Molasses have extraordinary properties when used as an ingredient for desserts, baked goods, and savory dishes. In the event that you just ran out of molasses, or realized that your recipe requires it halfway through, you can quickly whip up several substitutes.
Some of the best molasses substitutes include brown sugar, dark corn syrup, golden syrup. If you’re really in a pinch, honey, yogurt, applesauce, and even regular ol’ granulated sugar!
If you’re searching for the best molasses substitutes list you need for baking, this article is it! Read on to find out how to use molasses substitutes in recipes, including suggested measurements you should try.
Molasses is known for adding a lovely moist consistency and a rich, unique flavor to desserts and baked goods. Although it’s difficult to perfectly recreate the taste of molasses using mere substitutes, these simple swaps work brilliantly if you’re in a pickle!
Brown sugar is often produced by mixing sugarcane molasses with refined sugar, which is why it works so well as a molasses substitute. Light brown sugar contains approximately 3.5% molasses, while dark brown sugar has up to 10%. Therefore, the darker the sugar, the closer it tastes to pure molasses.
Keep in mind that brown sugar is a dry sweetener, so adjustments need to be made to a baking recipe that specifically calls for a liquid sweetener. For every cup of molasses required, add about 3/4 cup of brown sugar. You can also add about one to four tablespoons of water to match the recipe’s consistency and overall flavor.
Brown sugar is less hygroscopic than molasses, so the moisture of your baked goods might be affected upon cooling. They might also dry out a bit faster than the recipe intended compared to molasses. Furthermore, it doesn’t have the same intensity as molasses, so expect your recipe to taste on the milder side if molasses is its main ingredient.
Savory dishes don’t require much adjustment, so you can use brown sugar as a 1:1 substitute and add liquid if necessary. If you’re using molasses as a glaze, you might want to dissolve the brown sugar in hot water first.
Dark corn syrup is made by mixing light corn syrup with a type of molasses called refiner’s syrup or golden syrup. It has just about the same viscosity and appearance as molasses, so the texture of your recipe won’t be affected as much as it does with brown sugar. The flavor is just about the same, as well.
The suggested conversion for dark corn syrup for molasses is 1:1. Keep in mind that dark corn syrup is a hint sweeter, so you might want to leave out about a tablespoon or two to match the sweetness intended for your recipe.
Dark corn syrup is ideal for gingerbread cookies, baked beans, pulled pork, and any other recipe that requires the strong, robust flavor of molasses. If the molasses in your recipe is but a mere moistening agent, you can also use light corn syrup.
Golden syrup is another great substitute for molasses because of its hygroscopic nature. It’s best used for recipes that primarily depend on molasses’ moisture properties.
The appearance and taste of golden syrup greatly differ from molasses. For one, it’s golden-brown in color, so your baked good’s shade might be lighter than expected. Two, it has a mild, buttery flavor that’s slightly sweeter than molasses. It’s not as cloyingly sweet as corn syrup.
Golden syrup has just about the same viscosity as molasses. Hence, use a cup of golden syrup for every cup of molasses required. Your recipe might turn out sweeter and milder in flavor than the original recipe. However, it shouldn’t compromise the consistency and raising capacity of your baked goods.
When it comes to sweeteners, honey is a popular substitute. Not only is it always readily available, but it’s healthier than most sugar alternatives, as well.
Honey is sweeter and lighter in color and flavor than molasses, so the overall taste of your recipe might be altered.
You’ll want to use no more than 2/3 cup of honey for every cup of molasses required to compensate for the honey’s overall sweetness. You might want to either add a few tablespoons of flour if your honey is runny. Reduce the amount of liquid if your honey is thick.
Honey is best used in cakes and bread that require extra moisture. It’s also great for Middle Eastern or Moroccan dishes that require molasses.
Golden, Amber, and Dark maple syrup taste completely different from molasses. Golden maple syrup, for example, has a light, clean, subtle maple flavor. It’s best used over fruit, maple candies, and whipped cream.
Amber maple syrup, on the other hand, has a smooth, rich flavor that’s perfect for pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast toppings. Dark maple has a robust maple flavor that’s ideal for baked goods and savory dishes.
If molasses isn’t the main ingredient of your recipe, you can use any of the mentioned maple colors. For molasses-based recipes, it’s best to use Grade-A Very Dark maple syrup as it tastes closer to molasses than any of the other colors.
Depending on your recipe, you may use a 1:1 ratio of maple syrup to molasses or 2/3 cup of maple syrup for every cup of molasses required. If you’d rather use the first conversation, slightly reduce the liquid measurements required. Alternatively, you can add a few tablespoons of flour to match the original recipe’s batter consistency.
[Related Article: Can I Replace Maple Syrup With Honey?]
Molasses and treacle belong to the same family. When placed side-by-side, you probably won’t even know the difference. They look extremely similar and have the same consistency and viscosity. The only difference between the two is flavor, but not by much.
Compared to molasses, black treacle has a lighter, less bitter flavor. This makes it suitable for those who aren’t fond of the strong, robust taste of molasses. It also has a slightly burnt flavor that’s reminiscent of sticky toffee.
