You’ll most commonly find date syrup as an alternative to artificial sugar. Date syrup, made from boiling chopped dates and blending them into a smooth puree, can be an ideal sweetener in your recipe. Many people will use date syrup in their breakfast meals like cereal, toast, and oatmeal or stirred into their coffee. Date syrup itself is excellent as a low-calorie and sugar snack as well.
Some good substitutes include honey powder, monk fruit, or brown rice syrup among others.
What is Date Syrup?
Date syrup, common in North African and Middle Eastern cuisines, is a rich, sticky, dark, honey-like sweetener syrup. Date syrup is dates that have been ground, boiled, and pureed into a smooth paste. With its resonant, intricate flavor profile, like molasses or caramel, date syrup is ideal for baking, cooking, or as a beverage sweetener for your coffee and tea.
The most common use for date syrup is for sweetening Baklava, fish recipes, or rice pudding. Since date syrup is produced from dates, it is a natural source of sugar. Therefore, date syrup is less processed than regular sugar and has a lower glycemic index. Its natural sugars and low glycemic index make it a great alternative to sugar, especially for people with diabetes. It’s great because it will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
One Tablespoon of date syrup contains:
- 60 calories.
- 16 grams of carbohydrates.
- 0.5 grams of protein.
- 2.1 mg of iron.
- 10 mg of calcium.
- 0 fat and sodium.
However, date syrup can be challenging to find in your local grocery store. That said, you could make your own or use a substitute! Either option is viable.
You can create date syrup from scratch by simply simmering chopped dates in water until they soften enough to puree. Once your dates have softened, you can puree them into a smooth paste, and boom, you have date syrup.
You can store your date syrup in your fridge for a month or freeze it for up to 6 months! Now, what if you cannot find dates? No worries; there are several qualified replacements for date syrup.
Date syrup is a very versatile ingredient in many dishes, such as Baklava or energy and granola bars. You will commonly see date syrup as a component of many bread and cake recipes. The subsequent most common use would be diabetics alternating date syrup as a sugar substitute.
Date syrup is said to have many health benefits, like improving digestion or lowering blood pressure. Whether these claims are valid, it is a perfect alternative to sugar or other sweeteners because of its rich caramel flavor, natural sugars, and low glycemic index.
You may also see date syrup as a glaze for meats or drizzled on waffles, pancakes, or desserts.
Can You Replace Date Syrup with Maple Syrup?
You certainly can substitute date syrup with maple syrup. However, the two ingredients have slightly different flavor profiles, which could complicate things. Date syrup is powerfully sweet with caramel hints to it. In contrast, maple syrup has subtly sweet tones with notes of vanilla.
Depending on your recipe and what the intended flavor of your final product is, you can swap date syrup out for maple syrup. Just keep in mind maple syrup may affect the final taste.
What Can I Use Instead of Date Syrup?
You would not believe how many substitutes you can use in place of date syrup. Many plants or objects are just as natural and sweet; some have an even lower glycemic index. That’s great if you have diabetes and want to take extra precautions.
1. Date Sugar
Date sugar is almost identical to syrup, but instead of syrup, it’s crystalized into sugar, hence the name date sugar. Date sugar resembles white sugar once the dates are dehydrated and ground. Ground dry dates compare to white or brown sugar in appearance, taste, and texture.
Two teaspoons or one serving of date sugar contains:
- 20 calories.
- 5 grams of carbohydrates.
- 6 grams of sugar.
- 1 gram of fiber.
- 2 mg of calcium.
- 37 mg of potassium.
Date sugar would be an ideal replacement in baked goods, giving a depth of sweetness to your final product. However, date sugar does not dissolve as regular white sugar would. You must ensure you mix it well with water or another liquid in your recipe before adding it.
Not only does it add some depth and sweetness to your baked goods, but date sugar is also good in dressings or sauces, giving them sweetness and thickness. Yet, date sugar is sweeter than date syrup, so you should start with 2/3 of the date sugar portion that you’d use of date syrup amount.
