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Best Substitute for Honey

If you are looking for the best substitutes for honey, check out all the options in the article below and find the best that works for your needs!

Honey’s natural sweetness and unique flavor make it a beloved ingredient in countless recipes and beverages. However, there are situations where you may need to explore alternatives due to dietary restrictions, vegan preferences, or simply running out of honey in your pantry.

Glass dish filled with honey and two bottles of honey on the white background.

What is Honey?

If you have a sweet tooth and want something that leans towards the healthier side, know that honey is one of the biggest sources of organic sweeteners present in nature.

It’s a thick, golden, sticky liquid produced by bees by extracting the nectar of flowering plants. The bees store this nectar in the form of honey in their hives.

Types of Honey

There is a diverse array of honey types available, each with its unique flavor, color, and aroma, depending on the nectar source visited by the bees. Some of the most common types of honey include:

  • Wildflower Honey: This is a generic term for honey produced by bees that forage on a variety of wildflowers. The flavor and color can vary based on the local floral sources.
  • Clover Honey: Gathered from clover blossoms, it’s one of the most popular and widely available types. It has a mild, sweet flavor and a light color.
  • Orange Blossom Honey: Bees collect nectar from orange tree blossoms, resulting in a honey with a citrusy, fruity aroma and taste.
  • Lavender Honey: Derived from lavender flowers, it has a delicate, floral flavor and a light amber color.
  • Manuka Honey: Produced primarily in New Zealand, this honey is known for its strong, earthy flavor and potential health benefits.
  • Buckwheat Honey: This dark, robust honey is derived from the nectar of buckwheat flowers and has a strong, molasses-like flavor.

Best Honey Substitutes

1. Date Paste

Dates are natural sweeteners and of the healthiest replacements of honey. They can be used to make date paste. It’s extremely easy to make it at home or can be easily bought from stores.

To make your date paste, soak a handful of dates in lukewarm water overnight.

Remove the date pits and blend them with water or fruit juice in a food processor.

The liquid can be added according to your liking. You can use it in desserts as well as a substitute for honey as a breakfast topping.

2. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is considered the primary substitute for honey as it has the same color, texture, and sweetness as honey.

It is considered to be the ‘vegan’ alternative to honey and is consumed by various people all over the world.

This honey alternative is a little runnier but can be replaced in baking or any other recipe without any problems.

However, make sure that the maple syrup you and your family may consume is natural and not a flavored high fructose corn syrup.

3. Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar is derived from the flowers of the coconut tree. It has a neutrally sweet taste to it and can serve as an excellent substitute for honey.

Coconut nectar has a very low glycemic index and works as a ketone honey substitute.

This honey alternative can be used at a 1:1 ratio. If a recipe calls for one cup of honey, then one cup of coconut nectar can be used in its place.

4. Apple Sauce

Applesauce is one of the most delicious substitutes for honey. Unfortunately, it cannot always be used in place of it where cooking and baking are involved. Otherwise, it substitutes incredibly well for honey.

Applesauce has greater water content than honey and can be used in a 1:1 ratio.

However, because of the high water content, other liquid ingredients may have to be deducted from the recipe.

5. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a sweet liquid that is extracted from the core of the agave plant known as Pina. It’s made by heating and filtering the sap of the agave plant.

There are two types of agave nectar, respectively: light and dark. The light nectar requires less heat and greater filtration, while the darker requires the opposite of these processes.

Agave nectar is readily available at organic grocery stores and can even be ordered online from Amazon.

It can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for honey. Agave nectar is sweeter than sugar and is also considered to be vegan-friendly.

6. Molasses

Molasses can make for an excellent honey substitute as they have the same amount of sweetness and the same sticky texture.

It is a by-product of the process of refining sugar, and it is normally used as syrup by many people.

Molasses have a distinctive flavor that is very different than honey, but it can be used at a 1:1 ratio very easily.

Please note that if using Blackstrap Molasses, you might find the flavor a bit overpowering.

7. Ripened Bananas

One of the best alternatives of honey in recipes is ripened bananas, especially if you are trying to cut back on processed sugars while enjoying the occasional dessert.

Ripened bananas are great not only because they serve as a honey replacement but also because they are filled with nutrients, which have also made them the healthier option.

Normally, half a cup of ripened bananas can replace one cup of honey, but it also depends on how ripe the banana is. The appropriate ratio for mashed ripened bananas to honey is 1:2.

This means every tablespoon of mashed banana can replace two tablespoons of honey.

One great thing about using ripened bananas as a substitute for honey is that no food goes to waste, and bananas are always in season.

Another benefit is that you can get bananas everywhere, and they don’t have to be ordered from a certain site.

8. Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is a sweetener derived from breaking down complex carbs present in brown rice.

It is a great replacement for honey because the consistency and color of brown rice syrup are almost the same as that of honey.

