Sugar Substitute for Baking

If you’re going to bake something, whether it’s a cookie, cake, or sweet bread, one ingredient you’ll need is sugar. But what if you just ran out of sugar and can’t get to the store? Should you ditch your sugary desires? No way. Just use a substitute!

There are many great sugar substitutes for baking. My favorite swap is honey (or molasses). You can also use mashed bananas if you’re going the healthier route, Stevia if you want a no-cal and no-carb option, or coconut palm sugar and brown sugar for richer results.

Hey! I’m Michelle, and I’ve been a home baker for the past ten-plus years. During my journey, I experimented with a wide range of delicious substitutes for sugar. Today, I’m sharing my top five sugar swaps to use in your next recipe.

Let’s discover the best sugar substitutes for baking!

Top 5 Sugar Substitutes for Baking

While sugar is typically the ideal “sweet element” for baking, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful without it. You just have to be smart with your swap. And to help you make the best choice, I’ve listed the top five sugar substitutes for baking below!

1. Honey

If you like tea, you probably have honey on hand. (And even if you don’t like tea, you probably have this favorite ingredient in your pantry.)

Honey makes for an excellent swap for sugar. It won’t alter the flavor or the texture, so you don’t have to worry about your baked treat tasting a little off.

When using honey in place of sugar, you’ll need to reduce the amount by ¼. That said, if your recipe calls for one cup of sugar, you’ll need to use ¾ cup of honey. Since honey is a liquid, you’ll need to reduce the liquids in your recipe by about three tablespoons.

Tip: If you’re more of a molasses person (I love molasses), you can use it instead of honey. You’ll use the same ratios – reduce the amount by ¼ and shave off three tablespoons of liquid ingredients. Keep in mind that flavors may be altered with a richer flavor – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

2. Bananas

Plenty of people hopped on board the “baking with bananas” train. That’s because bananas produce a lovely baked good that’s perfectly moist, flavorful, and full of added nutrients that you simply won’t get from regular sugar.

The best part is that you can swap sugar for bananas in a 1:1 ratio. So, if your recipe calls for one cup of sugar, you can mash up a couple of bananas to fill up a cup. Make sure they’re adequately mushed so they can be incorporated into the remaining ingredients with ease.

Tip: If you don’t like bananas, you can also use applesauce in a 1:1 ratio. I’d reduce the liquid ingredients by a tablespoon or two, as applesauce is liquid, and you don’t want your batter or dough to be too wet.

You shouldn’t notice too big of a flavor change when using bananas or applesauce.

3. Stevia

If your goal for swapping sugar is to reduce carbs and calories, then I have the magic ingredient that’s right for you – Stevia. Stevia is an all-natural sweetener harvested from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana. It has zero calories and carbs yet has a very sweet flavor that’s said to be up to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar.

Pretty impressive, huh?

Swapping Stevia for sugar in your recipe is a cinch. All you need to do is use half the amount. (Always double-check the directions of your product, though, as not all Stevias are replaced in this ratio.)

4. Coconut Palm Sugar

In recent years, many consumers have replaced regular sugar with coconut palm sugar, thinking they’re buying a “healthier” ingredient. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate. But one thing that is true about coconut palm sugar is that it’s delicious and can be swapped for regular sugar.

When using coconut palm sugar in place or regular sugar, use a 1:1 ratio. Easy-peasy.

Keep in mind that coconut palm sugar has an almost caramel-like flavor, so the flavors of your treat might change a pinch. But if you’re someone who loves the taste of coconut palm sugar, this won’t be a negative outcome!

5. Brown Sugar

Did you know that you can use brown sugar in place of your regular sugar? This is excellent news, considering most people have a container of brown sugar in their arsenal.

Brown sugar can successfully be used to swap regular sugar and can be done in a 1:1 ratio. However, because brown sugar is moister than regular sugar, you’ll need to reduce the number of liquid ingredients by a tablespoon or two. It’s also recommended to bake your item for a few extra minutes.

Like coconut palm sugar, brown sugar has a deep molasses flavor that many find enjoyable. But using it as a replacement for regular sugar will alter the final result. Again, this isn’t a bad thing, but it might not work for all recipes. You be the judge!


Obviously, there are so many simple swaps for regular sugar! Before you whip up some goodies, I suggest peaking at these frequently asked questions. 

Can you omit sugar in baking?

You should never omit the sugar in baking. That’s because, aside from sweetening the goodie, sugar plays a role in the texture of your treats. Skipping it entirely can ruin your baked goods. If you want to reduce the sugar content, you can use ⅓ less sugar without noticing a big difference.

Is stevia or Splenda better for baking?

Stevia is recommended over Splenda for baking. Stevia can handle higher temperatures, which is critical for most baked treats. And, unlike Splenda, it does not have a sharp aftertaste that many find displeasing. Opt for Stevia!

Is it better to bake with honey or maple syrup?

If you have both options, I recommend using honey. Honey is lightweight with a more neutral flavor that won’t overwhelm your baked goods. Just make sure you use ¼ cup less honey in your baked goods and reduce the liquid ingredients by three tablespoons. 

Swapping Sugar Isn’t Complicated!

When it comes to substituting sugar in baking, you have plenty of options. My favorite alternative is honey, but you can also use mashed bananas, applesauce, Stevia, coconut palm sugar, or brown sugar. Ensure you use the correct amount of each ingredient.

What do you use instead of sugar when baking? Do you have any recommendations to share with us and other readers? Comment below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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