The use of sugar as a sweetener, texture modifier, and flavoring agent has made it a common pantry staple in the kitchen.
However, the harmful effects of it in our meals are becoming increasingly more evident. And so, people are veering towards natural alternatives because they are healthier.
A good example is palm sugar!
Due to its unique flavor (the strong notes of caramel and butterscotch), it has become indispensable in dishes like Pad Thai noodles, South Asian and Thai curries, and Indo-Malaysian cuisine.
But since they are difficult to track down in even supermarkets and are pretty pricey, you might want to consider good palm sugar substitutes.
Well, the good news is there are lots of substitutes for palm sugar out there; talk about maple sugar, coconut sugar, honey, dark brown sugar, etc., and you’ll find many of them in this post.
What Is Palm Sugar?
Palm sugar is a sweetener gotten from the sap in palm trees.
It has a mild is caramel-like with a distinct palm flavor and is quite the artist who screams yummy in every Indian, Thai and African dish.
Furthermore, its gentle sugary flavor doesn’t overpower the recipe too much, especially when used with other intense flavors like fresh lime juice or fish sauce.
It is available in both crystallized as well as syrup forms and is jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than most sugars.
More importantly, it’s regarded as natural sugar; as such, it does not contain nasty chemicals or so.
Best Palm Sugar Substitutes
Some of which we’ll be discussing below are coconut sugar, maple sugar, honey, dark brown sugar, molasses, muscovado sugar, date sugar, white sugar, jaggery, and rock sugar.
And these replacements are not just readily available in local groceries but are also suitable for your palm sugar cookings — be they used to flavor beverages, curries, rice dishes, desserts, or candies.
Read Also: Best Substitutes For Quinoa Flour
1. Coconut sugar
The first on our list is coconut sugar — a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap.
Coconut sugar sometimes called coconut palm sugar, is often confused with palm sugar due to their resemblance, but are harvested from different types of plants —but taste quite friendly.
I think the leading cause of this confusion between these two types of sugar is that coconut sugar is sometimes called coconut palm sugar, and it has turned into a rhinovirus in the food world.
So let’s defuse the situation first:
Palm sugar comes from the trunks of palm trees.
Meanwhile, coconut sugar is harvested by tapping the flower sap of coconut trees.
The most significant difference lies in their taste.
Coconut sugar is MORE nutritious (a healthier choice) and has this butterscotch caramel taste.
Whereas pure palm sugar’s flavor has many of the same notes but comes with a smokier taste. Thus, making coconut sugar a perfect replacement for palm.
Since it has an almost earthy flavor, it’s used to spruce up savory recipes like curries, chicken, or fish.
It is also excellent in a baking recipe where chocolate or warm spices is useful. Or sprinkled into coffee, as well as tea.
2. Maple sugar
Maple sugar is another common traditional sweetener quite popular in Canada and the northeastern United States and obtained from the sap of maple trees.
This natural sweetener comes in various forms: syrup, honey, cream (that is spread like butter), and commonly sticky sugar form.
They all produce a caramelized butterscotch flavor similar to that of palm sugar. So you can use them interchangeably.
But I’d instead choose the syrupy version — at least I don’t have to worry about the graininess in my meals.
You can whisk it into salad dressing to add a bit of nuance and balance, sweeten whipped cream, stir it into oatmeal or porridge, drizzle it on yogurt or roasted tomatoes.
In addition, the Maple syrup is thick and sugar-sweet. And comes in light to dark variations.
You can also use the maple syrup in your coffee, on pancakes, and in desserts the same way as you would use palm sugar.
Add the same amount, or you can adapt based on the other ingredients in your recipe.
CAUTION!!! Maple sugar may be a bit sweeter, so be mindful of the quantity you use.
Honey is a syrupy-like ingredient. And whenever I can’t get maple sugar, I can always reach out for honey.
Honey does contain higher fructose levels similar to palm sugar and is relatively low on the glycemic index —making it a healthier sugar substitute.
Studies have found that replacing sugar with honey lowers blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain or aid in weight loss.
As for the taste, most honey comes in a cascade of layered notes or flavors — both the raw honey and the plastic clover honey bear that you purchase at the supermarket.
