Whether you’re a pro at baking or just getting started, you know that certain ingredients are vital to almost every recipe. One of these ingredients is coconut sugar, which makes your treats and desserts taste sweet.
There are different sugars and sweeteners available in the market for specific recipes. For example, some baked goods taste best with the help of coconut sugar. However, not everyone has a jar of coconut sugar just lying around in their kitchen. Here are some alternatives you can consider if you are in a rush
- Agave Nectar
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Date Sugar
- Demerara Sugar
- Granulated White Sugar
- Maple Sugar
- Maple Syrup
If you are still unable to find anything suitable from above, we’ve compiled the best coconut sugar substitutes for baking that you can use. If you need a healthier, less expensive, or more available option, you’ll likely find one in the list below.
Before that, let’s understand why this ingredient is considered healthier than regular sugar.
What Is The Difference Between Coconut Sugar And Regular Sugar?
Coconut sugar is made by grinding the byproduct of boiled sap from the coconut palm’s flower stems. It can go by different names in the market, including coconut crystals and coconut sap sugar.
Despite having high fructose and caloric contents like white sugar, coconut sugar is considered more nutritious because it has trace minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
Coconut sugar also contains less fat compared to regular sugar. It can therefore help regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels, and improve your body’s digestive system.
Coconut sugar is a healthier ingredient for baking because it has a lower glycemic index of 35 to 54,
A low glycemic index diet can improve your overall health and help prevent certain illnesses like type 2 diabetes as its inulin content causes the body to absorb glucose slower.[Source]
21 Best Substitute For Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar has a golden brown color, and it tastes like caramel with a slightly earthy note. It is usually blended with butter for baking, dissolved into syrup, or added into dishes as crystal granules.
There are many substitutes for coconut sugar, but what you want to use may depend on the sweetness factor, color, and consistency that your recipe needs.
As a quick answer, the most widely accepted substitute for coconut sugar is light brown sugar. On the other hand, raw honey is considered the best liquid sweetener substitute. But when it comes to healthier alternatives, stevia extract and monk fruit extract are two of the best substitutes.
Below is the full comprehensive list of coconut sugar substitutes.
Agave nectar comes from the sap of agave succulents that grow best in the dry south and southwestern climates. In some stores, it is also called maguey syrup.
Agave nectar is sweet like raw honey but not as flavorful. It is also much sweeter than coconut sugar. For this reason, you may only need one-fourth cup of agave syrup for every one cup of coconut sugar.
You can also use three-fourths cup of agave nectar to replace one cup of coconut sugar for a sweeter flavor. In this case, you will have to decrease your other liquid ingredients by 20% to adjust the moisture.
Blackstrap molasses are an extremely potent substance produced after the third boiling of cane sugar. They can overpower the flavor of your other ingredients, so you will need to use them minimally for your recipe.
You can start with a small amount, preferably one-half teaspoon of molasses for every one teaspoon of coconut sugar, then gradually add more until you reach the sweetness you desire.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup, although gluten-free, isn’t considered any healthier than coconut sugar. Nevertheless, it can be used in cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, and waffles.
You can use one teaspoon of brown rice syrup for every one teaspoon of coconut sugar.
Brown sugar is made from refined sugar treated with molasses that give it a brown color and smoky caramel flavor. Its glycemic index of 64 is close to the 65 of granulated white sugar.
Although this number is higher than coconut sugar’s glycemic index, brown sugar still matches its other properties. In fact, light brown sugar’s color, flavor, slightly nutty taste, and almost sticky consistency are more similar to coconut sugar than dark brown sugar. Dark brown sugar is bitterer and tastes almost like coffee.
Brown sugar is relatively affordable and easier to find in grocery stores, making it the best substitute in terms of accessibility. It’s commonly used in cookies, dessert bars, and muffins.
There are different ways to use light brown sugar as a substitute. For example, using two teaspoons of light brown sugar for every three teaspoons of coconut sugar will replicate your recipe’s sweetness.
You can also swap one cup of light brown sugar for every one cup of coconut sugar if you want slightly sweeter baked goods.
