Do you like baking with coconut sugar, sometimes referred to as coconut palm sugar, coconut crystals, or coco sap sugar? Have you found a perfect recipe that has this ingredient in it?
You then head to your pantry or the store but can’t find your delicious sugar option. Don’t stress! You can find a coconut sugar substitute that will make your recipe just as tasty, and we are going to list them below.
What Is Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of the coconut palm tree flowers. Unlike granulated white or table) sugar, this natural sweetener is relatively unprocessed (2).
Because of its origin, coconut sugar is also commonly known as coconut palm sugar but shouldn’t be confused with palm sugar. Coconut sugar and palm sugar are two distinct types of sugar, obtained from different plants in different ways.
Harvesters tap the sap from the coconut palm by cutting the flower-bud stem of the tree to access its nectar. The sap is mixed with water, boiled into a syrup, and then allowed to dry and crystalize. The producers break the dried sap into sugar granules, which resemble cane or regular table sugar (2).
Is coconut sugar more nutritious than regular table sugar? White sugar hasn’t any essential nutrients or vitamins, and is considered a supply of empty calories.
In contrast, coconut sugar does retain some nutrients usually found in coconut palm. It contains minerals and vitamins like calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium (2).
It also contains a type of fiber called inulin that may cause a slow down in glucose absorption. And this explains why coconut sugar has a lower GI (glycemic index) than regular sugar.
But even though coconut sugar is considered a healthy option to regular table sugar, it is still high in calories (2). That said, use it in moderation.
What Can I Substitute For Coconut Sugar?
All you have to do is go down below, find out which product makes for a proper swap and fits best.
Best Overall Substitute For Coconut Sugar
There’s one standout coconut sugar substitute that will best match its flavor, consistency, and color.
Light Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is simply sugar that contains molasses. The molasses gives it that distinctive flavor and brown color (1). Brown sugar has a deep, almost coffee-like or caramel flavor.
Can coconut sugar be substituted by brown sugar? It is a good option since both of them have the same texture, flavor, and color. They also dissolve completely in drinks and recipes.
Brown sugar is affordable, an easy-to-find solution and should be an ideal substitute for coconut sugar.
“Can I substitute coconut sugar for white sugar?” Yes, you can.
Both brown sugar and white sugar are similar, calorie-wise and nutritionally. The only differences lie in color, the process both go through and flavor. Brown sugar is considered raw sugar mainly because it goes through less chemical processing than regular table sugar (1).
Be very careful with proportions! Both brown sugar and white sugar are a bit sweeter than coconut sugar. Use 2/3 cup of sugar (brown sugar or white sugar) for each 1 cup of coconut sugar.
Best Natural Coconut Sugar Substitutes
Raw honey contains pollen, beeswax, and parts of dead bees. It also contains bee glue, also called propolis, and the bees use it to seal honeycombs and fill crevices. Propolis is well-known to have infection-fighting, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties (6).
Enzymes and amino acids are also found in honey. Other things to know about honey that is in its raw form:
- Purchase raw honey, not filtered or pasteurized, to get the benefits.
- Use raw honey to replace coconut sugar if you have a recipe that calls for a liquid sugar or sweetener that doesn’t require being heated too high.
Since raw honey is liquid and coconut sugar is granulated, make sure to use 1/4 cup of honey for each 1 cup of coconut sugar.
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In terms of flavor, maple syrup is a clever alternative to coconut palm sugar.
Maple syrup is made from the sap, or circulating fluid, of sugar maple trees. It contains potassium, zinc, magnesium, and calcium and is sweeter, too (5). And so, use ¼ cup of maple syrup for every cup of coconut sugar.
Additionally, the smoked caramel taste on this sweetener will suit well in recipes. Maple syrup is also easy to find and can sometimes be an affordable solution if you don’t want to spend much. Canadians just love it!
Remember, this sweetener is liquid, and so depending on what you’re preparing, the other ingredients should also be adjusted. That way, you will keep your recipe as it is supposed to be without any visible differences.
Short for “sucre de canne naturel,” sucanat is an unrefined, whole sugar cane made by obtaining the juice from sugar cane, heating it, and then dehydrating it to form granules.
It is considered a type of raw sugar because it is more natural and less processed than white sugar (9).
Sucanat has the same larger crystals and brown color as the coconut sugar. The natural molasses content of it means that the flavor has slight hints of caramel, too.
