Honey is one of those foods that everyone uses without much thought. However, it has become a commodity lately, especially considering that bees are on the verge of becoming extinct. That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to give up your favorite treats and drinks.
Even when regarded as a healthy alternative and natural sweetener, honey adds tons of sugar to your meals. It is important that you find other options that add flavor but don’t change things too much.
What Is Honey?
You have probably used it many times, but do you really know what honey is? This sweet liquid is the result of bees using the nectar in flowers. Bees store this liquid in a wax structure called honeycomb.
Honey is made up of 70 to 80% sugar, mostly glucose and fructose. It also contains trace minerals and vitamins, but it is considered to be a healthy sweetener because it is naturally occurring.
Honey is used to sweeten hot beverages, in baking, cooking, and even as an alternative remedy for colds and infections.
What Can I Replace Honey With?
If you are trying to be more environmentally friendly, or simply ran out of it, these honey substitutes can work well in many recipes:
Best For Baking, Bread, Cookies, and Granola Bars
#1. Maple Syrup
This syrup comes from the sap of the maple tree and it has a distinct sweet and nutty flavor. Traditionally, maple syrup is a breakfast food used in coating pancakes or waffles. However, you can use maple syrup in baking all sorts of things, from bread, cookies, granola bars, and more.
To use maple syrup instead of honey, add the same amount as the recipe indicates. You can also get this sweetener in any grocery or organic store, as it is a very common alternative sweetener to sugar.
See more: Does maple syrup go bad?
This option is the byproduct of the refinement process of sugar. It is a very sticky and dark-colored syrup that is both sweet and caramel-like. You can use molasses in baking, especially when making cookies, granola bars, banana bread, and dark cakes.
Finding molasses shouldn’t be too hard, as it has been used for years as an alternative to sugar. To use it in place of honey, you can start with a 1:1 ratio, but may need to add more as you go.
Keep in mind that this sweetener is darker and very thick, so it may change the color and texture of your final product.
See More: Best Molasses Alternatives
#3. Coconut Nectar
This sweetener is the product of the sap from the flowers of the coconut tree. It looks a lot like honey, but it is lighter in color and much sweeter. You can use coconut nectar in baking all sorts of things, including granola bars, cookies, and muffins.
While coconut nectar is not as common, it is becoming popular because it is versatile. You can find it at your local grocery store or the organic supermarket. Use it in the same way you would honey, but consider that it may leave a coconut trace in your final products.
This is an odd choice for most, as it is not syrup or a type of sugar. However, applesauce is now a staple in baking because it provides sweetness and the capacity of binding ingredients together.
You should only use it in baking, especially in products like muffins, sweet bread, and granola bars.
Keep in mind that applesauce isn’t as sweet or thick, but you can use it instead of honey for the same amount.
You can buy commercial applesauce but go for the smooth type. Still, you can make your applesauce at home easily by simply boiling down apples with a bit of sugar and cinnamon.
See More: Applesauce Shelf Life
Best For Cooking, Marinades, Dressings, Tea, and Smoothies
#5. Brown Sugar
What may seem like an obvious choice is truly a great traditional choice when it comes to cooking. Brown sugar has traces of molasses that give its distinct brown color and toasted caramel notes.
You can use this sweetener in cooking all sorts of things, such as ribs, stews, and BBQ sauce, but also in making marinades, dressings, and sweetening tea and smoothies.
To get a similar consistency, you can try to melt the brown sugar down by adding five cups of sugar to one cup of water. Finding brown sugar shouldn’t be a problem, as it probably is available in any store you visit. Use the same amount as you would honey once your brown sugar is dissolved.
See More: Brown Sugar Alternatives
#6. Agave Nectar
You probably have heard of agave nectar before, as it gained popularity in recent years thanks to being a natural alternative to sugar.
You should keep in mind, though, that this sweetener is still high in sugar, so it will give you the same amount of calories as honey. Use it when making marinades, sauces, dressings, and sweetening beverages, like tea and smoothies.
You can find this sweetener anywhere, particularly a health or organic store. To substitute honey, use the same amount as the recipe indicates, but make sure to taste as you go as this sweetener is strong.
#7. Brown Rice Syrup
This syrup is the product of breaking down the complex carbohydrates in brown rice. It looks and feels very similar to honey, so it can be a great alternative when it comes to color and texture.
Use brown rice syrup in any of your cooking needs, like sauces, marinades, dressings, and sweetening tea or coffee.
Finding brown rice syrup can be a bit difficult depending on where you live, but try your local grocery store, organic market, or health store. You can use the same amount as you would honey but try the syrup first, as some people find the flavor too strong.
In substituting ½ cup of honey, you can use 1 ¼ cup of granulated sugar, ½ cup of molasses, ½ cup of brown rice syrup, or ½ of agave syrup. Any of these choices would work but consider their uses first.
You can use mashed banana in place of honey or vice versa, but remember that bananas are less sweet and bit mushier. This fruit can act as a binding agent and sweetener when baking, but it won’t work in cooking or sweetening beverages.
In baking, you can use many sweetener alternatives, such as molasses, honey, and brown rice syrup. Any of the choices in the list can work, but some are better than others when baking. Make sure you try the flavor first to ensure it mixes with the rest of the ingredients.
Even though many people use honey daily, there are many reasons why someone would skip it or can’t use it. Instead of giving up on your favorite treats or dishes, use any of these 7 substitutes. These options all work well and add great flavor to your final product.
Up Next: Does honey go bad?
*Photo by denio109/depositphotos