2. Maple Syrup
Although maple syrup and date syrup have different flavor profiles, maple syrup can be an ideal alternative to date syrup in almost any recipe. Maple syrup is more mildly sweet with notes of butter and vanilla.
Date syrup is an intense sweet with caramel notes. For this reason, you should use 1/3 cup of maple syrup instead of each cup of date syrup. An added benefit of maple syrup! Since maple syrup is relatively low in calories and rich in antioxidants like manganese or zinc, it will fight off illness and inflammation in your body.
One serving, two tablespoons, of pure maple syrup contains:
- 110 calories.
- 27 grams of carbohydrates.
- 26 grams of total sugar.
- 100 mg of potassium.
- 30 mg of calcium.
- 10 mg of magnesium.
- 0.2 mg of zinc.
- 0.18 mg of riboflavin.
- 0.2 mg of iron.
- 0.08 mg of copper.
- 0.3 mg of thiamin.
- 0.82 mg of manganese.
You could use maple syrup to replace date syrup for drizzling over desserts or in oatmeal and baking recipes. You could also use it in smoothies and yogurt or glaze your grilled fruit or roasted vegetables. However, it would be beneficial to remember that maple syrup has a few more calories than date syrup.
3. Raw Honey
The best substitute for date syrup is raw honey if you’re not allergic to bees anyway! With its floral-like flavor and thick and sticky consistency that compares to date syrup, you could use raw honey as an alternative in practically everything! You can use raw honey just as you would use date syrup.
Honey is also great for substituting date syrup to sweeten baked goods, desserts, and additional recipes. However, raw honey has a lower boiling point than date syrup, so you may need to bake your baked goods or other recipes for a couple of extra minutes. The best use of raw honey would be to coat cakes or bread and drizzle it on toast, cereal, or fruit salads.
One serving, one Tablespoon of honey contains:
- 64 calories.
- 17 grams of carbohydrates.
- 0.1 gram of protein.
- 17 grams of sugar.
- 10.9 mg of potassium.
- 1.3 mg of calcium.
You can use a 1:1 ratio of raw honey to date syrup, making it extremely easy to alternate! High in potassium, vitamin b6, phosphorus, and antioxidants, raw honey can be a great substitute. Though these health benefits will diminish with pasteurization, it is crucial that you buy raw honey rather than processed.
Another suitable replacement for date syrup would be molasses. Derived from the sugar-making process, this thick, sticky, and dark-colored syrup known as molasses comes in three different types.
The three different types of molasses include:
- Light molasses.
- This type of molasses is made from the first boiling of the sugar syrup, giving a mild, delicate flavor.
- Dark molasses.
- This type of molasses is made from the second round of boiling the sugar syrup and gives a very robust, extreme flavor.
- Blackstrap molasses.
- This type of molasses, made from the sugar syrup’s third boiling, gives a very dark, intense, potent flavor.
- This type is the most powerful of the three and contains minerals like iron, copper, calcium, manganese, and potassium. These facts make it a healthy variety.
Molasses could be a perfect alternative to date syrup, giving a similar taste profile. Since processing removes most of the sugar, it can decrease the glycemic index. Which type of molasses you should use as a replacement for date syrup is up to you, and what your final intended flavor is.
5. Agave Syrup
Agave syrup, also known as agave nectar or maguey syrup, is a natural sweetener derived from the thorny plant agave. You may know of agave from tequila, another product derived from agave. The agave plant grows in Mexico, and you can harvest to obtain agave nectar or syrup.
This agave syrup can be an ideal replacement for date syrup. With a flavor similar to caramel or honey, you could try it in your tea or coffee, maybe as a topping for your waffles or pancakes. Agave syrup is known for being used in smoothies and yogurt to give a bit of a sweeter kick.
One teaspoon of agave syrup consists of the following:
- 21 calories.
- 5.3 grams of carbohydrates.
