5 Molasses Substitutes

Pomegranate molasses
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Turned off by the price of molasses or simply out of it? Whip up a quick substitute based on the ingredients you have in your pantry.

Replace one cup of molasses with one of the following:

  • 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey or maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup water

These substitutions may alter the taste of your recipe a bit. If the molasses flavor is vital to the success of your recipe, try the brown sugar substitute. Since brown sugar is made from granulated sugar and molasses, it'll be the closest flavor match. The maple syrup or dark corn syrup would be the next best choice.

If you have to use granulated sugar or honey as the substitute, consider increasing the spices in the recipe a bit to make up for the flavors that the molasses would have contributed.

Illustration of molasses substitutions.
The Spruce / Theresa Chiechi

Do not use blackstrap molasses as a substitute for light or dark molasses. It has a strong, bitter taste, and isn't very sweet. It's more likely to wreck your recipe than help it.

Substitute for Crystallized Molasses

This is easy to fix. Just pour the molasses into a pan, and heat it slowly until the sugar crystals dissolve back into the molasses, or heat it in the microwave at 30-second intervals until the same happens. Measure out what you need for your recipe. Then, transfer the rest to an air-tight container, and place it back in your pantry. Molasses will keep for several years; so as long as it still looks and tastes good, it's still okay to use.

Note: If your molasses is in a glass container, you can heat it in its container, instead of pouring it into a pan. Just fill a pan halfway with water, remove the lid from your jar of molasses and place it in the pan to create a double boiler. That'll leave you with one less pan to scrub at the end of the day.

Molasses Measuring Tip

Before you measure molasses or other sticky syrups, like corn syrup, take a minute to spray the measuring cup with cooking spray. This will keep the syrup from sticking to the cup, so it pours out easily and minimizes waste. Running your measuring cup under hot water will have a similar effect.