These sweet and savory goat cheese stuffed dates topped with roasted pecans and fresh thyme are a quick and easy appetizer that everyone will love. This post is sponsored by Kroger.
Are you usually the host or attendee for holiday dinners? No matter what your role is, I feel like it can be chaotic up until the time of the meal. If you’re the host, you somehow have to balance cleaning, setting up and typically cooking the food. As an attendee, you usually still bring a dish to share and you might have a family to wrangle and make sure they’re all dressed and presentable.
The only thing worse than the chaos before dinner is when everyone gets hangry before the meal hits the table. Because we all know that when your grandma or in-laws say dinner is at 4PM, the meal will 100% hit the table closer to 6PM. SO this year, let’s combat hunger (and make sure no one gets hangry!) with a quick and easy appetizer to hold you over and keep everyone happy leading up to the meal!
These goat cheese stuffed dates take close to no time at all to throw together, but they look really festive and kind of fancy. The best part? They’re made with 6 simple ingredients, all of which I picked up at my local Kroger. I love their Simple Truth Organic line and always look for the green label when shopping.
Pro tip: Kroger now has in-store pickup and delivery so if you’re running short on time or just despise grocery shopping around the holidays, Kroger has you covered.
What Are Dates?
I have a whole post about Medjool dates if you want more of a deep dive, but to keep it simple:
There are 1,500 different date varieties grown in warm climates around the world – including Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida here in the US.
Medjool dates are one of the most popular varieties, known for their large size, soft texture and rich flavor.
They are a fresh food – not dried! That’s why you find them in the produce section of your grocery store!
Dates grow on date palm trees and are a labor intensive fruit to grow and harvest.
Medjool dates originated in Morocco! 11 Medjool date palms were brought from Morocco to Nevada in 1927. Six of the eleven are still standing and producing today.
Medjool dates grown in the Bard Valley are never treated with pesticides. The desert-like climate doesn’t allow for insects or pests to survive so it’s not necessary.
medjool dates – Two brands that I like are Natural Delights and Joolies. You can find Natural Delights in the produce section of most grocery stores (near the bananas) and Joolies are offered on Amazon and Thrive Market. You can by them with the pits removed or remove them yourself, it’s super easy!
goat cheese – a savory cheese that is perfectly paired with the delicate sweetness of the dates.
pecans – the perfect crunch! I recommend roasting them for the ultimate flavor but you can skip that step if you want.
maple syrup – if roasting the pecans, you’ll toss them in maple syrup first. Trust me, it’s delicious.
fresh thyme – this fresh herb pairs nicely with these flavors.
paprika and sea salt – flavor enhancers.
How to Make Stuffed Dates
For prepping the stuffed dates, start by chopping your pecans and adding them to a small bowl with maple syrup and spices. Toss until the pecans are well coated. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 8-10 minutes. This seems like an extra step, but trust me it’s worth it!! Roasting the pecans with maple syrup and spices makes them extra crunchy and gives this appetizer a delicious sweet and savory component.
While the nuts are roasting, slice the dates in half lengthwise and remove the pit.
Stuff each date with goat cheese. Once the pecans have cooled add them on top of the goat cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme and arrange on a serving platter. Voila! A quick and easy appetizer to hold the crew over until dinner.
Stuffed Date Variations
Not a goat cheese fan? Cream cheese or a different soft cheese would be equally delicious!
Dairy-free? Sub in a dairy-free cheese!
Get creative with the herbs you use! I love the thyme on these, but I bet basil or rosemary would be delicious as well.
For a dessert stuffed date, try filling the dates with nut butter and topping with roasted nuts or chocolate chips. I personally love these chocolate covered stuffed dates.
How to Store Stuffed Dates
This is a great recipe to make ahead of time! I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the fridge. They should last 3-4 days.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Chop pecans and add to a small bowl with maple syrup, paprika, salt and fresh thyme. Toss pecans and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast pecans for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Cut dates in half and remove pit.
Stuff each date with goat cheese, top with pecans and garnish with fresh thyme.