Be careful with the texture. The sweetener is a bit tougher and more solid, meaning that it won’t dissolve as quickly as regular sugars. If you need this raw sugar to dissolve completely in a recipe, you can use a food processor to reach caster sugar or table sugar consistency.
Both coconut sugar and sucanat have the same sweetening power – they can be used in a 1:1 ratio. Simply put, 1 tablespoon of sucanat for every tablespoon of coconut sugar.
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Date sugar is also a product that can be used as an alternative to coconut sugar in your recipes. It is made from finely chopped dry dates.
Date sugar packs lots of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants for some impressive nutritional benefits (3).
And even though it isn’t like the other types of sugar, it can be used as a substitute for coconut sugar in baking goods. Be careful when adding it to beverages and drinks because date sugar won’t dissolve in drinks or is not easy to dissolve.
The date sugar has a sweet, mild flavor that can be used in a 1:1 proportion when replacing coconut palm sugar. It can easily be found in supermarkets; however, date sugar is more commonly found in natural food stores.
Also known as maguey syrup or agave nectar, agave syrup is a syrup made from the blue agave plant. The circulating fluid (sap) is harvested from the organic plant, filtered, and heated until the maguey syrup is produced.
The commercial process – which is very similar to how most unhealthy sweeteners are made – destroys most if not all agave plant’s health-promoting properties (4). But the glycemic index (GI) of this sweetener is lower because of the fructan content of the sap being converted to fructose in the enzyme process.
Maguey syrup is sweeter than regular sugar and is more similar to honey. Like other liquid alternatives, use 1/4 cup of it for every cup of coconut palm sugar needed.
Maple sugar is made from maple tree sap. The only difference between the syrup and the sugar is that the syrup is usually reduced into granules (8).
Maple sugar has some similarities with coconut palm sugar, so they can be used as a replacement for each other. The sweetener has traces of caramel and butter with a scent of vanilla. It works perfectly in a 1:1 proportion as a coconut palm sugar substitution.
Best Low-Carb Substitute For Coconut Palm Sugar
What is a good substitute for coconut sugar low in carbs and has little impact on insulin and blood sugar levels? Read on!
Stevia has no calories, which makes it a healthy substitute for coconut palm sugar and refined sugar. It won’t also affect your blood sugar levels but should still be used in moderation.
When replacing coconut sugar in your recipes, consider using a 1:1 proportion for stevia because the sweetening power is similar.
Xylitol has a sweet taste that is very similar to sugar and is considered natural. That’s because this sweetener is found in small amounts in some vegetables and fruits (mushrooms and strawberries being good examples).
It has fewer calories than table sugar, but it does have a small effect on blood sugar when consumed in high doses (10). And unlike sugar, researchers claim that it may offer some health benefits, including increased calcium absorption and improved dental health (10).
Xylitol can be used in a 1:1 ratio of sugar. So use 2/3 cup of xylitol for every cup of coconut sugar.
The Bottom Line
Coconut palm sugar is considered a healthier option than table sugar. And even though there are little to no studies that can prove the theory, this natural sweetener is already part of several recipes in the world.
If you don’t have or don’t want to use coconut sugar, we have listed above the best coconut sugar substitutes. While all the above options are far much better than the regular white sugar, use them in moderation.
Lastly, we hope that our piece on what are the coconut sugar substitutes was helpful. And if you know any other clever substitution, you can always suggest it!
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Brown Sugar and Health (1983, sciencedirect)
- Coconut (Cocos Nucifera L.) Sap as a Potential Source of Sugar: Antioxidant and Nutritional Properties (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dates as a Substitute For Added Sugar in Traditional Foods – a Case Study With Idli (2013, researchgate.net)
- Effects of Agave Nectar Versus Sucrose on Weight Gain, Adiposity, Blood Glucose, Insulin, and Lipid Responses in Mice (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effect of Dark-Colored Maple Syrup on Cell Proliferation of Human Gastrointestinal Cancer Cell (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Stevia, Nature’s Zero-Calorie Sustainable Sweetener (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sucrose in Maple Sap and Syrup (2003, sciencedirect)
- Sugarcane Molasses – a Potential Dietary Supplement in the Management of Iron Deficiency Anemia (2017, researchgate.net)
- Xylitol in Preventing Dental Caries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)