Among the various types of sugar, palm sugar is one of the most popular for use in cooking, and it is also a healthier choice compared to other sweeteners. It is popular in many international cuisines, including Asian, North African, and Middle Eastern.
While it is easy to add palm sugar to various recipes, finding it in supermarkets may not be as easy. In addition, due to the labour involved in the production, it is often more expensive than the other sugar options. This is why many people look for substitutes when preparing recipes that call for palm sugar.
These include the following:
- Maple Sugar
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Dark Brown Sugar
- Muscovado Sugar
- White Sugar
- Agave Syrup
- Date Sugar
The good thing is, that there are lots of easier to find ingredients that you can use as an able substitute for palm sugar.
Now, let’s discuss each of these substitutes to help you decide which one will work best for your dish.
15 Best Substitute For Palm Sugar
Palm sugar is a natural sweetener with a rich, deep flavor that lends a distinctive taste to whatever dish you are preparing. Its taste is reminiscent of caramel or butterscotch.
Palm sugar is great to use in cooking under both low and high temperatures. This means you can use the ingredient for baking.
Depending on the flavor you want to achieve in your recipe, some of the best alternatives in terms of sweetness include coconut sugar and brown sugar.
Following are 15 of the best alternatives to palm sugar. Most of these are more easily available and more affordable than palm sugar – the two most common reasons to search for palm sugar substitutes.
A common syrup that you can add to practically anything you fancy, maple sugar is first on the list of palm sugar alternatives. This is an ideal substitute since maple sugar is prepared the same way as palm sugar.
Maple sugar is caramelized and comes with a sweet taste and a little darker color than palm sugar.
When using maple sugar as a replacement for palm sugar in recipes, use it in the same way and at the same amount. You can make adjustments, depending on the other ingredients you’re using. Make sure to taste after each adjustment to make sure that it doesn’t overpower the dish.
Another palm sugar alternative that easily comes to mind is honey. Like palm sugar, honey has glucose and fructose, and you can include the ingredient in practically any recipe – from baking to cooking.
Honey is a natural sweetener that will work in practically any recipe that calls for palm sugar. However, bear in mind that since honey is liquid, it can affect the quality of your finished baked product.
When using honey to replace palm sugar, use an equal amount. You can adjust, depending on your preferred sweetness.
Derived from the coconut palm’s sap, coconut sugar is a decent palm sugar replacement. It contains a lot of healthy nutrients.
Its color is lighter than palm sugar, but it also comes with a subtle sweet flavor with hints of caramel. You can use it for baking, as pancake or waffle topping, and anything else that needs palm sugar.
Maple syrup is perhaps the best natural substitute for palm sugar. It has the same butterscotch flavor – only in liquid form. It is perfect for diabetics, people suffering from IBS, and those who observe FODMAP.[Source]
To produce maple syrup, the sap from the maple tree is boiled until it achieves a syrup consistency. The syrup is then bottled and sold. Similar to honey, it is easy to use maple syrup.
If you want to replace palm sugar with maple syrup in your recipes, use 5 tablespoons of maple syrup for every 100 grams of palm sugar. You can adjust the amount of other ingredients to achieve the desired taste.
Dark Brown Sugar
Another good replacement for palm sugar in practically any recipe, dark brown sugar comes with a strong caramel flavor.
This is because it still has more molasses compared to types of sugar that have undergone a longer refining process.
When using dark brown sugar as a palm sugar substitute, make sure that you use only use one of high quality. This will help you achieve the best results.
Muscovado sugar can easily sub for palm sugar in recipes not only because the two ingredients have the same dark brown color and appearance. They also taste almost the same, and this makes muscovado sugar the perfect substitute for palm sugar.
The big difference between the two types of sugar is that the muscovado sugar is refined using white sugar and additional molasses. It comes with quite a rich taste, as well as a smoky aftertaste.
Because muscovado sugar is stronger, you need to add less of it than the amount of palm sugar required. Start with a small amount of muscovado sugar first (about ½ the amount of the required palm sugar), and just add more if necessary.
