What Can I Substitute for White Sugar in a recipe?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “What can I substitute for white sugar in a recipe?” with an in-depth analysis of white sugar, the health benefits of substituting white sugar in a recipe.

What can I substitute for white sugar in a recipe?

Currently, there are about 110 countries that produce sugar from either cane or beet, and eight countries produce sugar from both cane and beet. Sugarcane, on average, accounts for nearly 80% of global sugar production. In 2019 the top ten producing countries (India, Brazil, Thailand, China, the US, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, France, Australia) accounted for nearly 70% of global output (1).

You can substitute the below things for white sugar:

·         Honey

·         Dates

·         Maple Syrup

·         Coconut Sugar

·         Cane Sugar

·         Brown Sugar

·         Coconut palm sugar

·         Fruits

·         Agave Syrup

Why do we need to substitute white sugar?

Sugar is used in many recipes because it adds flavor and sweetens the food. Sugar also aids in the gelling of foods, as well as the prevention of discoloration and the delaying of food decomposition. Although sugar is natural, it produces an increase in insulin levels, which is particularly bad news for diabetics. As a result, substituting white sugar in a recipe may be a wise choice.

Sugar is largely seen as an unhealthy component of the diet that should not be consumed because of the diseases associated with it; however, deficiency of glucose causes our body to overreact when there is a small intake of glucose. Sugar is added to various nutrient-rich foods to enhance taste, flavor, texture and appeal of the food. Sugar may also increase the boiling point and reduce the freezing point in foods (2). 

What can be the best substitute for white sugar in a recipe?


Honey is not only delicious, but it also has several health advantages. Honey has the advantage of browning faster and retaining more moisture than sugar. Honey is also lower in calories, fructose, and glucose. Diabetics, on the other hand, should consume honey in moderation.

Honey is a sweet diet produced by bees that use flowers’ nectar. Honey bees produce honey from nectar by the process of regurgitation and store it in honeycombs in the beehive. Honey possesses antibiotic and antimicrobial properties. Honey also consists of several vitamins like vitamins C and B1, B5, B3 and B2 along with minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sulfur, iron, sodium chloride and zinc. However, the composition varies depending on the flower for its production (2).


Date sugar is made by grinding dried dates (the fruit of Phoenix dactylifera sp.), which contain 50% to 70% sugar, into a coarse powder. Because the product is the whole fruit it possesses the nutrient profile of dates, including considerable amounts of fiber, minerals, and vitamins (3).

One of the best natural sweeteners is this dried fruit. Its high fiber content promotes digestion while also slowing sugar absorption into circulation. It also contains more than 4 times the amount of antioxidants found in sugar (3).

Maple Syrup:

Maple syrup is a viscous coloured liquid that originates from the maple tree sap. It has a distinct flavor and typical aromatic sweetness. Maple syrup comprises low calories and higher mineral concentrations such as manganese and zinc. The 100 g of maple syrup contains approximately 260 g of calories (2).

Because maple syrup contains a lot of sugar, use it sparingly. However, it contains antioxidants, calcium, iron, and potassium, and replacing sugar with maple syrup reduces sugar consumption by roughly 33%. With a glycemic index of 54 versus 65 for table sugar, maple syrup is also better for your blood sugar.

Coconut sugar:

Coconut sugar is made from the nectar of the coconut palm’s flower buds and has a taste and color similar to brown sugar. It has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause blood sugar to rise as quickly as white sugar. It gives your foods a beautiful, aromatic flavor, comparable to molasses, and it may also be caramelized for your recipes.

Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener produced in Southeast Asia from coconut palm trees. Coconut sugar is produced from the sap of the flower bud stem of coconut trees, although it is sometimes confused with palm sugar, which is made from the sap of palm, date palmor palmyra palm trees. The coconut sap is boiled in large vats until most of the water has evaporated, in a similar process to making maple syrup, to create either a sugar paste or sugar chunks known as “jaggery”. (4).

