Best substitute for coconut sugar | Top 16 sweet replacements

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  June 4, 2022

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Coconut sugar is a popular sweetening ingredient in many dessert recipes. It’s generally considered to be a healthier natural sugar than cane sugar and other refined sugars.

If you love baking, chances are you’ve come across plenty of recipes that call for coconut sugar.

Coconut sugar tastes good but it can be expensive and hard to find sometimes.

Best substitute for coconut sugar | Top 16 sweet replacements

Brown sugar is the best substitute for coconut sugar because it has a similar taste and texture. You can use it in any recipe that calls for coconut sugar, cup for cup.

Other substitutes for coconut sugar include honey, maple syrup, and date sugar.

Each of these sweeteners will add its own unique flavor to your baked goods so keep that in mind when making substitutions.

Here are some of the best substitutes you can use to get the same sweet and flavorful results.

Take a peek at this table of the 16 best substitutes then read full descriptions and ratio suggestions below:

Best substitute for coconut sugar Images
Brown sugar Best substitute for coconut sugar light brown sugar

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Maple sugar Substitute for coconut sugar maple sugar

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Sucanat Best substitute for coconut sugar sucanat organic sugar

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Raw honey Best substitute for coconut sugar raw natural honey

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Maple syrup Substitute for coconut sugar maple syrup

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Agave syrup Substitute for coconut sugar agave syrup

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Date sugar Substitute for coconut sugar date sugar

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Stevia Substitute for coconut sugar stevia

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Turbinado sugar Substitute for coconut sugar turbinado sugar

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Demerara sugar Substitute for coconut sugar Demerara Sugar

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Swerve sweetener Substitute for coconut sugar Swerve sweeteren

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Monkfruit sweetener Substitute for coconut sugar monkfruit sweetener

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Piloncillo (panela) Substitute for coconut sugar piloncillo panela

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Palm sugar Substitute for coconut sugar palm sugar

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Birch xylitol Substitute for coconut sugar birch xylitol

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Raw cane sugar Substitute for coconut sugar raw cane sugar

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What is coconut sugar & what to look for in substitutes?

What is coconut sugar & what to look for in substitutes?

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Coconut sugar also called coconut palm sugar is a natural sweetener that is made from coconut tree sap, not the actual coconuts.

This sugar has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike. It’s also high in minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

So, if you use coconut sugar because of its low glycemic index, make sure to choose a substitute with the same quality.

The other thing to consider is the flavor. Coconut sugar has a unique flavor that can be hard to replicate.

It has a similar taste and texture to brown sugar but it’s not as sweet as cane sugar or other refined sugars.

To make coconut sugar, they have to boil the sap with water until it forms a thick syrup. Then, they let it cool and crystallize into granules.

The coconut sugar grain is also larger than regular sugar grains. It has the same brown color as brown sugar.

Best coconut sugar substitutes

Replacing coconut sugar isn’t as hard as it seems and there are plenty of alternatives:

Brown sugar

Best substitute for coconut sugar light brown sugar

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If you want to replace coconut sugar but are looking for a similar texture, flavor, and color, brown sugar is the number one substitute.

The likelihood is that you already have some on hand because it’s so common and easy to obtain.

Brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses. Dark brown sugar has a higher molasses content which makes the taste different from coconut sugar.

For that reason, light brown sugar is the ultimate best substitute for coconut sugar. It doesn’t have that typical molasses flavor, so it tastes very similar to coconut sugar.

Brown sugar also has a hint of caramel and coffee taste but it’s so subtle, it won’t make a difference in your food.

Light brown sugar will give you a slightly sweeter flavor while dark brown sugar will give your baked goods a richer molasses flavor.

When substituting for coconut sugar, you should use less brown sugar because it’s sweeter. Use about 2/3 of a cup of brown sugar for every 1 cup of coconut sugar.

Maple sugar

Substitute for coconut sugar maple sugar

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Maple sugar is made from concentrated maple syrup. It has a similar flavor to brown sugar with a classic maple taste.

The texture is a bit different since it’s more like flour.

Maple sugar is a great substitute for coconut sugar in baking recipes. It has a more subtle maple flavor than maple syrup so it won’t affect the taste of your baked goods too much.

To substitute, use 1 cup of maple sugar for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio).

Sucanat

Best substitute for coconut sugar sucanat organic sugar

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Sucanat is cane sugar that’s been minimally processed. It still has molasses, which gives it a light brown color and unique flavor.

The flavor is best described as sweet with a mild caramel taste.

