Can you imagine running out of molasses in the middle of Christmas cookie season?
Well, it’s not such a tragedy if you have a couple of these handy molasses substitutes on hand.
Top 10 Substitutes for Molasses
Did you know that molasses is a by-product of the sugar-making process?
In sugar production, juice is extracted from the plant. It’s then boiled and turned into thick molasses.
And that’s the main difference between white and brown sugar, by the way. The latter still has molasses in the mix, which is why it’s so soft and moist.
Anyway, molasses has a sticky texture and a wonderfully deep and dark taste.
But the good news is, it’s not a unicorn. And you can find all kinds of terrific alternatives in a pinch.
1. Sorghum Syrup
Sorghum syrup and molasses have been used almost interchangeably for hundreds of years.
The key difference is that molasses comes from sugar cane, and sorghum comes from the sorghum plant.
Both are dark, and both are sticky. But sorghum is a little more sour than molasses, and not quite as thick.
So while you can use it in equal amounts, it’s best to add a little extra sugar to your bakes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 cup of sorghum syrup.
2. Dark Corn Syrup + Brown Sugar
If you have dark corn syrup in your cabinets, you’re back in business!
It’ll give you a similar color and a nice sticky finish, just like you’d get from molasses.
That’s because it’s made from a mix of light corn syrup and a certain type of molasses.
But while you’ll get the color and texture, you don’t get the same deep flavor. Yes, it’s sweet, but it’s not complex.
So, add some brown sugar to the mix!
It’s not a perfect fix, but it’s pretty darn close.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/8 cup of dark corn syrup + 1/8 cup of brown sugar.
The local bee guy gave me the rundown on honey at a local farmers market.
I learned that the flavor of honey changes based on the flowers used to gather nectar.
Buckwheat honey, for example, is much darker (almost the same hue as molasses) and has a very similar flavor profile.
Of course, if you don’t have dark honey, any good quality kind will do the trick here. Though I recommend looking for something on the darker side.
Either way, honey has the right consistency and plenty of sweetness.
But it won’t make your gingerbread cookies dark. So maybe stick to recipes that don’t need molasses for color.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 cup of dark-hued honey.
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup doesn’t have the same flavor as molasses, but that’s not necessarily bad.
After all, it has a similar rich brown color and thick, sticky consistency. So why wouldn’t it work in your bakes?
The key is to find top-quality dark maple syrup. Sorry, but that cheap bottle in the fridge won’t cut it.
And keep in mind the flavor. Maple is quite prominent and pretty sweet, so you may need to adjust the sugar in your recipe.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses (4 tablespoons) with 3 tablespoons of maple syrup.
5. Golden Syrup
Golden syrup is more similar to honey or corn syrup in its consistency, but it has the same caramel-like flavor of molasses – just not as potent.
It’s a very typical British and Australian ingredient, so you might not find it in your local grocery store.
But you can find it online or even make your own!
Making golden syrup is similar to making caramel but much easier:
- Place the sugar and water in a pot on the stove.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring it to a boil.
- When the water and moisture evaporate, it transforms into a thick, golden syrup.
This is a terrific substitute in cakes and light bakes. But again, you won’t get dark gingerbread cookies with this one.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 cup of golden syrup.
6. Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is a mix of sugar and water. You’ll see it used a lot in cocktails and smoothies since it brings sweetness without a grainy texture.
I use it for cold brew coffees and to moisten cakes.
But surprisingly enough, it can also be used as a molasses substitute.
It’s not as thick, of course, but it’s ideal for recipes that need liquid sweetener and deep caramel notes.
Simple syrup is usually made with white sugar, but if you use brown sugar, you’ll get a hint of molasses.
Here’s my recipe:
- Add 1.5 cups of dark brown sugar to a tall pot.
- Pour over 1/2 cup of water and gently stir.
- Set the heat to medium and cook until the brown sugar is dissolved.
- Simmer the syrup for a few extra minutes to thicken it up.
- Let the syrup cool, then store it in the fridge for two weeks.
From there, you’ll use it at a 1:2 ratio.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/8 cup of brown sugar simple syrup.
7. Brown Rice Syrup
As the name suggests, brown rice syrup is made with brown rice.
Essentially, they ferment brown rice, then boil the syrup until it’s super thick and sticky.
It’s not as dark or as sweet as molasses, but you can’t beat the texture.
That said, you’ll need to use about twice as much, so it’s best in recipes with just a little molasses.
That includes fudgy/chewy things like cookies and granola bars.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup.
8. Date Syrup
No guesses about what this one is made out of.
Like brown rice syrup, dates are mashed and boiled into a thick and sweet syrup.
And it’s so much like molasses, some people even call it “date molasses”!
Obviously, it’s sweet and thick. Plus, you get such a nice dark hue and even a hint of caramel flavor.
The only reason this one isn’t at the top of the list is the availability. I had a hard time tracking it down.
But when I finally got my hands on some, I found it works best in dense, dark bakes, like cookies and spiced cakes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 cup of date syrup.
Like golden syrup, treacle is a typical British ingredient. And it’s what they’ll use by default in most recipes that call for molasses.
Both are dark, thick, and sticky. And both are results of the sugar-making process.
The big difference is that treacle isn’t boiled for as long as molasses. That means it’s not quite as thick, but it is a little bit sweeter.
But you won’t really notice – especially in baking.
You see, the two are so closely related, they’re practically twins! And it would be number one on the list if it was available in the US.
Unfortunately, it’s another thing you have to find online. And when we have access to molasses, it’s often not worth the import fees.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 cup of treacle.
Agave has almost the same thickness as molasses, making it an easy technical swap if you have it on hand.
It is much sweeter than molasses, though – heck, it’s sweeter than granulated sugar – so you may need to adjust your recipe.
I suggest cutting the sugar in the dish in half and going from there.
But other than the added sugar, this swap works really well in most bakes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 cup of agave.
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