The Clever Ingredient Substitute For Honey

During a last-minute baking or cooking project, it's common for the home cook to take for granted a pantry staple. We tend to assume we always have plenty of flour, sugar, oil, vinegar, etc. already on hand. This, of course, can come back to haunt us. Honey can be one of those tricky ingredients we forget to restock, but the good news is it's incredibly easy to swap in a substitute for the ingredient.  

In fact, you have three solid options when it comes to honey substitution — sugar mixed with water, light corn syrup, and light treacle (also known as golden syrup). The sugar and water option is your easiest solution, with one 1/4 cup of granulated sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup of water becoming a fairly successful dupe for one cup of honey. However, if you happen to have corn syrup or treacle on hand, you can substitute those in a ratio of 1:1. Still it'll help to know exactly how these substitutes work in specific recipes, whether it's in a blueberry muffin or a salad dressing. 

The many ways to make up for missing honey

So how do each of these substitutions work in recipes? Let's tackle the sugar and water substitution first. The main thing to keep in mind is that honey is sweeter than plain granulated sugar, so that's why you'll be using more sugar by volume than honey. After you dissolve your sugar in a small amount of water (heat it gently over the stovetop to speed things up), you'll notice it has roughly the same viscosity as honey, but it will still behave slightly differently, as will light corn syrup, especially during baking. Just note that for baking, your baked good might be lighter in color than one baked with honey, and may take longer to cook, as the sugars in honey are prone to caramelization faster than standard sugar. 

But the most significant difference is in regard to taste. The golden sweetness that honey brings is unique and for a closer flavor, opt for using golden syrup (treacle). This flavor dupe is not as important when you're using it to sweeten your baking. But when you're making a marinade, glaze, or dressing made with honey, this flavor is crucial. So try to use the golden syrup in this instance. Either way, with these three substitutions in your pocket, you won't have to worry about running low on honey ever again.