Humans always crave a taste of sweetness. Be it a drizzle or a sprinkle, it always finds its way to our plates and palates. Cane syrup is generally used as a sweetener for pastries, meats, and vegetables. It’s also a perfect drizzle on your pancakes, biscuits, and dishes.
And cane syrup must be one of the many sweet things hiding in your pantry. Over time, cane syrup became a widely-used condiment, flavoring, and sweetener in several cuisines and industries across the globe. But what if you’re allergic to cane syrup? What if you can’t find one? Or what if you suddenly run out of supply?
- Corn Syrup
- Maple Syrup
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Easy Sugar Syrup
- Agave Nectar
Read on if you are keen to find out what are the full list of substitutes that can satisfy your sweet tooth.
10 Best Cane Syrup Substitute
Cane, short for sugarcane syrup, is made by boiling and skimming the extracted sugarcane juices until it turns into a thick, brown, and aromatic syrup. Its sweetness is at par with caramel, butterscotch, and molasses.
On average, cane syrup lies within the 60-68 range on the glycemic index. This is considered quite high for diabetic patients. On a brighter note, cane syrup has easily digestible sugars that can help people maintain blood sugar levels more easily.
This article highlights some of the chef-recommended and well-received cane syrup alternatives that you can use in your recipes instead.
We compare their tastes, textures, and overall consistencies, including some major hacks on how you can use them as replacements. For the best substitutes, it really depends on your recipe. Some alternatives like honey work better in meat dishes while corn syrup perfect for baking.
Corn syrup tastes naturally sweet. There are two (2) types of corn syrup available commercially – light and dark-colored corn syrups.
The light-colored corn syrup is mildly sweet and vanilla-flavored while the dark-colored corn syrup is flavored with caramel, salt, and other stabilizers.
Both types are not as sweet as cane syrup, but they can work as alternatives. Its mildly sweet flavor and neutral smell are perfect for people who want just enough sweetness in their cooking.
In another note, dark corn syrup is more preferred than light corn syrup in pastries.
Other than the taste, corn syrup is a good substitute for cane syrup because of its very similar texture and consistency. You might not even notice the difference in the dish.
If you’re concerned with calories, rejoice because corn syrup, like cane syrup, has less calorie content than other common sweeteners.
One could say that cane syrup and molasses are like brothers. Similar to cane syrup, molasses is also made from sugarcane. It is actually the by-product of refining sugars extracted from sugarcane and sugar beets.
You can find three (3) types of molasses in the market – light, dark, and blackstrap molasses. Light molasses has the lightest color and the highest sugar content, while the dark molasses has a milder sweetness and darker color than light molasses. Lastly, blackstrap molasses has the least sweetness and the most viscous texture.
Among these 3, we recommend that you use light molasses as a substitute for cane syrup in your cooking. It imparts sweetness, robust, and mild earthy flavors to your dish, especially in pastries. You can also opt to combine it with corn syrup to make your recipe tastier.
The color of the molasses is also best used in pastries and jams where color change is not too obvious.
Most importantly, unlike cane syrup, molasses has nutrients and minerals such as vitamin B, magnesium, and calcium that are good for your body.
Honey is the most popular alternative for cane syrup primarily because it’s the easiest to get your hands on. But apart from accessibility, honey is a good can syrup substitute because of its sweetness, texture, and color.
Honey has a milder sweetness than cane syrup. It also makes a good cane syrup replacement because of its color and thick consistency. However, it’s recommended that you use the darker-colored honey over the light-colored one. This way, you wouldn’t be able to observe a significant color change in your dish.
But unlike cane syrup, honey is a very rich reservoir of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. According to Healthline, honey contains several antioxidants that help cleanse the body of toxins. In addition, honey helps maintain a very healthy blood sugar level, which is very good for people who want to cut down on sugars.
You can use honey in almost everything – beverages, pastries, salads, marinades, and meats. It brings out their flavors and improves the overall mouthfeel.
If there’s anything that has flavor and sweetness closest to cane syrup, that would be your favorite pancake drizzle – maple syrup. The uncanny similarities between maple and cane syrup in terms of sweetness and overall flavor profile make it a perfect substitute.
