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Honey Substitutes

by , on
Jan 26, 2022

Sharing 14 honey substitutes and how to make each substitution. This post also details the profile of each suggested substitution and its price per ounce so that you can make the best choice for your honey substitution.

If you remember your elementary school science, you’ll recollect that bees flit from plant to plant collecting nectar from the flowers. Once inside the honeycomb, the nectar is broken down into simple sugars. The honey is thickened inside the honeycomb as a result of the honeycomb’s design and the constant fanning of the bees’ wings.

Honey has been used for centuries as an ingredient in many dishes, both sweet and savory. And it seems to be one of those pantry staples that most kitchens have. However, there will most likely come a day when you need some honey for a recipe and don’t have enough. Or, if you are like me, you are challenging yourself to use what you have instead of adding to your pantry just for one recipe.

Bee on anise hyssop.

Different Types of Honey

The taste and color of honey depend on the flower from which the nectar is retrieved. There are many different varieties of honey; here are just a few of the more common ones.

  • Clover honey is pale-colored and has a sweet, flowery flavor and a pleasing mild taste. That mild taste makes it perfect for your favorite baking recipe in that its flavor won’t dominate.
  • Orange blossom honey is light in color and mild in flavor with a fresh scent and light citrus taste. Orange Blossom honey is great is salad dressings and marinades.
  • Wildflower honey changes from batch to batch depending on the flowers from which the nectar is retrieved. Wildflower honey is considered a great all around honey.
  • Buckwheat honey is a dark, almost malty, molasses-y honey that is used in barbecue sauces and other baked goods.
  • Manuka honey is a dark, rich honey produced by bees which pollinate the flowers of the manuka bush in New Zealand.

What is the Honey Taste You Want?

Before you choose which of the following honey alternatives would be the best substitute, it is a good idea to consider the final outcome of the recipe you are making.

If you are looking to substitute honey in barbecue sauces or other savory dishes, consider some of the darker suggestions below, like molasses, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup. If you need a good substitute for the honey in your salad dressing recipe, opt for the lighter-tasting agave, golden syrup, or white sugar. Some of my favorite salad dressings include maple syrup, as well. If you need a great substitute for the honey in your granola bar recipe, consider maple syrup, agave syrup, date syrup, brown rice syrup, or golden syrup.

Raw Honey v Pasteurized Honey

Raw honey is honey that hasn’t been pasteurized. As such, it is in the same state as it was in the honeycomb. You can substitute any of these substitutions (including pasteurized honey) for raw honey and vice versa. Know that if you are baking with raw honey, you are essentially pasteurizing it, thereby removing any of the health benefits of raw honey.

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Vegan Alternatives to Honey

Because bees are necessary for the production of honey, many vegans avoid using it. All of these substitutions are Vegan Alternatives to honey.

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Are Any of These Honey Substitutes A Healthier Alternative?

Not really. To our bodies, sugar is sugar is sugar. That being said, minimally processed will typically have better health benefits. For the healthiest alternatives, stay away from white sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.

Some of these are affiliate links, and I will earn a small commission off of the sale of these products, but the price you are charged is not affected. You can see my full disclosure policy here.

Where Can You Find These Honey Alternatives?

You should be able to find most of these honey substitutes in your grocery store or on Amazon.com or Walmart.com.

Honey Substitutes

Any of these substitutes will work in place of honey in your recipe.

Pure Maple Syrup

  • Consistencies vary, but typically 1:1 substitution
  • A natural syrup made from the sap of maple trees, primarily sugar maples, red maples or black maples. This sap is then boiled down, resulting in maple syrup.
  • Can be simmered to the desired consistency
  • Make sure you are using 100% Maple Syrup
  • Not quite as sweet as honey
  • Will get a maple flavor to your finished recipe.
  • Averages $.62 per ounce.
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Date Syrup

  • Can be simmered down so that you have a similar consistency as honey.
  • Dark brown in color and caramelly in taste
  • Made by simmering 1 lb of chopped Medjool dates in 4 cups of water for 45 minutes to an hour. Let the mixture cool and strain the liquid, which is now your date syrup. You can reduce the syrup to the desired consistency. Blend some of the syrup you just made with reserved dates to make a slightly less sweet date paste.
  • 1:1 substitution

Coconut Nectar

  • This natural sweetener is derived from the sap of the Coconut Tree flowers.
  • Doesn’t taste coconutty, more of a floral/molasses profile
  • More expensive than honey, averages $1.32 per ounce.
  • 1:1 substitution
  • Averages $.62 per ounce.

Agave Syrup (also called Agave Nectar)

  • This natural product is the nectar of the Blue Agave Plant
  • Sweeter than honey, with a more neutral flavor than honey
  • A little thinner and sweeter than honey.
  • Typically a 1:1 substitution, but bear in mind your finished recipe will be sweeter.
  • A little more economical than honey, with an average of $.22 per ounce.
  • Agave Syrup dissolves quicker in hot liquid than does honey, which makes a great honey substitute in tea.

Molasses

  • Very distinct flavor and dark color that will add depth of flavor you don’t get from honey.
  • Thick, viscous substance results from sugarcane and sugar beet production
  • Use Unsulfured, don’t use Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1:1 Substitution
  • Averages $.27 per ounce.
Molasses is one of several honey substitutes detailed.

Barley Malt Syrup

  • Slightly nutty flavor
  • An unrefined sweetener extracted from barley
  • 1:1 Substitution
  • Averages $.53 per ounce.

Brown Rice Syrup (also known as Rice Malt Syrup)

  • 1:1 Substitution
  • Thick and very sticky,
  • Made from cooked brown rice and has a sweet, nutty, malty flavor.
  • Closer to molasses in consistency and the color of pale honey
  • Not as sweet as honey
  • Averages $.69 per ounce

Corn Syrup

  • Light corn syrup is almost flavorless, almost pure sugar in taste
  • Dark corn syrup tastes close to molasses
  • 1:1 Substitution
  • Honey is sweeter and thicker than corn syrup
  • Averages $.17 per ounce.
  • Vegan Alternative

White Sugar and Water

  • Heat 5 parts sugar and 1 part water over low heat for every part honey (i.e. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of honey, heat 1-1/4 cups white sugar and 1/4 cup of water)
  • Averages $.03 per ounce.
  • Neutral flavor
Brown sugar is one of several honey substitutes

Brown Sugar

  • Brown sugar can be used as a honey replacement in recipes that do not require moisture from honey, 1 cup of sugar for 1 cup of honey.
  • Averages $.23 per ounce.

Brown Sugar and Water

  • Heat 5 parts sugar and 1 part water over low heat for every part honey (i.e. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of honey, heat 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar and 1/4 cup water for 1 cup of honey)
  • Averages $.23 per ounce.

Golden Syrup

  • 1:1 Substitution
  • It’s light color and subtle caramel taste make it a great substitute for honey.
  • Averages $.60 per ounce.

Allulose Honey

  • A keto substitute, just for flavor.
  • Does not have the texture of honey
  • A container of Allulose Honey averages $1.25

Applesauce

  • Ounce for ounce, applesauce has a higher water content than honey.
  • 1 cup of applesauce for each cup of honey, less 3/4 cup of any liquid ingredient included elsewhere in the recipe.
  • Averages $.05 per ounce.
  • Would not be appropriate as a honey substitute in salad dressing.

To see some other Substitutions, pop over here.

Bookmark this page or pin the following image to return to these Honey Substitutes in the future.

honey pouring from honey dipper

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