14 Best Honey Substitutes That Are Just as Good

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S.A. Yanes Modified: September 7, 2022
14 Best Honey Substitutes That Are Just as Good
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In need of a honey substitute because you used the last of it the other day? Or perhaps you’re following a vegan diet and want a vegan-friendly honey replacement? Don’t worry. You can still make that delicious honey spread today as there is an array of alternatives to the popular golden liquid.

Honey is a versatile sweetener made from nectar. It can be incorporated into savory dishes, baked goods, and even beverages. It wears many hats in the culinary world, so it is only understandable if you often run out of stock. In such instances, here are the best substitutes for honey that can match honey’s sweet taste and culinary functions:

14 Best Honey Substitute Optionsbest honey substitutes

 

Don’t let the absence of this saccharine liquid in your cupboard hinder you from whipping up delicious recipes. You can use these equally sweet alternatives.

Maple Syrup

maple syrup, honey substitute

Maple syrup is the best honey substitute you can use. The sap from maple trees is cooked to produce this sweet liquid. Similar to honey, pure maple syrup is also a natural sweetener with a thick and sticky consistency. There is, of course, a difference between the two when it comes to flavor. Maple syrup has underlying hints of caramel and woodsy maple taste, whereas honey has subtle floral notes. On that same note, honey also works as an excellent substitute in case you run out of maple syrup.

When you substitute maple syrup for honey, take note of the 1:1 ratio. Meaning, if the recipe requires one teaspoon of honey, incorporate the same amount of maple syrup. Feel free to use this alternative ingredient in baked goods and savory dishes that ask for honey.

Brown Sugar

For those who don’t usually keep honey in the pantry (maybe because of its price), brown sugar can come in handy as a replacement. Now, as it is not liquid, you need to mix the sugar with water (milk and eggs will work too) to get a paste-like viscosity similar to that of honey. 

To substitute brown sugar for honey, simply add half a cup of water for every three cups of sugar. Note that honey is a tad sweeter than sugar so the 2:1 ratio will work here. Simply put, you need to add twice as much the amount of honey that the recipe calls for. Or you can start by adding a teaspoon of the mixture and just gradually add more to equal the richness and sweet taste of honey. The good news is you can still carry out this substitution without water. Simply incorporate plain brown sugar in baked goods and sauces.

Molasses

Organic black cane sugar molasses in a bowl, honey substitute

Molasses is the sweet and dark syrupy by-product when sugar cane or sugar beets are extracted to make sugar. There are several varieties of molasses, including light molasses, dark molasses, and blackstrap molasses. Among the three types, light molasses is the most suitable honey alternative because it has the highest sugar content, making it the sweetest.

If swapping light molasses for honey, the 1:1 ratio will suffice. Dark molasses should work as well. But because it is darker and thicker, half a teaspoon of dark molasses is already tantamount to one teaspoon of honey.

Agave Nectar

agave syrup pouring on a glass, honey substitute

Also called agave syrup or maguey syrup, agave nectar is also a fine alternative for honey. It is made from the sap of an agave plant. While both honey and agave nectar are natural sweeteners, the latter has a neutral flavor and a thinner consistency than the former. And since honey is also commonly used as an agave nectar substitute, it’s safe to say that you can replace honey with agave just as well. 

When you substitute agave for honey, a 1:1 ratio or one-to-one swap will suffice. However, do note that it tends to be sweeter and cooks faster than honey. So when baking, try to lessen the amount of agave nectar by 20 to 30 percent and reduce the oven temperature too.

Barley Malt Syrup

barley malt syrup

Barley malt syrup is the result when sprouted barley grains undergo extraction and malting. It is a common substitute for molasses because of its sweet taste and thick consistency. Understandably so, barley malt syrup can also be a great stand-in for honey should you run out of stock. Conversely, you can also rely on honey if you need a barley malt syrup alternative.

Barley malt syrup is less sweet than honey, but you can incorporate it in recipes that need honey in a 1:1 substitution ratio. It has a bitter aftertaste, though, so you may add extra sugar to sweeten it more. This substitution works well for baking or cooking.

Coconut Syrup or Nectar

coconut syrup, coconut nectar

Coconut syrup, a natural sweetening element made from the nectar of coconut blossoms, is a suitable substitute for honey. And like the other alternatives on this list, it’s completely vegan-friendly! Though it is not as sweet, it has a thick viscosity that is comparable to honey. As such, you can use coconut nectar to replace honey in a 1:1 ratio. It can be used in sweet dishes that need honey. For a healthier option, though, make sure that the brand you use is free of palm oil.

White Sugar

White sugar is the most accessible substitute for honey as you probably have it in your pantry already. It might not be as sweet, but is a great stand-in. When swapping sugar for honey, you need to increase the overall amount. Following the 2:1 ratio substitution, incorporate two teaspoons of sugar for every teaspoon of honey. Then, add as much as needed to replicate the sweetness of the original ingredient.

Corn Syrup

Pouring of corn syrup into a bowl

Corn syrup is made out of glucose extracted from corn. It also comes in two varieties: light and dark, both of which are great stand-ins for honey. Opt for light corn syrup if you want a milder sweetness. Dark corn syrup, on the other hand, is more befitting if you wish to impart a sweet and strong taste to your dish.

Incorporate one teaspoon of light corn syrup for one teaspoon of honey. Meanwhile, half a teaspoon of dark corn syrup is already equal to one teaspoon of honey. Both variations can be used to replace honey in dessert sauces, barbeque sauces, and baked goods.

Brown Rice Syrup

Two small bottles of brown rice syrup

Brown rice syrup, also known as rice malt syrup or rice syrup, is a vegan and gluten-free honey replacement. It is the result when brown rice undergoes a fermentation process, turning the rice’s starches into sugars. This rice syrup, albeit sweet like honey, has hints of a nutty flavor. If you do not mind the nut-like palate it brings, substitute rice syrup for honey when you are in a pinch. 