Sucanat has a coarse texture so it doesn’t dissolve quite as fast as some finer sugar.

But you can substitute sucanat in a 1:1 ratio in your recipes.

You can also use sucanat to make tasty baked goods. If you want to make the coarse granules finer, you can process it with your food processor or coffee grinder to make it like caster sugar.

Raw honey

Best substitute for coconut sugar raw natural honey

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Natural substitutes are always healthier than processed and refined sugar and raw honey is one of the best alternatives to coconut sugar.

Honey is a natural sweetener with many health benefits. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, can help with allergies, and is a natural cough suppressor.

The flavor of honey will depend on the type of flower the bees collected the nectar from.

Always choose raw honey if possible since processed honey may contain additives such as corn syrup.

Honey is a very sweet viscous syrup so when substituting it for coconut sugar, use 1:4 ratio. So, for 1 cup of coconut sugar, use a substitute of 1/4 cup of honey.

Maple syrup

Substitute for coconut sugar maple syrup

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Maple syrup is a sweetener that’s made from the sap of maple trees.

It’s not quite like coconut sugar because it’s in a thick syrup form, not granules. Maple syrup’s texture is like honey but a bit runnier.

Also, it’s a very sweet liquid, so if you’re looking for a direct 1:1 substitution, this isn’t it.

To replace 1 cup of coconut sugar with maple syrup, you’ll need only 1/4 of a cup since it’s so sweet.

Agave syrup

Substitute for coconut sugar agave syrup

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Agave syrup is made from the same plant as tequila, the agave plant. It’s a very sweet liquid that has a consistency similar to honey.

It’s not as nutritious as raw honey though since it’s usually overprocessed.

The taste is also similar to honey with a hint of caramel.

Agave syrup is one of the best substitutes for coconut sugar because it doesn’t have that strong molasses flavor that brown sugar has.

However, agave syrup is extremely sweet, even sweeter than white sugar!

When substituting agave syrup for coconut sugar, use less.

It’s best to use 1/4 cup of agave syrup instead of 1 cup of coconut sugar but even then it might be too sweet. This is a good ratio to go by when baking though.

You can use agave nectar too, it’s the same thing just labeled differently.

Date sugar

Substitute for coconut sugar date sugar

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Date sugar is made from dried and ground dates. It’s not as sweet as coconut sugar, so you’ll need to use more of it.

If you like using Medjool dates for baking, you’ll enjoy the flavors of the date sugar.

The texture is similar to brown sugar or sucanat.

Date sugar has a unique flavor that’s not too overwhelming. It’s good for baking recipes where you want a subtle sweetness.

Use about 1 1/4 cups of date sugar for every 1 cup of coconut sugar since date sugar is less sweet.

Stevia

Substitute for coconut sugar stevia

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Stevia is a natural sweetener that’s derived from the stevia plant. It’s much sweeter than sugar, so you’ll only need a small amount.

The taste of stevia is very sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

You can use stevia in powder form or liquid form. The leaves can be used as well but they’re very bitter.

To substitute stevia for coconut sugar, use 1/4 teaspoon of stevia powder or 1/2 teaspoon of liquid stevia for every 1 cup of coconut sugar.

Stevia isn’t as good for baking as granulated sugar because its texture is too different.

Raw sugar (Demarara and Turbinado)

Raw sugar is less processed than white sugar and has a higher molasses content. The two most common types of raw sugar are turbinado and demerara.

Substitute for coconut sugar Demerara Sugar

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Substitute for coconut sugar turbinado sugar

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Demarara sugar is light brown in color with a mild molasses flavor. Turbinado sugar is dark brown with a stronger molasses flavor.

Both types of sugar are good substitutes for coconut sugar. The molasses flavor is similar and the texture is the same as well.

To substitute, use 1 cup of raw sugar for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio). You’ll get similar results when baking and cooking with this type of sugar instead of coconut sugar.

Swerve sweetener

Substitute for coconut sugar Swerve sweeteren

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If you haven’t heard of Swerve sweetener, you might be missing out on a low carb and non-glycemic sweetener. The brown sugar version is the best substitute for coconut sugar.

It’s made from erythritol and oligosaccharides, which are both found in fruits and vegetables.

The taste is very similar to sugar with no bitter aftertaste.

It’s a good choice for baking because it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels as other sweeteners do.

To substitute Swerve for coconut sugar, use 1 cup of Swerve for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio). You can use it cup for cup in any recipe that calls for coconut sugar.

