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Say hello to a sip of the Golden State! Many a food lover who visits Palm Springs heads out in search of a date shake, one of the most iconic desserts from Southern California. Here we’re sharing our easy, quick recipe so you can make it at home.
Where does the date shake come from?
We called this recipe a California Date Shake, but it is also called a Palm Springs Date Shake or the Coachella Valley Date Shake, because it comes from Palms Springs in California’s Coachella Valley.
According to Imbibe magazine, the date shake in the Coachella Valley goes back nearly 100 years and was created at Russell Nicoll’s Valerie Jean Date Shop south of Thermal, California in the 1930s.
These days you can find date shakes served across the Coachella Valley, from classic spots like Shields Date Garden and Hadley Fruit Orchards to shops like Lapperts or Great Shakes in downtown Palm Springs.
Where to get a date shake in Palm Springs?
In search of the best date shake in Palm Springs? Our favorites are:
Open since 1924, you can dive into all things California dates at this 17-acre date farm in Indio. Sidle up to their mid century counter for a date shake then wander their grounds for the full experience.
Set at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, this retro diner has much to love, including its date shake. Get an affogato-style date shake where a hot espresso shot is poured on top.
If you’re looking for a date shake in downtown Palm Springs, your best bet is this sweets shop on Palm Canyon Drive.
What is a date shake made of?
A classic date shake is a treat made of nothing but dates, ice cream, and milk. Our version is a twist on the classic thanks to adding nuts, nut milk, and spice.
To be 100% clear, this iconic California recipe is a milkshake, not a smoothie. So, if you see recipes using banana, greek yogurt, peanut butter, or frozen yogurt, they may be great, but they are not the same as the dessert, a date shake from the Golden State.
About California Dates
Dates were introduced to California in the 18th century by Spanish missionaries, but they weren’t grown commercially until the end of the 19th century.
California Dates notes that is when the Department of Agriculture started a program where botanists traveled the world to look for crops to cultivate in the United States. While in the Middle East and North Africa, the botanists concluded the desert climate of the Coachella Valley could be the perfect place for date palms.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California is now responsible for 90% percent of all commercial date production in the United States and the majority of that is in the Coachella Valley.
Nutrition Of Dates
These days, dates are just one of the types of dried fruit grown commercially in California. While we use dates for everything from salad dressings to salads and sandwiches, they really shine as a nutritious sweetener. A serving (1/4 cup) of dates is packed with good stuff like 8% of your DV of potassium, 6% of manganese, and 2% of the DV of calcium, zinc, selenium, copper, and iron.
Medjool Dates vs. Deglet Noor Dates
There are more than 10 types of dates grown in California, and you can find nearly all of them at California farmers markets. The two most widely available types are the Deglet Noor and the Medjool, and we like them both in this recipe.
These narrow, oblong dates are a bit sweet and have a chewy, dense flesh often described as meaty. Deglet Noor dates are best for braises and grain salads.
The best-known date variety out there, these are nicknamed the “king of dates” for their sweetness and their size. They have honey, toffee, and caramel flavors, making them a perfect addition to desserts, from baked goods to ice cream.
How To Make This Recipe
Get Pitted Dates.
Buy pitted dates to make easier work of this. Otherwise, you’ll need to remove the pit before proceeding.
Soak The Dates.
The dates are soaked to help them get processed evenly by the blender. You can skip this step if you have really fresh dates and a high-performance blender. You can also use date crystals which Shields sells onsite and at grocery stores in California.
Blend The Base.
Next, combine the nuts, nut milk, spice, salt, and soaked dates to make a flavorful date paste.
Add The Ice Cream.
Finally, add in the ice cream and blend it for just a few seconds! We use vanilla bean ice cream but mix it up with coffee or dulce de leche if you’d like!
Serve the date shake in a chilled glass with a straw or top with anything from ground cinnamon to chopped nuts, chia seeds, or strawberries.
Variations on this date shake recipe
Want a slightly healthier version? Blend up our date shake-inspired smoothie made with homemade walnut milk and greek yogurt.
Affogato Date Shake
Serve it as they do at King’s Highway Diner in Palm Springs, and add a shot of espresso just before serving to make it “drowned” or “affogato” style.
Vegan Date Shake
Use your favorite vegan ice cream to make this recipe 100% plant based!
Easy California Date Shake Recipe
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted dates about 6 large Medjool or Deglet Noor dates
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 3/4 cups almond milk or homemade walnut milk
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or almonds
- Pinch ground cinnamon or nutmeg
- Pinch Maldon sea salt or other flaky sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
- Place the chopped dates in a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl and pour the hot water over the top, then set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
- Drain the water off the dates, then place in a high-performance blender along with the homemade or store bought walnut or almond milk, the almonds or walnuts, the cinnamon or nutmeg, and salt, and process for at least 15 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and even.
- Stop the blender, add the ice cream, and blend until the ice cream is just incorporated. Serve immediately with a dusting of ground cinnamon or nutmeg, as desired.