The drawback of using brown rice syrup in place of honey is that although brown rice is full of healthy nutrients, brown rice syrup consists of the carbs derived from the rice, which are turned into simple sugars.

One cup of brown rice syrup can easily replace one cup of honey in recipes, as both have the same level of sweetness. However, this substitute of honey is extremely high in calories.

9 Sugar

Sugar is normally used as a substitute for honey despite it having different states. One is liquid, and the other is solid crystals; they provide the same results in recipes, especially in terms of sweetness.

Sugar can be used in place of honey at a 2:1 ratio. This means that to equate to one cup of honey, two cups of sugar must be added.

In other cases, the recipe must be altered. More liquid ingredients must be added to reach a similar consistency as with honey.

In recipes where cooking is not required, you can use sugar water syrup in place of honey to reach your desired sweetness.

To make the sugar water syrup, take the ratio 5:1, which means five cups of sugar dissolved in one cup of water. Heat the mixture until a sugary brown state is obtained.

10. Jaggery

Jaggery is a mixture of sugar and molasses and is obtained by heating sugar cane or palm tree juice till the water evaporates and a golden pasty liquid is left behind.

When this liquid cools down, it turns into a soft stone-like compound called jaggery.

Jaggery can be used as a common substitute for honey, but it has a very distinct caramelized taste to it. It can be used at a 1:1 ratio in recipes.

Certain alterations, like the addition of more liquid, must be made for the recipe to work.

11. Yacon Root Syrup

Yacon root syrup is another one of the naturally obtained honey-like sweeteners which can work amazingly as a substitute for honey.

It is extracted from the root of the yacon plant and is all-natural. It is considered vegan-friendly and has the same texture as honey, albeit a little less sweet.

Yacon root syrup has the same consistency and stickiness as honey. It can be used in the ratio of 1:1 in recipes. It is a little less sweet, so you may want to add sugar to balance the sweetness.

The only major drawback of the yacon root syrup is that it cannot be cooked. The heat breaks down the complex sugar in yacon root syrup, making it useless in terms of consumption.

Sweetening: Honey can be used as a natural sweetener in beverages, such as tea or coffee, and in recipes where you’d typically use sugar.

Baking: Honey is a wonderful addition to baked goods. It adds moisture and imparts a distinct flavor. Use it in cookies, muffins, bread, and cakes.

Marinades and Glazes: Honey can be incorporated into marinades for meats, poultry, and seafood. Its natural sugars caramelize when grilled, creating a delicious glaze. Combine honey with other ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, or herbs for a flavorful marinade.

Salad Dressings: Honey can balance the acidity in salad dressings. Mix it with vinegar or citrus juice, olive oil, and seasonings for a sweet and tangy dressing. Honey mustard dressing is a classic example.

Sauces and Condiments: Honey can be used to make barbecue sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and other condiments. It adds sweetness and thickness to these sauces.

Yogurt and Oatmeal: Drizzle honey over yogurt, oatmeal, or other breakfast items for a natural sweetener. It pairs well with fruit, nuts, and spices like cinnamon.

Smoothies: Add a drizzle of honey to your smoothies for an extra layer of sweetness and flavor. It pairs well with fruits like bananas, berries, and mango.

Homemade Energy Bars: When making homemade energy bars or granola, honey can be used to bind the ingredients together while providing natural sweetness.

Candying Fruits and Nuts: Honey can be used in candying fruits or making honey-roasted pecans. The honey glaze adds a sweet and glossy finish.

Honey is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of recipes, both savory and sweet. Here are some popular recipes that feature honey:

Honey Glazed Salmon – This dish combines the sweetness of honey with the savory flavors of salmon. The honey glaze caramelizes on the fish as it bakes, creating a delicious crust.

Honey Mustard Chicken – Chicken breasts or thighs are marinated in a mixture of honey, Dijon mustard, and spices, then roasted or grilled to perfection.

Honey Almond Granola – Make your own granola by combining oats, almonds, honey, and a touch of vanilla. It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack.

Related Questions

Can I substitute Maple Syrup for Honey?

The maple syrup would make a great substitute for honey; it has a slightly different flavor but a very similar texture. Use ratio of 1:1 when substituting honey for maple syrup.

Can I substitute brown sugar for honey?

In general, honey will be sweeter than brown sugar, so the best tip is to use 2/3-3/4 cup of brown sugar to 1 cup of honey.

Can I substitute coconut sugar for honey?

Since coconut sugar is not as sweet compared to honey, the best ratio will be one full cup of coconut sugar to 1/4 cup of honey.


When substituting honey, keep in mind that each alternative has its unique flavor and sweetness level. Adjust the quantity to achieve the desired taste and consistency in your recipe. Additionally, consider the role of honey in the specific recipe; in some cases, it’s not just a sweetener but also contributes to texture and moisture so the substitute may affect those aspects as well.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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