolled it in coconut. 

  4. 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. 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!


    1. 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!

      1. 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. 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 .

    1. Carol, my Mom was taught by a neighbor and she also rolled the candy into a dish towel.
      I made some several right before my Mom passed away and gave each of my siblings some along with some of my other favorite cookies. They all started to reminisce and some cried. 
      I’m making it agai this year 

  7. 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?

    1. WE used a clean dishtowel or tea towel; wet it then wring it out good. Pour candy directly on the wet towel to make a roll and then roll it up in the towel. Our roll was about 2 inches in diameter and maybe 10 inches long. Let cool and then gradually unroll from the towel, slice and enjoy. Generally that towel was not worth much so we’d toss it. LOL

  8. 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. 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. 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!

    1. 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. 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!

    1. 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!


      2. That makes me so happy, Linda! I can’t imagine not having these special recipes from my Grandmother’s and my Mama and am so glad that this is one that has special memories for you, too! Enjoy! xo

  12. Thank you so much for the receipe “Grandmother’s Date Nut Roll”. This is exactly like the receipe that my mom used to make. She passed away three years ago and I have not been able to find her receipe. I have one question. How long do you cook the mixture once it reaches the soft ball stage? Mine did not set up like I believe it should have. It remained soft like caramels but tastes like I remember. Thanks for any additional tips.

  13. On step number two, am I supposed to bring it to a “boil”? I think the word was omitted. And are you saying to make four rolls?…. and that’s why you have four baking sheets?….. I’m guessing you could use two cookie sheets and put two rolls on each one… is that correct?

  14. Beautiful memories. My granny and my mother made this, but with a can of Pet Condensed Milk. I still have the piece of paper with the recipe I wrote down the last time I watched my mother make a date nut roll. I’ll make it this weekend and cry sad happy tears.

  15. What kind of cloth? It does matter the material you use. Lol. I try every year to make my great grandmas recipe, but fail ? Soooo…. it’s the towel method. Yes. It does not turn out if I use wax paper, dish towels, etc. I wish I knew the linen my grams used specifically for her date roll.

    1. Possibly a flour sack towel (still available at Walmart)? I think it is what my grandmother used. Best candy in the world!

    2. I usually use a cloth diaper or a brand new pillow case butter your cloth before you roll it up and then put it in foil

  16. I try to make this every year for my husband since his mother has passed away and for some reason it will not set. It is very gooey. Can you tell me what I might be doing wrong?

  17. My grandmother used old white cotton undershirts cut up and dampened to keep the rolls from drying out.
    Thank you for this recipe my grandmother passed 20 years ago and I’m looking forward to trying this recipe

    1. I love hearing tips that our mothers and grandmothers used! Thanks for sharing that with me.
      I hope you enjoy this recipe – my Grandmother never failed to make this during the holiday season as long as she was able to. Have a happy new year! Thanks! xo

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! My friend made these for me when I was pregnant with my son. She has since passed away and I miss her so much! I’ve looked for her recipe and finally here it is! Can’t wait to try my hand at this. I remember she wrapped hers in a damp dishcloth. Bless you for posting this recipe. I know my friend is smiling from Heaven ?

    1. Hi Bonnie –
      What a touching comment! I know you must miss your friend terribly. She sounds like a beautiful person!
      My Grandmother made this every Christmas for us…along with many other special treats…and this was always such a favorite!
      I think you will love it.
      Bless you, Bonnie. Take care – I have loved hearing from you.
      Thanks so much! xo

  19. My Mom and Dad made his Date Roll every year. Mom cooked the dates, etc, Dad beat the candy until it was creamy. They rolled it in a wet flour sack dish towel (the best for drying glasses) They rolled it up, tied the ends with string and hung by one end in the cool laundry room over night.

    1. Traditions that go along with special foods in our lives have the best memories, don’t they Nancy! I love that your parents made this together! Thank you for sharing this memory with me! xo

  20. I have been searching for this for a long time. My aunt used to make this when I was a young girl, and I’m 67 yrs now. Thank you so much. I am excited to try it. Judy

    1. I’m so excited for you to try it, Judy! It is one of my favorites of my Grandmother’s Christmas recipes. She would always have a platter of this Date Nut Roll and her Divinity and Fudge. Such wonderful memories!

  21. My mother used to make this every year when I was a child, and now I make it every Christmas for my family. I’ve often wondered of the origin of this recipe. Does anyone know?

  22. This sounds just like the candy my grandma used to make in th 1950’s and her mother before her.  Family has deep Missouri roots as they were there before statehood.  Can’t wait to make this in her memory and share with my grandchildren.

    1. Hi Norma,
      I’ve not had that happen before, so I am not positive what happened, but here are a couple of things to consider. Make sure it came to temp when checked on a candy thermometer – Make sure it reaches soft ball stage. After removing from heat, you will beat until thickened as in step 3. I hope some of this may help you discover what happened. Thanks!

  23. I am beyond grateful that you shared this recipe. I personally have never had it but my dad was reminiscing about something his grandmother use to make and how much he missed it. He loved that women something fierce and she has been gone for nearly 40 years now. I am going to make this for him for Christmas. I hope I do it justice!

    1. This is so sweet, Nakita! I have such fond memories of my grandmother making this when I was a little girl too. I’m so glad you found the recipe and love that you are making it! I hope you enjoy making it and am sure your dad will love that you made it for him!
      Merry Christmas! xo

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