Can you substitute honey for molasses?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute honey for molasses?”, and how to make molasses substitute? 

Can you substitute honey for molasses?

Yes, you can substitute honey for molasses. Opt for strong, dark honey if you want the flavors to turn out as close to molasses as possible. Unlike molasses, honey will only impart mild undertones to your product but the sweet and rich flavor will make up for it. Estimate a 1:1 ratio for substitution. 

Studies show that alternative sweeteners (especially molasses, date syrup and barley syrup), if added to our diet could constitute a good source of antioxidants. A positive and significant correlation existed between antioxidant activity and total phenolics, revealing that phenolic compounds were the dominant antioxidant components. Moreover, some of the analyzed sweeteners (molasses, date syrup, buckwheat honey) exhibit high antibacterial activity against S. aureus strains, those which are susceptible and those which are resistant to methicillin, and hence may have potential for therapeutic use as a helpful addition to antibiotic therapy (1).

Moreover, molasses naturally contains high levels of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, iron, and B vitamins (2).

How to make a molasses substitute? 

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups (16oz/450g) dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups (6floz/170ml) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice freshly squeezed

Instructions 

  1. Add sugar, water, cream of tartar, and lemon juice to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium heat to melt the sugar.
  2. When all the sugar has dissolved, bring the heat to a simmer and let the syrup cook on low heat until thickens. This should take about 3-4 minutes. Keep the syrup a little loose because it will become thicker once it has cooled down. 
  3. This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups of molasses substitute. This substitute can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3-4 months. If the syrup crystallizes or hardens, reheat it until smooth and liquid.

5 Molasses substitutes 

If you run out of molasses, do not fret, we have got you covered with all the possible substitutes. Some of the best and quick substitutes for molasses are as follows.

  • 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup water

All of these substitutes impart a specific flavor to the end product. If the recipe relies on the specific molasses flavor and cannot do with a white sugar substitute, try using the brown sugar substitute. 

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If you opt for granulated sugar or honey as the substitute, add more spices to make up for the complex flavors that the maple syrup would have provided.

Since blackstrap molasses has a very strong and bitter flavor with no sweetness, it can not be substituted for light or dark molasses in your recipe.

Other substitutes are liquid fructose, brown rice syrup, wheat malt syrup, date syrup, corn syrup, cassava syrup, barley syrup, spelt syrup, sugarcane molasses and beet molasses (1).

Substitute for crystallized molasses 

Molasses start to crystallize when they have been sitting on the counter for too long. Crystallization occurs when there is more sucrose present in the syrup than other simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. It typically occurs in syrup that has been stored for some time. A similar crystallization process also occurs in honey (3). As long as you stored your molasses correctly, it shouldn’t be rancid when it crystallizes. However, it is better to err on the side of caution and taste-check the crystallized molasses before fixing it.

Pour the crystallized molasses into a saucepan and place them on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves. 

Alternatively, you can microwave your crystallized molasses at high until the crystals dissolve. Check the molasses after every 30-seconds interval to prevent it from burning (3).

If you keep your molasses in a glass container and want to save yourself from the hassle of scrubbing dishes, you can dissolve the crystals by making a double broiler. 

To do this, fill a pan halfway through with water and bring it to a boil. Then take it off the heat and dump the maple glass jar inside the hot water. Remove the lid from the jar before doing this. Let the jar sit in the water bath until the sugar dissolves.

Other substitutes of molasses 

Applesauce 

This may sound like an unconventional substitute for molasses but it is healthier than all the other substitutes. Since the applesauce varies greatly, you will need to use your judgment when making the substitution. Using applesauce in baking is a good way to avoid processed sugars. Apple is a rich natural sugar containing fruit. 100 g of applesauce contains 10 g of sugar. The main functionality of the applesauce is an oil substitution, but because it may also contribute to sweetness, applesauce can also be considered added sugars (2).

Applesauce with added brown sugar and cinnamon 

Instead of going for the store-bought sugar-laden applesauce, use homemade applesauce with no sugar. This is particularly helpful for those watching out for their sugar intake. 

Spice up your homemade sugar-free applesauce with some cinnamon and brown sugar. Use this applesauce to make cakes and puddings estimating a 1:1 ratio for substitution.

Barley malt syrup 

The distinct barley flavor of this sweetener adds depth to the flavor of desserts or baked goods. Since the barley malt syrup is less sweet than granulated sugar and molasses, you will need to replace every cup of molasses with a cup and a half of barley malt syrup. Studies show that barley syrup has a high amount of phenolic compounds and therefore contributes to a high antioxidant capacity and high antimicrobial activity (1).

Other FAQs about Honey that you may be interested in.

Can you substitute honey for maple syrup?

Does honey ever go bad?

How To Preserve Honey

Can you eat vulture bee honey?

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute honey for molasses?”, and how to make molasses substitute?

References 

  1. Grabek-Lejko, Dorota, and Kinga Tomczyk-Ulanowska. Phenolic content, antioxidant and antibacterial activity of selected natural sweeteners available on the Polish market. J Environ Sci Health B, 2013, 48, 1089-1096.
  2. Goldfein, Kara R., and Joanne L. Slavin. Why sugar is added to food: food science 101. Comprehen Rev Food Sci Food Safe, 2015, 14, 644-656.
  3. Sweet sorghum syrup crystallization may occur. 2009. University of Kentucky.