Aside from the sweetness, you would want to use maple syrup instead of cane syrup because of its astounding health benefits. It contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, calcium, and zinc. It also has antioxidants that protect your body from the damaging effects of toxins.
And even if it’s sweeter than its peers, it has far less calorie content that is perfect for people watching their weight.
The only concern for maple syrup is that it’s much thinner than cane syrup. As a result, you can expect some consistency and texture changes in your dish.
Brown Rice Syrup
Surprisingly, you can also derive a natural sweetener from the complex sugars in rice grains.
In terms of sweetness, brown rice syrup has far less sweetness than cane syrup. So, you must expect a milder flavor in your dish. Its sweetness is also less than that of honey.
On top of the mild sweetness it offers, brown rice syrup imparts a unique combination of flavors. You can taste a tinge of nuttiness as well as earthiness in its flavors, which you may find somehow close to the taste of butterscotch. Such flavors could add depth to the overall taste of your recipes.
Brown rice syrup is well recommended if you’re making candies, gummies, or nougats because it can help prevent the crystallization of sugars up to a certain point. However, be mindful in using syrup because it has a very high glycemic index.
Easy Sugar Syrup
If you’re really in a pinch, an easy sugar syrup is definitely your life savior. You can make this by simply adding sugar to water and then putting it over fire until it thickens. Remember to stir regularly to avoid burning the bottom.
You can use either white or brown sugar although brown sugar will look and taste closer to cane syrup than white sugar syrup. This simple sugar syrup is best recommended if your recipe does not require so much cane syrup.
Using sugar syrup as an alternative to cane syrup is easy but quite tricky. If you’re planning to use it as a regular sweetener, you need not worry about its thickness. But if you will use it as a drizzle or sauce, you must cook the syrup correctly. Some people even add thickeners to make sure that they achieve their desired consistency.
Agave nectar is a common sweetener among people with vegan lifestyles. It is produced by extracting the agave juice from the core the plant, commonly called “piña”. The extracted juice is heated until its sugars are broken down into fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
Agave nectar is generally a thick and brown-colored syrup. It is often used as substitute for honey, but it could work as an alternative to cane syrup too. In fact, its sweetness is closer to corn syrup than to honey. You can use the nectar in desserts, poultry, meat, and seafood dishes.
While cane syrup lacks vitamins, agave syrup has quite a lot. It contains moderate levels of vitamin C and B. It also has a significantly low glycemic index that makes it well recommended for diabetic patients.
If all else fails, then your last resort can be sucrose. You can usually find sucrose in its powder form. This type of sugar is extracted and processed from sugarcane and sugar beets.
And if you love baking, then sucrose must be a staple in your pantry. It is commonly used in pastries as it helps to keep the bread soft and moist.
Keep in mind that sucrose can only do so much for cane syrup in the sweetness department. It does not have any unique flavors to impart to your dish, so better set your expectations just right.
Applesauce is a chunky and thick sweetener produced by slow-cooking apples. Unlike the cane syrup, applesauce has a tarty, fruity, and sweet taste.
The notable difference between their tastes limits the recipes you can use applesauce as an alternative to cane syrup. You can use applesauce in desserts, pastries, and meat dishes. Just a pro tip: if buying from the market, make sure to buy the unflavored applesauce.
You can also notice some changes in the consistency and viscosity of your dish when you use applesauce since it’s thicker and chunkier than cane syrup.
Applesauce has a notably higher calorie content than cane syrup. It is also rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals.[Source]
Substitute For Cane Syrup Related FAQs
What is cane syrup made of?
Cane syrup is generally made from tall grass called sugarcane. The juice is extracted from the stalks of the sugarcane. The extracted juice will be boiled and skimmed until it thickens and darkens in color.
Sugarcane is the major source of the world’s table sugar.
Is cane syrup better than table sugar?
Table sugar is a few notches higher in terms of sweetness and glycemic load than cane syrup. They’re also neck to neck in calorie content. However, using cane syrup than table sugar more can help the environment as less production is needed for liquid sweeteners.
Is cane syrup the same as molasses?
Although both are made from boiling sugarcane juice, they are not entirely the same. Cane syrup is produced from the first boil while molasses is produced from the 2nd to the 4th boil of the same sugarcane flesh.