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


  1. Steve says:

    Hi Robyn,
    I can remember my mother making “Date Loaf” as she called it when I was a child. I never knew anyone else that made it and there probably weren’t many who did as it’s not the easiest candy to stir. There were several friends of the family that would bring all of the ingredients to the house and mom would make it for them. Money was always tight around the holidays and they would pay mom a small fee for her trouble. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      This is such a sweet story, Steve. I don’t remember anyone except my grandmother making this candy, either. I love how these old family recipes bring back so many special memories.

  2. Nakita says:

    5 stars
    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. Robyn Stone says:

      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

  3. Norma says:

    I made it but it is too soft to roll up–what did I do wrong?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      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!

    2. Sandy says:

      5 stars
      I had the same problem. Too soft to roll. I used a candy thermometer to 235 degrees snd whipped until thickened. Almost impossible to roll on parchment paper. We’ll see if it even comes out when cool.

  4. Jan Tedell says:

    5 stars
    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. Robyn Stone says:

      It is such a special family recipe for us too, Jan. I hope you and your family enjoy it and have a wonderful time sharing those memories! xo

  5. Debra says:

    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?

  6. Judy says:

    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. Robyn Stone says:

      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!

  7. Nancy Morris says:

    5 stars
    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. Robyn Stone says:

      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

  8. Bonnie says:

    5 stars
    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. Robyn Stone says:

      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

  9. Bambi says:

    5 stars
    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. Robyn Stone says:

      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

  10. Barbara says:

    5 stars
    Try the material old dish towels are made with. I can’t think of the name it but a fabric place can tell you.