11 Best Substitutes for Brown Sugar in Banana Bread


Sliced Banana Bread

Whether you have decided to make banana bread and are out of brown sugar or are just looking for a healthier substitute, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will cover the best 11 replacements.

The best substitutes for brown sugar in banana bread are coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, muscovado sugar, honey, agave syrup, Truvia, brown erythritol, molasses, maple syrup, granulated white sugar, and date sugar. The healthiest option is known to be coconut sugar due to its low glycemic index.

Please read on to learn why these substitutes work well and how to use them best.

1. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a unique sugar that is made from the sap that comes from coconut trees. In comparison to brown sugar, it does have a similar texture and look to it. However, when using coconut sugar for baking something, there has to be some form of fat added to the recipe. Coconut sugar on its own isn’t suitable for baking because it doesn’t hold moisture very well. Typically, the addition of butter or oil makes it better for baking recipes.

When it comes to banana bread, swapping out brown sugar for coconut sugar will yield similar results. Brown sugar is added to recipes for banana bread because it really adds a depth of flavor to the finished product. While you could use regular sugar, it simply isn’t the same in taste.

2. Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that is very much like the color of regular browned sugar in that it is a golden hue color. It is, in fact, the most popular raw sugar. However, another variety, such as demerara sugar, could be used as well.

Much like coconut sugar, this type of sugar needs to be worked with a little bit to incorporate into baking recipes. This process isn’t too hard and only requires a food processor or spice grinder.

Turbinado, along with other varieties of raw sugars, is generally a lot more coarse in texture. The larger granules need to be broken down to a finer sugar consistency to be properly used for baking.

Using a food processor or spice grinder, pulse the raw sugar until a finer texture is reached. Adding some hot liquid, such as butter or water, to the processed granules makes them even better for baking.

3. Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado sugar is quite possibly the closest thing to real brown sugar since it contains molasses. Molasses is what gives traditional brown sugar its iconic brown color. While muscovado sugar shares a similar ingredient to the original sugar called for in this recipe, it also has a lot more fat content as well as much more molasses. Because of this, muscovado sugar becomes quite tacky when used in baking recipes.

To use this sugar in place of the regular browned sugar, it should be sifted a couple of times to break it up evenly. The result is a finer sugar that won’t clump up as easily when used while baking. This unique sugar is certainly worth altering a little bit to swap out in a banana bread recipe!

4. Honey

Honey, like my favorite type, is a popular ingredient to use in place of most sugars. It is a naturally sweet, sticky liquid that doesn’t increase the overall sugars in a recipe. However, due to its liquid state, using it baking recipes requires figuring out the exact ratio. The other swaps on this list can be used cup for cup like browned sugar, but honey cannot. This is because the honey will create too wet of a base for the recipe.

The best way to use honey for this recipe is to reduce the other liquids in the recipe by about 1/4 cup for every 2/3 cup of liquid sweetener that is being used. In doing so, it balances the recipe out more so that the bread won’t turn out sickeningly sweet.

Additionally, it is also smart to reduce the cooking time to prevent over-caramelization in the finished product. Generally, this is around 3 to 4 minutes. Always check the bread for doneness all the way through with a butter knife or toothpick to ensure that it is fully baked.

5. Agave Syrup

Agave syrup is widely known for being used in vegetarian and vegan dishes because it is a natural sweetener derived from a plant. This syrup is said to contain over 50% of fructose, which gives the syrup its sweetening properties. Because of this, it can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

Much like using honey, it is a liquid and must be adjusted to ensure that the bread batter doesn’t become too soupy. Remember, reduce the other liquids by 1/4 cup for every 2/3 cup of liquid sweetener that is being used.

6. Swerve or Truvia Sugar Replacements

There are so many products on the market in today’s modern society that cater to people with diabetes who get that occasional sweet tooth. Sugar replacements are so popular right now, and many brands can be used in place of traditional sugars, cup for cup, in a lot of baking recipes. Typically, these sugar replacements are for white sugar. However, they do offer brown sugar substitutes as well!

