16 Best Substitutes For Molasses

A little sweetness is usually a good thing, and molasses has sweetness in spades. While regular table sugar is often people's go-to ingredient for dishes requiring a sweet edge, molasses can provide an additional depth of flavor. Molasses, created during the production process for regular sugar, comes in several different forms, with some recipes calling for the brighter flavor of light molasses, and others calling for dark molasses' denser, deeper tones, or the bitter, intense notes of blackstrap molasses. The syrup's versatility and ability to improve texture as well as taste has led to it becoming a kitchen staple, used in everything from barbecue glazes to a range of desserts, as Masterclass states.

But if you're anything like us, your kitchen is a busy place, and you can run out of ingredients without even realizing it –- and then, the fateful day comes when a recipe calls for molasses, and you're out of stock. Instead of jumping into your car and driving to the store, though, the solution you need may be inside the very cupboard you're looking in. There are a host of substitutes for molasses, and some of them may even give your dishes a brand-new lease on life. Let's take a look at the best substitutes for molasses out there.

Brown sugar

If your molasses jar is running low, regular brown sugar could be your next best bet. Brown sugar is often overlooked in recipes, with white table sugar commonly used as a primary source of sweetness. But in dishes that call for molasses, it's a great choice, since it's actually made with the sugary syrup, as Food Insight explains. The reason that brown sugar is brown in the first place is that the sugar granules, normally regular white crystals, are coated with molasses, which gives it both its distinctive color and its deeper, caramel-like flavor. Alternately, brown sugar can be made by adding molasses while the sugar crystals are being boiled, imbuing them with taste and color.

As you might expect, the darker your sugar is, the more molasses content it contains. Brown sugar that has a higher moisture content, or is a softer type like muscovado sugar, may also have more molasses in it. As such, darker brown sugars are a great choice for recipes that call for more complex flavor tones, or dishes where you're looking for a chewier, toffee texture. Bear in mind, though, that there is very little nutritional difference between brown sugar and regular granulated white sugar, so don't assume that the darker color means that it's healthier.


Oh, honey. How we love you. The golden liquid is an essential kitchen staple, used in everything from your morning oats to your rescue remedy when you have a persistent cough. But your health isn't the only thing it'll rescue. Honey can save the day when you're out of molasses, thanks to its syrupy consistency helping to deliver the same texture while the flavor provides necessary sweetness, as Pure Wow states. There's no need to make any adaptations to ratio, either: You can simply sub in the same amount of honey as you would molasses.

Where things might change, however, is in the overall depth of taste in your dish. Where molasses has a more complex, bold flavor, honey generally has a slightly more floral taste, and you might not get the same edge of bitterness that molasses provides. That's why you might want to consider adapting what you're cooking in other ways, or else only use honey for recipes that call for light molasses, which has a slightly gentler flavor than its darker counterparts.

Maple syrup

If you have any liquid in your pantry that provides sweetness, it may well be maple syrup. The versatile ingredient only continues to get more popular, with 14.3 million maple syrup taps active in the United States in 2022, an increase of over 4.5 million since 2012, according to Statista. And since it delivers a sugary hit with a similar consistency and taste, maple syrup is a natural substitute for molasses.

Maple syrup is close enough to molasses to use in the same ratio, but it's worth remembering that some maple syrups are much thinner than the gloopy, thick texture of some darker molasses options, so it's useful to consider how this may alter the overall consistency of what you're cooking. And importantly, like molasses, not all maple syrups have the same flavor. Both Canadian and American maple syrups are produced to have different colors and flavors –- although somewhat confusingly, syrups of all tastes and shades fall under the same category in the universal grading system. While lighter maple syrups generally deliver an easier flavor and can be used as an everyday ingredient, darker maple syrups are usually bolder. As such, we recommend trying to find a darker syrup to use to replace molasses, as it'll be more similar to the taste you're going for.

Sorghum syrup

Sugar cane is far from the only plant that can produce sweet substances to put in our food. And one plant can deliver a sugary hit from a slightly surprising source. Parts of the sorghum plant, which is normally harvested for its grain, can be turned into a syrup that provides an intense sweetness. Farmers take the sorghum cane, squeeze out the juice, and simmer it, rendering it into a culinary product that can be used in place of molasses (per Mother Earth News).

While sorghum syrup gives the same sweetness that molasses provides, it's useful to know that some people may find it a little sweeter than the thick syrup, so it might be worth adding slightly less to your dish to begin with, and tasting as you go. Sorghum syrup can also have a touch of sourness to its taste. Texturally, sorghum syrup is also slightly different from molasses and tends to be a little runnier, especially in comparison to dark or blackstrap molasses, which can be incredibly thick. So while it might perk up your meals, don't expect it to contribute to their density in the same way.

