Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree and is commonly produced in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia. It resembles brown sugar, is relatively healthier than regular sugar, and has a distinct caramel flavor that works exemplary well in cakes, sauces, parfaits, and cookies — in fact, in any dish that calls for regular sugar.
If you’re looking for sweeteners that can match the texture and flavor of this unique ingredient, here are 7 coconut sugar substitutes to save the day!
1. Light Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is made by combining regular sugar with molasses and is available in both refined and unrefined forms. It has a toffee brown color and a distinct coffee-like, caramel flavor. It’s also easily available in your local supermarket; chances are, you may even have it in your pantry!
Brown sugar can be used as a substitute for coconut sugar in a range of recipes since it has a similar taste, texture, and color to coconut sugar and dissolves quickly. Keep in mind that light brown sugar is slightly sweeter than coconut sugar, so use less to avoid overly sweetening your dish.
1 cup of coconut sugar = ⅔ cup of light brown sugar.
Sucanat — short for “sucre de canne naturel” (a brand) — is unrefined raw cane sugar that has larger crystals and a brownish color that is much like coconut sugar. As it also contains natural molasses, sucanat has subtle caramel undertones and the same sweetening power as coconut sugar.
When using it as a substitute for coconut sugar, keep in mind that sucanat has a bit of a solid and tough texture that will not dissolve as quickly as coconut sugar. To fix this, run it through a food processor or spice grinder to give it a finer consistency before adding it to your dish. You could also use it as-is as a topping for baked goods.
1 cup of coconut sugar = 1 cup of sucanat.
3. Raw Honey
Raw honey is a thick, golden sticky liquid that is extracted from a beehive or honeycomb, strained, and packaged without undergoing any chemical processing. It is free of any hidden additives and sweeteners, allowing it to maintain its distinct flavor, consistency, and nutritional value.
Raw honey can make for an excellent stand-in for coconut sugar in baked goods, salad dressings, smoothies, and more. When using raw honey as a substitute, keep in mind that you’re going from solids to liquids. So, you may need to adjust the amount of other liquids in your recipes to avoid changing the consistency and moisture content of the dish.
1 cup of coconut sugar = 1/4 cup of raw honey.
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a thick, sticky, sweet liquid prepared by collecting sap from maple trees and boiling it until it reaches the desired syrup consistency. The liquid is then filtered to remove impurities and finally bottled for sale. Maple syrup has a smoked caramel flavor with hints of vanilla, delivering its own notes of sweetness to recipes.
Pure maple syrup is recommended since it contains no additives and preserves its natural flavor and nutritional benefits. When substituting it for coconut sugar, keep in mind it’s in liquid form. So, you’ll need to modify the amount of other liquid ingredients you use in your recipes to get the desired results without any visible differences.
1 cup of coconut sugar = 1/4 cup of maple syrup.
5. Date Sugar
Date sugar is a powdered sugar prepared from ground dehydrated dates. It has a mild, sweet, caramel flavor and is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Date sugar can be purchased in stores or made at home by dehydrating dates and combining them with cornstarch in a food processor (1 teaspoon of cornstarch for every pound of dates).
When substituting date sugar for coconut sugar or any other sugar, just note that it will not dissolve as easily as coconut sugar or any other sugar. Make sure you only use it in recipes where texture isn’t important, such as baked goods and savory rubs. It should not be added to cold or hot beverages or drinks because it won’t dissolve properly and thus alter the final recipe.
1 cup of coconut sugar = 1 cup of date sugar.
Stevia, made from the leaves of the stevia plant, is an all-natural plant-based, sugar-free sweetener available in both powdered and liquid form. It has no calories, making it a better alternative to coconut sugar, especially for diabetics and those on keto or diet plans.
When using stevia as a substitute, keep in mind that it contains twice or three times the amount of sweetness as regular sugar. Stevia can easily make your baked goods sweeter, and even leave a bitter aftertaste, if overused. While most people recommend using a 1:1 substitution, we recommend starting with a little amount and then adjusting to taste.
1 cup of coconut sugar = 1 cup of stevia (adjust as needed).
Stevia should only be used if you don’t have any other alternatives left, as a high stevia intake can have long-term adverse effects on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
7. Agave Syrup
Agave syrup, or agave nectar, is made by processing the sap harvested from the blue agave plant. Because of the chemical process it undergoes during production, most of the nutritional benefits are lost, but the syrup has a low glycemic index, which makes it a great diabetes-friendly option.
When substituting agave syrup for coconut sugar, you should know that agave syrup is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and tastes more like honey. So, use it conservatively. And because agave syrup is a liquid, you will also need to adjust the amount of other liquids in your recipe to achieve the right consistency.
1 cup of coconut sugar = 1/4 cup of agave syrup.
Please note that agave syrup is heavy in calories, carbs, and sugar, so use it sparingly.