Broiled Saffron Dates

Broiled Saffron Dates Recipe

If you've been to my house at any point in recent months, you've likely had these dates. They take only slightly more effort to make than placing dates unadorned on a plate. And, there must be something unusually captivating about them because people always ask me how to make them. I think the idea stems from a flight I took years ago from San Francisco to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was sitting next to a young man, dressed head to toe in hemp, on his way to a spiritual retreat. :) We started chatting, and he offered me a date from little plastic baggie. He proceeded to tell me the dates were an Ayurvedic staple for him on flights. Massaged with ghee, ginger, and saffron, they weren't pretty in the plastic baggie, but they were a flavor revelation. In this version I soak saffron in a small amount of almond extract, and toss it with melted ghee (or clarified butter) and dates. I usually opt out of the ginger. Place the dates in an oven-proof baking dish and broil just long enough for the insides of the dates to get unctuous and tacky, just long enough that the skins start caramelizing. Serve warm. They're good as part of a cheese spread, or as a sweet bite at the end of a meal - simple with a bit of a wink.

Broiled Saffron DatesBroiled Saffron Dates

Also! I've started to post event information related to Near & Far on this events page. I hope to see, meet, and chat with many of you at each of them! Event information here. xo -h

Broiled Saffron Dates

Tip: If you don't have almond extract on hand, you can certainly use another alcohol-based extract - vanilla, rose or orange blossom, etc. Saffron is alcohol soluble, and you get great extraction with a quick splash/soak.

1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch saffron
1 1/2 tablespoons melted ghee or clarified butter, or extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch flaky sea salt or(!) smoked sea salt
12 dates

Heat the oven to 350F / 175C, with a rack placed in the top third.

In a tiny bowl, pour the almond extract over the saffron. Jostle or stir until the saffron releases its color. Let sit a minute or so. Stir the saffron mixture into the ghee / olive oil.

Place the dates in an ovenproof baking dish. Pour the saffron mixture over the dates and toss to coat. Arrange the dates in a single layer, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and place in the oven. Let cook for 5 minutes or so, long enough that the dates heat through. At this point switch to the broiler - broil just until the tops of the dates darken a bit, not long at all. Serve warm. If you transfer the dates to a separate serving dish be sure to re-drizzle with the saffron oil - it's the good stuff!

Makes 12 dates.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 5 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Do you pit the dates before or after broiling them?

HS: Hi Steph, We usually just pit them as we're eating them. ;)


don't see portland or any oregon stops on your book events page, hope that will change soon!

ms. tea

I tried some savory rice dishes in the Azores made with saffron and studded with incredibly sweet dates or prunes. I'm not sure what it does for my dosha, but the combination is divine.


What a surprising recipe!!! Sounds wonderful!

Tammy Renea @SanPasqualsKitchen

These dates seem so simple to make, and I'm sure they're just packed with flavor. Luckily I've got all the ingredients in my pantry right now! PS. Saw your Nori Granola in Food & Wine recently, and I can't wait to make that as well!

Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

Now, this is interesting! I'm curious to find out how these dates taste. I'm definitely bookmarking this to try.

Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday

I'm honestly just sitting at my computer screen right now trying to think of how these saffron dates would taste. Can't wait! I'm drawing blanks right now, it's totally unexpected and something that I would not normally try to do (especially on my own) Thanks for the inspiration and tips.

Laura @ RYG

I do love the blue and white plates and have been looking for a great pattern for years. Do you know where they are from??


i believe the plate is by Royal Copenhagen.


I love the backstory of this recipe. The spiritual guy on the airplane, the flavor revelation, etc.
I never had saffron dates before but now I'm really intrigued...


Heidi, your book events sound wonderful - I so wish I lived closer!!

HS: They should be fun! And it would be so fun to have you!


While I love seeing recipes everywhere that use dates as sweeteners, it is refreshing to see a recipe that shines a spotlight on dates, front and centre, as the star ingredient. I might need to consider investing in saffron - if not for zucchini blossom pasta, at least for broiled dates!

