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Top Palm Sugar Substitute Options (Know Your Alternatives)

Are you looking for a healthier alternative to regular sugar? This article will introduce you to palm sugar and provide some tips on how to find the best palm sugar substitute. We’ve also provided useful tips for the best swapping experience.

Palm sugar inside the wooden bowl with a serving scoop.

What Is Palm Sugar?

Palm sugar is a sweetener that comes from any palm tree. There are many kinds of palm sugar; the most popular ones are coconut and date palm sugar.

There are minimal flavor differences between each kind of palm sugar. And for this reason, you can use them interchangeably in most recipes.

How palm sugar made

To make palm sugar, sugar producers collect the sap of the palm tree and boil it until it thickens. This process creates palm syrup, which you can buy in bottles or cans. Sugar producers also solidify this syrup and sell them in cakes or bricks.

You’d have to grate or shave these solids to use them in recipes. Sugar manufacturers grind these cakes or bricks of solid palm sugar into granules. So you can find granulated palm sugar in the market, too.

How Palm Sugar Tastes

Regarding flavor, palm sugar has a caramel-like taste owing to the boiling process. Note that palm sugar from different brands can have different colors.

After all, the boiling length determines how dark this sugar will be in the shade of brown. And, of course, the longer the boiling time, the richer the sugar becomes.

Palm sugar is an unrefined sugar. That said, there is no uniform texture, so you can find all sorts of textures of this kind of sugar.

Reasons For Substituting Palm Sugar

There are several reasons for looking for a palm sugar substitute.

1. First, palm sugar is not the healthiest sweetener. It has the same number of carbohydrates and calories as cane sugar. And that said, excessive consumption can lead to health issues.

2. Palm sugar is also not as accessible as white or brown sugar. Your local grocery store may not have it unless they have an extensive Asian section.

You might have to go to an Asian market or a health food store to buy palm sugar. You may have better luck if you order it from online retailers. That said, it is not an accessible sweetener.

3. Lastly, your stash may have run out, and you need something to continue cooking your dish.

Best Palm Sugar Substitutes

Here are our top 8 options for substituting palm sugar.

1. Brown Sugar

One of the best substitutes for palm sugar is brown sugar. Brown sugar comes from the molasses from sugar cane.

There are two common types, light and dark brown sugar. That said, brown sugar also allows you to choose which best suits your recipe.

It also has a similar granulated texture, so the substitution is easy. But note that brown sugar has its distinct taste, so there may be a slight change in flavor.

Plus, because brown sugar is refined sugar, it’s less nutritious than palm sugar, as the refining process takes away nutrients.

Tips: Use an equal amount of brown sugar to substitute palm sugar in your recipes. Add a tablespoon of molasses for every cup of brown sugar for a closer match.

2. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup derives from the sap of maple trees. It is a go-to pancake topping, and you may already have it in your pantry.

If your recipes do not need a granulated substitute, maple syrup can also replace palm sugar. Your dish might also benefit from the moisture that maple syrup offers.

The thing about maple syrup is that it is sweeter than palm sugar, so a 1:1 substitution might not work. Plus, maple syrup tastes like butterscotch, so you might experience a flavor shift. Aside from that, maple syrup is more expensive than palm sugar.

Tips: Use ½ cup of maple syrup to replace 1 cup of palm sugar. You might have to reduce the other liquids in your recipe to compensate for this ingredient.

If maple syrup is not available, opt for maple sugar instead. Since this ingredient comes in a similar granulated form, there is no need to alter your recipe.

Tips: Use a 1:1 when replacing palm sugar with maple sugar. Still, be ready for a change in flavor due to the maple sugar’s distinct taste. Doing a taste test every step of the way will also help, so you’ll not end up with an overly sweet dish.

3. Honey

Yet another excellent palm sugar alternative is honey. Due to its nutritional benefits, honey has found its way to most households today. This ingredient is also widely available, so you won’t have trouble finding it if you don’t have it ready.

Because honey is a nutritious and versatile ingredient, you can use it in almost all dishes.

