Best Substitute for Honey: 9 Alternatives to Sweeten Your Recipes

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Last Updated on October 8, 2023

You’re out of honey and are in need of a honey substitute? Real Honey comes from bees and is a natural sweetener that is widely used in cooking and baking. Honey has a distinct flavor and texture to recipes and is often used as a healthier alternative to sugar. However, there are many reasons why you are looking for the best honey substitute. For example, you might be a vegan or have honey allergies or be looking for a low-sugar alternative.

Fortunately, many honey substitutes are available that can be used in place of honey in recipes. Some of the most popular substitutes include maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses, and brown sugar. Each of these substitutes has its unique flavor and texture, so choosing the right one for your recipe is important.

When it comes to choosing the perfect honey replacement, it’s important to know about the main types of substitutions for honey that are available, along with their pros and cons. This article will provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision.

Vegan Honey

A glass jar of honey with a metal lid is placed on a flat surface. A wooden spoon is suspended a few inches above the jar, and a steady stream of golden honey flows from the spoon, creating a glistening arc as it descends into the jar. The backdrop features a soft, muted texture. The overall scene captures the process of honey being drizzled into the jar, showcasing its rich color and sticky fluidity.

Are you looking for an excellent honey substitute that is vegan? Vegan honey is a plant-based alternative to replace honey that is made from various plant sources such as apple, dandelion, and agave. 

It is a natural syrup made by boiling down the sap or juice of plants to create a thick, sweet syrup that is similar to honey. The process of making vegan honey varies depending on the plant source, but it typically involves boiling the sap or juice until it thickens and becomes syrupy.

Many different types of vegan honey are available, each with its unique taste and texture. Some popular examples of vegan honey include apple syrup, dandelion syrup, and bee-free honey. These alternatives are often sweeter than traditional honey and have a thinner consistency. If you’re tempted to make your own fake honey, check out this recipe for inspiration. 

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a sweet liquid made from cornstarch. The process involves breaking down the cornstarch into glucose molecules, resulting in a thick and viscous syrup. It is widely used as a sweetener and a binding agent in a variety of food products.

In comparison to honey, both light corn syrup and dark corn syrup have a simpler taste and thinner consistency, while also providing a similarly sweet flavor.

Corn syrup is a great honey replacement in recipes that require a liquid sweetener. It is widely available and affordable, making it a convenient option for many people. Additionally, it can prevent crystallization in candy recipes, which can be a common issue when using honey.

However, it is important to note that corn syrup may contain high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to health problems such as obesity and diabetes. It is also not suitable for vegans or people with corn allergies.

If you are looking to substitute corn syrup for honey, the ideal ratio is 1:1. This means that you can use one cup of corn syrup for every cup of honey in a recipe.

Here are some examples of recipes that use corn syrup instead of honey:

Raw Sugar

An overhead view of a rustic ceramic bowl filled with golden-brown raw sugar crystals. The coarse sugar crystals glisten in the light, creating a natural and inviting texture.

Raw sugar is a type of unrefined sugar that is minimally processed and retains more of its natural molasses content. Unlike refined sugar, which is stripped of its molasses during processing, raw sugar has a caramel color and a richer flavor profile. Raw sugar is often used as a substitute for honey because of its similar taste and texture.

There are several types of raw sugar available, including turbinado sugar, demerara sugar, and muscovado sugar. Turbinado sugar is the most common type and is often used as a natural sweetener in tea and coffee. Demerara sugar has a coarser texture and is often used in baking. Muscovado sugar has a deep, molasses flavor and is often used in sauces and marinades.

Raw sugar is different from honey. It is not as sweet as honey but has a similar flavor profile. It also has a darker color and a more complex taste than refined white sugar. When using raw sugar as a substitute for honey, it is important to keep in mind that it is not as sweet, so you may need to use more of it to achieve the desired level of sweetness.

If you are looking to use raw sugar in your recipes, there are a few tips to keep in mind. When you substitute in baked goods, you can substitute raw sugar for white sugar in a 1:1 ratio. When sweetening drinks, start with a teaspoon of raw sugar and adjust to taste. When making candy, use raw sugar instead of corn syrup for a more natural sweetener.

Brown Sugar

A pile of brown sugar fills the frame, with a wooden spoon heaped with more brown sugar resting on top.

Brown sugar is a type of sugar that is made by mixing white sugar and molasses. The amount of molasses added determines the color and flavor of the brown sugar. Light brown sugar has less molasses and a milder flavor, while dark brown sugar has more molasses and a stronger flavor. Other types of brown sugar include coconut sugar, which is made from the sap of coconut palms, and demerara sugar, which is minimally processed and has large, crunchy crystals.

In terms of moisture, richness, and caramel notes, brown sugar is a good replacement for honey. Brown sugar has a similar texture to honey, but it is less sticky and easier to measure. It also has a similar flavor profile, with a hint of molasses that adds depth and complexity to baked goods and sauces.

