Date syrup is rapidly increasing in popularity across the globe. Unfortunately, it’s still a relatively difficult (and expensive) ingredient to find. And, if you thought of making it from scratch, you’ll first need to find dates. Simply put, your chances are slim!
So then, what are the best substitutes for date syrup? You always want to start with something very similar. In this case, date sugar is the closest in flavor, color, and you can adjust the consistency.
Then, you can look at other syrup alternatives like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and monk-fruit syrup. You can always add some molasses or food coloring to adjust the shade and add some date extract to mimic some undertones.
In today’s jam-packed article, we’ll take a look at choosing the best date syrup substitutes and exactly how to narrow down your options. Then, we assembled a list of our top choices, including how you can use them.
What Is Date Syrup?
Date syrup is also commonly called and labeled as date honey, date nectar, date molasses, Silan, and Debes. All of these refer to the same ingredient, and there aren’t many (if any at all) variations for it.
This syrup is a thick, dark brown, rich, and sweet syrup extracted directly from dates. While it may not be super popular in the United States and Europe, it is increasing in popularity.
Date syrup is most commonly used in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine.
Now, date syrup can be made at home using preserved dates. However, this process is quite messy and does take up some time. That’s why most people end up buying it.
But, as you may have already guessed or experienced yourself, finding date syrup is very difficult. It is increasing in popularity, but unfortunately, the supply hasn’t increased with it.
So, today we will explore the best alternatives for date syrup and how you can best use them.
How to Choose the Best Alternative
There are many kinds of syrups out there, but just because they look similar doesn’t mean they are similar.
When it comes to date syrup specifically, it has a very unique appearance. This syrup has a relatively thick consistency and a deep, rich amber or caramel-like color. It’s thicker than maple syrup but not as thick as glucose (or cold honey).
It is also EXTREMELY sweet and has a caramel flavor with a slight undertone of vanilla. Some people also note some fruitiness in the syrup alongside blossoms.
Now, if you compare it with something like golden syrup, it’s noticeably more complex.
Choose a Similar Flavor
So, the first thing you need to substitute is the flavor of the syrup. This is, unfortunately, very difficult seeing as date syrup is so unique.
The closest alternative would be another date product. The easiest and most common option you can find would be date sugar.
And if you cannot find this substitute, you will need to look for something completely different, like maple syrup, honey, or molasses. Each of these will share some similarities (mainly sweetness), but none of them will ever be able to mimic date syrup exactly.
Use Date Extract
If you can only find an alternative like honey but desperately want date-like flavors, you can always buy date extract.
This is also not an extremely common ingredient, but you may be able to find some at your local baking supply store.
Mimic the Color
Many people love using molasses as an alternative to date syrup. Personally, we find it slightly too rich, and the bitter undertones just don’t work.
However, it does make a fantastic add-in for creating a dark caramel color. You don’t need to add a lot, only a 1/2 teaspoon for every tablespoon of alternative. You can also play around until you are happy with the shade you’ve created.
If you don’t want to add molasses, you can add food coloring instead. It won’t affect the flavor of the alternative in any way.
Ease of Use
And finally, you will see MANY alternatives for date syrup out there. And technically, any type of syrup will work.
But you want the substitute to be as close to real date syrup as possible.
So, if you choose a swap, make sure it’s an effortless one that doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. Trust us: there is nothing worse than spending hours adjusting something, and it STILL comes out wrong.
5 Best Date Syrup Substitutes
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best and closest substitutes for date syrup. As always, we included a variety of options so that you are guaranteed to find an alternative that works for you.
1. Date Sugar
Date sugar is relatively easy to find these days as it is a very popular alternative to granulated white sugar and brown sugar.
This ingredient is made from dried and processed dates. Naturally, it will have a similar flavor profile to that of date syrup. It’s extremely sweet and has a rich flavor with caramel, vanilla, and floral notes.
You also get different shades of date sugar. Some are very light, while others are darker. The color difference mainly has to do with how the sugar was processed.
If at all possible, choose a darker date sugar. It will help you mimic the color of date syrup more accurately.
How to Substitute
Now, date syrup and date sugar don’t have the same consistencies. One is a thick syrup, and the other is granulated sugar.
There are two ways you can use sugar. You can use it granulated, but this will largely depend on the recipe you are making.
The alternative option is to melt the sugar into a syrup and leave it to reduce. This is personally our favorite alternative.
This option gives you the exact same flavors, a similar color, and a similar consistency to pure date syrup. For that reason, you don’t have to adjust any quantities in your recipe. You can use this homemade syrup as-is.
2. Maple Syrup
Now, if you don’t have date syrup or date sugar, maple syrup is the next best option. This syrup is easy to find and relatively affordable (definitely similar in price to date syrup).
You should either buy “amber” or “dark” maple syrup. These have the most similar characteristics to date syrup. You can also go for the “very dark” flavor, but many people find it too overwhelming.
Just stay away from any imitation maple syrup or light maple syrup options.
You can add a dash or date extract to bring forward a date-like flavor. And don’t forget, you can add molasses to help mimic the color better (if you cannot find amber or dark options).
How to Substitute
Use 1/3 cup of maple syrup for every cup of date syrup. Maple syrup is considerably sweeter, so may overwhelm the flavor of the dish.
Also, if the consistency of the maple syrup is too runny, you can add a thickener or reduce the syrup over low-medium heat.
3. Monk Fruit Syrup
Monk fruit sugar is easier to find, but the syrup form of this ingredient will work a lot better.
Monk fruit syrup is commonly used as an alternative to maple syrup, honey, and other common sweeteners. So, you may be able to find this product in the health aisle and labeled as “keto maple syrup” or something along those lines.
Another reason it’s a fantastic alternative is that it contains no calories at all but still has an extremely sweet flavor.
How to Substitute
For this healthy alternative, you can still use 1 cup of monk fruit syrup for every cup of date syrup.
It’s an easy swap, and you most likely don’t have to adjust the color at all. Again, if you’d like you can add a drop of date extract.
4. Agave Syrup
Agave syrup used to be hard to come to buy and very expensive. But today, it’s as easy as finding granulated sugar!
This is another all-natural sweetener that is low in calories. It’s easy to use and won’t change the way you incorporate it into your original recipe.
The biggest downside is the flavor. It’s similar to honey with undertones of caramel. But it’s not as pungent as date syrup is.
The color is also on the darker side, but you may want to adjust it if you need the color to be the same.
Agave syrup can also be used in a 1:1 ratio with date syrup.
Last but certainly not least, we had to include an uber-easy swap that you can find anywhere.
As with maple syrup, don’t choose an alternative that is fake, diluted, or artificially flavored. Always use raw honey that doesn’t contain any additives.
Now, what makes this option great is that you can buy different kinds. The environment has a big effect on the flavor of the honey. So, some may have descriptions that include notes of caramel.
In an ideal world, this is what you want to go for.
Honey can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with date syrup. Many people like to start with slightly less though. Remember, you can always add more, but you can never take away.