Dark corn syrup

Few ingredients are as ubiquitous, or as controversial, as corn syrup. But while high fructose corn syrup might be the most well-known corn-based sweetener, it's far from the only type. Corn syrup comes in a few other varieties, with light and dark corn syrup commonly found in stores, and the difference between the two is down to their production process. While light corn syrup usually has vanilla tones, dark corn syrup has molasses added to it, altering its color and giving it a more toffee-like taste, making it a natural substitute for the sweetener.

You can swap in dark corn syrup in the same ratio as you would use molasses, and doing so should give you a similar result, as Substitute Cooking explains. While you can also use light corn syrup in place of molasses, it's worth keeping in mind that it won't deliver the same complexity of flavor that you'll get from the dark version. If you happen to have a bottle of high fructose corn syrup, you can also sub that in, but bear in mind that the sweetener has been associated with increased inflammation, a higher likelihood of developing diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (per the Cleveland Clinic).

Barley malt syrup

Barley malt syrup may not be your go-to choice for a little sweetness, but if you bought a jar for a recipe long ago and it's been languishing at the back of your cupboard, its time has come. Barley malt syrup may be the perfect substitute for molasses, thanks to having both a similar flavor profile and consistency, as Spiceography explains. The malty tones that barley malt syrup delivers, intensified during its cooking process, can be an effective and interesting replacement for the slightly bitter edge that molasses can provide, particularly the darker varieties (per The Vegan Atlas).

Bear in mind, though, that barley malt syrup can have a slightly more subtle flavor and a lower sweetness level than some molasses brands, so if you're looking for depth, you may want to add slightly more. The good thing, though, is that the similar consistency means that it won't make your dish thinner, as some other molasses substitutes might. Interestingly, too, barley malt syrup has a lower glycemic index than other syrups and sugars, as Healthy Supplies points out, and so may cause your blood sugar to spike less if used in place of other sweeteners.

Golden syrup

If you're an Anglophile, you may already have a jar of golden syrup nestled somewhere in your pantry. And if you do, and your molasses stocks are running low, it's time to bust it open, y'all. This uniquely British staple is a great substitute for molasses thanks to its similar consistency and deep flavor, as Masterclass notes. The lighter version of golden syrup (also known as light treacle) is particularly good to use in baked goods like gingerbread, and while it won't give you exactly the same flavor that you'd get from molasses, it'll still do the trick.

And if you're stocking up on golden syrup for those moments when your molasses supply goes dry, make sure it's Lyle's. The gold standard of golden syrup, Lyle's Golden Syrup is so well-regarded in the United Kingdom that it even has a Royal Warrant, an honor given to certain food brands that are deemed worthy of use by the Royal Family. Hey, if it was good enough for them, it's good enough for us!

Black treacle

When it comes to products made by refining sugar cane, much of the distinction between them simply comes from how much they're processed. And as such, when looking for a substitute for molasses, you want to aim for a sweetener that's created as similarly as possible. And this is just what you'll get with black treacle.

Both black treacle and molasses are made by crushing sugar cane and simmering the extracted juice, thickening it, and removing the sugar crystals that form, explains Ragus. The difference, though, is that black treacle is not cooked for as long as molasses, meaning that you end up with a slightly thinner syrup –- or else the treacle is made by taking molasses and adding in some slightly thinner syrup, to cut the consistency and adapt the flavor. 

As a result, black treacle can have a slightly gentler flavor than molasses, but as they come from the same place and arrive at similar destinations in their cooking process, black treacle can stand in effectively in many molasses-containing dishes. Try using black treacle in baking recipes and savory dishes that call for a touch of sweetness and smokiness. As a bonus, the black treacle's dark color will give your food the same visual appeal that molasses does.

Simple syrup

Sometimes, it's good to keep it simple. And things don't get more simple than simple syrup. A basic concoction of granulated white sugar and water commonly found in cocktails, simple syrup can also be used in place of molasses in pretty much any recipe that requires more sweetness (per CookThink). Using simple syrup can also add the moisture that molasses delivers to food, in contrast to white sugar, which will lift the sweetness but may not be absorbed as readily. And the best part is, simple syrup can be made easily at home. Just grab equal parts of water and sugar, throw them both in a sturdy pan, and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (via Liquor.com). Leave it to cool, and voila! Syrup's on the menu.

It's important to bear in mind, though, that given that simple syrup is, well, simple, it doesn't have the same flavor complexity that molasses does. Because of this, simple syrup is best used where the reason you're using molasses is thanks to its sweetness, and not necessarily for the additional taste it'll thread through your food. Simple syrup is also much thinner than molasses, so be careful that it doesn't dilute the consistency of your food too much.

Brown rice syrup

The versatility of rice never fails to amaze us, and just when we think we've found every use for it, it surprises and delights anew. So imagine how happy we were when we found out that brown rice syrup is a capable substitute for molasses. Made by cooking brown rice extensively to harvest its starchy content into a sugary concoction, brown rice syrup retains the slightly nutty edge that's present in the rice itself. As a sweetener, this additional flavor, along with its viscous texture, makes it a natural stand-in for molasses.

