Sugar has a bit of a complicated socio-political history, and its reputation has only gotten more complicated in recent years with studies linking sugar consumption to heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
So, it should come as no surprise that lots of us are looking for other alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup to flavor our cookies, cakes, tea, and coffee.
Honey is an excellent and much healthier substitute for sugar in baked goods and cooking, but swapping honey for sugar is not without its challenges. Read on for our recommendations on how to make your favorite recipes with honey instead of sugar!
How to Substitute Honey for Sugar in Baking or Cooking
There is no magic ratio for substituting honey for sugar because they are not equivalent ingredients (honey is a liquid while sugar is dry; honey is sweeter than sugar, etc.), but as a general rule use 1/2-2/3 cup of honey for every 1 cup of sugar... then follow the guidelines below to make sure your recipe still rises and doesn't burn!
Rules for Swapping Honey for Sugar in Baking and Cooking
1. Choose your honey wisely.
Anyone who's spent time doing the rounds in our honey room knows that honey comes in all sorts of colors and flavors. From our light and delicate Acacia honeys to the rich and dark Black Forest, each honey has its own character and flavor profile.
When baking or cooking with honey, it's important to take things like color and flavor into account. Just like you probably wouldn't sub brown sugar for granulated sugar, you might not want to sub a dark honey like Buckwheat in a recipe where the honey's robust and molasses-like flavor will overpower the other ingredients or make your batter oddly dark.
For everyday substitutions, we love the sweet and buttery flavor of our Alfalfa honey. Some quick breads like banana or zucchini bread might benefit from using Black Forest or Buckwheat honeys, but we recommend starting lighter and working your way around the color spectrum until you find your perfect fit!
2. Honey is much sweeter than sugar, so use 1/2 - 2/3 cup honey for every cup of sugar in your recipe.
Because honey is sweeter than sugar, you might not want to substitute at a 1-1 ratio (even though you can up to one cup). We recommend experimenting with a ratio of 1/2 - 2/3 cups honey to 1 cup sugar.
It's also worth noting here that a lot of American recipes tend to call for more sugar than they actually need, so don't be afraid to err on the low side with the sweetener!
3. Honey is a liquid ingredient, so you will need to adjust other liquid measurements.
Generally, you should subtract 1/4 total from your liquid ingredients for every cup of honey. Make sure you do this evenly, as baking is quite a bit like chemistry and things like fat content really matter!
4. Honey burns at a lower temperature than sugar, so don't forget to adjust your oven temp!
We recommend lowering your oven temp by about 25 degrees F when baking with honey. This will keep your baked good from getting too dark before it's finished baking through.
5. Add extra baking soda, even if it's already in the recipe. Trust us.
Adding 1/4 tsp of baking soda for every cup of honey will help balance the flavor, and because honey is acidic the baking soda-acid reaction will add a nice rise to your baked good!
6. Make your measuring cups and spoons non-stick.
Honey is very sticky, so using some crisco or oil to make your measuring tools non-stick is very helpful in the baking process!