Substitute For Honey

Many recipes include honey as an ingredient. It is not just limited to being an addition to your favorite hot drink or drizzled atop of your oats in the morning. It can be an integral part of many sweet and savory recipes. 

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Honey, as delicious as it is, presents issues for several different people. Honey, as it is made by bees, is actually not suitable for vegans. This means that vegans will need to find a honey alternative for any recipes that include it.

As well as this, honey allergies are very common. For example, if a person is allergic to bees, it is likely that they will avoid honey. Those with bad pollen allergies may also choose to avoid honey. 

Substitute for honey

Sometimes, it may simply be the case that a recipe has called for the addition of honey but you do not have any at home, or cannot stand the taste. In this case, you may be searching for a suitable alternative. 

Whatever your reason for wanting to find a substitute for honey, this article has got your back! In this article, we are going to be exploring some of the best honey substitutes around, telling you what would work best in what recipe.

We will be including plenty of vegan alternatives here, as we suspect that in this article we are appealing to a largely vegan (or honey-allergic) audience. 

That being said, most of the alternatives to honey are very easy to get your hands on, even as a non-vegan, and you may even find some of them in your pantry already! 


One of the best substitutes for honey is molasses. The best types of molasses to go for are light and dark molasses.

Whatever you do, do not be lulled into using blackstrap molasses. The flavor will be far too strong to be used as a honey alternative, and will likely overpower your recipe.

Typically, molasses is suitable for vegans, but as with anything we recommend checking the packaging first to certify that it is suitable for you.

Light molasses will be the best of the two. You can use it in the same amount as that of honey. So, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of honey, use the same amount of light molasses.

If you only have dark molasses you may need less of it. Try half a teaspoon for every teaspoon of honey needed, and add more if you feel like you need it after tasting. 

Agave nectar

Agave nectar is a great vegan alternative to honey, and can also be used as a sugar replacement for those wanting to cut out sugar from their diets.

As such, it is a great addition to the diet of a diabetic person where actual sugar needs to be avoided.

It is the nectar of the agave plant which is a type of cactus. In fact, this very plant is used to make tequila, and so, as you may imagine, it is very sweet. 

You need much less agave syrup than honey. Try using around 25% less agave syrup than honey.

For example, if your recipe calls for a teaspoon of honey, you could try using around three-quarters of a teaspoon of agave nectar. 

Corn syrup

Corn syrup is known for its high sugar content, and it is used in many of our most favorite processed treats. You can use both the light and dark versions in place of honey.

Light corn syrup may be the best option if you want to ensure that you will have a subtle taste. Dark corn syrup does have a slightly more overpowering taste, and so it might be a good idea to use less of this in place of honey. 

Try using one teaspoon of light corn syrup for one teaspoon of honey, or half a teaspoon of dark corn syrup for every teaspoon of honey.

You can always taste it as you go along to check if it has the desired sweetness needed. 

Brown sugar and water

A simple mixture of brown sugar and water is a great replacement for honey if you have nothing else in your home. Make it so that there is more sugar than water to get the same texture and consistency as honey.

This may mean mixing it into a paste. You will need more brown sugar than that of honey, and the best way to work out how much you will need is to add it in teaspoon by teaspoon, tasting the recipe in between each addition so you get your required taste. 

You could also use plain brown sugar without water if you wanted to. This would work just as well, especially in baked recipes, or in sauces where the sugar will be able to dissolve in the heat. 

Barley Malt Syrup 

Barley malt syrup is most often used as a substitute for molasses. They have a very similar flavor, but barley malt syrup is less intense and does not have the same bitter aftertaste that some molasses can give.

That being said, it can also be used as an alternative for honey if you are in a cinch. It is made from malted barley that has been soaked and has sprouted. This means that the taste is slightly fermented. 

Because of this, the taste of barley malt syrup is very distinct. It can give a new depth to many of your favorite honey recipes and works well in barbecue sauces and sweet dishes.

You can use it as a ratio of 1:1, replacing one teaspoon of honey with the same of barley malt syrup. 

Coconut syrup or nectar

Coconut syrup is made from the raw nectar of the coconut flower. It is a natural syrup that is very sweet. You can use it as a natural and vegan alternative for honey in all of your recipes.

Bear in mind that some coconut syrup brands use palm oil, which is a product that many vegans avoid because of the exploitative measures and methods that are used to get palm oil. Ensure you buy syrup without palm oil. 

You can use it in the same amount as honey. So, with this in mind, you would use one teaspoon of coconut nectar syrup for one teaspoon of honey in your recipes. It works especially well in sweet dishes thanks to its slight coconut taste. 

Maple syrup

Everyone’s favorite pancake and waffle topping just had to feature on our list of honey alternatives! Maple syrup is a vegan alternative to honey and can be used to great effect in many honey containing recipes.

You are not just limited to using it in sweet recipes though. We love using maple syrup in barbecue sauce recipes instead of honey. It can add depth and pairs well with ribs and wings!

You can use the same amount of maple syrup as you would honey, meaning one teaspoon of maple syrup can be used where one teaspoon of honey is stated. It is very easy to come by, and it is also likely that you will have some lying around anyway. 

Golden syrup

Golden syrup is as much a staple in Britain as maple syrup is in the States.

It is used in many of their favorite snacks and desserts such as flapjacks, and even has a whole dessert dedicated to it - golden syrup sponge pudding! 

Of course, you can also buy it in America but it is often overshadowed by maple syrup. 

Golden syrup has a more subtle taste than maple and is reminiscent of caramel. T works best in sweet recipes as an alternative to honey, so you can use it in all your cake and biscuit recipes. 

Again, as with many of the other alternatives on our list, you can use one teaspoon of golden syrup for one teaspoon of honey.

We do not recommend using golden syrup in savory dishes, though, as that caramel flavor is very distinct and could ruin your savory meals. 

Rice malt syrup

Rice malt syrup, whether you have heard of it before, or whether it is completely unknown to you, is one of the closest honey alternatives on our list, at least in terms of taste.

It is also known as brown rice syrup. It is a lot more difficult to come by, and the chances of you having it in your pantry or kitchen are slim if you do not even have honey! 

However, with that in mind, because it is a great vegan alternative to honey, many vegans may already have it. You can use it part in part with honey. By this we mean you can substitute one teaspoon of honey with the same rice malt syrup. 

It is made from brown rice and is also a great option for those who are avoiding processed white sugar, as well as fructose.

However, a downside is that it has a high glycemic index, and can be very expensive in comparison to some of the other alternatives on the list. 

White sugar

If you are very desperate, you can go ahead and use white sugar in place of honey in your recipes.

It will not have the same depth as honey, or indeed, any of the other alternatives on our list, but it will still give you a certain sweet taste. It also dissolves very easily in all recipes, and so you can use it in sweet and savory dishes alike. 

We would recommend using slightly more white sugar in your recipes if you are replacing honey with it.

For example, in a recipe that states the use of one teaspoon of honey, try using two teaspoons of white sugar. We would recommend tasting it each time you add more to ensure it does not get too sweet. 


There you have it! Your ultimate guide to finding a perfect substitute for honey in your recipes.

Whether you have to avoid honey because of a vegan diet or allergy, or whether you have simply run out and need an alternative in a cinch, we are sure you will agree that our article provides a plethora of options. 

We hope you have found one that works for you! Let us know what substitute for honey you try out. 

Thanks for reading, and happy cooking!

Cassie Marshall
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