What can I use instead of white sugar in baking? The best substitutes for white sugar are brown sugar, raw sugar, superfine sugar, powdered sugar, and coconut sugar. Liquid substitutes are molasses, honey, maple syrup, and agave syrup. Use stevia and Splenda as sugar-free alternatives.
If you’ve run out of white sugar or want to choose a healthier sweetener in baking, there are many sugar alternatives. Try different varieties of sugar or more natural and more nutritious products. Here are our 11 best substitutes for white sugar in baking.
The most straightforward substitute for white sugar is brown sugar.
Brown sugar can refer to less refined cane sugar that still contains molasses but is usually white cane or beet sugar that has had molasses added. The darker brown the sugar, the more molasses it contains.
The molasses gives brown sugar a luscious dark color, caramel flavor, and moist consistency.
Substitute white sugar with the same amount of brown sugar. The consistency of your bake will remain the same, but you may pick up a slight caramel flavor.
For this reason, use brown sugar as a substitute in ginger, chocolate, and coffee cookies.
Raw sugar can also be a substitute for white sugar in baking.
A better description than “raw” is less refined cane sugar. Demerara and turbinado sugar are still highly processed but with a coarser texture and more molasses than white sugar.
The larger, coarser crystals absorb more liquid than regular sugar, so raw sugar can make bakes drier. To avoid this, blitz the sugar in a processor to make it less coarse.
Substitute equal amounts of raw sugar for white sugar in cookies, pecan pie, and cakes for a more intense caramel flavor.
Another substitute for white sugar in baking is superfine sugar.
Superfine sugar, or baker’s sugar, as it is referred to in the US, is finely ground white sugar. It has a coarser texture than powdered sugar but finer than granulated sugar.
Also called caster or castor sugar, in the past, this finely ground sugar was kept in a caster or shaker for sprinkling sugar on fruit.
Today, caster sugar is commonly used for baking in the UK as it blends and dissolves more quickly than regular sugar.
Use baker’s sugar instead of white sugar for baking, especially in finely crumbed cakes.
Also called icing sugar and confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar is a helpful substitute for white sugar in baking.
Powdered sugar combines finely processed white sugar and an anti-caking agent (often cornstarch) to prevent it from absorbing moisture and clumping.
Because of the added starch, powdered sugar is not the ideal substitute for white sugar.
However, if you have nothing else, you can replace up to two cups of regular granulated sugar with 1¾ cups of unsifted powdered sugar. This substitution works best in moist quick bread and muffins.
Avoid using powdered sugar in cakes made by the creaming method or cookies, as the texture will be affected.
An excellent substitute for white sugar, coconut sugar is also a healthy alternative.
Although most granulated white sugar comes from sugarcane or sugar beets, coconut sugar derives from the sweet sap of the coconut palm.
Being composed of fructose rather than sucrose, coconut sugar has a lower Glycemic index than regular sugar.
Coconut sugar looks and tastes like white sugar, although it has a browner color, refined texture, and drier consistency.
You can replace white sugar 1:1 with coconut sugar. However, because it is drier, use coconut sugar for crisp bakes, like shortbread or crunchy cookies, not tender crumbed cakes.
Another sugar product that can replace white sugar is molasses.
A byproduct of refined sugar production, molasses is made from boiling down sugar products into a thick, dark syrup.
Blackstrap molasses is the most nutritious form of molasses and contains vitamin B, potassium, calcium, iron, and selenium. Note that it is still a sugar product, so not suitable for people with diabetes.
Although molasses is not as sweet as sugar and has a more robust flavor, you can substitute 1⅓ cups of molasses for every cup of white sugar in a recipe. (Never replace more than half the sugar in a recipe with molasses.)
To avoid too much moisture in your bake, reduce the amount of liquid by five tablespoons.
Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients to reduce the acidity of molasses.
Use molasses in bakes with a dark color, like gingerbread.
Honey is a healthy alternative to white sugar in baking.
The most nutritious variety of honey is raw honey, a natural product made by bees from flower nectar.
Honey combines sugar, royal jelly, propolis, amino acids, and pollen and has many medicinal properties. Commercially produced honey loses these benefits through pasteurization and filtration.
To substitute honey for white sugar, replace each cup of sugar with one cup minus two tablespoons of honey, as honey is sweeter than sugar.
Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per cup of honey to neutralize the acidity.
Honey is moister than sugar, so reduce the liquid in your recipe by three tablespoons per cup of honey.
To avoid your bake burning, lower the oven temperature by 25⁰F.
Use honey as a sugar substitute in quick bread recipes, cornbread, muffins, and cake.
Pure maple syrup is a delicious substitute for white sugar.
Maple syrup comes from the boiled sap of maple trees and has a lower GI than regular sugar. It contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants, calcium, potassium, manganese, and iron.
Grade A maple syrup is light gold, has a delicate flavor and is best for drizzling. Darker Grade B syrup, with a more intense flavor, is best for baking.
Avoid artificially flavored maple syrup, which is flavored corn syrup.
When substituting maple syrup for white sugar, use ¾ cup of maple syrup for every cup of sugar.
Because of its higher moisture content, reduce the amount of liquid by three tablespoons when using more than one cup of maple syrup.
Also, keep an eye on the oven, as maple syrup browns more quickly than sugar.
Maple syrup is an ideal substitute for white sugar in fruit and nut quick bread and muffins.
Another liquid alternative to white sugar is agave syrup.
Agave syrup (sometimes incorrectly called nectar) is a natural sweetener from the blue agave cactus. However, commercially available agave syrup is refined and high in fructose, so it should be eaten in moderation.
As a sugar replacement, agave is sweeter and moister than sugar, so you will need to adapt your recipe.
Substitute one cup of white sugar with ⅔ cup of agave syrup, adding the agave to the liquid ingredients and fats in the recipe.
Also, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by two tablespoons per cup of agave syrup.
Bake immediately once your batter is ready, as the agave can destabilize the batter and create an oily layer on your bake.
Stevia is a good alternative for those who want to avoid white sugar entirely.
An ancient and natural sweetener, the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant are both medicinal and valuable for baking.
Pure liquid or powdered stevia will not influence blood sugar as it contains no calories, so it is a good choice for people with blood sugar issues.
To bake with stevia, choose baking granules as the regular powder may influence the flavor and texture of your bake. You can substitute these baking granules 1:1 with white sugar.
For an utterly sugar-free alternative to white sugar, choose sucralose, sold under the brand Splenda.
Splenda is a chemically manipulated sugar, manufactured as a low-calorie sugar replacement. Products include liquid, powder, tablets, and baking granules.
Use baking granules to substitute white sugar with Splenda in bakes.
Keep an eye on the oven as bakes containing Splenda cook faster than those with white sugar.