Crucially, though, brown rice syrup delivers a slightly gentler sweetness than other sugary syrups, so you may have to adjust the quantities slightly to get the exact taste level you desire. Brown rice syrup may also be a good substitute for molasses not just if you're caught short in the kitchen, but if you're trying to avoid heavy metal consumption, as certain molasses blends can contain quantities of arsenic, zinc, copper, and iron, according to GluCorp. Having said this, despite frequently being an organic product, not all brown rice syrups are created equal, so it's vital to check whether the brand you're buying has any added elements or health warnings.

Granulated white sugar

The answer to what you substitute for molasses might have been sitting right under your nose all this time. On a sweetness level, you can't get much better than subbing in granulated sugar. This is largely because both granulated sugar and molasses come from the same source, and are two sides of the same coin. The sugar cane that produces sugar and molasses is processed and boiled until sugar crystals form, and then the liquid is spun in a huge centrifugal drum to separate the crystals from the liquid. That liquid is the basis of molasses, while the crystals become the sugar you pour into your coffee.

Importantly, though, if you want to use granulated white sugar in place of molasses, it's worth diluting it slightly in water first, as Pure Wow explains. For each cup of molasses you need, you should use 0.75 cups of sugar mixed with a quarter cup of water. And remember, while granulated white sugar will give you the sugary touch you need, it won't give you a particularly developed flavor, which you get by using molasses. Consider adding extra flavorings like spices or extracts to your recipe if using white sugar.

Date syrup

Anyone who's ever tried dates will know that as fruits go, they're up there in terms of sweetness. So perhaps that's why it comes as little surprise that date syrup is an excellent substitute for molasses. Date syrup takes all of the deep, toffee flavors of dates and concentrates them into a super-sweet thick liquid, with the darker color of the syrup also contributing to the tones that molasses gives to food.

Additionally, where date syrup trumps molasses is in the nutrition stakes. Date syrup is rich in several essential minerals like manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, as well as containing vital vitamins and fiber content, as Woodspur Organic Date Farms explains. This fiber content is particularly valuable, as in addition to the nutrient's multiple health benefits, one of its key functions is to stop your blood sugar from spiking so drastically (via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Generally, you can substitute date syrup for molasses at the same ratio, so no tricky calculations are required, as Joolies states.

Agave syrup

You might only break out the agave syrup when you're making cocktails, but it has way more uses than just in a margarita. This super-sweet nectar can be used in place of molasses too. Agave syrup is made by processing parts of the agave plant to extract and create a sweet liquid, with a consistency close to golden syrup and honey, as BBC Good Food says. Its texture and sweetness mean that it can work especially well as a substitute for light molasses, particularly when you're using it to make baked goods, although it is useful to remember that it's slightly thinner, so make sure you compensate for this during the cooking process.

Remember, though, that agave syrup is seriously sweet, partly thanks to its high fructose content. As a result, you may want to use less agave syrup than you would molasses, as pouring in too much may leave you with a meal that's just too sugary. As a plant-based sweetener, agave syrup is also a great option for vegans –- although it's important to remember that it's still loaded with sugar, so that doesn't necessarily make it a healthy choice, as Medical News Today explains.

Coconut nectar

Have you ever used coconut nectar? No? You're missing out, people. This syrupy liquid is a natural choice to replace molasses in a pinch, thanks to its similarity in texture and closeness in taste to brown sugar. Coconut nectar (which doesn't taste like coconuts at all, it may surprise you to learn) is made from the sap of the coconut tree, which is tapped, collected, and then boiled down to a viscous, super-sweet liquid, as The Coconut Company explains. The toffee notes that the nectar contains give it a depth of flavor that may emulate the taste of certain types of molasses. Coconut nectar also contains some vitamins and minerals, as well as the electrolyte potassium.

Coconut nectar is an especially good choice for vegans, as molasses, despite being made from sugar cane, is not always suitable for people following a plant-based diet. Molasses can sometimes be produced by using bone char, as TofuBud explains. And while sugar manufacturers are increasingly opting to use different production methods, it's not a universal practice just yet. Usefully, too, coconut nectar is pretty simple to use in place of molasses, as you just need to sub in the same amount, states Bake It With Love.

Yacon syrup

If you've tried every sweetener under the sun and you're still looking for something new, yacon syrup could be your next go-to choice. Made by boiling down the juice of the yacon root, this syrup may not be the most widely available sugary liquid out there, but is starting to gain increasing popularity throughout the United States, as WebMD explains. The caramel-like taste of yacon root syrup makes it a great option to replace molasses, with the low glycemic index of the syrup meaning that it'll flare up your blood sugar level less (per Healthy Supplies).

The lower impact that yacon root syrup has on blood sugar means that people who have diabetes might find it a good choice for adding a sweet taste to their food. Yacon root has also been associated with supporting better gut bacteria. As yacon root syrup is similar in taste and texture to molasses, you should be able to use it in the same ratio, although it's always worth taste-testing as you cook to ensure you're not adding too much or too little.