A close up of one large date square. A small dinner plate in the background holds several other date squares.
Desserts, Gluten free

Canadian date squares


Canadian date squares are a sweet treat made of cooked dates and a crumbly oatmeal topping. They are commonly enjoyed with a cup of coffee or as a snack food. Date squares can easily be made gluten-free. They are snapped up in a flash at every gathering I bring them to.

A close up of one large date square. A small dinner plate in the background holds several other date squares.
Canadian date squares make an energy packed snack

Given how close we are to the Canadian border and how popular these are in coffee shops throughout Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, I’m surprised more people haven’t heard of them. Well, I’m happy to introduce them to you and guarantee you’ll love them. Dates are easily found in your local grocery store. They are a dried sweet fruit. I often find Medjool Dates tucked in packages by the produce department. If your produce department has a section for dried fruit, nuts, croutons and other accompaniments to salads, you may find them there.

Overhead photo of Canadian date squares. Fork on the plate.
Serve date squares with coffee or tea

Medjool Dates are packed full of vitamins and minerals. There are many health benefits to dates. They are said to aid digestion, boost metabolism, reduce cholesterol and strengthen bones (just to name a few). They are almost a miracle fruit. So, even though these date squares are a sweet treat, don’t feel bad about indulging in them along with your morning coffee. They will give you plenty of energy to start the day. Dates have a small pit inside them that easily comes out as you slice into the date. You’ll want to remove the pits in the dates used in this recipe.

Close up of a piece of date square on a fork. Plate of date squares in the background.
Canadian date squares are an easy to bake treat

How and why the date square became a truly beloved Canadian recipe is somewhat unknown. Its origins are debated and thought to have Scottish, Irish or even French origins. Any of which could be possible given early settlers in Canada came from these areas of Europe. One thing is clear, the date square is known all across the country and is thought to be uniquely Canadian. Date squares are also known as matrimonial bars or date crumbles depending on which coast you are on.

A photo showing layers of oats and dates in the Canadian date squares.

This is the traditional recipe for Canadian date squares. But I have been known to change it up every now and then by adding in dried cranberries or spiced apple. Both fruits taste great with the dates. If you’re in the mood for a sweet but healthy treat, give Canadian date squares a try. Leave me a comment below about your thoughts and experiences with this recipe.

Happy cooking!

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Canadian date squares

Recipe by Michelle BarsnessCourse: Desserts, Gluten freeCuisine: CanadianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Date squares are a sweet treat made of cooked dates and a crumbly topping. They are commonly enjoyed with a cup of coffee or as a snack food.


  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour or gluten free all purpose flour blend

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)

  • 3/4 lb pitted dates (12 oz package, chopped)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • juice of half a medium-sized lemon


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • To make the crumble, in a large bowl combine the oats, flour, salt, baking soda and brown sugar. Mix in the butter until crumbly. I usually use a pastry cutter or two butter knives to do this. You can use a food processor for this also, just be sure not to over process. Press half of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the 9 inch square baking pan.
  • To make the date filling, in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, water and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Use a spoon to help break up the dates. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  • Spread the filling over the crumble base. Then add the remaining crumble mixture on top. Pat lightly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  The top should look lightly golden. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


  • Did you enjoy this recipe? Come back and tell me your experience with Canadian date squares at https://northwestspoon.com/canadian-date-squares



  1. 5 stars
    I’m Canadian, and I didn’t know that date squares are unique to us in Canada! I learned something new, thanks! Yours look yummy.

  2. 5 stars
    Woow, so many good health benefits of Dates. I need this, since I am getting old, and I need my bones stronger and cholesterol lower. Adding dates to this dessert makes it the more enticing to eat. Plus, this looks so simple to make. Love, love it.

  3. 5 stars
    A cup of coffee with these squares would be perfect! And I love how healthy these squares are – both tasty and healthy!

  4. 5 stars
    I just love these little squares! The dates add such a lovely warm flavor, and that crumb topping is delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe is getting me all excited for fall! I can just taste the warmth and deliciousness of this recipe! YUM!!!

  6. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this! Dates are one of those ingredients that so many folks rarely use and that’s such a shame they are so amazing! These squares are perfect for a cool autumn day with a glass of cider!

  7. 5 stars
    These were so fun to make! The dates added so much flavor and I loved the topping! Will be making these again for sure.

  8. 5 stars
    Such an easy recipe, loved it so much. Big fan of anything that has dates.

  9. 5 stars
    This looks like a wonderful treat! I love crumble bars…perfect for breakfast, dessert, or even as a snack ;D

  10. 5 stars
    Dates are one of my favorite things in the whole world and these look positively delicious! I’m going to make them this week but have a question for you – Have you ever added chopped nuts to the topping? I was thinking of adding some finely chopped roasted almonds.

    • Hi Rebecca, I think you’ll love date squares then. I haven’t added nuts before, but a small amount of chopped roasted almonds or walnuts I think would be very tasty in the crumble topping. They are both nice flavors with dates. Perhaps try cutting back on the amount of oats then, so it’s not so dry.

  11. Karyl Henry

    5 stars
    Normally the only way I eat dates is wrapped in bacon…but these date squares are making me rethink that! They look so good, and I love the crumbly topping. I would absolutely devour these every mornign for breakfast with no question! I’m adding these to my meal list

  12. 5 stars
    The Canadians sure do love their date squares!! I’ve had them only a handful of times, but have never made them myself. Must change that!

  13. 5 stars
    Dates are such an amazing thing, love dates in any dish, especially in desserts! This is such amazing healthish dessert. Dates squares looks perfect!


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