Making Hearty Bread Without Nuts (or Dates)

Date Nut Bread with butter and Milk

Baking is a fun activity to take part in during the coldest time of the year, and whether we’re experienced bakers or just starting out, many of us get into the spirit during the holidays. Date Nut Bread Day, which falls on December 22nd, is one of MANY bread and baking-related minor national holidays.


If you’ve heard of Date Nut Bread, but you want to bake something that excludes one or both of the name’s ingredients, keep reading. We’ll provide you with everything you need to make nut-free and/or date-free bread.

Two Loaves of Date Nut Bread

Traditional Date Nut Bread

Though Date Nut Bread Day is on December 22nd, this traditional bread recipe is often enjoyed any time of year, especially during the winter months. The first existing recipe was recorded in 1939 and, traditionally, Date Nut Bread is a popular side to go with afternoon tea in England. Over the past few decades, though, Date Nut Bread became a normal addition to the holiday recipe lineup in the US. It’s also common in New Zealand and Australia.


The traditional recipe is made using the following ingredients:


  • Flour (all-purpose or bread flour)
  • Hot Water
  • Butter
  • Honey or Syrup
  • Eggs
  • Baking Soda
  • Ground Cloves, Nutmeg, and Ginger
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Chopped Dates
  • Chopped Nuts (walnut or pecan)

Though this dish is a popular comfort food throughout the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, it’s not an ideal snack for everyone due to the nuts and dates it contains. Whether you’re allergic to one or both ingredients, or you simply don’t like them, the nuts and dates in Date Nut Bread can push away some bread enthusiasts.


Fortunately, if you enjoy the flavor and texture of Date Nut Bread aside from the date and nut content, there are a few items you can use as substitutes for these ingredients. If you want to try this recipe for yourself without dates and nuts, read on to discover a few helpful (and tasty) substitutions.


Also, because baking is versatile, there’s practically no limit to the number of ingredients you can substitute if need be. For example, if you have Celiac Disease or you’re baking for a loved one who does, gluten-free flour can be an immensely helpful substitute for plain flour.

Date Alternatives

If you find dates utterly nasty but enjoy other types of dried fruits, consider using an ingredient you prefer in lieu of dates.


Raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, prunes, and figs are all decent substitutes for dates in Date Nut Bread recipes.


For individuals who don’t like the taste or texture of dried fruit at all, we’ll cover some alternative recipes to follow later in this article.

Chickpeas

Nut Alternatives

If you’re allergic to pecans or walnuts, you can substitute them for rolled oats, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted soybeans, crunchy pretzel pieces, sunflower seeds, or even chickpeas.


For individuals who can’t eat seeds or nuts, we’ll recommend a couple of nut-free bread alternatives in the next section.

Panettone - Italian Holiday Loaf

Sweet Holiday Bread Options

Sweet bread recipes are a staple of the holiday season, but if Date Nut Bread doesn’t appeal to you, it’s not the end of the world. There are several other recipes you can try that embrace the sweet holiday flavors and aromas you’ve come to love. Some options include dried fruit ingredients, some include nut ingredients, and some include both or neither. There are so many bread recipes out there that you’ll surely find something that doesn’t force you to smile politely whilst waiting for a distraction that allows you to get rid of your Date Nut Bread slice.


Try one of these options:


  • Cranberry Loaf
  • Chocolate Babka
  • Banana Bread or Banana Nut Bread
  • Coffee Cake
  • Sweet Potato Spiced Bread
  • Italian Holiday Bread
  • Eggnog Loaf
  • Cherry Crescent Rings
  • Apple Spice or Pumpkin Spice Loaf
  • Cranberry Orange Star Bread
  • Fruitcake (if anyone actually eats it)

Date Nut Bread…Without the Dates and Nuts

Sure, it’s called Date Nut Bread, but there’s no law saying that you have to bake your bread loaf with dates and nuts included. The Bread Police are busy this time of year, so they’ll probably let it slide if you decide to bake the traditional Date Nut Bread recipe without dates and/or nuts.


If you’re not fond of the substitutions mentioned above, there’s always an option to work with the traditional recipe and simply cut out the dates, pecans, or walnuts. You’ll still have a sweet, aromatic bread loaf that combines all of the best holiday flavors into one comforting food. While it won’t technically be Date Nut Bread, it’ll be great nonetheless. Plus, when you change things up, you can give your unique recipe whatever name you want. Instead of Date Nut Bread, you might name it, “Recipe Cards Aren’t My Boss” Bread.

Focaccia - Savory Italian Bread

Savory Bread Options

If sweet bread isn’t your thing, or you want to try your hand at baking more than one type of bread for the holiday season, savory bread recipes are worth looking into. None of the options recommended below contain dried fruit or nuts of any kind. When they’re served fresh out of the oven, they bring about the same warm, cozy sensations as their sweeter counterparts.


Here are a few savory bread options to consider.



  • Garlic Herb Dinner Biscuits
  • Cheddar Jalapeño Loaf
  • Sausage Bread
  • Butter Croissants
  • Herb & Cheese Bread
  • Spicy Cornbread (w/Jalapeño)
  • Challah
  • Bacon & Brie Bread Wreath
  • Rosemary Focaccia


Recipes you’ll find in cookbooks or those posted online will often have slight variations in the amounts, ingredients, preparation, and cooking times listed. For an option that best suits your needs, you should spend some time exploring the plethora of recipes that’ll teach you how to bake the above-mentioned bread recipes. Don’t overwhelm yourself by any means, but take a look at a few recipes for the bread type you choose to make. This way, you’ll get a feel for the usual ingredients and preparation requirements and you can follow the instructions that seem like the right choice.


If you’re planning on baking bread, don’t start before you have all of your ingredients prepared. Using organic, high-quality ingredients yields the best results, so write a shopping list and then visit us at FreshJax. We carry a variety of organic spices and unique spice blends that will take your recipes to the next level.

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