And that’s the kind of honey worth relishing and slathering on toasted rye bread smeared with goat cheese —the kind with acidity and a touch of sweetness that adds depth to your hot toddy and other meals.
Although using liquid honey requires a slight adjustment to other liquids in your food.
And because they are sweeter than palm sugar, you’ll need to decrease the amount.
Read Also: Best Potato Flakes Substitutes
4. Dark brown sugar
Dark brown sugar is also an excellent substitute for palm sugar.
It is made and used precisely the same way as light brown sugar but contains a higher level of molasses.
Like palm sugar, it will make the final product dark brown and enhance its rich flavor in baked beans, spice cakes like Pecan Pie Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake, gingerbread, and other dishes where you crave a deep molasses flavor.
You can add it to virtually any recipe that calls for palm sugar. But you MUST keep an eye on the quality you use — as they have a more pungent caramel taste and a darker hue.
5. Muscovado sugar
Muscovado sugar is unrefined cane sugar that contains natural molasses.
It is one of my favorite sugar for use in Barbeque sauce to enhance the smoky flavor whenever am out of palm. And sometimes in brownies or Chocolate baked goods, coffee, gingerbread, glazes, ice cream, marinades, as well as Oatmeal.
Muscovado has a rich brown color that closely resembles palm sugar but has a moist texture and toffee-like taste.
Furthermore, it boasts a heavy, smoky, and slightly bitter taste, which is somewhat far from palm sugar. More so, it leaves a lingering aftertaste.
And since it has a stronger taste compared to palm sugar, you need to adjust the quantity that you add.
It is best if you use a small quantity (maybe half the amount that is required for palm sugar) and gradually increase if need be.
6. White sugar
Yes, white sugar — you guessed it right. It is easy to replace palm sugar with white sugar at any time using a ratio of 1:1 swap.
White sugar, also called table sugar, granulated sugar, or regular sugar, is a commonly used type of sugar made harvested from cane sugar or beet sugar and gone through a refining process.
Although palm sugar is healthier and more nutritional, still, white sugar is used in several baked goods that require adequate rising, such as mousses, soufflés, meringues, and fluffy baked goods.
And as for the taste, Both palm and white sugar have unique flavor profiles.
Palm sugar has deep, Caramel-like with a distinct palm flavor. For this reason, it works well in cookies, chocolate cakes, and rich fruit cakes.
White sugar, on the other hand, is sweeter, so you want to use less of it to attain your desired taste. They are also ideal in drinks, delicious desserts, and almost everything.
7. Date sugar
Date sugar is mostly found in natural food stores.
It is made from dried dates and adds a rich sweetness that is reminiscent of palm sugar in baking, cooking dessert, and another recipe.
Regardless it is packed with delightful caramel flavor and plenty of nutrients; they won’t dissolve when added to drinks.
No doubt, they are a better option to table sugar, honey, or agave since they are incredibly high in fiber content. But have it in mind that their uses are limited and are best eaten in moderation.
Read Also: Top 7 Tamarind Paste Substitutes
Molasses is extremely rich and sweet. I have a preference for molasses sugar over most of the other alternatives.
It looks dark brown (almost black) and has complex gourmand notes and a smoky flavor — pretty similar to palm sugar syrup, but you might find it distinctive due to its high content of molasses.
However, Molasses would be a fantastic replacement for recipes that calls for palm sugar syrup.
It will give your baked beans the thick texture they deserve, sweetens up barbecue sauces, and makes gingerbread cookies brown, soft, and chewy.
Nutritiously, molasses are relatively high in iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, as well as antioxidants content.
They all help promote healthy blood pressure and maintain heart health, bone health, manage diabetes, and countless more.
You can add 2 tablespoons of molasses for every tablespoon of palm sugar.
Aside from the list of palm sugar substitutes we’ve mentioned above, You can also count on Rock sugar And jaggery.
Although, Rock sugar has irregular lumps and is less sweet.
Whereas, jaggery is believed to be one of the healthy sugar substitutes that is available in the market today, though sweeter than palm sugar so people should consume it in moderation.
As you can see there are numerous options within your grasp, most of which are readily available in local supermarkets.
Some taste very similar to palm sugar, while few may taste distinct but can serve the same purpose in Asian cuisines, teas, desserts, and even savory dishes like palm sugar.
Read Also: Best Brandy Substitutes