Date sugar is a coarse, sandy powder from dehydrated and ground dates. It tastes like butterscotch with a touch of caramel, and it has a darker brown color and higher glycemic index despite sharing several nutritional characteristics with coconut sugar.
Date sugar contains calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc. It also has antioxidant properties like raw honey, and it helps regulate your blood circulation.
You can use one cup of date sugar to replace one cup of coconut sugar. You may need to soak it in boiling water to soften the granules so that they dissolve more easily.
If you only have the fruits on hand, you can make your own date sugar by baking sliced dates at 425Â°F (218Â°C) for 15 minutes until dry and then powdering them in a food processor with a pinch of cornstarch.
Demerara sugar has larger grains but a similar color and taste to coconut sugar. It comes in a light golden-blond color and is usually used by bakers as sprinkles on top of muffins.
Demerara sugar has a milder taste than its closest alternative, turbinado sugar. However, they are sometimes sold as the same product. You can use one cup of demerara sugar for every one cup of coconut sugar.
Granulated White Sugar
Granulated white sugar is also known as table sugar and is perhaps the most widely available substitute. It is usually made from canes that have been processed and stripped of vitamins and minerals.
For this reason, it’s not as ideal a substitute as light brown sugar. Table sugar is also finer than coconut sugar, with grains that measure 0.5 mm wide.
Typically, you will need less than a cup of granulated white sugar to replace one cup of coconut sugar. You can add more of it to adjust your recipe’s sweetness.
Maple sugar comes from maple tree sap that is reduced until it crystallizes. It gives baked goods a mild maple flavor with hints of butter, caramel, and vanilla on top of coconut sugar’s typical sweetness. Maple sugar can be sprinkled or dusted onto baked desserts.
You can use one teaspoon of maple sugar for every one teaspoon of coconut sugar. If you have maple syrup in your kitchen cupboard instead, you can make your own by boiling that at 270Â°F (132Â°C) until sugar granules start to form.
Maple syrup can be produced from different maple tree variants, including black, red, and sugar maple. It is more saccharine than coconut sugar, and it also has notes of caramel and vanilla.
Maple syrup is well-known worldwide because it’s a popular topper on pancakes and waffles. Aside from this, it’s also used in some recipes for bread, cakes, and pies.
Maple syrup contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and enough zinc to supplement 41% of the daily amount your body needs. It can be just as easy to find as brown sugar in most instances.
Maple syrup is also relatively affordable compared to coconut sugar, depending on your location.
Grade A Golden syrup has the closest flavor quality to coconut sugar among the four available grades. You can use one-fourth cup of this grade to replace one cup of coconut sugar.
For a richer maple flavor, you can substitute three-fourths of a cup for every one cup of coconut sugar. Note that you will have to reduce your other liquid components by one-fourth cup to adjust the moisture. You should also decrease the baking temperature by 25 degrees to avoid over-browning.
Monk Fruit Extract
This extract comes from the monk fruit or Buddha’s fruit found in Southeast Asia. It can be bought at Asian markets in granules, powders, or liquid forms. Although sweeter than coconut sugar, monk fruit extract has no calories and a glycemic index of zero.
That’s why it can help manage blood sugar levels. Because of its sweetness, you might only need one teaspoon of monk fruit extract for every three teaspoons of coconut sugar.
Sucanat is a natural cane sugar with almost the same consistency, light brown color, and caramel taste of coconut sugar. It is made by pressing sugar cane through rollers and beating the extracted juice with paddles.
Sucanat is a popular sweetener for brownies and cookies. It contains vitamin B and calcium, among other trace nutrients, and it has a lower sucrose content (88%) than table sugar (99%).
One cup of Sucanat is enough to replace one cup of coconut sugar. To replicate your recipe’s sweetness more accurately, you can use three-fourths cup plus two tablespoons of Sucanat for every one cup of coconut sugar.
Do note that Sucanat is relatively tougher than most other substitutes. But it can be ground using a blender, food processor, or spice grinder to refine its granules so that it dissolves easily.
