Blackstrap molasses is best known for its intense flavor rather than its sweetness. Though, some do classify it as a sweetener. It is also considered a good nutritional supplement since it contains moderate amounts of various minerals, including iron and calcium. Beyond that, it is an acquired taste because it is bitter. While it does contain some sugar, the dominant flavor is a salty and slightly metallic bitterness. The flavor is one of the many reasons that you may need an alternative. Here are some of the best blackstrap molasses substitutes if you are out of it or need something with a more pleasant taste.
Your best bet: Dark molasses
The molasses left after the second boiling of sugarcane juice is called dark molasses, and it is the most like blackstrap molasses. All types of molasses are byproducts of the sugar-making process. Sugar is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beet juice that is boiled and centrifuge; molasses is left behind. The sugarcane juice must be boiled and centrifuged three times to remove as much sugar as possible. The molasses remaining after the first boiling is called light molasses and contains more sugar than the other two varieties. Similarly, dark molasses contains more sugar than blackstrap molasses but is the closest to it in appearance and taste.
Because dark molasses is sweeter than blackstrap, you can expect your dish to be sweeter than it would be with blackstrap molasses. Dark molasses is also not as dark as blackstrap, which means that you may have to add more of it or use another source of deep brown color.
A decent second choice: Yacon root
Extracted from the yacon plant’s roots, yacon syrup has garnered a reputation as a weight-loss aid. Yacon syrup is extracted and evaporated using a technique similar to the one used to make maple sap into maple syrup. It has a caramelized flavor profile and a dark brown color similar to that of blackstrap molasses.
Yacon syrup does look and taste somewhat like blackstrap molasses but has a complex, fruitier flavor profile. The taste might be considered an improvement if you are looking for a better-tasting alternative to blackstrap molasses.
In a pinch: Instant coffee and sugar
The predominant flavor in blackstrap molasses is bitterness, and the color is a deep dark brown. You can get both of these properties from instant coffee. Instant coffee will also be right at home in many of the recipes for baked goods that call for blackstrap molasses. Because instant coffee has no sweetness on its own, you will need a little extra sugar to make it a little more like blackstrap molasses.
Instant coffee does have a few significant downsides in that it has a distinctive and robust flavor profile and aroma that goes beyond its bitterness. It will provide the color and bitterness but will also be noticeably different from blackstrap molasses in some recipes. Note also that you will need to add some extra liquid to your recipe when using instant coffee since it is a dry ingredient.
Light molasses is another option if you are trying to avoid the bitterness of blackstrap molasses. It will still give you most of the molasses flavor profile, but it won’t overpower your dish.
Buckwheat honey is one of the darkest varieties of honey and is richly flavored as well. It is much sweeter than blackstrap molasses, which might make it an ideal substitute if you need a less-bitter alternative.