Molasses makes your cookies dark and rich, adding a deep caramelized taste that nothing can beat. It’s also rich in nutrients like iron, selenium, and copper.
But what if you’re working on a cookie batch but suddenly find that your molasses jar is empty? Does this mean that you can’t enjoy tasty gingerbread cookies?
You’ve found this article just in time because I will share with you the best molasses substitutes for gingerbread cookies. So, keep reading to learn more about them.
Molasses adds sweetness and softness to your gingerbread cookies. It also represents a crucial ingredient in several recipes like molasses cookies, oatmeal and molasses cookies, BBQ sauce, stew, and many more.
This dark, viscous liquid is a byproduct of refining and processing sugar, and it’s extracted from sugar beets or sugar cane. The juice is boiled to extract the sugar crystals, and the remaining brown liquid is left.
Every time this liquid is boiled, you get a different grade of molasses.
Light molasses has the lightest and least complex flavor, and dark molasses is more intense, obtained after boiling the liquid for a second time.
The darkest molasses, called blackstrap molasses, has the highest nutritional content.
Maple syrup is one of the best alternatives to use when you don’t have molasses. It adds a dark color and a distinct flavor.
Honey is one of the best molasses alternatives to use in your gingerbread cookies. It adds the right sweetness and consistency, but your cookies will be slightly lighter.
While there are several good alternatives to molasses, there are a few things to consider.
- The dark shade of molasses gives your baked cookies a distinct color, so your cookies will turn out lighter if you pick another substitute.
- Molasses has a caramelized taste, making your gingerbread cookies taste rich and deep. Other substitutes don’t have the same flavor and aroma.
- As a liquid sweetener, molasses gives your cookie dough a unique texture. So, unless you replace it with another liquid sweetener with the same thickness, you’ll have to adjust the rest of your ingredients, or your cookies will be too hard.
Despite all the nutritional value of molasses, some people don’t like to use it in cookie recipes.
Sulfured molasses is extracted from young sugar cane plants, and it’s pretty common because the sulfur clarifies the color of the molasses. So, if you’re allergic to sulfur, you should choose unsulfured molasses or another substitute.
You might also be fond of molasses but don’t have enough to use in your recipe. Regardless of the reason, you can use a molasses substitute in your gingerbread cookies, and your recipe will turn out fine.
Here are some of the best alternatives to use in your cookie recipes.
Honey is the closest substitute to molasses but has a different color and flavor. The golden color of honey will make your gingerbread cookies look lighter and have a floral and fruity taste.
There are several types of honey to choose from, so you can opt for a darker type of honey like buckwheat, thyme, and manuka honey.
You should follow a 1:1 substitution rule when used as a molasses substitute. Honey is sweeter and thinner than molasses, so you might need to use a little bit less honey to have the same consistency as the original gingerbread cookies.
Brown sugar is actually made of granulated white sugar and molasses. So, if you’re looking for a molasses substitute that delivers the same taste, it will work for you.
Opt for dark brown sugar instead of the light-colored one to give your gingerbread cookies the same dark color and caramelized taste.
White using brown sugar, you should adjust the quantities of your ingredients. Sugar is a dry ingredient, so if your recipe calls for one cup of molasses, you can use 3/4 cup of brown sugar.
Sorghum syrup is made of the green juice of the sorghum plant, and it has the same brown color as molasses.
However, it has a thinner consistency and tastes more sour, so it’s mostly used in salad dressings and sauces or as a syrup on its own. Yet, you can use it as a molasses substitute while making gingerbread cookies.
This syrup is sometimes called sorghum molasses, and you can use an equal amount of this syrup when used as a molasses substitute.
Maple syrup will give your gingerbread cookies a brown color and a malty caramelized flavor. This syrup comes in different colors and flavors, just like honey, so you should pick the darkest shade if you’re using the syrup to substitute for molasses.
Due to its slightly thinner consistency, maple syrup can change the texture of your cookie dough. So, you can either go for a 1:1 substitute or use a slightly smaller amount.
Your gingerbread cookies taste slightly different but will still taste amazing.
Golden syrup is an amber-colored syrup extracted from sugar cane. It’s called light treacle and is used with molasses, known as dark treacle, in several dessert recipes.
This syrup is a staple in English baking recipes and has a caramel and buttery flavor. It also has the same consistency as molasses.
You can use a 1:1 ratio in your gingerbread cookies when you’ve run out of molasses. But expect your cookies to be light-colored with a less intense flavor.
This is actually made of corn syrup mixed with molasses. The corn syrup neutralizes the complex taste of molasses to make it less intense. It tastes like sugar water, but it lacks the depth of molasses.
Adding dark corn syrup to your gingerbread cookie recipe will give your cookies their distinctive dark color. However, your cookies won’t have their unique caramel-like flavor and taste.
Instead of substituting molasses with a 1:1 ratio, I recommend mixing dark corn syrup with brown sugar or honey for a richer flavor.
Barley malt syrup has the same thick molasses consistency but is less sweet. Adding barley malt syrup to your gingerbread cookies will give them a dark color, but they will taste a little different.
This substitute works for those who find molasses too sweet and overpowering. Its strong malt flavor will make your cookies taste more like caramel or coffee without the smoky, prune-like aftertaste.
Since it has a similar thickness to molasses, consider adding some honey or granulated sugar for some extra sweetness. You can also use the same amount of barley malt syrup if you don’t like your cookies to be too sweet.
Mixing sugar and water, you can prepare a liquid sweetener that adds sweetness to your gingerbread cookies if you have no access to molasses. To replace one cup of molasses, you can use ¾ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of this liquid sweetener.
This liquid sweetener won’t add the viscosity of molasses, so your cookies will feel different. Moreover, they won’t have a dark color or caramel-like flavor.
I recommend adding a pinch of cinnamon to elevate this substitute to give your gingerbread cookies more depth and flavor. Adding a bit of nutmeg will also make your gingerbread cookies taste a little richer.
Also known as rice malt, this is a vegan and gluten-free molasses substitute that you can use in the recipe for gingerbread cookies. It’s commonly used in Asian recipes and tastes half as sweet as sugar.
So, if you think that molasses is too sweet, you can use brown rice syrup instead. It adds a brown color to your gingerbread cookies, so it won’t make them look pale.
Yet, it has a slightly nutty and butterscotch-like taste, so it will make your cookies taste delicious.
Don’t be surprised because this unusual molasses alternative can actually add a lot of sweetness to your gingerbread cookies. They’re also packed with minerals and vitamins, so they will increase the nutritional value of your gingerbread cookies.
Your cookies will be high in fiber but won’t taste the same. So, you might want to consider adding molasses to your cookies if your kids eat them regularly or if you want to have healthier cookies.
Molasses might be a crucial ingredient in the recipe of gingerbread cookies, but you can replace it with several ingredients in your pantry or fridge.
Some of these ingredients will change the taste of your cookies or make them taste less sweet.
I personally recommend experimenting with each substitute and adjusting the amounts of other ingredients to have the right dough texture.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.