Date-Pecan Cookies

Soft medjool dates and date molasses lend these cardamom-scented sweets their toffee-like chew.

  • Serves

    Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • Cook

    40 minutes


By Majed Ali

Published on December 16, 2022

During the 2020 lockdown, when people around the world were embarking on personal baking journeys—whipping up batches of banana bread to break free from the boredom of social isolation—I found myself drawn to a different ingredient: my favorite fruit, the humble date. As the COVID-19 pandemic surged outside, I filled my days spent indoors with batch after batch of date cookies, date cakes cakes, date ice cream, and date shakes.  

In my home state of Dubai—as elsewhere throughout the Middle East and North Africa—the date plays a significant role in the local cuisine. Dates are one of the primary ingredients in baked goods, sweets, and even some savory dishes enjoyed throughout the year, especially during religious celebrations like Eid, Christmas, and Rosh Hashanah

Unlike other, more fragile plants, the resilient date palm thrives in the Gulf region’s arid heat, ensuring that this important fruit remains accessible to all. It’s because of this that dates are an integral part of the fabric of our culture; in Emirati homes, you’ll pretty much always find a bowl of dates on the dining room table. 

When I started my blog, many of my early readers requested recipes featuring ingredients grown in my home country, so I started experimenting further with dates. I found that the super-soft medjool variety—when folded into pastries—took on a smooth, almost toffee-like texture. If you’re not sure if you like dates, these chewy date-pecan cookies will almost certainly win you over.

For the best flavor and texture, I encourage you to toast your pecans before adding them to the dough. Date syrup (also known as date molasses) is a flavorful, date-based sweetener; it can be found at health food stores and Middle Eastern markets, or online.


  • 1 cup (6½ oz.) medjool dates
  • 16 Tbsp. (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. date syrup
  • 2 large, room-temperature eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
  • 5¼ oz. toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (1⅓ cup)
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)


Step 1

To a small bowl, add the dates and enough warm water to submerge. Set aside until softened, about 10 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F and line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 3

Drain the dates, discarding their soaking liquid. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Step 4

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the date syrup and continue mixing until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Turn the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the mixture is velvety and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Step 5

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, fine sea salt, baking soda, and cardamom. With the mixer set to low speed, add the dry ingredients to the bowl gradually and continue mixing, pausing to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed, until thoroughly combined. Add the reserved dates and the pecans and continue mixing just until incorporated.

Step 6

Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a large spoon, divide the dough into twenty-four 2-ounce portions (about 2 tablespoons each). Arrange the scoops on the lined baking sheets, leaving 3 inches between each one (no more than 8 cookies per sheet). (At this point, you can either bake the cookies right away or wrap tightly and refrigerate the dough for a few hours or up to 3 days.)

Step 7

Sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt atop each portion, if desired, then bake, rotating the sheet 180 degrees halfway through baking, until the cookies are dark golden-brown, and the edges are set and crisp, 11–12 minutes.

Step 8

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover date pecan cookies keep well stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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