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. 5 stars
    I am glad I have found this recipe. This is the best Christmas candy I have ever made. The recipe has been in the Lankford and Moore family since I was very young. The candy was always rolled in dish towels and stored in the refrigerator until family get togethers during the holidays. We also roll in powdered sugar.

    1. my grandmother stored in fridge in cheese cloth wrapped 3 or more times. After a day paper was used. The color of it was beige not brown. Best I ever ate.

    2. Thanks, Shelby. My grandmother always stored this candy in the refrigerator rolled in parchment paper or waxed paper. This candy always brings back memories of my grandmother.

  2. My Mother used to make this, so of course I do too, but I roll it in powdered sugar before rolling it in waxed paper. Just adds a little more color to it, and brings back memories!

    1. I made this several times, and every time the result/flavor is different, I would say the dates quality makes all the difference, and the color also not as brown. My hubby said the first one I made was the best and I didn’t even use candy thermometer 😁

    1. You pour the candy onto the waxed paper, Amy, and then roll into a log. Twist the ends to keep the candy log secure, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  3. 5 stars
    My mom would make this when I was growing up and she lost her recipe. This taste just like I remember! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad this recipe is like the candy you had growing up. It is so awesome when we make dishes that we loved when we were little.

  4. I have searched and searched online for this candy that I remember from my childhood. I have a similar recipe and have made it at least 4 times but it never came out right. My recipe (written as it was told to me at 12 years old when my aunt showed me how to make it) uses condensed milk. I took that to mean sweetened condensed milk but, after reading these comments (thank you, Meg!), it suddenly occurred to me that is likely means evaporated milk. I am so excited at that thought that I am going to try it again today. Wish me luck!

  5. 5 stars
    My neighbor used to make this candy she always brought us some at Christmas . She rolled it in a wet dish towel and hung it on the clothes line over night she called it clothes line candy. We live in a cold state. Delicious

  6. I can’t wait to make this! My mom passed away last year and this was one of my favorite treats she would make through the holidays. After it cooled just enough to hold it’s shape in a roll, she unwrapped it and rolled it in finely chopped pecan meal. I can taste it already! Thank you for the recipe!!

    1. I store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, Janet. I separate each layer of candy with waxed paper or parchment.

  7. 5 stars
    I love making this date nut roll…My almost grandmother taught me the recipe along with other candies. Unfortunately my children and grandchildren do not like the roll.. I make it anyway and over the months enjoy as put most in freezer. I also make a “mean mincemeat pie” and they don’t like it either, I always dampen an old dishtowel and wrap the roll in it as someone else does, and wrap it in foil for day or so…Let it set for several hours uncovered before cutting…Been doing it since 1954…..HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL AND ENJOY THE CANDY MAKING AND MEMORIES!

    1. I love how so many of these recipes have been passed down for generations, Emma! Enjoy the candy yourself.

  8. I’m a 71-year-old great grandmother. I remember MY great grandmother making this. She got the recipe from her grandmother.

    1. I love how these old family recipes are handed down from generation to generation, don’t you? Thanks for letting me know how it has been handed down in your family.