White sugar is a common fixture in most households and is frequently used to sweeten drinks and desserts. However, consuming the ingredient in excessive amounts is unhealthy; that is why many people refrain from using it.
However, if you run out of palm sugar, you can use white sugar in its stead. While you can always use the 1:1 substitution ratio, it is best to use less white sugar and just make adjustments on the other ingredients.
Also called maguey syrup or agave nectar, agave syrup is derived from the agave plant’s sap. After harvesting, the sap is processed using heat and enzymes.
The syrup is almost twice as sweet as sugar. To substitute for palm sugar, use ¼ cup of agave syrup for every cup of palm sugar required in the recipe. Similar to other liquid alternatives, adjusting the amount of other liquid ingredients may be necessary.
Made of dehydrated dates, date sugar is another decent substitute for palm sugar in various recipes. Its sweet caramelized taste will remind you of palm sugar.
Date sugar works well in baking, making desserts, and many other recipes that require some sweetening. However, bear in mind that when using date sugar, it will not immediately dissolve after adding.
When you use date sugar to substitute for palm sugar, you may need to adjust the quantity to achieve your desired taste.
Molasses is a popular sweetener made from sugarcane. It can replace palm sugar in most recipes. The ingredient provides your dishes with an enhanced taste, rich flavor, and improved texture.
To substitute for palm sugar, use the 1:2 substitution ratio. This means for each tablespoon of palm sugar, you need to use 2 tablespoons of molasses.
To produce sucanat, raw cane sugar undergoes just a few processing steps. This results in larger crystals with a light golden color.
Sucanat naturally contains molasses, which means the flavor has hints of caramel. It has a texture that won’t as easily dissolve as fine sugar varieties. The coarse granules are ideal for use as baked goodie toppings.
To achieve the same consistency of table or caster sugar, run sucanat through a food processor. Use the 1:1 replacement ratio when substituting for palm sugar.
In many recipes, you can replace palm sugar with jiggery, a sweetener made from sugar cane using palm sap, and separating the molasses. It is commonly found in Southeast Asia and India.
Jaggery’s color may vary from golden to dark brown. It is perfect for desserts or for adding to drinks as sweetener.
While similar in color and taste, jaggery is a bit sweeter than palm sugar. Thus, when substituting one for the other, it is best to use a smaller amount of jaggery than the amount of palm sugar required in the recipe.
Demerara and Turbinado Sugar
Also referred to as “raw sugar,” the terms demerara and turbinado are often used interchangeably, but there are slight differences between the two. You can find demerara in the US, while in the UK, you will most likely find turbinado.
If by chance, you find the two in the same store, you will notice that demerara sugar has a lighter color that looks golden blonde. Demerara also has a little milder taste compared to turbinado sugar.
You can use either of the two as a substitute for palm sugar. Use the 1:1 substitution ratio for best results.
Next on our list of palm sugar substitutes is rock sugar. The sweetener comes in an irregular size, is hard and angular, and can be made from cane sugar, beet, or palm. It has a taste reminiscent of palm sugar, albeit without the hints of caramel.
Rock sugar is a common ingredient in Asian cooking, and is used as sweetener in various desserts. It is also used to balance the taste in some savory dishes.
Because it is not very sweet, rock sugar will not alter the taste of most other ingredients in your recipe. Thus, you may adjust the amount to add, but make sure you adjust depending on the recipe.
A popular plant-based sweetener, stevia is made from the stevia plant’s leaves. Stevia is an herb belonging to the Asteraceae family. The sugar-free sweetening agent comes in either liquid or powdered form, and can usually be bought in individual packets for convenience.
In most places where stevia is used, the 1:1 substitution ratio is followed when using stevia to substitute for all types of sugars. However, because stevia is known to be twice as sweet as table sugar, it is not recommended to replace palm sugar on a 1:1 ratio.
If you have used stevia before and are familiar with the sweetness level it provides, you may already have a good idea of the right ratio to use. If you’re a new stevia user, however, it is best to use a small amount at first, then taste and adjust until you achieve the sweetness level you prefer.