5 of the best palm sugar substitutes

Palm it off for this sweet stuff
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Palm sugar is a natural sugar that was traditionally used in Asian cooking, today it is a common pantry staple. If you’ve run out of palm sugar it is a tricky flavour to replicate but you can substitute it for honey, brown sugar, molasses and maple syrup.

Watch Below: Different types of pantry sugar.

What is palm sugar?

Palm sugar is derived from the sap of palm trees and is often found in the ingredients list of your favourite Indian, Thai and African dishes.

It is available in both crystallised and syrup forms and is made from boiling palm sap and is jam-packed with minerals and vitamins. Its flavour isn’t as sweet as white sugar but it has a richer molasses-like flavour.

In its native Bengal region of India, palm sugar is known as nolen gur and is regarded as a natural sugar as it contains no nasty chemicals and requires little processing in comparison to white sugars

How to use palm sugar?

Use it in curries or dahls, or get experimental with it in jams, teas or even fried chicken wings.

Recipe suggestion: Sticky Rice with Mango

Sticky Rice with Mango (Credit: New Idea Food)

Is palm sugar healthy?

Like many sugars, the health benefits of palm sugar are limited. As it is a natural sugar and is largely unrefined it contains traces of vitamins and minerals. In general, you’re better off limiting your intake of sugar altogether than substituting it for other often expensive alternatives.

Where can you buy palm sugar?

You used to only be able to buy palm sugar from specialty Indian and Asian food stores but it is now available in most mainstream grocery stores like Coles and Woolworths

RELATED: The ultimate sugar guide

What can you substitute palm sugar for?

Maple Syrup

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Maple syrup is the best natural alternative for palm sugar, its butterscotch flavour is similar to palm sugar just in a liquid form and is a great option for diabetics, IBS sufferers and FODMAP adherents.

Quora recommends users substitute five tablespoons or maple syrup to 100g of palm sugar.

Brown Sugar

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Brown sugars sticky consistency makes it a good palm sugar substitution in most baking recipes. Although it is quite sweet in comparison so chefs recommend adding a smaller quantity than the recipe called for.


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Honey is comprised of nutritional content very similar to palm sugar and achieves a similar level of sweetness when used in baking and cooking.

As it comes in liquid-form you may need to alter the other wet ingredients in your recipe to avoid a change in consistency, we recommend using half of the quantity of palm sugar called for in the recipe.


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If you’ve got none of the above left in your cupboard, try substituting palm sugar for molasses and white sugar.

To achieve a palm sugar-like consistency mix a cup of white sugar and two tablespoons of molasses together, using less than the recipe requires as this combination is sweeter than palm sugar.

Cane sugar

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Cane sugar is a great alternative for recipes that call for coconut palm sugars. Whilst the flavour lacks the earthy taste of palm sugar it is sweeter, with chefs advising to increase the volume by 25 per cent when substituting cane for palm.

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