I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of coconut nectar substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
The best substitutes for coconut nectar are maple syrup, agave nectar, and raw honey. You can also go with molasses or date syrup. Monk fruit sweetener is a zero calorie, keto friendly option. And if you’re in a real pinch, you can use brown sugar.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a batch of tea to try out 12 coconut nectar substitutes.
Coconut nectar is obtained from the sap of coconut flowers.
Despite the name, it doesn’t have any trace of coconut flavor. Instead, it has a deep, sweet flavor that’ll remind you of caramel with a hint of molasses and a subtle bitterness.
Here are the substitutes I tested and the verdicts:
|Maple Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Agave Nectar||1 tbsp coconut nectar = ½ tbsp agave nectar||10/10|
|Raw Honey||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Molasses||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Date Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Coconut Sugar||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Monk Fruit Sweetener||1 tbsp coconut nectar = ½ tbsp monk fruit sweetener||8/10|
|Brown sugar||1 cup coconut nectar = 2/3 cup brown sugar||7/10|
Common uses for coconut nectar and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for coconut nectar and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Marinades, dressings, and glazes: Try using maple syrup, agave nectar, or raw honey.
- Baked goods and desserts: Try using maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar. If you use a dry sugar, make a simple syrup first to replicate the consistency of coconut nectar.
- Coffee, tea, and other drinks: You can use pretty much any sweetener you want here as long as you like the taste!
Maple syrup is a classic sweetener you might already have tucked away in your kitchen cupboard (you definielty will if you like pancakes).
It has a rich caramel flavor profile reminiscent of coconut nectar, making it an excellent alternative.
I recommend getting a bottle of the dark or very dark variety for a bolder taste.
Just remember to make sure you’re purchasing authentic maple syrup and not a fake bottle, which tend to taste pretty artificial.
How to substitute: Replace coconut nectar in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with coconut nectar.
This sweet treat comes from the agave plant and is a fantastic alternative to coconut nectar.
It’s not as rich as coconut nectar but has a sweeter flavor, so you’ll need less to hit that perfect balance.
This substitute also has a thinner consistency than coconut nectar, making it easier to dissolve in drinks and batters.
And the best part? It’s cheaper than coconut nectar.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp coconut nectar = ½ tbsp agave nectar
Raw honey is another classic natural sweetener you can use instead of coconut nectar.
Different raw honeys will have unique flavor notes depending on the flowers they’re sourced from.
The raw honey I get from my local farmer’s market has a delicate floral note that tastes divine with tea.
You could also use regular honey, which has been heated and pasteurized so loses it’s complexity and has a more one-dimensional sweetness.
How to substitute: Replace coconut nectar in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with raw honey.
Molasses is a dark and syrupy sweetener derived from sugar cane and sugar beets.
Among the three types you’ll find on the market, dark molasses is the closest in terms of consistency and flavor to our beloved coconut nectar.
Though not as sweet, it has the same subtle bitterness.
You can also get light and blackstrap molasses. Light molasses is mild and sweet without any bitterness. Blackstrap molasses is strong and bitter, which makes it better for savory applications.
How to substitute: Replace coconut nectar in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with dark molasses
Date syrup is another natural sweetener you can use as a substitute for coconut nectar.
It has coconut nectar’s caramel notes down to a tee, with an added hint of vanilla.
One of the things I love about date syrup is that it contains added fiber and vitamins, making it a healthier alternative.
You can buy date syrup in stores, but it’s made from dates and water, so why not save a couple of bucks and make it from scratch instead? I’ve tried this simple recipe, and it’s a winner!
Pssst… store your homemade date syrup in the fridge for up to three weeks.
How to substitute: Replace coconut nectar in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with date syrup.
Coconut sugar is coconut nectar that’s been processed into granules to resemble regular sugar.
So it’s no surprise it’ll give you the same irresistible caramel flavor with no trace of coconut taste.
The only downside is it wont add any moisture to your recipe, which can be an issue if you’re baking. But you can fix this by turning it into a simple syrup.
How to substitute: Replace coconut nectar in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with coconut sugar.
Monk fruit sweetener
Next up is monk fruit sweetener, a perfect replacement if you’re watching your calorie intake (it’s ZERO calories!) or follow a keto diet.
While its flavor may not be as intricate as coconut nectar, it will still bring a sweet magic to your baked treats and drinks.
Like with coconut sugar, you’ll need to make a simple syrup if you need it to have the same consistency as coconut nectar.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp coconut nectar = ½ tbsp monk fruit sweetener (it’s very sweet, so a little goes a long way).
If you need something now, check you cupboards for brown sugar.
Brown sugar has similar caramel tones and flavor to coconut nectar and has a fair amount of moisture for a dry sugar so it’s great for baking.
If all you can find is regular table sugar, of course this will do as well. But I would also add some warming spice like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla to help add the depth of flavor the coconut nectar has.
How to substitute: Replace 1 cup of coconut nectar in your recipe with 2/3 of a cup of brown sugar.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above are my top substitutes for coconut nectar, but here are some other options you can use if you already have them:
- Brown rice syrup – this is less sweet than coconut nectar with a hint of nuttiness. It’s great in drinks, but isn’t always sweet enough for baking. It’s also more expensive than coconut nectar.
- Corn syrup – this is a more affordable option made from cornstarch but the sweetness is very one-dimensional. Dark corn syrup is better because it has more of a caramel flavor (like coconut nectar).
- Golden syrup – this is also known as treacle. It has a deep, caramelized flavor like coconut nectar with a subtle buttery note. Golden syrup is common in British cooking, so you may need to visit the international aisle to find this substitute.
Sweetened coconut cream – substitute to avoid
I saw this substitute suggested while I was doing my research, but I don’t know why! It’s definitely not a good replacement for coconut nectar.
Mainly due to the rich coconut flavor which will easily overpower your dish and become the main flavor.
It also has a lot of fat, which will have a big affect on the consistency of you baked goods and dishes.
11 Best Coconut Nectar Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tbsp agave nectar
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp date syrup
- ½ tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp monk fruit sweetener
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen coconut nectar substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe