Best Substitute for Coconut Sugar
Read on to know which is the best substitute for coconut sugar.
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Coconut sugar – also known as coconut palm sugar – is a natural, unrefined sugar that’s made from the sap of coconut palm tree. It has a very subtle sweet taste, almost like brown sugar but with a hint of caramel.
So what to do when your favorite recipes call for it but you don’t have it in your pantry? Read on to find the best substitute for coconut sugar that could work for you.
Coconut sugar shouldn’t be confused with palm sugar – it is similar but from a different type of palm tree. In recent years, it has risen in popularity in vegan baking. It is also popular among people with diabetes as it has a lower glycemic index (GI) as compared to table sugar – this helps maintain blood glucose levels.
It can be used to bake cake, cookies or quick breads. You can also use it in your coffee or tea, sprinkle over pancakes and waffles.
How is coconut sugar made?
Coconut sugar is made by heating the coconut palm sap until most of the water evaporates and a brown granulated product is left behind. Its color is very similar to raw sugar, but the particle size is smaller.
Coconut sugar can be made at home but it would be a tedious process. I would recommend buying it from Amazon or your local grocery stores or any health food stores.
Now, if you are unable to find it anywhere, you can replace it using any of these coconut sugar substitutes mentioned in this article!
Best Substitute for Coconut Sugar
1. Date Sugar
Date sugar*, is not exactly sugar but finely ground and dehydrated dates which can be used to sweeten your dish. It has a mild, sweet flavor. You can use it in baking or sprinkle it on top of oatmeal, and even as a dry rub for meats.
As a thumb rule for baking, use half cup of date sugar as a replacement for every cup of coconut sugar. It is best not to use date sugar to replace coconut sugar in drinks as it doesn’t dissolve easily.
2. Maple Sugar
Maple sugar* is exactly what it sounds like it is. Dehydrated maple sap is reduced to granule form to achieve maple sugar. The coarse granules look quite similar to coconut sugar.
This sugar has butter and caramel flavor with scent of vanilla. You can use replace coconut sugar with an equal amount of maple sugar.
3. Light Brown Sugar
Ever wondered how do you get that smooth light brown colored sugar*? Well, regular white sugar is mixed with a little amount of molasses. And it is through this molasses that the light brown sugar gets its caramel flavor, and brown color.
Brown sugar is easily available and being similar to coconut sugar in texture, flavor profile as well as color, this is one of the best coconut sugar alternative. It is sweeter than coconut sugar, so make sure to use 2/3rd cup of it for every one cup of coconut sugar.
Most of you might already know that stevia* is a sugar-free sweetener that is available in both powdered or liquid forms. It is a plant-based substitute that is obtained from the leaves of the stevia plant.
This is one of the healthiest substitute as it has zero calories and it will not affect your blood sugar levels. but like all things, it is best if used in moderation.Use 1:1 ratio when using in place of coconut sugar.
5. Raw Honey
Raw Honey* is a natural sugar which is extracted from the honeycombs of the bee hives . The impurities are separated by pouring it over a mesh or nylon cloth and then the raw honey is bottled and ready to be used. Quite interesting right?
When you use raw honey in your baked goods, their crust develops a beautiful golden color and gives them a distinctive flavor. Use this to replace coconut sugar only if it doesn’t need to be heated at a high temperature.
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. As honey rates 30 on the glycemic index, it’s honestly a healthier option than coconut sugar.
6. Monk Fruit
Another great coconut sugar alternative is – monk fruit* , which is a small round fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. It is also known as lo han guo or swingle fruit.
The fruit extract is heat stable, so it is completely suitable for cooking and baking. Make sure you start with 1/4th cup of monk fruit to replace a cup of coconut sugar. If you need, you can later adjust it according to your taste.
Monk fruit extract is also rated a zero on the glycemic index, just like stevia.
Sucanat* is nothing but a type of raw sugar that undergoes fewer processing steps.
The light golden color and large sugar crystals resemble coconut sugar quite a lot. The natural molasses present in it also gives it a hint of caramel taste that is associated with coconut sugar.
The only difference is that the sucanat sugar crystals have a coarser texture and may not completely dissolve. This issue can be solved by using a food processor to break down the big crystals.
It has the same sweeting power as coconut sugar – you can use one tablespoon of sucanant in place of a tablespoon of coconut sugar.
8. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar*, also known as agave syrup or maguey syrup is made from the blue agave plant where the sap is harvested from the plant, filtered and then heated to get agave nectar.
It is a good vegan option to use in place of coconut sugar. This is sweeter than regular sugar and is similar to honey. Use 1/4 cup of it for every cup of coconut palm sugar needed.
Xylitol* is naturally found in some fruits and vegetables. It looks and tastes like regular sugar but it has fewer calories and it barely raises blood sugar level.
If your recipe doesn’t require the sugar to break down into liquid form, this coconut sugar substitute can be very useful.
But remember, xylitol can’t caramelize even at extremely high temperatures, so it’s better to only use this substitute for cakes and bakes. You can even use it to sprinkle on top of cereals or stir it in tea or coffee. You’ll need just 2/3rd cup of xylitol for every cup of coconut sugar.
Similar to Xylitol, it is also naturally occurring and are made from corn using fermentation and enzymes.
If you wish for your cakes to achieve a great texture and far superior taste, this one makes for a great substitute for coconut sugar in baking. 1/3rd cup of erythritol is enough for every one cup of coconut sugar.
Just like stevia and monk fruit, erythritol is also rated as zero on the glycemic index. Are you noting down the best of all coconut sugar substitutes or not!?
11. Pure Maple Syrup
This one makes for an absolutely easy and quick coconut sugar substitute. Maple syrup* is the sap that’s harvested from maple trees. The sap is then boiled till it reaches the syrup consistency.
It has the smoked caramel taste similar to coconut sugar and it is cheaper and easier to find, making it a good substitute.
You can use pure maple syrup in a 1:4 ratio,ie, replace once cup coconut sugar with 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup.
When using maple syrup in a recipe as a coconut sugar substitute, you may need to reduce the measurements of other liquids you add to the recipe since maple syrup is a liquid.
This also applies to other liquid sweeteners mentioned in this list.
12. Piloncillo or panela (Mexican brown sugar)
Did you know that piloncillo* is a type of sugar that is considered one of the main ingredients in Mexican cuisine? It makes for a good replacement for coconut sugar. It is made from unrefined whole cane sugar.
This sugar type has a caramel taste with earthy traces, so if you’re into that kind of taste, surely go for it! Mexican brown sugar has a close resemblance to brown sugar.
Also, you can easily break it into smaller chunks if you need to add it to your recipes or drinks. Since it rates a 65 on the glycemic index, make sure you go easy on its use.
13. Demerara sugar and turbinado sugar
Being raw sugars, they undergo minimal processing but they differ in appearances. Demerara is light brown and has a coarser grain whereas turbinado sugar has finer sugar crystals. Demerara also has a stronger molassess flavor than turbinado.
Both of them are good substitutes for coconut sugar. 2/3rd of cup of either of these can replace a cup of coconut sugar. They both are rated pretty high on the glycemic index so make sure to use these coconut sugar substitutes sparingly.
14. Palm Sugar
Palm sugar* is derived from the sap of palm trees. It can be used a coconut sugar substitute but it does have subtle differences in taste and smell.
Palm sugar is more fragrant than coconut sugar. It does have the similar caramel taste of coconut sugar but with smokier undertones.
It can be used in place of coconut sugar in both cooking as well as baking recipes. Make sure to use palm sugar in a 1:1 ratio while replacing it with coconut sugar.
15. Cane Sugar
If you have no other alternatives available, even cane sugar* can work as a replacement for coconut sugar.
They are identical when it comes to nutrients and calories but cane sugar uses animal bone char to refine it. So this may not be the best option for vegans.
Normal sugar is considerably more sweeter than coconut sugar. Use only 2/3rd cup of white sugar for every cup of coconut sugar that the recipe calls for. Also its glycemic index is quite high, so this is not the healthiest option on the list.
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Commonly asked Questions
Is Coconut Sugar Okay for Diabetics?
Coconut sugar contains a fiber called inulin – it slows down glucose absorption. So coconut sugar has a low glycemic index. But since it contains between 80-90% sucrose in addition to 1-2% glucose and 2-4% free fructose, it will affect blood glucose. Maybe not as high as regular sugar but it can cause a significant elevation.
American Diabetes Association urges people to use it in small amounts and treat it the same way as regular sugar as it has the same amount of calories and carbs.
How healthy is coconut sugar?
Coconut sugar contains small amount of nutrients but it is quite high in calories and you’ll have to consume a large amount of it to satisfy the sweetness quotient. Its high sugar content outweighs any potential health benefits. So, it doesn’t fall quite under the healthy sugar types.
Is honey healthier than coconut sugar?
Honey has a relatively lower GI, which makes it one of the best sugar substitutes of the bunch. If you replace coconut sugar with honey, it will help you in lowering blood sugar levels and also prevent weight gain.
Is coconut sugar bad for your gut?
Coconut sugar is very high in calories, almost the same number of calories per serving as regular sugar. So yes, it does make a difference to your gut health as it is slow to digest and increases fullness.
What are the healthiest alternatives to sugar?
Healthiest alternatives would be sugars that do not raise blood sugar levels such as stevia or sugar alcohols such as xylitol and erythritol . Natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup are also less harmful than regular sugar and coconut sugar.
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About the Author
Hi! Akshita & Midhun here! Welcome to our blog where we show simple yet awesome recipes for your cravings.
Akshita being allergic to egg, we are committed to providing egg-free recipes along with some vegan friendly options. Read more about us here!
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