When substituting brown sugar for honey, use 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of water or other liquid for every cup of honey called for in the recipe. Brown sugar can be used in a variety of recipes, including cookies, cakes, and barbecue sauce. Here are some tips for using brown sugar in your favorite recipes:

  • When making cookies, use brown sugar instead of white sugar to add moisture and chewiness to the texture.
  • When making cakes, use a combination of white and brown sugar to balance sweetness and richness.
  • When making barbecue sauce, use brown sugar instead of honey to add a smoky, caramelized flavor to the sauce.

Maple Syrup

A small jar of maple syrup stands on a wooden surface, framed by vibrant fall leaves in the background; a single orange maple leaf rests delicately on the jar's lid.

Maple syrup is the best substitute for honey in recipes. It is a sweet, viscous syrup is similar to honey that is produced from the sap of maple trees. The sap is collected and boiled down to create maple syrup. Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that has been used for centuries.

There are different grades and flavors of maple syrup available. Grade A maple syrup is lighter in color and has a milder flavor, while Grade B maple syrup is darker and has a stronger flavor. There are also flavored maple syrups available, such as cinnamon or vanilla.

Compared to honey, maple syrup is sweeter and has a thinner viscosity. It also contains antioxidants, which can help protect against cell damage. Maple syrup is a great suitable substitute for honey, making it a great alternative for those who follow a vegan diet.

Maple syrup can be used in many recipes that call for honey. For example, you can use maple syrup in pancake batter, oatmeal, or as a glaze for meats. You can also use maple syrup to sweeten your tea or coffee.

If you want to substitute honey with maple syrup in a recipe, use one cup of maple syrup for every one cup of honey. Keep in mind that maple syrup may alter the flavor of the recipe slightly, so adjust the other ingredients as needed.


A glass brimming with rich molasses sits on a cloth, while a silver spoon hovers above, allowing thick molasses to elegantly drip from it; a milk jug's bottom is faintly visible in the background.

Have you ever heard of molasses? It’s a great substitute for honey in many recipes. Molasses is a thick syrup that is made as a byproduct of sugar refining. It’s a natural sweetener that can be used in place of honey for many recipes.

Molasses comes in different types and varieties, such as light molasses, dark molasses, blackstrap molasses, or pomegranate molasses. Each type has a different flavor profile, so you can choose the one that best suits your recipe.

Compared to honey, molasses is thicker and has a more bitter taste. It also contains more minerals, such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. If you’re looking for a vegan substitute for honey, molasses is a great option.

When a recipe calls for honey, molasses in place of honey is recommended in a one-to-one ratio. When you come across a recipe that demands honey, fear not! The solution lies in swapping out that honey for some delicious molasses, and the best part? You only need the same amount. It’s a match made in culinary heaven! However, keep in mind that molasses is sweeter than honey, so you may want to adjust the amount of molasses accordingly.

Molasses is a great honey substitute in recipes such as gingerbread, baked beans, or marinades. It’s also a great alternative to honey if you’re trying to make honey at home.

Here are some tips on how to use molasses in your recipes:

  • Use light molasses for a sweeter taste and dark molasses for a more robust flavor.
  • When using molasses in marinades, mix it with other ingredients to balance out the bitterness.
  • When using molasses in baking, you may need to adjust the amount of sugar in your recipe to balance out the sweetness.

Barley Malt Syrup

Have you ever heard of barley malt syrup? It is a natural sweetener made from sprouted barley grains that have been dried and cooked down into a thick syrup. This syrup has a unique malty flavor that is perfect for adding to baked goods, granola bars, and even candies.

Some popular brands of barley malt syrup include Eden Foods Organic Barley Malt Syrup and malt extract for brewing beer. These syrups are often used in place of honey in recipes, and they offer a great alternative for those who are looking for something different.

Compared to honey, barley malt syrup has a more intense maltiness and stickiness. It also contains enzymes that can help with the fermentation process in baking and brewing.

When using barley malt syrup in recipes, it is important to keep in mind that it is not as sweet as honey. One cup of honey can be replaced with 1 1/3 cups of barley malt syrup. It is also important to note that barley malt syrup is not as readily available as honey, but it can be found in health food stores or online.

Rice Malt Syrup

Have you ever heard of rice malt syrup? It’s a natural sweetener made from brown rice starch. The process involves cooking brown rice starch with enzymes to break down the starch into maltose, which is then concentrated into a syrup. This syrup is then strained and filtered to remove any impurities, resulting in a clear and sweet liquid.

Some popular brands of rice malt syrup include Lundberg Farms Organic Rice Malt Syrup and Spiral Foods Organic Rice Malt Syrup. Both of these brands offer gluten-free options, making them a great choice for those with gluten sensitivities.

Compared to honey, it has a milder flavor and a lower fructose content. It also has a lower glycemic index, which means it won’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This makes it a good option for those who are watching their sugar intake.

It can be used in a variety of recipes, such as granola, muffins, or energy balls. It can also be used as a sweetener in drinks, such as tea or coffee. When using it in recipes, keep in mind that it is not as sweet as honey, so you may need to use a bit more to achieve the desired level of sweetness.

