Keep Smiling Citrusy Date Pop Tarts

Who doesn’t love pop tarts? Homemade pop tarts are surprisingly easy! This dough is easy to work with and perfect for kids. I love the combination of citrus and dates and dates are the perfect fruit filling for our homemade pop tarts – the dates soften and absorb flavorful liquids, melding their caramely flavors here with floral meyer lemon zest and juice. A touch of orange juice balances the tartness. No sugar is needed in this filling, the dates provide all the sweetness. Save any extra filling for snacking, spread on toast, or spoon over yogurt or oatmeal.

Makes 7-8 pop tarts



  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold butter, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Optional – 2 tablespoons sanding sugar combined with 1 tablespoon lemon zest


  • 2 cups chopped Medjool dates, pits removed.
  • 2 tablespoons meyer lemon zest (may substitute half orange, half regular lemon zests)
  • ½ cup meyer lemon juice (may substitute 6 T lemon and 2 T orange juices)
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and cut in butter until pieces are pea size or smaller. You can do this in a food processor or with forks or your fingers. Whisk the yolks and ¼ cup milk together, and stir mixture into flour. Combine well, adding the additional 2 tablespoons milk until the dough holds together. Gently combine the dough and gather and form into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches and inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the chopped dates with the zest, juices, salt and vanilla. Stir well. The mixture will be very liquidy, but as the mixtures rests the juices will be absorbed by the dates. This takes about 30 minutes, around the time needed for the crust to chill.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough. Lightly flour a rolling surface and rolling pin. Cut the rectangle of dough in half length wise. Roll each section out to about 3/16th of an inch thickness. Each section should be about 3 inches wide by about 22 inches long. Cut rectangular sections from the dough about 3 inches wide by 4 ½ inches high. Gather the scraps and combine to create any remnant pieces.

For the top layer pieces cut steam vents. We used a straw to punch round holes for eyes and a paring knife to cut a smile. For the bottom layer pieces use a pastry brush to brush the whisked egg along the edges of each piece. Add 2-3 tablespoons filling to each bottom piece keeping the filling away from the edges. Top with the top crust piece and press the edges together with your fingers. Don’t worry too much about oozing filling, just wipe away the extra. I like my pop tarts full. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal each pop tart. Lay the pop tarts on the parchment paper, leaving an inch between them. Brush each pie generously with the beaten egg. Optional: sprinkle some lemon zest sanding sugar mixture on top of the pop tarts for extra sweetness and citrus flavor. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating pan half way through cooking time.

Remove pies to a rack to cool slightly. Enjoy warm!


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