Raisin Paste: an Awesome Substitute for Dates

Looking for an easy and natural substitute for dates for many of the recipes you see online? Look no further than this simple recipe for raisin paste!

image: small white bowl of raisin paste on a wooden counter with golden and purple raisins off to the side.

Cheaper Substitute for Dates

Lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of real food recipes call for dates to sweeten them. From smoothies to granola bars, they seem to be in everything.

Dates, while easy to find at most grocery stores, are not cheap. Pitted dates are usually a dollar or so more expensive and in some recipes, it can bring up the cost of the recipe by a lot! They can cost as much as $9 per pound!

Enter my friend, the raisin. A couple of years ago, I began to use raisins instead of dates in my smoothies, grain-free Morning Glory Muffins, overnight oats, and preserves. They are sweet, delicious, and a lot cheaper than dates.

image: White bowl of raisins on a wooden counter

It is true that dates have many health benefits but so do grapes! They are both quite similar in nutritional benefits and in texture.

When I look at how dates are being used in many recipes they are used as a filler (like in homemade bars) and as a sweetener. Regardless of how you use them, I’ll show you my two methods of using raisins as a substitute for dates.

Making healthy swaps is just one simple way that you can eat healthier, cleaner food as a family. And it doesn’t have to be expensive! See how your family can eat clean on a budget here.

Tips to help Substitute Raisins for Dates

If you are going to substitute raw dates for raisins in baking recipes, like in muffins, brownies, and Lara bars, you’ll want to soak the raisins for about 2-3 minutes in hot water. Soaking the raisins for about 3 minutes will reconstitute some of the moisture and give them a similar texture to dates. Then, all you have to do is drain and pat dry with a a paper towel.

image: raisins soaking in water to make them plumper

For smoothies and everything else I make raisin paste and keep a small jar in the fridge at all times. To substitute for 1 large date you will need about 1-2 teaspoons of raisin paste.

image: raisin paste in the food processor

It might not be the prettiest of all things, but raisin paste is an inexpensive an easy substitute for things like green smoothies. I drink a green smoothie daily, so one teaspoon of raisin paste is all I need to make the “greenness” tolerable.

Raisin Paste – Date Paste Substitute

Need a substitute for dates in your smoothies, baking, granola bars, and more? Look no further. Here is how I use raisins to substitute dates.

  • Author: Laura Fuentes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups paste 1x
  • Category: Dips/Spreads


  • 1 1/2 cups dried raisins
  • water


  1. Place raisins in a glass bowl. Pour boiling water over them, just enough to cover raisins. Wait 10 minutes or so to reconstruct the raisins into plump fruit. Reserve ¼ cup raisin water and drain. Transfer into a food processor.
  2. Turn food processor on and let it go until you have a thick paste. Begin adding water, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a smooth peanut butter like consistency.
  3. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks. You can also freeze raisin paste into cubes and be kept in the freezer for months.
  4. Use 2 teaspoons of raisin paste for every date in most recipes.


  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 31
  • Sugar: 6.1g
  • Sodium: 1.2mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.2g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Protein: 0.3g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

29 thoughts on “Raisin Paste: an Awesome Substitute for Dates”

  1. Isabella says:

    I wish I’d know this last weekend when I made some data and cacoa balls, without the dates because I had run out.

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      now you know! you can make them again with a less expensive and easy alternative! 🙂

  2. I would have never thought of this!! It’s so smart!

  3. Anne Stuck says:

    Hi! Do you know how to substitute raisin paste for dates in recipes using a cup or more? It seems like it would be difficult to count out 2 teaspoons of raisin paste for every date, when my recipes don’t call for a certain number of dates, but rather by the cup. Thanks for your input, I would really like to try this!

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Anne, you can substitute raisin paste for date paste 1:1. 1 cup of dates will yield about 1/2 cup of paste.

      1. Amber says:

        Thank you! I was wondering this as well.

  4. Linda says:

    What a great idea! Can I use raisin paste in bread recipes to sub out the sugar?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Linda, raisin paste is not a 1:1 ratio to granulated sugar. It is used whenever dates are called for in recipes.

  5. Taylor says:

    Hi! I don’t own a fruit processor. Do you think I could make this paste in my blender?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Yes you can. You’ll have to stop the blender and assist with a spatula a few times but it will work.

  6. Julie says:

    Thank you so much for the info. Do you suppose this would work to make Craisins paste when date paste is called for?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      You can definitely make paste out of dried cranberries. However, they will need to soak longer. I don’t think it would be a great substitute for dates since they are not as sweet. if you are ok with that, then you are good to go!

  7. Marinade your steak for a minimum of half an hour prior to you prepare it
    so the taste of the steak marinade dish can soak into the

  8. I love dates but Medjool are difficult to find this time of the year where I live so this recipe is exactly what I needed. Thanks! I’m going to try it very soon 🙂

  9. Chris Crofton says:

    Thanks – just found a simple healthy muffin top recipe and have no dates. Will give it a shot but appreciate that I found this.

  10. Trying to make a cake that calls for Medjool dates, can’t find them here in my city, nor do I won’t to give a kidney just to try out a receipt. Can I use this past or do I need to chop the raisins instead?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      You can just “plump” the raisins in hot water as mentioned in the recipe and use those. Same amount. So, if the recipe calls for 1/4 cup dates, use 1/4 cup plump raisins. Enjoy!

  11. Andrea Walker says:

    I need to make a date caramel for a recipie but can’t find dates. Can I use this paste as a replacement?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      I’ve never tried a date caramel but this works exactly as dates would.

  12. Joel says:

    How long does it take for your food processor to reach this state of thick paste? Mine seems to stay granular for a while…. not sure what’s wrong.

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Add a little water, your dates might be too dry. Enjoy

  13. Marta says:

    Hi Laura,
    Sometimes a recipe calls for a certain number of whole dates ie. 5 dates, so what would be the equivalent in whole raisins?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Marta, you would measure the dates inside a measuring cup and then the equivalent volume in raisins.

  14. Kandy says:

    Great suggestion, looking forward to trying this, thanks for the tips!! I haven’t been liking the date taste and am hoping that the raisins will give a lighter flavor, yes?? Plus the lower cost will be nice =) Thanks again!!

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Flavor is similar but a different sweetness, I think. Totally more cost-effective. MUCH.

  15. Alythia Wilson says:

    Amazing, thank you for this recipe. I am allergic to dates amongst a few other things and have had to skip A LOT of recipes as they include Dates, but not anymore!! ❤

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      You can make ANY recipe that calls for dates with this method. Enjoy!

  16. Robyn says:

    Due to the Coronavirus covid-19 grocery store craziness I was unable to purchase dates (of all things!) today. I made some lactation balls today using this raisin paste instead and they turned out perfect. Thank you!!

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      I’m so glad this worked for you Robyn!

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