Eliza | Pen + Pan

You always have the best ideas! These sound so perfectly simple but special. Can't wait to give them a try, and I might give that ginger/ghee/saffron that your seatmate made a go too! xo

Christine // my natural kitchen

@Dana I believe it's the Blue Fluted or "Musselmalet" series from Royal Copenhagen. I love the pattern too :)


I love recipes like this- simple but with a twist. Although I love to read and dream up complex new dishes, the reality is that's not what feeds us most of the time. I can't wait to try these.


I love dates, seriously, I eat them straight up, and put them in whatever I can and this looks divine, I can't wait to try it too! But oddly enough, I'm flying to Dallas in October, so I'm intrigued and curious about the Ayurvedic properties you mentioned that the man on the plane spoke of. Do you know what they are?


About the plate - I don't think it i actual Royal Copenhagen, because it is not fluted. If it is, it will say so on the bottom, with a number relating to who hand-painted it and what series. Perhaps Heidi can enlighten us?


Saffron is such a beautiful spice. I love the shot of the saffron marinating in the almond extract!

Sarah | Well and Full

Hi Heidi... these sounds deliciously warm & good .It gives me an idea for Thanksgiving. Your posts and always encouraging to a home cook/foodie. Thinking about a adding these to a platter with other tidbits. This is a fresh idea. thank you.


So creative in the spice combination, these look really so sensational!

Peggy Gilbey McMackin

These, and your lovely words about them, are absolutely captivating.


Fresh or dried dates?

HS: Hi Amanda, dried.


You can substitute dates with dried apricots and those taste yummm too.

HS: Oh wow - I actually love this idea. Brilliant!


I love the story about how you came to try these out :) Sometimes the yummiest food isn't the prettiest food, and sometimes (well-meaning, kind, non-scary) strangers can introduce us to foods and experiences we never thought to try ourselves. Love it!

Megan | the bay leaf kitchen

"Simple with a bit of a wink"...I love it! Great story too. This looks genius Heidi. I recently started roasting dates and love setting them out with toasted nuts and olives, pre-dinner party. Next time I will definitely try the almond extract and saffron.

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Please come to Canada (in particular Calgary, AB)! We love you here too :-) I've been reading your blog since 2008 (?), it would be too cool to meet you. I look forward to your new cookbook!

Sarah G

About the Ayurveda part that someone above asked about - flying is considered to vitiate "vata" (the air element in your constitution). Saffron + ghee + unctuous dates would help to reduce that by warming and grounding you.


What a divine combination! Dates already boast such a deep and rich flavor; I can only imagine how these would be with the subtle saffron, almond and ghee notes.

Michelle Fan | chasing bagels

I love the sound of these and have already bookmarked the recipe to try. Saffron is such a unique and great flavour but I have yet to pair it with dates!


Served these with manchego and Pinot Grigio and all was heaven.


This is so simple yet so astoundingly good--permanently added to my repertoire--plus I will feel so spiritual when I pack them for my next flight!


I got some dates just so I could make these this afternoon. My daughter and I were going to save a few for my husband, but that didn't happen! So yummy. I'm totally dipping tonight's dinner bread in the leftover oil in the baking dish.


Wow, these look absolutely amazing ! i'm such a date lover, i always have them just plain or with marzipan. Have you tried them with marzipan ? It is a christmas recipe where I come from and it is delicious.
Looks like now I can have another version. Thank you so much for the recipe

charlotte - cook my french

I LOVE THESE DATES SO MUCH! And now I am just angry that I can never look at a simple unadorned date (previously a favorite snack) in the same way again. This is like date jerky. It's so wonderful with those charred little bits of date and the thick flake salt... Just divine. Thank you.

HS: Leigh! LOVE the date jerky description!


I was looking around for something to pair with goat cheese and landed here, my old favorite spot to lurk. Mwahh, these dates. So brilliant! Thank you.

Madame Fromage

Have been working my way through Super Natural - wonderful food ! The dates look awesome so will have to make some - very little effort involved. My latest experiment is spaggetti squash, hot, sprinkled with dukkah. I guess it would be good with a drizzle of oil - fabulous !

elizabeth nudd

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