5 Molasses Substitutes

Molasses Substitutes illustration

 The Spruce Eats / Theresa Chiechi

Molasses is the dark syrup that is a byproduct of making sugar. It's often used in older, traditional recipes like gingerbread, baked beans, and barbecue sauce. If you're working on a recipe that calls for molasses, but you don't have any in your pantry, not to worry—you can whip up several quick substitutes.

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.

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

Crystallized molasses occurs when it's been stored on the shelf for a long time. This could be an indication that the molasses is getting rancid but not necessarily. Do a little taste test—it's very likely that it's fine. To remove the crystals from your molasses, 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 airtight 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 OK 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.


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.