Agave Syrup

A transparent glass contains agave nectar, resting on a sleek marble counter, with a wooden spoon positioned above, releasing a gentle stream of agave nectar.

Have you ever heard of agave syrup? It’s a natural sweetener that is like honey and be used Different types of agave syrup are in many recipes. Agave syrup is made from the sap of the agave plant, which is found in the desert region of Central Mexico. This syrup is created by heating the sap to break down the carbohydrates into sugars.

There are different types of agave syrup available, including light agave nectar, dark agave nectar, and blue agave nectar. The color of the syrup depends on the degree of processing and the type of agave plant used. Light agave nectar has a mild flavor and is perfect for baked goods and sauces. Dark agave nectar has a stronger flavor that works well in recipes that call for a more intense sweetness. Blue agave nectar is the purest form of agave syrup and has a mild, honey-like flavor.

Agave syrup is sweeter than honey and has a lower glycemic index due to its high fructose content. This makes it a great natural sweetener for those who are watching their sugar intake. Additionally, agave syrup is vegan-friendly, making it a great alternative to honey for those who follow a plant-based diet.

When you substitute agave for honey in recipes, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s sweeter than honey. You may need to adjust the amount of syrup used in your recipe accordingly. Agave syrup is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes, including cocktails, dressings, and marinades. It can also be used as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal.

What’s the Best honey substitute for Baking?

When it comes to baking, using the right honey substitute can make all the difference in the texture, moisture, and browning of your baked goods. Here are some factors to consider when substituting honey in baked goods.

  • Flavor compatibility: Choose a substitute that complements the other flavors in your recipe.
  • Volume adjustment: Some substitutes are sweeter than honey, so you may need to adjust the amount you use.
  • Acidity balance: Honey has a slightly acidic pH, so consider using a substitute that also has acidity to balance the recipe.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best honey substitutes for different types of baked recipes:

  • Maple syrup: This is the best all-around substitute when baking. It provides a similar texture and level of sweetness as honey, and its flavor complements any baked good that calls for honey. Use it in cakes, cookies, bread, and any other baked dish.
  • Molasses: This is a great substitute in gingerbread, spice cake, or brownies. It has a strong, distinctive flavor that pairs well with warm spices and chocolate.
  • Agave syrup: This is a popular substitute in cheesecake, pudding, or custard. It has a mild, neutral flavor and a thinner consistency than honey, so it’s perfect for recipes that require a liquid sweetener.
  • Corn syrup: This is a good substitute in pies, tarts, or caramel. It has a similar consistency to honey, but it’s sweeter and has a milder flavor.
  • Golden syrup: This is a great substitute for honey in cookies, biscuits, or shortbread. It has a rich, buttery flavor and a thick, sticky consistency.
  • Rice malt syrup: This is a good substitute for honey in granola bars, crackers, or popcorn. It has a mild, nutty flavor and a thick, syrupy consistency.

Remember, when substituting honey in baking, it’s important to choose a substitute that complements the other flavors in your recipe and has a similar texture and consistency to honey

What’s the Best for Sauces and Marinades?

When it comes to sauces and marinades, honey provides a unique flavor and texture that can be difficult to replicate with substitutes. However, there are several options that can work well depending on the recipe and your personal preferences.

Different honey substitutes can affect the flavor, thickness, and glazing of sauces and marinades. For example, maple syrup can provide a similar sweetness and viscosity to honey, but with a distinct maple flavor. Agave syrup is another popular option, with a milder taste and thinner consistency than honey.

When choosing a honey alternative for sauces and marinades, there are a few factors to consider. Sweetness intensity is one of the most important, as some substitutes may be sweeter or less sweet than honey. Aroma enhancement is another consideration, as some substitutes may add a unique flavor to the dish. Finally, heat stability is important for sauces and marinades that will be cooked or grilled, as some substitutes may burn or become bitter at high temperatures.

Here are some examples of the best honey substitutes for different types of sauces and marinades:

  • Agave syrup: This sweetener works well in barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, or salad dressing. It has a mild flavor and a thin consistency that can help it blend well with other ingredients.
  • Vegan honey: Made from plant-based ingredients, vegan honey is a great option for honey mustard sauce, honey garlic sauce, or honey lemon sauce. It has a similar texture and sweetness to honey, without any animal products.
  • Coconut syrup: This sweetener is perfect for coconut curry sauce, coconut caramel sauce, or coconut lime sauce. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor that can enhance the coconut flavor in the dish.
  • Maple syrup: This substitute is ideal for maple glaze, maple butter sauce, or maple pecan sauce. It has a distinct maple flavor that can add depth to the dish.
  • Molasses: This thick, dark syrup is a great option for molasses sauce, molasses marinade, or molasses vinaigrette. It has a strong, slightly bitter flavor that can complement savory dishes.

In summary, while honey is a unique ingredient in sauces and marinades, there are several substitutes that can work well depending on the recipe and your personal preferences. Consider sweetness intensity, aroma enhancement, and heat stability when choosing the best honey substitute, and experiment with different options to find the perfect flavor for your dish.

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