Although this substitute is easily mistaken for coconut sugar because of its name, palm sugar is an entirely different product. Palm sugar is a popular ingredient of Thai cuisine that can be used in baking.
Palm sugar is made from the processed sap of medium-sized palms that grow in Southeast Asia. It can also go by many names such as kaong, aren or arengga, and black sugar palm.
You can use one cup of palm sugar for every one cup of coconut sugar.
Piloncillo is a popular ingredient used in Mexican dishes. It’s derived from raw cane sugar that was boiled, molded, and left to harden. Piloncillo has a pronounced, complex flavor composed of burnt sugar, molasses, and rum.
This flavor gives baked goods an earthy, caramel taste similar to brown sugar. Piloncillo can be grated and then heated by microwave to soften it for easier use.
If you don’t mind its slightly strong flavor, you can use one cup of piloncillo to replace one cup of coconut sugar.
Raw honey has a slightly floral flavor with a sweetness almost equal to coconut sugar. It can act as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant because it contains propolis, a honeycomb sealant produced by bees.
It also contains amino acids, and it helps with sore throats and digestive problems.
Of note, it’s better to use raw or natural honey instead of its processed variants. The latter may have artificial components that can alter its taste and beneficial properties.
You can use one-fourth to one-third cup of raw honey for every cup of coconut sugar. For a more floral taste, you can substitute using one-half to two-thirds of a cup of raw honey instead.
However, you will have to decrease the other ingredients by one-fourth cup to adjust your recipe’s moisture content.
This extract comes from the leaves of the stevia plant that originated in Brazil and Paraguay. It is significantly sweeter than either granulated white sugar or coconut sugar due to the glycosides it contains.
Stevia extract has no calories and a lower glycemic index but imparts a similar taste to coconut sugar. This is why stevia is considered by many as the most desirable healthy substitute for coconut sugar.
In fact, stevia extract is known to help lower or control blood sugar levels.
Because of its sweetness, you might need less than one cup of stevia extract for every one cup of coconut sugar. A good option would be to use one-fourth to one-half of a cup plus another sugar alternative to match one cup of coconut sugar.
Turbinado sugar has a pale brown color and coarser texture due to its larger granules. But like coconut sugar, it contains natural molasses, giving it its color and caramel-like flavor, and trace nutrients.
Turbinado sugar can be sprinkled on cookies, pies, and fruit crisps to create a sparkly sheen. It can also be incorporated into your batter to give baked goods a crumbly texture.
You can use one cup of turbinado sugar for every one cup of coconut sugar as a substitute.
Although less common, this substitute can be used as a baking ingredient aside from a coffee sweetener. Vanilla sugar is made by adding vanilla extract to granulated sugar.
You can use one cup of vanilla sugar to replace one cup of coconut sugar.
Xylitol, Erythritol, and Tagatose
Xylitol is a type of sugar that can be extracted from different fruits, birchwood, corn, mushrooms, and other vegetables. It is an alcoholic sweetener with a lower glycemic index than coconut sugar.
Xylitol has no fructose, but it has components that can help strengthen teeth and other bones. You can use two-thirds cup of xylitol for every one cup of coconut sugar.
Xylitol can be compared to erythritol and tagatose, two compounds also extracted from natural sources. Erythritol, a common medicinal ingredient with vasodilating properties, comes from various algae and lichens. On the other hand, tagatose comes from heated dairy products such as milk.
To use erythritol as a sweetener, you can follow a one-to-one ratio substitution with coconut sugar. Similarly, you can substitute one teaspoon of tagatose for one teaspoon of coconut sugar.
Yacon syrup comes from the yacon plant that grows in South American countries. It imparts a sweet, caramel taste with a hint of apples or raisins.
Although it is less sweet than coconut sugar, yacon syrup has fewer calories (20 Cal per tablespoon) and higher fiber content, making it relatively healthier. It has antioxidant properties because it contains polyphenols, flavonoids, and other compounds.
Because it is less sweet than its coconut sugar, you might need two teaspoons of yacon syrup to replace one teaspoon of coconut sugar.