Til’ Lunch Do Us Part: The Best Partners For Dates

On their own, dates are simultaneously rich, chewy, and sweet, but sometimes we’re after a greater union of flavor. Don’t let the inherent sweetness of dates tempt you to exclusively use them in desserts, as there’s a huge fanbase behind savory date dishes. Stop dating around and use this list to help your fresh dates settle down with their soulmate.

Bacon

Luckily for us, bacon-wrapped dates have moved on from Spanish tapas bars and into the general consciousness. This classic pairing is irresistible and surprisingly cohesive flavor-wise; be on the lookout for how the sweet and salty flavors amplify and  compliment each other.

  • Pro Tip: To take your bacon-wrapped dates even further, try incorporating cheese or drizzling the finished product in honey or a balsamic reduction.

Dark Chocolate

You could argue that chocolate makes everything better, but we seriously do believe in the combo of dates and dark chocolate. Bitter dark chocolate is best (we’d recommend staying in the ballpark of 70% cacao if you can help it), as it refines the overtly sweet flavor of dates.

Cinnamon

Naturally, warm spices fit in perfectly with many different types of dates. Seek out “soft” dates like Medjools, as their tender texture plays nicely with cinnamon. If you really want to focus on fall flavors, dates also work well with popular spices like cardamom and nutmeg.

Citrus

Want to lighten up a date dish while adding an extra dose of color? Consider using citrus! Although oranges may be your go-to citrus, we’d recommend rocking the boat by using tangerines or clementines instead! Both are sweeter and juicer than oranges, plus they make great garnishes.

  • Pro Tip: Want something really unexpected? Try using tart citrus like limes or grapefruits instead.

Blue Cheese

Stay sharp by pairing fresh dates with blue cheese. Literally. While you may not immediately consider incorporating such a sharp cheese with your dates, the two are actually great partners! For an extremely simple appetizer, try stuffing dates with blue cheese and serving with a sweet glaze.

Almonds

If you’re looking to spice up the overall texture of a date dish, adding almonds can be your saving grace. The approachable nut isn’t overshadowed by the creaminess of dates, but rather compliments its soft texture by offering a crunchy alternative.

  • Pro Tip: Dates and almonds work particularly well in summer salads!

Lamb 

Dates are rooted in Middle Eastern culture, so naturally, they’re commonly used in lamb dishes throughout the region. From lamb tagine to lamb stew, there’s a rich history of incorporating the sweetness of dates with the distinctive flavor of lamb. To start, we’d recommend adding chopped dates to roasted lamb!