- 0.3 grams of sodium.
- 4.7 grams of sugar.
You can use agave syrup as a 1:1 ratio in alternating date syrup. Like date syrup, agave syrup is suitable for people with diabetes as it will not spike blood sugar levels. However, agave syrup is scarcely sweeter than date syrup, so start with a smaller amount than the recipe calls for date syrup. You can always add more; you cannot take out.
6. Brown Sugar
One more alternative to date syrup would be brown sugar. You can use brown sugar in a 1:1 ratio to date syrup. Like date sugar in texture, you can smoothly stir it into tea or coffee as it will dissolve.
Reducing your liquids will prevent your recipe from becoming too sweet. As it is a bit sweeter than date syrup, you should reduce the other liquid ingredients by 1/4 cup per each cup of brown sugar used. You could commonly use brown sugar in marinades, sauces, or dressings.
One teaspoon of brown sugar holds:
- 17 calories.
- 5 grams of carbohydrates.
- 1 milligram of sodium.
Using brown sugar will cause your final product to thicken slightly. Another everyday use for brown sugar as a replacement for date syrup is baking or topping for pancakes, waffles, cereal, or oatmeal.
7. Corn Syrup
With a little less thick consistency and milder flavor, corn syrup can be an additional substitute for date syrup. Corn syrup can be an ideal replacement for date syrup in many dishes, such as candies, pies, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.
One Tablespoon of corn syrup’s nutritional facts are as follows:
- 57 calories.
- 15 grams of carbohydrates.
- 12 mg of sodium.
- 15 grams of sugar.
- 2.6 mg of calcium.
- 0.2 mg of potassium.
Corn syrup is best for recipes where you don’t want a syrupy flavor to overpower the other components. Since it is easily accessible at most of your local grocery stores in the baking aisle, corn syrup can be an easier-to-find substitute for date syrup.
You can use corn syrup in a 1:1 ratio to date syrup, making it one of the most accessible alternatives.
8. Brown Rice Syrup
If you’re looking for a more affordable choice for an alternative to date syrup, brown rice syrup is your best option. Brown rice syrup has a similar consistency and a mild flavor, sort of like molasses. You can use brown rice syrup in baked goods, like pies, cakes, and cookies; it is perfect in baked goods recipes.
One serving, two tablespoons of brown rice syrup contains:
- 110 calories.
- 31 grams of carbohydrates.
- 30 mg of sodium.
- 25 grams of sugar.
- 1 gram of protein.
Unlike most of the other substitutes listed, brown rice syrup can give an umami flavor to more savory dishes like marinades or stir fry. Brown rice syrup is able to be used as a 1-to-1 ratio to date syrup, making it an effortless replacement.
However, brown sugar syrup is not as nutritious as date syrup, so it’d be best to enjoy it in moderation.
9. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar, derived from the coconut palm tree sap, has a similar taste to date syrup, making it an outstanding alternative. Although it resembles brown sugar in appearance and flavor, you must dissolve the coconut sugar in water at a 1-to-1 ratio of date syrup to use it as a substitute.
One teaspoon of coconut sugar consists of the following:
- 18 calories.
- 5 grams of carbohydrates.
- 5 grams of sugar.
Not only is it very close in flavor, but it is also moderately easy to find in your grocery store in the baking aisle. This healthy and natural replacement has a low glycemic index and fructose level, making it ideal for people with diabetes.
Though coconut sugar is 80% water, you need to boil it to evaporate the liquid. You can also use coconut sugar as a replacement for molasses and honey.
Suppose you want to add sweetness with a bit of texture. In that case, Sucanat, otherwise known as minimally processed sugar, is an ideal substitute. With its deep molasses-like flavor and relative nutritional levels to date syrup, you can use Sucanat in almost any recipe.
One teaspoon of Sucanat contains around:
- 16 calories.
- 4 grams of carbohydrates.
- 4 grams of sugar.
