Tips for Using Honey as a Sugar Substitute

Sugar vs Honey Benefits

Honey is, in fact, another form of sugar. Although honey has the same basic composition as other types of sugar, it is considered a “better” sugar for your diet because of its nutritional value and health benefits. For example, while honey has more calories, it contains trace amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and enzymes with nutritional value, while sugar contains “empty calories” with no additional value.

When using honey as a sugar substitute, be aware that honey is richer than white sugar in both flavor and texture. Also, honey has quite a strong flavor of its own – be careful substituting it in recipes where it might dominate the overall flavor. Fruit is susceptible to being overwhelmed by the flavor of honey.

Lastly, honey is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. This ability means that cakes should turn out to be more moist when using honey in place of sugar.

Here are four key steps in using honey as a sugar substitute:

  1. Use less honey than sugar.

“You definitely want to reduce the overall amount of sweetener when swapping white sugar for honey, as honey can be two or even three times as sweet, depending on the honey,” says Shauna Sever, author of Real Sweet: More Than 80 Crave-Worthy Treats Make with Natural Sugar. Use your best judgement, depending on the flavor of the honey. Some honey, like acacia, is extra sweet, while some, like chestnut, is much less so, but the general rule to adhere to is as follows:

The Rule: For every 1 cup of sugar, substitute 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey.

  1. Reduce the liquids.

Honey is made up of about 20 percent water, which means you’ll also want to reduce the total amount of liquids in the recipe to counter the extra liquid from the honey. “When I am first testing a revamp of a white sugar recipe by using honey instead, I start by reducing the liquid by about a quarter to a third,” says Sever.

The Rule: For every 1 cup of honey you’re using, subtract ¼ cup of other liquids from the recipe.

  1. Add baking soda.

If the recipe doesn’t already call for it, you’ll need to add a little baking soda. This is because honey is naturally acidic and baking soda helps balance that acidity to allow the baked good to rise properly.

The Rule: Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for every 1 cup honey used.

  1. Lower oven temperature

The higher sugar content in honey means it caramelizes and therefore burns faster than granulated sugar. To ensure that whatever you’re baking doesn’t brown too quickly, lower the heat and keep a watchful eye. “Check it early and often to avoid burning or overbaking,” recommends Sever.

The Rule: Reduce the temperature of the oven by 25°F.



Author: Michelle Hanson

Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: She will look forward to meeting you!