Design and synthesis of effective heterogeneous catalysts for the conversion of biomass intermediates into long chain hydrocarbon precursors and their subsequent deoxygenation to hydrocarbons is a viable strategy for upgrading lignocellulose into distillate range drop-in biofuels. Herein, we report a two-step process for upgrading 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) to C9 and C11 fuels with high yield and selectivity. The first step involves aldol condensation of HMF and acetone with a water tolerant solid base catalyst, zirconium carbonate (Zr(CO3 )x ), which gave 92 % C9 -aldol product with high selectivity at nearly 100 % HMF conversion. The as-synthesised Zr(CO3 )x was analysed by several analytical methods for elucidating its structural properties. Recyclability studies of Zr(CO3 )x revealed a negligible loss of its activity after five consecutive cycles over 120 h of operation. Isolated aldol product from the first step was hydrodeoxygenated with a bifunctional Pd/Zeolite-β catalyst in ethanol, which showed quantitative conversion of the aldol product to n-nonane and 1-ethoxynonane with 40 and 56 % selectivity, respectively. 1-Ethoxynonane, a low oxygenate diesel range fuel, which we report for the first time in this paper, is believed to form through etherification of the hydroxymethyl group of the aldol product with ethanol followed by opening of the furan ring and hydrodeoxygenation of the ether intermediate.