As an alternative to palm sugar, honey can also lend a sweet taste to your dishes.

One thing that puts honey at a disadvantage is its price. Honey is more expensive than palm sugar. After all, producing and harvesting honey is a laborious process.

Also, honey has its own flavor that is different from palm sugar. Because of this, you will notice a slight change in taste when using honey instead of palm sugar in recipes.

Tips: Replace 1 cup of palm sugar with ½ cup of honey. For the best results, reduce the amount of wet ingredients in your recipe to adjust for the liquid nature of this swap.

4. Molasses

Molasses is an intensely sweet and concentrated sweetener. It is a by-product syrup of sugar production from sugar cane or beets.

It has a dense consistency than honey or maple syrup. And, of course, it differs in form compared to palm sugar.

Molasses is also a lot sweeter than palm sugar. That said, you should not use an equal amount of molasses to replace palm sugar.

Remember that molasses also have a rich flavor. Using too much can overpower the other ingredients in your dish.

Tips: Use half the amount of molasses as the amount of palm sugar called for in your recipe. With its thick, syrupy consistency, molasses can affect the texture of your dish. That said, you may have to adjust the amount of your liquid ingredients to get a similar consistency.

5. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a type of palm sugar that comes exclusively from coconut trees. Note that while coconut sugar is palm sugar, not all palm sugar is coconut sugar. Manufacturers can use other kinds of palm trees to produce palm sugar.

Because of this, coconut sugar is the best replacement for palm sugar. After all, it is palm sugar too. It has a flavor profile, texture, and even color as regular palm sugar. But owing to coconut’s naturally sweet taste, coconut sugar is a bit sweeter than other palm sugar varieties.

So, you must use less coconut sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness as palm sugar.

Tips: Replace each cup of palm sugar with ¾ cup of coconut sugar. Due to its similar nature, you can use coconut sugar in all recipes that call for palm sugar.

6. White Sugar

The classic sweetener, white sugar, can also replace palm sugar. At the end of the day, palm sugar’s main purpose in a recipe is to add a sweet taste. In that case, white sugar is a decent and logical substitute.

However, it won’t provide the same complex flavor profile you’ll get from palm sugar. White sugar does not have that caramel-like taste that makes palm sugar unique.

And, of course, the most obvious difference is their color. Your recipe will have a noticeably lighter hue than if you used palm sugar.

Tips: Use 1 ⅓ cup of white sugar to replace 1 cup of palm sugar. You can combine molasses and white sugar for a better match regarding texture and color. Note that doing this will create a sweeter substitute than white sugar alone.

7. Date Sugar

First, know that date sugar is not the same as date palm sugar. Date palm sugar undergoes the same manufacturing process as palm sugar.

On the other hand, to make date sugar, sugar makers dehydrate the dates and grind them to appear like granulated sugar.

It possesses a unique flavor like that of dates, so it is equally sweet. And because of the dark brown color of dates, it also looks like palm sugar. Using it to replace palm sugar will give you a similar-looking recipe.

Tips: Use date sugar to replace palm sugar in a 1:1 ratio. Remember that it won’t melt like palm sugar because it is granulated dates, and dates don’t dissolve in water.

It will make a perfect addition to baked goods. However, this is not your best bet if your recipe calls for dissolving palm sugar.

8. Stevia

If you’re looking for a sugar-free option, stevia is an excellent substitute for palm sugar. This sugar alternative comes from the leaves of the stevia plant.

It is a well-loved ingredient because it has a powerful sweetening property but without calories or carbohydrates. It is a good choice for people watching their sugar intake.

The downside is that it has an unpleasant aftertaste that can be off-putting. This aftertaste is especially noticeable when used in large amounts. For this reason, stevia is a great alternative in recipes that call for just small amounts of palm sugar.

Plus, stevia comes in white granulated form, similar to white sugar. Because of this, your dish won’t have the same brown color you’ll get from palm sugar.

Tips: Always do a taste test when using stevia to replace palm sugar. Start with a small amount and add more in small increments. Each brand of stevia comes with its substitution ratio, but that’s for table sugar.

