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Grandma’s Date Nut Loaves – Baked in Cans

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These yummy date nut loaves are baked in tin cans making them easily giftable. The batter is quick to whip up and they are perfect for breakfast or tea time.

round slices of date nut loaf on plate with can and bread in background.

This quick bread is loaded with chopped dates and walnuts for a delicious combination. You could bake it as a loaf, but it is fun to bake it in emptied tin cans for a retro twist.

You can freeze the extra mini loaves to enjoy at a later date or gift them to family and friends. The round slices are great plane or spread with a little bit of butter or cream cheese.

Origins of this date loaf bread recipe

It appears that date and walnut breads have some origins in Scotland. Though most of those recipes include some tea much like Tea brack.

This particular recipe comes from my husband’s grandma Ruth. She has delivered a round loaf of date nut bread with the tell tale ribs from a can each Christmas and I look forward to it every year.

hand holding round slice of date walnut bread that was baked in a tin can.

It is one of those traditions that I started this blog to help keep alive. I want to be able to pass these cherished recipes to future generations as well.

So I finally asked for the recipe. She not only dropped off the recipe, she also included a special can opener that makes smooth rims on the cans.

That makes cleaning the cans and removing the bread much easier. It took Little Dude and me a second to figure out the crazy equipment, but we were impressed with how it lifted off the lids.

Prepping the cans

Having the special can opener isn’t required, though it is handy. You want at least 5 emptied 14.5 oz cans.

Remove the lids and the paper wrapper. I threw the cans in the dishwasher to get them extra clean, but you can wash them by hand.

can shaped date nut bread cooling on wire rack with cans in background.

You can use the same five cans over and over or start fresh each time. Once the are cleaned, you are ready to start baking!

Making the batter

The actual batter is really easy to make. You soak the chopped dates in hot water to get them big and plump.

For the darker colored Scottish version, use hot tea to soak the dates instead of water. Either way, the results will be delicious.

mixing bowl filled with date and walnut quick bread batter.

You melt a little bit of butter in the hot water as well. That makes stirring in the rest of the ingredients super simple.

I used a bag of chopped dates that were coated in dextrose. That is what grandma uses as well.

If you are using dates without the sugar coating, you may want to add an extra quarter cup or so of sugar. Buying the prechopped dates saves some effort over pitting and chopping the fruit though, so I suggest just buying them that way.

Use an ice cream or large cookie scoop to easily transfer the batter into greased cans. Then put the cans on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven.

date walnut loaf batter in greased cans ready to bake.

They come out with a dark delicious crust and soft moist interior. Allow them to cool slightly before dumping them out of the can.

Cool them completely and then slice and enjoy!

Enjoying and storing your date nut loaves

Wrap the cooled loaves in plastic wrap for storage or gifting. I gave extra loaves to my brothers and dad and they were a big hit.

Your round loaves of bread will be good at room temperature for about 4 days. Or freeze them for up to three months.

Date nut bread in cans fresh out of the oven.

The bread is best seeved at room temperature or slightly warmed. It has plenty of flavor on its own but is also great with a bit of butter on top.

More recipes from grandma Ruth

Grandma Ruth joked that she just knew she’d see this recipe on Facebook if she shared it with me. Of course she was right.

How could I not share it? It’s delicious and the very idea of it puts a smile on my face every time I think of it.

slices of date nut bread on plate next to loaf of bread and empty tin can.

Besides, the recipes grandma has shared with us in the past have been really popular. So check out a few more of her favorites.

Grandma’s chicken and broccoli casserole is a great way to get dinner on the table quickly.  It is a perfect way to use leftover chicken or turkey as well!

Party chicken is another classic from grandma. I hear she served it quite frequently during a certain era.

The sweet, buttery, crunchy caramel corn you love can be done in the microwave to make it faster and easier.  It’s perfect for a snack and fun for a party!

The warm fall flavors of pumpkin, apples and pumpkin pie spice always go so well together. Soft pumpkin apple muffins bring them all together in every tasty bite. 

Or try making date balls for another festive classic treat. They use more of those deliciously sweet dates.

Did you make this great recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

can shaped date nut bread cooling on wire rack with cans in background.

