Red Dates: Why We Love Them!

Closeup of a woman's outstretched hands filled with red dates.

Chinese red dates (the edible fruits of Ziziphus jujuba, also commonly known as jujubes) are one of the most popular foods consumed for their health benefits in China. (Image: Lu Yao via Dreamstime)

Why, you may ask, do Chinese people love consuming red dates so much? It is because this wonderful little fruit is nutrient-rich and possesses elements that are essential for improving your immunity.

Since they are so nutritious, they have been made into a variety of products. The most common ones include instant tea bags, jam, and cookies. They are now available in supermarkets. It is always good to have some dried red dates on hand at home. 

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With the onset of winter, many people experience headaches and runny noses. So upon catching a cold, it is beneficial to drink the liquid from red dates and ginger that have been boiled in water. Consuming soup made from them also helps alleviate any cold and flu symptoms. So it is not surprising to see the healthy red date water being used in a wide range of recipes.

Red dates sitting on a table with flowers and plants in the background.
Since red dates are so nutritious, they have been made into a variety of products. (Image: Mengtianhan via Dreamstime)

The benefits of eating red dates and rice porridge

This porridge can be consumed all year round and is suitable for both old and young. It is especially good for people after an operation as well as a prolonged stay in hospital.

The porridge aids the stomach’s overall function and has a significant effect on its recovery upon experiencing any issues. It is also beneficial for women after giving birth. The porridge will help balance out a diet high in protein, especially one with too much meat.


Below are some easy and simple home-cooked recipes using these fruit. But first, let’s look at some inappropriate ways of consuming them.

Eat sparingly — Although red dates are nutrient-rich, they should be consumed sparingly. Many people like to eat them in large quantities, which can lead to indigestion. So eating 4 to 5 at a time is considered adequate. 

Avoid overcooking — Avoid using a large number of dates and cooking them for a long time. Overcooking will destroy their nutrients. For this reason, it is recommended to add the dates toward the end of the cooking time (not the beginning), especially when making soup.

Porridge that’s made from rice and red dates. (Image: via NTDTV)

Four recipes

1. Chicken soup with red dates


  • 1 free range chicken
  • 2-3 red dates
  • 2-3 slices of ginger
  • Salt to taste


  1. Wash the chicken and cut it into big serving pieces
  2. Wash 2 or 3 big red dates, and set them aside
  3. Place the chicken and ginger in the cooker 
  4. Add cold water to cover the chicken
  5. Boil for 30 minutes
  6. Add red dates and cook for 5 minutes
  7. Add salt to taste when serving

2. Steamed pork ribs with red dates and Goji berries


  • 300 g of ribs 
  • 10 g of red dates
  • 10 g of goji berries
  • 10 g of ground ginger
  • 10 g of green onions for garnishing

Rib marinade 

  • 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine 
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon of corn starch 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Pinch of white pepper


  1. Wash the goji berries
  2. Soak the dates in water until they are soft, and then remove the inner core of the dates
  3. Mix together the marinade ingredients and add to the ribs and marinate for 20 minutes, lastly, add the red dates and mix well
  4. Place the ribs on a plate and sprinkle over chopped ginger and goji berries, steam for 15 minutes until fully cooked
  5. Sprinkle the ribs with chopped shallots and serve

3. Ginger water with red dates and brown sugar

This is a sweet, hot drink to help ward off any cold symptoms during the winter months.


  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 6 red dates
  • Brown sugar — add according to taste


  1. Cut 5 pieces of fresh ginger 
  2. Wash 6 red dates 
  3. Place into hot water and boil for 15 minutes
  4. Add some brown sugar to taste

4. Red dates and rice porridge 


  • 1 cup of white rice (millet or brown rice may be substituted)
  • 3 red dates   


  1. Wash and clean all ingredients and put them in a pot
  2. Add about 8 cups of water
  3. Cook to a porridge consistency and serve

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