Sucanat has not been stripped of its naturally occurring nutrients so that it can provide a spurt of minerals and vitamins. As a bonus, Sucanat is cheaper than date syrup! Sucanat pairs well with nearly any dish that date syrup would, like breakfast oats or pancakes.
11. Honey Powder
Yet another substitute for date syrup honey powder, made of dehydrated honey. Honey powder is very concentrated and can be a lot sweeter than date syrup. You can use honey powder as a 0.5 to 1 ratio to date syrup. As always, you can add more honey powder to taste.
Honey powder is an ideal substitute for date syrup in breakfast foods like oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, or yogurt, adding sweetness and texture. You could also use honey powder as a sweetener for beverages like coffee or tea, as it will dissolve easily in liquids.
One dry teaspoon of honey powder contains:
- 15 calories.
- 4 grams of carbohydrates.
- 4 grams of sugar.
With the same health benefits as raw honey, the honey powder can be perfect for use in baked bread, cake or meat glazes, or toppings for waffles and pancakes.
Stevia, a leafy plant of South America that the natives have consumed for centuries, is an incredible alternative to date syrup. You can use stevia, either cooked or baked. However, it would be best to remember that stevia can be 100 to 300 times sweeter than date syrup, so only one to four drops will do you good.
One teaspoon of stevia contains nothing more than one gram of carbohydrates.
Stevia, commonly used as a sweetener for beverages like tea or coffee, is sweet but can leave a bitter aftertaste. To resolve the bitter taste, you could use brown sugar to help alleviate the bitterness. Stevia comes in a liquid or powder form.
As with most other substitutes, this option also has a lower glycemic index and doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike, making it ideal for people with diabetes.
13. Monk Fruit
Last but not least, monk fruit. Monk fruit is a healthier choice to date syrup in a few ways, such as a lower glycemic index and fewer calories, with monk fruit having zero calories. You’ll commonly see monk fruit used in Southwestern China as a sweetener for several recipes and dishes.
Monk fruit also has therapeutic qualities that balance your blood sugar and weight. One more bonus, it prevents tooth decay. Since it comes in a liquid or powder form, you can easily use it as a 1-to-1 ratio to date syrup.
Is date syrup better for people with diabetes?
In short, yes, date syrup can be better for people with diabetes.
Date syrup can be a better alternative to many processed sugars with a high glycemic index that can spike blood sugar. Date syrup has a low glycemic index, making it perfect for people with diabetes to use in almost anything. Several people with diabetes already use this as an alternative, as some doctors will recommend date syrup over processed sugars.
The natural sugars of date syrup are way more beneficial to people with diabetes than processed sugars. However, as with anything else, people with diabetes should enjoy date syrup in moderation. Overdoing it could cause your sugar levels to spike, which could end badly for you.
Does date syrup raise blood sugar?
Since date syrup has a low glycemic index, it will not spike nor raise your blood sugar in moderation. However, if you overeat date syrup, you could ultimately raise your blood sugar. Nevertheless, it is still an excellent alternative for people with diabetes as long as you consume date syrup in moderation and don’t overdo it.
Is date syrup healthier than honey?
Date syrup is the most nutritionally dense sweetener there is; you can’t beat it with anything else. A tablespoon of date syrup consists of more than twice the amount of minerals and ten times the amount of antioxidants such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, or potassium.
Packed with nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants, using date syrup can be relatively healthier than honey. Date syrup has been used not only as a sweetener in food but also to treat diseases because of its anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic effects.
Summing It Up
In short, the several substitutes for date syrup are all relatively ideal as most sweeteners are easily interchangeable in recipes as it is. Whether you choose to use coconut sugar, raw honey, or brown rice syrup, any one of these substitutes can work perfectly in almost any recipe. Date syrup is most well known for its healthier properties as opposed to artificial sweeteners, so using a natural sweetener would keep those health benefits. Lucky for you, there are several natural sweeteners on the market.