Substitute Sugar for Honey The Ultimate Guide


Many recipes include honey as an ingredient, but there are times when a substitute for honey is needed. Whether it’s due to personal preference, dietary restrictions, or simply running out of honey, there are numerous alternatives available on the market today. In this article, we will explore the best honey substitutes, including vegan and allergy-friendly options, and how they can be used in cooking and baking. So, whether you’re a vegan, have honey allergies, or simply need a replacement, we’ve got your back!


One of the best substitutes for honey is molasses. Light and dark molasses are the best types to go for, while blackstrap molasses should be avoided as it has a strong flavor that can overpower your recipe. Molasses is typically suitable for vegans, but it’s always recommended to check the packaging to be sure. In terms of quantity, you can use the same amount of light molasses as honey. For example, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of honey, use one teaspoon of light molasses. If you only have dark molasses, start with half a teaspoon for every teaspoon of honey and adjust according to taste.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a great vegan alternative to honey and can also be used as a sugar replacement for those looking to cut out sugar from their diets. It is made from the nectar of the agave plant, which is a type of cactus. It is much sweeter than honey, so you will need less of it. Try using around 25% less agave syrup than honey. For example, if your recipe calls for a teaspoon of honey, use around three-quarters of a teaspoon of agave nectar.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup, whether light or dark, can be used in place of honey. It is known for its high sugar content and is commonly used in processed treats. Light corn syrup is a good option if you want a more subtle taste, while dark corn syrup has a slightly more overpowering flavor. Use one teaspoon of light corn syrup for one teaspoon of honey, or half a teaspoon of dark corn syrup for every teaspoon of honey. Adjust the amount according to taste.

Brown Sugar and Water

If you have nothing else on hand, a simple mixture of brown sugar and water can be used as a replacement for honey. Make a paste using more sugar than water to achieve a similar texture and consistency to honey. You will need more brown sugar than honey, so add it in teaspoon by teaspoon, tasting the recipe in between each addition to get the desired taste. Alternatively, you can use plain brown sugar without water, especially in baked recipes or sauces where the sugar can dissolve in the heat.

Barley Malt Syrup

Barley malt syrup is commonly used as a substitute for molasses, but it can also be used as an alternative for honey. It is made from malted barley that has been soaked and sprouted, giving it a slightly fermented taste. Barley malt syrup has a distinct flavor that can add depth to honey recipes. Use a ratio of 1:1, replacing one teaspoon of honey with one teaspoon of barley malt syrup.

Coconut Syrup or Nectar

Coconut syrup is made from the raw nectar of the coconut flower and is a natural and vegan alternative to honey. Some coconut syrup brands use palm oil, which many vegans avoid due to the methods used to obtain it, so be sure to buy syrup without palm oil. Use the same amount of coconut syrup as honey in your recipes. For example, one teaspoon of coconut nectar syrup can be used for one teaspoon of honey. It works especially well in sweet dishes thanks to its slight coconut taste.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a popular pancake and waffle topping and can also be used as a vegan alternative to honey. It is collected from maple trees and has a distinct flavor. Use the same amount of maple syrup as you would honey. For example, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of honey, use one teaspoon of maple syrup instead. Maple syrup can add depth to many honey-containing recipes and works well in barbecue sauces and sweet dishes.

Golden Syrup

Golden syrup is a staple in British cuisine and has a subtle taste reminiscent of caramel. It is commonly used in snacks and desserts. Use one teaspoon of golden syrup for one teaspoon of honey in sweet recipes like cakes and biscuits. However, avoid using golden syrup in savory dishes as its caramel flavor can overpower the dish.

Rice Malt Syrup

Rice malt syrup, also known as brown rice syrup, is a close alternative to honey in terms of taste. It is made from brown rice and is a great option for those avoiding processed white sugar and fructose. Use rice malt syrup in conjunction with honey, substituting one teaspoon of honey with the same amount of rice malt syrup. However, rice malt syrup has a high glycemic index and can be expensive compared to other alternatives.

White Sugar

If you’re in a pinch, you can use white sugar as a substitute for honey. However, be mindful that white sugar doesn’t have the same depth or flavor as honey. Use slightly more white sugar than honey in your recipes. For example, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of honey, use two teaspoons of white sugar. Taste the recipe as you go along to ensure it doesn’t become too sweet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute brown sugar for honey?

Yes, you can substitute brown sugar for honey, but there are a few things to consider. Honey has a different flavor and is generally sweeter than brown sugar, so using brown sugar as a replacement will alter the taste of your recipe slightly. Additionally, honey is a liquid while brown sugar is not, so you may need to adjust the liquid content of your recipe. Use ¾ cup of honey for every 1 cup of brown sugar and reduce any additional liquid by 3 to 4 tablespoons per 1 cup substitution. If there is no additional liquid, add 1 extra tablespoon of flour per ¼ cup of honey.

What is a healthy substitute for honey?

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener collected from maple trees and is a healthy substitute for honey. It is a great option if you’re looking to cut out processed sugar from your diet. Use pure maple syrup as a substitute, but be cautious of imitation products that may contain high fructose corn syrup. Maple syrup has a different flavor than honey, but it is a healthier alternative.

Can I use sugar instead of honey?

Yes, you can use sugar instead of honey, but there are a few considerations. Honey is a liquid, so if you’re replacing it with sugar, you will need to add some liquid to your recipe. Replace 1 cup of honey with 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of liquid. The liquid can be water or another liquid already in the recipe, such as milk. Keep in mind that the flavor and texture will be slightly different than if you used honey, but the result can still be delicious.

Can I substitute maple syrup for honey?

Yes, you can substitute maple syrup for honey, but keep in mind that the flavor and texture will be different. Use a 1:1 ratio or adjust the quantities to mimic the sweetness of honey. The substitution may affect the taste and texture, so it’s important to experiment and find the right balance for your recipe.


Finding a substitute for honey doesn’t have to be a challenge. With numerous alternatives available, including molasses, agave nectar, corn syrup, brown sugar and water, barley malt syrup, coconut syrup or nectar, maple syrup, golden syrup, rice malt syrup, and white sugar, you have plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re a vegan, have honey allergies, or simply need a replacement, these alternatives can be used in a variety of recipes. Experiment with different substitutes to find the perfect one for your needs. Happy cooking!

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