Skip to Content

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses in Baked Beans

Have you ever tried the delightful combination of molasses and baked beans?

If you have yet to experience this classic wholesome dish, now is the time.

Cooking with molasses allows you to add just the perfect amount of sweetness to your plate.

But if this traditional ingredient is not readily available, don’t worry.

There are plenty of substitutions for molasses that provide an equally delicious outcome in your favorite baked bean dishes.

Keep reading to learn about the best alternatives for molasses in baked beans and for tips on how to cook a flavorful batch of delicious baked beans.

Why is Molasses Used in Baked Beans?

For generations, cooks have been using molasses to enhance the flavor and texture of baked beans.

Originating in New England during colonial times, cooks needed to find a way to keep their beans from tasting bland.

Molasses serves as the perfect ingredient to both sweeten and thicken the beans’ sauce.

The sweetness of this syrup offsets the salty taste of bacon or pork that is often added when making a batch of baked beans.

Additionally, it provides texture which helps thicken up the consistency of the dish, giving it many desirable qualities.

When planning to make your next batch, adding molasses is almost always necessary due to its ability to add flavor and accomplish desired thickness levels.

While not overly sweet like honey, molasses can be easily incorporated by drizzling a few tablespoons over finished baked bean dishes or as an ingredient before baking them in the oven.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses in Baked Beans

If you don’t have molasses, you may be wondering what else you can use for baked beans.

Don’t worry; we have compiled a list of the five best substitutes for molasses in baked beans that are all easy to find and commonly used in many recipes.

1 – Brown Sugar and a Bit of Balsamic Vinegar

Brown sugar and balsamic vinegar are two common ingredients that provide many delicious dishes with a unique flavors.

The brown sugar has a sweet, sugary taste, while the balsamic vinegar is both tangy and mellow at the same time.

Along with a hint of umami, this combination of flavors offers countless possibilities in the kitchen.

They can be used to substitute molasses in baked beans to create a deep, rich flavor without the same sweetness, allowing for other spices like cumin and black pepper to shine through.

If you have these two ingredients on hand, it will open up a whole new world of tasty dishes.

2 – Ketchup-Based BBQ Sauce and a Bit of Brown Sugar

Not everyone has molasses in their pantry, but that doesn’t have to stop anyone from making a delicious batch of baked beans.

If you want to experiment with the unique and bold flavor of molasses while using up those ketchup bottles in your refrigerator, consider making a ketchup-based BBQ sauce and adding just a bit of brown sugar.

The combination creates an irresistibly smooth texture and a hint of sweetness that is reminiscent of traditional molasses-sauced BBQ.

With its mix of tart, smoky, and sweet flavors, it is sure to become your newest go-to summer BBQ favorite.

Best of all, it can be easily substituted for molasses in any recipe for delicious baked beans.

3 – Honey, Soy Sauce, and Worcester Sauce

Honey, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce are condiments that all have their own unique flavors.

Honey is light and sweet with a distinctive floral taste, while soy sauce is rich and salty with a bit of umami flavor.

On the other hand, Worcester sauce has a tangy flavor profile with hints of sweetness mixed in.

All three provide a wonderful texture to recipes due to their thick liquidity.

If you’re looking for an alternative to molasses when making baked beans, these ingredients make great replacements.

The honey will add sweetness; the soy adds saltiness as well as umami richness, and the Worcester lends its signature tanginess – altogether creating a combination that compliments the beans perfectly.

4 – Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a sweet, velvety liquid that oozes the essence of maple trees and takes us back to the cool and wispy days of early fall.

Its texture is thick and rich, but it is surprisingly smooth.

In terms of flavor, it has a delicious balance between sweet and bitter with delicious sticky-caramel undertones.

If one is looking to substitute molasses when making traditional baked beans, one can use maple syrup instead, as it has some similar properties in sweetness and thickness.

Maple syrup might not provide the same hint of smokiness to baked beans as molasses would, but it might still make an equally enjoyable dish.

5 – Dark Corn Syrup

Dark Corn Syrup is not just a kitchen cupboard staple; it’s also a versatile ingredient that adds deep flavor and texture to all kinds of recipes.

Its thick, sticky texture carries notes of butterscotch, caramel, and toffee that escalate the flavor profile of any dish.

For those looking for an alternative to regular molasses or blackstrap in baked beans, dark corn syrup makes an excellent substitution.

Not only is it easier to find – but it also renders a sweet yet smoky flavor enhanced by its earthy undertones.

When used correctly, dark corn syrup enriches even the simplest recipes with unusually robust flavors.


In conclusion, molasses is a traditional and beloved ingredient in recipes such as baked beans.

But it can be challenging to find in many stores.

The five substitutes for molasses suggested above – Ketchup-Based BBQ Sauce with a bit of brown sugar, Honey, Soy Sauce, and Worcester Sauce; Maple Syrup; and Dark Corn Syrup – are all unique in their own way and can provide the same flavor and texture as molasses.

So, next time you are looking for a substitute for molasses in your favorite recipes, keep these options in mind.

You may just find the perfect alternative to give your dish that special touch.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses in Baked Beans

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses in Baked Beans
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Brown Sugar and a Bit of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Ketchup-Based BBQ Sauce and a Bit of Brown Sugar
  • Honey, Soy Sauce, and Worcester Sauce
  • Maple Syrup
  • Dark Corn Syrup


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Skip to Recipe