Grandma’s Date Nut Loaves – Baked in Cans

These yummy date nut loaves are baked in tin cans making them easily giftable. The batter is quick to whip up and they are perfect for breakfast or tea time.
4.70 from 33 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 5 Can Sized Loaves
Calories 223 kcal


  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour 5 cleaned 15 oz cans. (I used the spray with the flour in it.)
  • Place dates in large bowl. Add boiling water and baking soda.
    1 cup chopped dates, 2 cups boiling water, 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Stir in the butter until melted. Allow to cool some.
    2 Tablespoons butter
  • Mix in the vanilla, sugar, salt and eggs.
    2 Tablespoons vanilla extract, 1⅓ cups granulated sugar, ¾ teaspoon salt, 2 large eggs
  • Add the flour, stirring until just combined.
    4 cups all purpose flour
  • Fold in nuts.
    1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Scoop batter into prepared cans.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the cans for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.


If using dates without dextrose, increase the sugar by 1/4-1/2 cup.



Serving: 1/4 LoafCalories: 223kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 223mgFiber: 2gSugar: 18g
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Recipe Rating

Joanna Harrington

Monday 30th of October 2023

I grew up with my grandmother and mother baking in 1 pd coffee cans but it was pumpkin date bread with chopped nuts baked for 60 mins or till toothpick came out cleaned. Unfortunately no longer can get 1 pd coffee cans so having hard time finding large cans for that size to continue making our bread at the holidays. Mine finally rusted over the years as used them till that finally happened. I will only make my recipe in cans as grew up with it this way and prefer it to this day. Oh the memories. I’m 66 and will try your grandmothers recipe as never had just date nut bread without the pumpkin Lol. Thank you for sharing.


Sunday 7th of January 2024

@Carlee, Amazon has cans. It’s snowing like crazy out so I've been making breads . Banana nut and datenut.

Dru Nye

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

@Joanna Harrington, There is a latin coffee! Cafe Bustelo comes in metal cans!


Tuesday 31st of October 2023

Oh my goodness, we need to find you some cans!


Sunday 5th of March 2023

I would love to try this recipe, I remember my grandmother making date and nut bread in a can. Unfortunately I don’t have her recipe so I am going to try yours. I just need help on the purchase of the right cans to use. I would really appreciate any help in finding the right brand of the cans to use.

Dru Nye

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

@Linda, see my comment above


Tuesday 7th of March 2023

It's best if you can find an unlined can, unfortunately I don't have a great brand recommendation for you.


Sunday 11th of December 2022

Would this recipe work baked in a tall tomato juice can?


Sunday 11th of December 2022

I don't see why not. It would be hard to guess the bake time though. Longer for sure, I'd start checking it after an extra 5-10 minutes and then keep testing it until a skewer comes out clean.


Sunday 20th of November 2022

Hi I loved the date roll.Wonder if you would have a apple cinmamon version like a apple slice?


Sunday 20th of November 2022

I don't have a recipe, but that sounds amazing. I have been wanting to do brown bread, but an apple version would be fun too.

Billy Moyer

Sunday 23rd of October 2022

My German grandmother used to make this every year at Christmas. It was delicious. However she had a sauce that she would pour over it after she sliced it and I think that it had whiskey in it. Any idea about this sauce would be greatly appreciated. It was a white sauce and was a little runny. I am making the date nut bread in a can, but I would love to find a recipe for this sauce.

Ruth A. Bolz

Monday 2nd of January 2023

@Billy Moyer, I think you are referring to "hard sauce" - I'm in my 80s, grew up in Maryland and am German heritage. We used hard sauce on date/nut bread, plum pudding, pumpkin and minced pie. Yummy! It's kept in fridge, taken out to warm up before use and starts to melt on warm dessert. I think originally made with bourbon but great with either rum or Brandy. Google recipes under "hard sauce" but basically unsalted BUTTER, powdered sugar and liquor whipped together and hardened, covered, in fridge. Ruth Ann


Sunday 23rd of October 2022

That sounds interesting. I am wondering if it's not a butter rum sauce like some people use for bread pudding. Here's a recipe for creamy rum sauce using condensed milk or maybe something like this bread pudding sauce that uses cream and rum.