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The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses for Holiday Baking

The holiday season can bring many distractions like festive decorations, wrapping presents, and of course, getting ready for delicious meals.

Molasses is a popular choice among bakers to add a unique flavor to their pies and cookies, but how do you use it?

Did you know that there are several substitutes available if you don’t have molasses on hand?

Get ready to learn about how to cook with molasses, as well as the five best substitutes for molasses for your holiday baking this season.

What Does Molasses Do for Baked Goods?

Molasses is a thick, syrupy byproduct of sugar production that adds an unmistakably deep and earthy flavor to baked goods.

This treasured ingredient has been used in cooking for centuries.

It originated in the Middle East, and its use was soon established in Europe following the sugar boom of the 16th century.

The flavor of molasses is strong yet slightly sweet, adding complexity and depth to any dish without the intense sweetness of regular sugar.

Molasses is particularly renowned for providing essential moisture and texture to baked goods like gingerbread cookies and moist cakes.

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If you wish to break up the monotony of cooked treats while staying within a budget, molasses can be added in its many forms, like blackstrap, light, or dark syrup, as a cost-effective substitute for other more expensive ingredients.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses to Use for Your Holiday Baking

If you’re unable to find molasses or just looking for less processed alternatives, there are plenty of options available.

Here are the five best substitutes for molasses to use in your holiday baking:

1 – Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a unique and versatile ingredient that adds an amazing flavor to countless recipes.

Not only does it have a pleasant sweet taste, but it also has a unique texture due to its grainy nature, which lends itself perfectly to cookies, cakes, and other desserts.

Many cooks love to keep a stash on hand for their holiday baking, as it can easily be used as a substitute for molasses in gingerbread or spice cake recipes.

Substituting brown sugar instead of molasses will create delicious treats with warmth from the cinnamon and nutmeg but with a deliciously caramel-like sweetness from the brown sugar.

These festive desserts are sure to become family favorites every holiday season.

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2 – Granulated Sugar & Water

Granulated sugar and water may not sound very interesting, but this simple combination can be a great substitution for molasses in many recipes.

When mixed together, the sugar naturally dissolves in the water to create a rich syrup-like consistency.

To the taste buds, it is sweet and smooth without any grittiness like you get from ground sugar crystals.

The best part about using this mix instead of molasses for holiday baking is that it has a milder sweetness, making your recipes perfect for foodies who prefer balanced flavors.

To replace molasses with this combination, simply dissolve one cup of granulated sugar in two cups of hot water before stirring it into your recipe as substituted.

3 – Dark Corn Syrup

Dark corn syrup may not be the traditional molasses we all associate with holiday baking, but it brings it’s own unique sweetness and can easily be substituted for molasses if you’re in a pinch.

Its thick syrupy texture adds a velvety smoothness to any recipe calling for either dark or light molasses.

For those who don’t have access to regular old-fashioned molasses at this time of year, dark corn syrup can be used as a great substitute in recipes such as gingerbread, fruitcake, and pies.

Just remember that because dark corn syrup is sweeter than molasses, you will want to reduce the sugar accordingly in your recipe when using this tasty alternative.

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4 – Maple Syrup

Nothing says fall quite like a steaming stack of pancakes drowning in sweet and sticky maple syrup.

Its delicate yet robust flavor is unmistakable, without the cloyingly sweet aftertaste of some other syrups one might find on the grocery shelf.

Maple syrup is also deliciously versatile; it has a thick, silky texture that might make you forget it’s actually a liquid when it coats your tongue.

For all its stickiness, maple syrup is actually easier to measure than molasses, another commonly used sweetener with a similar flavor profile – making it ideal to use as a substitute for molasses in holiday recipes.

This tasty treat can easily be employed to make all kinds of cakes, pies, and cookies, lending them an extra layer of enjoyable sweetness that your family and friends won’t soon forget.

5 – Honey

Honey is nature’s gift: a sweet, versatile ingredient with an intense flavor profile.

Its thick, sticky texture only intensifies its flavor.

Honey has a caramel-like quality that makes it the perfect addition to cakes and desserts.

For those who love to bake during the holidays, it is an excellent substitution for molasses.

Be sure to know the weight of your honey before swapping it out for molasses – usually, one cup of honey can be swapped out for one cup of molasses.

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Just like molasses, honey helps tenderize baked goods while also adding sweetness and depth due to its complex flavor profile.

With this substitution, you will not just liven up traditional recipes but create mouth-watering desserts that evoke the best of both worlds.


In conclusion, molasses is a classic ingredient for holiday baking.

When it’s not available, however, you can use any of the five substitutes outlined here to great effect.

Whether you opt for granulated sugar and water, dark corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey – all offer their own unique flavor profiles that will make your holiday desserts come alive in a way that standard molasses could never do.

With the right substitution, you can enjoy your favorite holiday recipes with a unique twist.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses for Holiday Baking

The 5 Best Substitutes for Molasses for Holiday Baking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Brown Sugar
  • Granulated Sugar & Water
  • Dark Corn Syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey


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

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