Brown Sugar:

Light brown sugar is the closest substitute for refined white sugar in terms of texture and flavor. Brown sugar is made up entirely of white sugar mixed with a small amount of molasses. Because light brown sugar has the least quantity of molasses, it can be used in place of white sugar with just minimal flavor differences. You can replace the white sugar in your recipe with the same amount of light brown sugar. No other ingredients in the recipe should be changed.

It can clump because of its moisture content. Different types of brown sugar that are used in cooking, baking and beverage industries include Demerara sugar, turbinado sugar, piloncillo (Mexican sugar), molasses sugar (muscovado), etc (2).

Coconut Palm Sugar:

Coconut palm sugar is made from coconut tree sap and has a lower glycemic index (GI) than normal sugar. For this reason, those with diabetes may prefer it to conventional sugar, but the carbohydrate and calorie counts are the same. To add sweetness to your porridge or popcorn, sprinkle some coconut palm sugar on top.

Palm sugar is loaded with potassium that helps in preventing cramps. It helps in preventing weight gain as it curbs hunger due to the fibers, proteins and carbohydrates that it contains. Compared to other sugars, it contains low calories (288 calories for 1/2 cup vs 387 calories for 1/2 cup). It is also used in certain baking products where it acts as a softener and adds brown color to the product as it does not melt well (2).


Fruits like bananas, figs, and dates can help you stick to a low-sugar diet. If you like the taste of bananas, this alternative will provide you with additional fiber and potassium. Figs and dates include minerals including calcium and iron, while raisins can be used as a replacer. Fruits are a source of sugar and the amount of sugars present in them vary. In a portion of 3 oz of raw fruits, there are 8.5 g of sugar in blueberries, 8.8 g of sugar in apples, 9 g of sugar in tangerines, 10.4 g of sugar in bananas, and 12.6 g of sugar in mangoes (2).

Agave Syrup:

The juice of the agave plant is used to make agave syrup, which is a liquid sweetener. Vegans may use it as a plant-based alternative to honey because it has a similar texture. It’s sweeter than sugar and has a lower glycemic index. Drinks, pancakes, cereals, sticky cakes, and muffins all benefit from the use of agave syrup.

Agave nectar It is not as sweet as sugarcane, honey or fruit. Though agave syrup is rich in fructose content, it lacks many essential nutrients and minerals that the plant has. The leaves of agave plants are cut off when they are 7–14 years of age, and the juice is extracted and then filtered. Complex polysaccharides present in it are broken down into simple sugars by the process of heating. The main polysaccharide is fructosan or inulin which is mostly converted into fructose. Juice is then concentrated to form syrupy liquid slightly thinner than honey (2). 

Some additional natural sugar substitutes are below (2):

·         Stevia

·         Chicory root fiber

·         Monk fruit

·         Yacon

·         Sweet potato syrup

·         Tapioca syrup

·         Fruit juice concentrate

Sugar alternatives are not all created equal, as you can see. Some are beneficial for diabetics, while others could be too flavorful for some. All of these sugar replacements, on the other hand, are superior to ordinary table sugar and should be used in a variety of delightful dishes.

Other FAQs about Sugar that you may be interested in.

How to soften hardened brown sugar?

How to melt brown sugar on the stove?

How to Make Sugar Glass without Corn Syrup

What can I substitute for powdered sugar?


In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “What can I substitute for white sugar in a recipe?” with an in-depth analysis of white sugar, the health benefits of substituting white sugar in a recipe.


  1. Smutka, Ľuboš, Patrik Rovný, and Jozef Palkovič. Sugar prices development: The relation among selected commodity stocks exchange. J Int Stud, 2020, 13.
  2. Mohan, Narendra, and Priyanka Singh, eds. Sugar and Sugar Derivatives: Changing Consumer Preferences. Singapore: Springer, 2020.
  3. Phillips, Katherine M., Monica H. Carlsen, and Rune Blomhoff. Total antioxidant content of alternatives to refined sugar. J Am Diet Assoc, 2009, 109, 64-71.
  4. Rogers, Karyne M., et al. Authentication of Indonesian Coconut Sugar Using Stable Carbon Isotopes. Food Anal Method, 2021, 14, 1250-1255..