On most occasions, one cup of brown rice syrup is enough to replace one cup of honey. This swap is suitable for baked goods and cooked dishes. You can even use rice syrup as a topping for desserts if you are out of honey.

Golden Syrup

Golden syrup

Golden syrup (which is made from sugar cane or sugar beet) and honey are alike in terms of appearance and consistency. So, it is no wonder that the latter makes for a great golden syrup substitute, and the former comes in handy when you need a honey alternative. When it comes to taste, you will notice a hint of caramel-like flavor from the golden syrup. 

If using golden syrup instead of honey, a 1:1 ratio substitution is already adequate. Incorporate it in baked goods and desserts that call for honey.

Date Paste

Date paste with scattered dates and almonds all around

Date paste is the resulting puree when dates, a fresh stone fruit, is blended using a high-speed blender or food processor. Dates are naturally sweet and a bit caramel-ly, so it should not come as a surprise that the paste version makes for a good honey substitute.

If you want to give this substitution a try but don’t have date paste at your disposal, you can easily make your own at home. Simply soak one cup of dates for 30 minutes up to eight hours, then transfer them to the food processor. Add 1 ½ cups of water and blend until it turns into a paste. Now you have a replacement for honey when needed! Use one teaspoon of date paste as a substitute for one teaspoon of honey in baked goods, like cakes and cookies.

Apple Sauce

Tow cups of apple sauces topped with cinnamon and an apple in the background

Marco Verch Professional Photographer | Flickr.com

Got some applesauce in your fridge? Fortunately, it is quite useful when you need an alternative ingredient to honey. Applesauce is essentially a purée made from apples. If you don’t have ready-to-use applesauce, simply cook apple slices with water, sugar, and cinnamon. It’s that easy! 

When using applesauce as a substitute for honey, you should consider its watery consistency. To make it an excellent honey substitute that’s close to the original, try to reduce any liquid in the recipe by ¾ cup. Then, use one cup of applesauce to match one cup of honey. It will work perfectly well in some cooked and baked recipes. However, it will not be as effective in no-cook and no-bake dishes.

Liquid Stevia

Powder stevia and liquid stevia placed over wooden blocks

Stevia, produced from the leaves of the sweet-tasting stevia plant, is a healthy alternative to sugar. It does not include carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients, and it even helps lower blood sugar levels. That’s exactly why people who avoid sugar gravitate towards this nutritious sweetener. It’s available in both liquid and powder form. Both can be used to replace honey in certain recipes.

When using stevia in place of honey, it is worth knowing that this sweetener is much sweeter than honey. As such, you should use it sparingly in your dishes. Start by adding 15 drops of stevia liquid for every one cup of honey

Yacon Root Syrup

Yacon root syrup with pieces of dried yacon root on the side

Yacon syrup is the product when the juice of a yacon (a root vegetable native to South America) is reduced or evaporated. It has a sweet palate and a thick viscosity like that of honey. No wonder this organic sweetener is one of the best vegan substitutes for honey. Consuming this sweet liquid benefits the body as it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels. 

READ ALSO: Healthy Recipes For A Low Cholesterol Diet

For this particular swap, try a 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind that this substitution is not suitable for recipes that require baking and cooking on high heat. It will only work best in no-bake desserts, like smoothies and pancakes. 

How to Make Honey at Home

how to make homemade honey, honey substitute

If you have time to spare, you can even make your homemade honey! Here’s how:

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp alum
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups fireweed blossoms
  • 1 cup red clover blossoms
  • 2 1⁄2 cups white clover blossoms

Instructions:

  1. Add water, sugar, and alum in a large sauce pan over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Then, reduce the heat and boil for another 10 minutes. Remove the syrup from heat. 
  3. Place the blossoms in a strainer and wash to remove dirt or bugs. Make sure to strain well.
  4. Add the flowers to the syrup and allow them to steep for 3 hours. Then, stir gently.
  5. Next, strain the syrup using a finely meshed sieve or a quality cheesecloth to remove the flowers. 
  6. Bring the sweet mixture to a boil once more. Pour the finished product into a storage jar.

Delicious Honey Recipes to Try

quick and easy honey roasted peanuts

Honey, without a doubt, is a culinary staple. It can be used in many recipes, from cooked savory dishes to baked goods and beverages. Sweeten up your day and try these delectable recipes with honey:

  • Honey-Roasted Peanuts – Looking for a healthy snack to munch on? Try these honey-flavored peanuts! You can even throw in some cayenne or chipotle powder to spice things up a bit. 
  • Honey Barbecue Pork Chops – Tender and flavorful pork chops slathered in honey barbecue sauce make for a quick yet sumptuous dinner. Pair it with vegetables and potatoes for a complete meal.
  • Brown Sugar And Honey Glazed Sweet Potato Strips – Brown sugar and honey team up to sweeten up your potato strips! Adding parmesan and parsley will surely elevate this baked side dish.
  • Honey Buns – On the fence between having a donut or a cinnamon roll? You won’t have to with these tasty, honey-glazed buns! They make for a delightful afternoon treat.
  • Honey Mulled Wine – Sweeten your mulled wine with honey, then spice it up a bit with cinnamon. This drink is sure to be the perfect company on a chilly night.

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S.A. Yanes

S.A. Yanes is a fiction writer, poet, book blogger, and content editor. At Recipes.net, she writes food ingredient guides, product reviews, and more. Prior to that, she has worked in a publishing house and was the brand manager of an up-and-coming writing and reading online platform. She has written numerous short fictions as well as engaging bible stories for children. She's also a certified foodie with an immense love for anything cheesy and chocolatey.