Have any of your family members developed a honey allergy? Is it no longer possible for you to use honey in your recipes? It can be tricky to find the perfect honey substitute. Not many sweeteners can replace the consistency, taste, and texture of honey. Honey is used to make baked goods, cereals, pastries, crackers, and a wide range of foods. Vegan diets veer away from honey since it is a food created from animals, so maybe this list can help vegans find a honey substitute also.
Here in North Texas, we are lucky enough to be within driving distance of a Lavender Farm, and we were delighted with their jars of Lavender Honey. This honey has a deep and rich lavender aroma, with a honey that tastes just flowery and delightful.
How Does Honey Taste?
Honey is very sweet. Depending on where the bees are sourcing their nectar, the final honey that ends up on your table can have complex flavors that vary widely. Clover or acacia honey may be lighter in flavor than fir honey or orange blossom honey, for example. Some honey includes the waxy honeycomb (which is edible and chewy). Honey that seems to have “hardened” or crystallized is still good, as honey is known to last for many years without going bad, and the flavor should still be the same.
For recipes that use a honey drizzle, we recommend a thick, vanilla-flavored simple syrup or agave nectar to best simulate that rich, raw flavor that complements foods like in our Roasted Figs & Goat Cheese with Honey recipe.
What are the substitutes for honey in a recipe?
Here is a list of the honey substitutes that have performed well in our kitchen:
1. Maple Syrup
Many people wonder whether it is a good idea to use maple syrup as a honey substitute. Yes, you can use it as a substitute for honey in recipes that require cooking and baking. However, it is important to get 100% natural syrup. In this way, it can replicate the consistency of honey easily. Maple syrup is made of the maple tree.
Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refinement process. It is sticky in texture that serves the purpose of sweetener in recipes and has a tendency to create a chewy crumb, such as in molasses cookies. As it bears similarity to honey in consistency, it is a worthy honey alternative. You can substitute it instead of honey by using a 1:1 ratio.
3. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is produced from the same plant that is used to make tequila. It is popularly known as agave syrup and comes from the sap of agave plants grown in Mexico and South Africa. Darker agave syrups taste more like maple syrup while lighter ones taste like honey. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio as a honey substitute.
4. Brown Rice Syrup
If you follow a gluten-free or vegan diet, then perhaps the brown rice syrup is the perfect honey replacement. It is also known as rice malt or rice syrup. However, since it is noticeably less sweet than sugar, you have to use 1 and ¼ cup of rice syrup in place of honey. Usually, it is used to make pancakes or beverages such as sweet tea.
5. Barley Malt Syrup
Barley malt syrup falls into the category of unrefined sweeteners. It is extracted from soaked and sprouted barley. It provides similar consistency to honey, so you can substitute a cup for a cup, without affecting the dish in a major way. However, it is not as sweet as honey. So, if you have got a sweet tooth, then you may have to increase sugar in your dish. It is used in desserts, granola bars, and baked goods.
6. Date Paste
Dates are super rich and sweet—just like honey. A lot of bakeries that try to avoid honey in their goods use date paste or date sugar as the sweetener. It holds moisture really well, and keeps goodies moist without adding fat. Dates are easy to find in most produce sections of grocery stores. Buy pitted dates (no stones), toss them into a blender with just a bit of water, and you have a creamy, sweet honey alternative. The intense, concentrated sweetness matches honey 1:1. This expensive, powerful blender made short work of our dates (and smoothies, and sauces!)
7. Mashed Banana, Brown Sugar & Vanilla
Bananas are such a super food. Overripe, they are very sweet. They make good egg substitute as well as fat alternative in some baked goods. In moderation, it’s even possible to use a banana and not make your recipe taste like it has banana in it. To make ⅓ c. of honey alternative: Mash an overripe banana until it’s mostly a thick liquid, add ½ c of dark brown sugar, and 1 T of vanilla extract.
What about sugar as a honey substitute?
If you are short of options, then you can simply use sugar to replace honey in your recipes. To do this, you can create a simple syrup with some added vanilla flavoring. Add 1 and ¼ cups of sugar to 1 cup of water. Mix them vigorously over low heat until the sugar fully dissolves. Stir occasionally until the mixture comes off a spoon like honey would: thick and sticky. The result is a basic sweet syrup.
Although honey is widely available, you may have to avoid it due to avoid an allergic reaction or to stick to a certain diet. Fortunately, these substitutes can allow you to make desserts and other delectable concoctions, without compromising on taste.
Check out this eye-catching olive wood honey dipper.