How -To Guide For Substituting Honey and Maple Syrup For Sugar In Baking – Juggling Real Food and Real Life

This week The Real Food Experience is cutting processed sugars out of our diets and making the change to natural sweeteners.  The sweeteners that I have chosen for my family are honey and maple syrup.  When I first set out to make this change for my family, I realized that I needed to figure out how to make my family’s favorite recipes without the usual sugar.   It really isn’t difficult at all, but since baking is very much like chemistry…… is important to know the correct equations to use.


Honey and Maple Syrup to Sugar Conversion

How to Substitute Honey for Sugar in Baking.

The standard recommendation is to substitute 3/4 honey for 1 cup of sugar.  I am working really hard to reduce my family’s overall sugar consumption so I have reduced most of my recipes to 1/2 cup or 1/4 of honey per 1 cup of sugar that the recipe calls for.  You may want to start with the standard conversion and then work your way down from there.

Mix in 1/4 tsp baking soda for every 1 cup of honey if baking soda is not already called for. There is no need to additional baking soda if the recipe already calls for it.  The baking soda is needed because it reduces the overall acidity of the recipe since honey is more acidic than sugar.

Since honey is moister than sugar, reduce the overall liquid by 3 tablespoons per every cup of honey used.  This can be milk, eggs, water, or oil……………..3 tablespoons of one or an overall combined reduction of liquid ingredients.

One more tip on baking with honey.  I’m kind of feeling like Alton Brown as I’m writing this. (He is so cool!)  Honey browns quicker than sugar so make sure you watch your recipe as it is baking.  I don’t want you burning your favorite muffins.  That would be truly tragic!


Maple Syrup

How to Substitute Maple Syrup for Sugar in Baking.

Maple syrup is even simpler to convert than honey.  The standard substitution calls for 1 cup of syrup in place of 1 cup sugar.  And again……since it is liquid reduce the overall liquid by 3 tablespoons.  There is no concern about balancing acidity so the baking soda add on is not required.

Make sure to refrigerate, freeze, or use up baked goods within a day.  Your baked goods will be nice and moist.  We don’t want to encourage mold to grow by leaving them at room temperature for too long.

In addition to honey being tasty……..there are some health benefits to it as well.  You can read up on some of them here.  If your honey hardens up, simply warm it up.  It will return to its liquid state.  Keep in mind for both honey and maple syrup that the flavors can vary greatly.  In general, the darker the honey or maple syrup the more flavor there will be.  If you are looking for a more subtle flavor for your dish, you will want to look for a lighter colored sweetener.

Have you made the change to natural sweeteners?  Why or why not?  What is your favorite dish to use natural sweeteners?  What is the one place that you just have to use white sugar?

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  1. says

    I've been curious to try this in a few recipes but never knew where to start. Thanks for the info! My only question is the flavor- honey and maple syrup are such distinct flavors. Do you just go with the lightest you can find to keep everything from tasting like pancakes?

  2. says

    Very cool! I will have to try this when I'm cooking with my daughter. Just got some organic maple syrup at the store but we only use it for pancakes. Nice to have other uses for it. : )

  3. says

    Have been using only natural sweeteners for some time –mostly hit or miss on the results tho cuz I've been subbing 1 for 1. Thanks for the great tip on reducing the liquid! The only thing I haven't wanted to risk to a substitution is the cream cheese frosting for my carrot cake. Still use confectioners sugar for that. If you know a guaranteed sub, I will try it. Haven't been bold enough to try on my own after all the work on the cake! Lol!

    • says

      I hope you find the substitution tips helpful. They have really worked for me. Carrot cake is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I don't eat it that often so when I do, I have eaten the sugar in the frosting too. I have made changes to the cake, but not to the frosting. Now you have set up a challenge though. I need to experiment on just the frosting when I'm not making the cake. Maple cream cheese sounds pretty good.

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