Rather skip the sugar altogether? Try this delicious & healthy vegan Stir fry sauce with zero sugar

Monk fruit sweetener

Substitute for coconut sugar monkfruit sweetener

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Monk fruit sweetener is another low-carb and non-glycemic sweetener. It’s made from the extract of the monk fruit.

The taste is similar to sugar with no bitter aftertaste.

To substitute monk fruit sweetener for coconut sugar, use 1 cup of monk fruit sweetener for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio).

You can use it cup for cup in any recipe that calls for coconut sugar.

Mexican brown sugar (Piloncillo or Panela)

Substitute for coconut sugar piloncillo panela

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Piloncillo or Panela is a type of Mexican brown sugar. It’s made from raw sugar cane and has a strong molasses flavor.

This sugar has light or dark varieties. Raw sugar is reduced through boiling into a dark brown liquid which is often placed into molds. Once it cools, the sugar solidifies into cone shapes.

Piloncillo is a great substitute for coconut sugar because of its molasses flavor and brown color.

To substitute, use 1 cup of piloncillo for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1).

Palm sugar

Substitute for coconut sugar palm sugar

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Palm sugar is made from the sap of certain palm trees. It has a lower glycemic index than white sugar and a deep caramel and butter flavor.

People often think that palm sugar is coconut sugar but it’s not because it comes from a different palm tree in many cases. There is coconut palm sugar too but it’s not the same as coconut sugar.

The color of palm sugar can range from light brown to dark brown. The flavor is similar to caramel or molasses.

It’s actually a good coconut sugar substitute because of its flavor and texture and that’s why people keep mistaking one for the other.

To substitute palm sugar for coconut sugar, use 1 cup of palm sugar for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio).

Xylitol

Substitute for coconut sugar birch xylitol

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Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that’s found in fruits, vegetables, and even birch trees. It has a very similar taste to sugar with no aftertaste.

Xylitol is a good substitute for coconut sugar because it’s lower on the glycemic index and doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.

To substitute xylitol for coconut sugar, use 1 cup of xylitol for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio). You can use it cup for cup in any recipe that calls for coconut sugar although the flavor won’t be quite the same.

Raw cane sugar

Substitute for coconut sugar raw cane sugar

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Raw cane sugar is made from the juice of sugar cane. It’s then filtered and crystallized to make the sugar.

The color can range from light brown to dark brown. The flavor is slightly different than white sugar but it’s not as intense as molasses.

To substitute raw cane sugar for coconut sugar, use 1 cup of raw cane sugar for every 1 cup of coconut sugar (1:1 ratio). You can use it cup for cup in any recipe that calls for coconut sugar.

FAQs

Which is better honey or coconut sugar?

There is no definitive answer because it depends on your preferences. Honey has a slightly lower glycemic index than coconut sugar so it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels as much.

Honey also has a different flavor than coconut sugar. Some people prefer the taste of honey while others prefer the taste of coconut sugar.

It really comes down to a matter of preference. Try both and see which you like better.

When baking, coconut sugar is easier to work with because it has a similar texture to regular sugar.

Which is healthier coconut sugar or maple syrup?

Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than coconut sugar so it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels as much.

Maple syrup also has more nutrients than coconut sugar. It’s a good source of manganese, zinc, and potassium.

But here’s the catch: you need to get real, unprocessed maple syrup that is free from additives. The fake stuff is just as bad as regular sugar.

So, if you can get your hands on the real stuff, organic maple syrup is healthier than coconut sugar.

Which is healthier coconut sugar or brown sugar?

Brown sugar is a refined sugar so it’s not as healthy as coconut sugar.

Generally, coconut sugar is healthier than brown sugar because it has a lower glycemic index and more nutrients.

But brown sugar contains nutrients too, such as iron, calcium, and potassium.

Which is better agave or coconut sugar?

Agave and coconut sugar are almost the same when it comes to their effect on blood sugar levels.

The main difference is in the taste. Agave is sweeter than coconut sugar so you need to use less of it.

But when baking, you might find coconut sugar easier to measure and adapt to your recipes.

Takeaway

There are several substitutes for coconut sugar that will work in baking recipes. Brown sugar is the top alternative to coconut sugar because of its similar texture, color, and flavor.

Keep in mind that some of these substitutes, like stevia and monk fruit, are much sweeter than sugar. It’s always best to check the recommended substitution ratio before using them as a replacement.

Now that you know the best replacement for coconut sugar, you can continue baking your favorite recipes without having to worry about getting your hands on this type of sugar!

Use any of the sugars above to sweeten your teriyaki sauce for even better flavor

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.