Diabetics and keto dieters find that the brands Swerve and Truvia are some of the best to use. These can be used in baking recipes like chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and bread. For a classic banana bread recipe, using these branded substitutes with flours like almond or coconut flour can really provide a tasty treat with lower sugar than the original recipe.

7. Brown Erythritol

While brown erythritol is a variation of Swerve or Truvia sugar substitutes, it is specifically related to a brand, “Sukrin Gold,” which is marketed as a keto-friendly alternative. Keto diets are a huge trend right now for those looking to cut carbs and sugars from their everyday meals significantly. Sukrin gold is the perfect substitute to consider to make a baked good a little more keto-friendly.

When using it in the banana bread recipe, it is vital to note that it won’t be wholly sugar-free or keto since bananas have natural sugar content. Instead, it will be considered a low sugar/low carb baked good. This isn’t a bad thing because natural sugars in certain foods won’t be affected by erythritol products. Sometimes, when the addition of a sugar-free product is introduced to a recipe, it can increase the sweetness too much if it isn’t measured correctly.

8. Plain White Sugar And Molasses

Browned sugar might seem like something really magical. However, in reality, it is a mixture of plain white sugar and molasses. The molasses is what gives the sugar its identifiable color. Additionally, molasses is a popular baking ingredient because it adds a layer of flavor depth to the finished product. Molasses is a sweet, thick liquid that is incredibly sticky and, when it is added to regular sugar, becomes quite a delicious baking ingredient.

If there isn’t any traditional browned sugar to be found in the house, whipping some up isn’t hard at all! Simply combine 1 cup of white sugar with 1 tablespoon of molasses to create light browned sugar. For dark browned sugar, increasing the molasses to 2 tablespoons will do the trick. This is the quickest and easiest way to get close to the real thing when baking.

9. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is an extremely popular vegan and vegetarian product that is used in sauces or baked goods. It can be used in two ways to substitute the traditional browned sugar in this recipe. The first is similar to agave or honey as in that the other liquids in the recipe must be reduced. While this is a fine way to incorporate maple syrup into the banana bread, there is a better way to create this substitute.

Mixing maple syrup with regular white sugar can create that caramel hue associated with the browned sugar. When going this route, the measurements are very comparable to mixing white sugar with molasses; 1 cup of white sugar to 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. The maple syrup could add a little bit of a maple aftertaste to the finished product. However, this isn’t a bad thing, merely another layer of flavor to traditional banana bread!

10. Traditional White Sugar

An excellent banana bread recipe should use regular browned sugar or one of the various substitutes for it. However, in a pinch, using regular sugar isn’t going to change the final product too much. It will still have that warm, soft banana-y taste just without the extra depth of flavor that browned sugar adds to the baked good.

Traditional white sugar can be swapped out equally, cup for cup.

11. Date Sugar

Date sugar is a brownish-sugar that is made from dried dates. While dates do contain a bit of sugar, they are natural sugars. The only downside to swapping browned sugar for date sugar is that date sugar isn’t very sweet. Banana bread shouldn’t be too sweet. However, there does need to be a certain level of sweetness for the bread to be successful.

With this in mind, it is possible to use around two-thirds of the amount of browned sugar called for in a recipe with date sugar to achieve enough sweetness.

What Is the Healthiest Substitute for Brown Sugar?

Using healthier ingredients has so many benefits. It can help certain health conditions or provide aid in sticking to a diet. When we want our favorite foods, especially baked goods, it is nice to know what a great substitute could be for our favorite classic recipes. When it comes to browned sugar, the healthiest substitution is said to be coconut sugar.

While coconut sugar is still a sugar product, it has a lower glycemic index as well as a lower fructose content. While it is true that coconut sugar isn’t that great at holding moisture well, it can absolutely be mixed with fats to increase its ability to retain moisture. As a result, it can be used in baked goods, like banana bread, and still add that delicious flavor to the bread.

Final Bite

Personally, I prefer to substitute with honey due to its ability to make a recipe even moister while keeping it super sweet. Whichever option you choose, I hope your banana bread turns out perfectly!

Thanks for stoppin’ by.

Jelly Grandma

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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