Produced naturally by bees, honey has been used as a natural sweetener and for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Whilst it only contains trace amounts of minerals it is rich in antioxidants and has been found to act as a natural anti-bacterial.
Honey is often substituted as a healthier alternative to sugar as “in comparison to regular sugar, honey does have more nutritional value,” practising accredited dietician Natalie Von Bertouch tells New Idea Food. “Still, moderation is advised as just like with sugar, too much honey can lead to blood sugar issues, weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Stick to a tablespoon or less per serving.”
Honey substitutes in cooking
So what can you substitute honey for in cooking? Here’s our comprehensive list of when and what to substitute.
1. Rice malt syrup
If you’re looking for a sugar-free and vegan alternative rice malt syrup is for you. It also has the most similar profile and you can use it part for part in baking.
2. Brown rice syrup
While stickier than honey, brown rice syrup is a good substitute for honey especially if you’re adding it to coffee and tea. It has a milder taste so you might want to add a little bit extra or enjoy the subtle flavour. It is a great
Steer clear of blackstrap molasses as its flavour is too strong and bitter as a honey substitute, instead use light or dark molasses.
4. Coconut nectar or syrup
Coconut syrup is the raw coconut nectar from coconut blossoms, it is a great vegan swap for honey in your sweet treats. When purchasing coconut nectar from the shops make sure you find a brand that is palm-oil free.
5. Maple syrup
Give your dish a maple-y flavour by swapping honey for maple syrup measure for measure. For best results use 100% pure maple syrup. Yes, it won’t taste the same but hey it could change the taste for the better!
6. Agave nectar
Agave nectar is derived from the cactus plant, Agave (the same one that tequila comes from!). It is super sweet and browns faster than honey and sugar so your baking might appear to be cooked more than it is. Reduce the liquid by 25-30 per cent if you’re swapping it in for honey in a recipe and reduce the cooking temperature so that it won’t brown too quickly. Agave nectar is also a great option for diabetics.
7. Barley malt syrup
Most commonly used to substitute molasses, barley malt syrup is also a great honey substitute. This syrup has been used as a natural syrup for centuries and is made from soaked and sprouted barley. Use it part for part in cooking.
8. Golden syrup
Swapping honey for golden syrup is the perfect pair. Golden syrup is widely available (and cheaper!) and you can use equal amounts to honey in the recipe.
9. Corn syrup
If you’re out of honey you can swap in equal amounts of corn syrup. Light corn syrup has the most similar flavour palette but dark corn syrup is a good substitute as well.
10. Brown sugar
A simple replacement (that you probably already have in your cupboard) is brown sugar. Use slightly more than the amount of honey in the recipe.