Black treacle can be used as a direct 1:1 ratio. It’s the closest thing to molasses you can get since it’s basically the “UK version” of blackstrap molasses.
Sorghum syrup, also known as sorghum molasses and sweet sorghum, is made from the cereal grain of a sorghum plant. It has a thinner consistency compared to molasses and tastes slightly sour-sweet and earthy. It’s a popular condiment in the Southern United States, where it’s primarily used for breakfast toppings, salad dressings, and barbecue sauces.
Sorghum syrup can be used as a 1:1 ratio with molasses. The end product of your recipe should have the same appearance and texture as the original, only slightly less flavorful. You might want to add cinnamon or similar spices to compensate for the taste difference.
Applesauce is a great substitute if you’re looking for a more natural, unprocessed sugar alternative. Similar to molasses, applesauce adds moisture to your baked goods. It also gives you that deliciously fresh, slightly sweet tartness you typically find in tree-picked apples.
The consistency and texture of applesauce greatly differ from molasses. There isn’t an exact measurement for applesauce as a molasses substitute because the consistency depends on the apples and recipe used to make them.
Start with a 1/2 cup for every cup of molasses and eyeball the measurements until you get the desired texture. You may also want to add several tablespoons of sugar to match the strong, sweet taste of molasses.
If you have leftover apples in your home, you can make your own applesauce by combining apples, ground cinnamon, and boiling hot water in a large pot in low heat. For every five apples used, use about a cup of water. Make sure to chop the apples into small 1-inch pieces for them to cook properly.
After about 45 minutes or so, turn off the heat of your stove and roughly mash the apples with a potato masher. You can also use a food processor if you wish. And that’s it! You can now use your own applesauce as a molasses substitute.
[Related Article: 10 Best Applesauce Substitute List You Need To Start Baking]
Yogurt is on this list because it has similar baking properties as molasses. The creaminess found in yogurt helps keep baked goods fluffy and moist.
Furthermore, it imparts a certain tanginess that makes people go, “Mm! Delicious!”. Yogurt also encourages rising due to its acidic content. This makes it an ideal substitute for desserts and baked goods that require a lot of rising.
Depending on your yogurt’s thickness, you may either use a 1:1 ratio for thicker yogurts or a 1.5:1 ratio for lighter yogurts. You may also want to add extra spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and the like to match the flavor of molasses as much as possible.
If you’re really in a pinch, you can substitute molasses with granulated sugar. Since sugar doesn’t taste anything but sweet, you might want to need extra spices in your recipe to compensate.
Combine 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar with about a quarter cup of hot water. Thoroughly mix them together until the granules disappear and a thick syrup forms. If you have cream of tartar sitting in your pantry, it’s a good idea to add about 1 1/4 teaspoon into the mixture to stabilize your batter. Cream of tartar also prevents the build-up of sugar crystals.
This section answers some of the most frequently asked questions about molasses!
Yes! There are several ways you can make your very own molasses at home. Although you can’t exactly replicate the flavor of molasses, you can whip up a great substitute that has the same texture and consistency as regular molasses.
One of my favorite homemade molasses recipes is the one made by baking expert Gemma Stafford. The ingredients she used include 2 cups of dark brown sugar, 3/4 cups of water, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Combine everything in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and immediately turn the stove down once the mixture shimmers. The whole recipe doesn’t take any more than three to four minutes tops to make!
If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can make molasses from scratch using sugar beets. However, this process is relatively time-consuming and doesn’t always yield perfect results.
The primary difference between light, dark, and blackstrap molasses is the color and flavor profile.
Light molasses is the lightest and sweetest type of molasses in the group. Due to its high sugar content, it’s the most popular among the three. It’s often used as a topping substitute for pancakes, waffles, and similar desserts. The same is said for baked goods that require the mild taste of molasses.
Dark molasses, on the other hand, has a deep, bittersweet, concentrated flavor. It’s best used for molasses-based recipes such as gingerbread and molasses cookies. It’s also ideal for glazes and marinades.
Blackstrap molasses is the deepest, darkest, and most bitter in the molasses family. It’s not so great for baked goods because of its overpowering flavor. However, it works brilliantly well for savory dishes that require molasses.
Unsulfured molasses is made from mature sugar cane (12-15 months), while sulfured molasses is made from unripe sugarcane. Unsulfured molasses doesn’t contain any additives, therefore giving it a bitter, more natural flavor.
Despite what the name implies, pomegranate molasses isn’t actually molasses. In a nutshell, pomegranate molasses is made from boiling pomegranate juice with sugar and lemon juice. It’s then left in low heat until a thick syrupy consistency is formed. It tastes quite similar to balsamic vinegar: intense, sweet-and-sour, and slightly musky.
Pomegranate molasses can’t be used as a molasses substitute, especially in desserts. It’ll greatly alter the taste in unexpected ways, so it’s best to stick to other substitutes instead.
In baked goods, molasses creates a lovely moist consistency that helps cookies become softer and bread crustier. Its unique flavor also adds a rich earthy and smokey depth to both sweet and savory dishes. This is what makes them a desired pantry staple by most bakers and home chefs.
While nothing quite compares to the taste of molasses, all the listed alternatives above are great substitutes you can use in a pinch.