Molasses is a sweet byproduct of sugar production with numerous culinary uses. Its thick consistency and distinctive flavor make it a valuable ingredient for everything from baked beans to pumpkin pie. Molasses is a unique ingredient with no perfect alternatives, but you may be able to get some aspects of its flavor from a few other ingredients. Here are some of the best molasses substitutes.
Your best bet: Honey
With honey, you get a liquid that has the same viscous consistency as molasses. This allows it to work in many baked goods without altering the texture too much. You can also use honey as a molasses substitute in barbecue sauces and baked beans.
Honey has a few downsides, such as the fact that most varieties won’t be as dark as molasses, so they won’t give your dish a dark, rich color. Honey also has a noticeable floral flavor profile and is very sweet. Molasses ranges from slightly bitter to bitter depending on the type. Light molasses is sweeter than the dark or blackstrap molasses varieties, so honey will make a better substitute for light molasses than for the darker ones.
If you have the option, use buckwheat honey to replace molasses. Even though it is not as dark as molasses, it is considerably darker than regular honey.
A decent second choice: Brown sugar
At one time, brown sugar exclusively referred to unrefined sugar, which was sugar that did not have all of its impurities removed. In the modern era, brown sugar is a combination of molasses and refined white sugar to make it easier for manufacturers to produce a consistent product. Because it contains molasses, brown sugar can give you a similar flavor and color to pure molasses. Dark brown sugar has more molasses than light brown sugar, which makes it the best option of the two.
One drawback with brown sugar as a molasses substitute is its sweetness. It has a relatively small amount of molasses in proportion to the sugar, which means that you run the risk of making your dish too sweet. You may have to adjust any other sugar in the recipe. Since you are replacing a liquid with sugar granules, you will need to add some extra moisture to your recipe to compensate.
In a pinch: Dark corn syrup
Dark corn syrup has a similar flavor to that of molasses, and its color and consistency are also molasses-like. The reason for the molasses similarity is that it contains a type of molasses called refiner’s sugar. Like other substitutes, dark corn syrup is considerably sweeter than molasses, so you will have to adjust other sweeteners in your recipes.
Dark corn syrup has a much less complex flavor than molasses, which means that your dishes won’t have the deep caramel notes.
Maple syrup can give your recipes a similar degree of complexity as molasses. It is sweeter than molasses and thinner, so it won’t be a perfect match and you may need to adjust your recipe to compensate. If you don’t have real maple syrup on hand, pancake syrup (maple-flavored corn syrup) can work. It will have a thicker consistency that is closer to that of molasses.
Sorghum syrup is made from the reduced juice of the sorghum plant, which is similar to sugar cane. Like molasses, sorghum syrup is sweet and complex, but it is also thinner and more acidic.