Grandma’s Date Squares by Marcia Smart,

These are a traditional Canadian bar cookie, sometimes called matrimonial bars, that my Grandma Whyte would make during the holidays. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Course bar cookie, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 25 bars


  • 1 8-inch square baking pan



  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange about ½ cup juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups pitted dates preferably Medjool; about a 12-ounce package
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, creasing the inside edge so it fits snugly into the pan. Let two sides of the parchment paper hang over the pan, which will help you remove it easily later. Grease the parchment as well.
  • Filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest and juice and salt; stir until the sugar is melted. Reduce the heat to low and add the dates and water. Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break up the dates and mash them into a thick paste. Stir in the vanilla and cook uncovered for 2 minutes or until
  • Crust: In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the vanilla. Use your fingers to bring the dough together until it forms large clumps. There shouldn’t be dry flour left in the bowl.
  • Press half of the dough into the baking pan. Carefully spread the date mixture on top. Sprinkle the remaining dough in bits over the filling to create a crumbly topping. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. When completely cooled, gently remove the parchment paper from the pan and place on a cutting board to cut into small squares with a serrated knife.


Fresh Medjool dates are found either in the produce section or near the fresh cheeses. I store them in the refrigerator. They are my go-to afternoon snack when I’m craving something sweet, even better with almond butter and a sprinkle of salt on top. If you can’t find fresh dates, use the dried dates that are usually near dried apricots and raisins. When using dried dates, add 1/2  cup water along with the spices and orange juice and they will soften up in the pot.
Keyword dates, oatmeal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!