Coconut sugar is a granulated sugar sourced from the sap of coconut palm flowers. By slicing the flowers, the sap can be collected. The sap is dehydrated, and what remains is granulated brown sugar. Coconut sugar is a popular alternative to regular table sugar, and many dessert recipes call for the use of this exotic sugar as opposed to regular table sugar or white sugar.
If you don’t have any coconut sugar at hand, you can easily substitute it for any sugar substitute such as raw honey, maple or agave syrup, date sugar, or Stevia (to name but a few). Some of these coconut sugar substitutes are better suited to replace the texture, while others hit the same flavor notes better and give that tropical island flavor often associated with coconut flower sugar.
Best Substitute for Coconut Sugar: Brown Sugar
The best substitute for coconut sugar is brown sugar because the flavor and texture most closely resemble that of coconut sugar. Brown sugar is made from regular white sugar with the addition of molasses. By adding the unrefined sugar syrup to regular granulated sugar, the raw flavor is preserved while still maintaining the crystalline structure of the white sugar.
Brown sugar is a popular sugar choice to use in dessert recipes. Even sprinkling it over frothy coffees can produce a great sugar fix while adding a crunchy element.
Take care when substituting brown sugar for coconut sugar as brown sugar is sweeter. Opt for a replacement ratio of 1:⅔. For example, for every tablespoon of coconut sugar, substitute with ⅔ tablespoon of brown sugar.
If a sprinkle of coconut sugar is required, opt for a coarser grade brown sugar and sprinkle less to achieve the same sweetness.
Other Coconut Sugar Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
There are a number of other coconut sugar replacements or alternatives you most likely have in your kitchen already. If your recipes call for coconut sugar and you’ve run out, there is likely a substitute in the pantry you can rely on. Consider this list of coconut sugar alternatives:
Best Natural Syrup Substitutes for Coconut Sugar
Various natural sweet syrups make for great coconut flower sugar substitutes.
Natural Raw Honey
Raw honey is a great sugar substitute and it’s an even better coconut sugar substitute. The sweetness is similar to coconut sugar and the rich texture of raw honey will granulate, providing the same sensation when consumed.
When substituting with honey, be sure to get the raw and unirradiated kind to make the most of honey’s health benefits. Also, keep in mind that honey is sweeter than coconut sugar, so reduce the amount of honey as opposed to the granulated coconut flower sugar. Substitute ¼ cup of raw honey for every cup of coconut sugar.
It is best to keep the substitution of honey to dishes that don’t require cooking or baking as high heat can burn the honey.
Next on the list of syrup substitutes is maple syrup. This Canadian staple is rich in nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Like most syrups, maple syrup is sweeter than coconut sugar, so substitute ¼ cup maple syrup for 1 cup coconut sugar.
Make appropriate recipe adjustments to cater to the liquid state of maple syrup. Blend it with butter or mix it with some white sugar to glaze treats instead of dusting with coconut sugar.
Maple syrup is also a healthier alternative than white sugar in confectionery because maple syrup contains 52 calories per tablespoon, which is less than white sugar.
Made from the agave plant family, this syrup is a diabetic-friendly alternative to coconut sugar. Agave syrup is a low GI option with a rating of 30, which is lower than white sugar and coconut sugar.
The higher fructose content may present issues if consumed in large quantities, so practice moderation. As an alternative to coconut sugar in desserts, the occasional spoil should not be detrimental to your health.
With little nutritional value, this is a last-minute option. There are better alternatives to use.
Granulated Substitutes for Coconut Sugar
When a recipe calls for a sprinkling of coconut sugar on top of a dessert or sweet treat, it is best to substitute with a granulated alternative that will present the same course texture. Here are some great granulated substitutes for coconut sugar:
Date sugar is perhaps one of the closest alternatives to coconut sugar because it has the same grainy texture as coconut sugar. Date sugar is made from the date palm, so it is close in taste to coconut sugar, which is made from the coconut palm’s flowers. Best of all, it’s easy to make date sugar at home.
Recipe for Making Date Sugar
- One pack of medjool dates (24-36 dates)
- 4 teaspoons of cornstarch
- Place the dates on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes at 425ºF. Dates should be extremely firm when squeezed (if not, bake longer)
- Once cooled, add a few dates at a time to the food processor. Beat thoroughly. After each pound of dates (about 23 dates), add one teaspoon of cornstarch to the processor, whisking well
- Store the date sugar in a sealed container
Date sugar makes a great alternative to coconut sugar, but keep in mind that it won’t dissolve like other sugars will.
Substitute coconut sugar with this natural sugar, sucanat. Considered a raw sugar because it is less processed than white sugar, sucanat is made from sugar cane. Sucanat has a coarser texture than regular white sugar. It’s also more grainy and rough-textured than coconut sugar. More brown in color, sucanat contains natural molasses, making it a sweet but natural alternative.
Sucanat has the same flavor profile as coconut sugar, and you can substitute it using a ratio of 1:1. For example, for every spoon of coconut sugar, substitute 1 spoon of sucanat.
Sugar Replacement Substitutes for Coconut Sugar
Stevia and xylitol are considered sugar replacements, and they can also be used to substitute coconut sugar. Here’s how:
Stevia is a sweetener derived from the Stevia plant. It’s easy to use the store-bought sugar replacement, but you can also make your own if you have the plant thriving in your garden.
Considered all-natural, Stevia hits the same flavor profile as coconut sugar. Raw Stevia is also similar in sweetness to coconut sugar, so it can be substituted spoon for spoon (ratio of 1:1).
If you have the commercial variety, take care as this might be Stevia combined with other sugars. It is advised to then substitute with 1/2 spoon for every 1 spoon of coconut sugar and taste before adding more Stevia.
Recipe for Making Stevia Extract
- Handful of fresh or dried Stevia leaves
- 1 cup of vodka (and extra as needed)
- Mason jar
- Wash and chop the Stevia leaves
- Fill mason jar to the top with chopped leaves
- Add vodka, making sure the top leaves are covered
- Allow to sit for 48 hours
- Strain leaves from vodka using a kitchen towel and a colander
- Place the vodka extract in a large pan and heat for 20 minutes, ensuring it doesn’t boil
- Place the thickened extract in a jar in the fridge and use as needed
Commonly known as a sugar replacement, xylitol is a good substitute for coconut sugar too. Also considered a natural sweetener, xylitol is derived from fruits like strawberries and other berries. It is low in calories, and it has a similar flavor profile to coconut sugar.
Xylitol can be sweeter than coconut sugar, so substitute it on a 1:⅔ basis, meaning that each cup of coconut sugar is substituted with ⅔ cup of xylitol.
Other Fruit Sugars
You may have never heard of monk fruit sugar, but there are a host of other strange fruit sugars also available on the market. Since these have a definite fruity flavor, they are great substitutes for coconut sugar. Fruity sugars can be sweeter, so it is advised to use a 1:½ ratio and add more to taste until you reach the level of sweetness you desire in your recipes.