Also, remember that there are better choices than stevia for baked goods. It does not have the same properties as sugar, so it will not yield the same texture. For baking, you’ll be better off with other ingredients on this list.

Popular Recipes To Use Palm Sugar Substitute

  • Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce: This delicious sauce can be made with equal parts palm sugar and light soy sauce, plus some minced garlic, chili flakes or fresh chilies.
  • Thai Coconut Soup: Palm sugar helps to naturally sweeten this classic soup while adding a depth of flavor.
  • Sweet and Sour Stir Fry: A combination of palm sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup and soy sauce creates the perfect balance of sweet and sour in this dish.
  • Caramelized Bananas with Coconut Milk: This decadent treat is made by simmering sliced bananas in a combination of coconut milk, palm sugar and ground cinnamon.
  • Sweet Potato Curry: This savory dish is made with a blend of spices and palm sugar to create a sweet and spicy flavor.
  • Mango Sticky Rice: A classic Thai dessert, this dish is made with coconut milk, jasmine rice, mangoes and palm sugar for a truly unforgettable treat.
  • Thai Iced Tea: This refreshing beverage is made with brewed tea, evaporated milk, and palm sugar for a perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavors.
What Is The Difference Between Palm Sugar And Brown Sugar?

The biggest difference between palm sugar and brown sugar is its main ingredient. Palm sugar uses the sap of palm trees, while brown sugar uses the molasses from sugar cane. That said, they have different flavors. But in a pinch, you can substitute one for the other using a 1:1 ratio.

What Is The Difference Between Palm Sugar Vs. Jaggery?

Palm sugar is a sweetener you get by boiling palm trees’ sap. Jaggery, on the other hand, is also a sweetener, but it comes from boiling sugar cane juice. The boiled extract is left to cool, producing jaggery. Because of this, jaggery is sweeter than palm sugar. And if you need to substitute one for the other, a 1:1 substitute is not suitable.

What Is The Difference Between Palm Sugar Vs. Cane Sugar?

Palm sugar and cane sugar differs because of where they come from. Palm sugar comes from palm tree saps like coconut and date palms. Cane sugar comes from the extracts of sugar cane. Because of their ingredients, palm sugar is less sweet than cane sugar. Use less cane sugar when substituting palm sugar.

Is Palm Sugar The Same As Coconut Sugar?

It can be. Coconut sugar is a type of palm sugar because you define palm sugar as any sugar that comes from the sap of palm trees. And since coconut is a palm, coconut sugar qualifies as palm sugar. However, there are other palm trees other than coconut that producers can use to make palm sugar. That said, not all palm sugar is coconut palm sugar. But all coconut sugar is palm sugar.

Is Palm Sugar Healthy?

Palm sugar is a healthier choice than refined sugars because it doesn’t have additives. Plus, it has its nutritional benefits intact. But it has the same calories as white sugar.


If you need to replace palm sugar in your recipe, you have plenty of options. Coconut sugar, brown sugar, and molasses have the same granulated appearance. Molasses, honey, and maple syrup are among the best palm sugar substitutes, but they come in liquid form.

Date sugar and stevia are also excellent palm sugar substitute options. In a pinch, though, regular sugar will do a good job of replacing palm sugar in most recipes.

Palm sugar inside the wooden bowl with a serving scoop.

Palm Sugar Substitute

Natalia-Flavorful Home
Are you looking for a healthier alternative to regular sugar? This article will introduce you to palm sugar and provide some tips on how to find the best palm sugar substitute.
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  • brown sugar
  • maple syrup
  • honey
  • molasses
  • coconut sugar
  • white sugar
  • date sugar


  • Pick the best palm sugar substitute from our list. Use in the recipe. Let us know if you want to share any tips.


If you need to replace palm sugar in your recipe, you have plenty of options.
  • Coconut sugar, brown sugar, and molasses have the same granulated appearance.
  • Molasses, honey, and maple syrup are among the best palm sugar substitutes, but they come in liquid form.
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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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