You are making your favorite baked beans for the family when you suddenly realize you don’t have molasses.
While you’re determined to continue on making those delicious baked beans, now you need to figure out what to substitute the molasses for so that your family enjoys every morsel of them. So, what do you do now?
Don’t fret There are a few substitutes available that can come in handy in such a situation. Keep reading to find the best substitution for molasses in baked beans that will help you make the most delicious baked beans for the family cookout.
What Is Molasses?
Molasses is famous as a one-of-a-kind ingredient that comes with a distinct flavor. But what exactly is it? Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar manufacturing process.
Firstly, the manufacturers crush sugar beets or sugarcane to extract a liquid. Then, they let it cool down and extract the sugar crystals. The liquid left is known as light molasses. When you boil the liquid even further, it will become thick, dark, and less sweet, resulting in dark molasses.
A third boiling of the liquid produces an extremely bitter, thick, and dark liquid called blackstrap molasses. This is the one I see used a lot in baked bean recipes.
Unsulfured molasses comes from matured sugarcane. It is the one you find most commonly at grocery stores and can be used in your baked beans recipe if you have it. But if you don’t have it or you’re just not a molasses fan, then let’s look at some alternatives.
5 Easily Available Molasses Substitutes For Baked Beans
Despite how essential molasses is for certain recipes like baked beans, there are some alternatives you can use instead. These five substitutes are ones you can add in baked beans instead of molasses:
1. Maple Syrup
Using your favorite pancake and waffle companion, maple syrup is a great alternative to molasses for your baked beans. While you use golden maple syrup for pancakes, it’s best if you look for a darker, more robust syrup for baked beans if you have the choice.
Pure maple syrup adds a complex sweet, and even spicy flavor that might make the baked beans more delicious than before (but results may vary). Giving it such a rich taste, some people even prefer cooking beans with pure maple syrup.
Since maple syrup is thinner than molasses, you have to use it carefully. You can do a 1:1 substitution or even reduce the other liquid ingredients to maintain consistency in the beans.
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2. Brown Sugar
Are you wondering, what can I use in place of molasses in baked beans that isn’t syrup? One of the most easily available options is brown sugar.
It is, in fact, a mix of granulated sugar and molasses already, which makes it an ideal substitute for molasses. Fun fact, manufacturers often process the sugar to the point of granulation and then add the separated molasses back to the yield of brown sugar. Did you know that?
Given that it comes with a similar flavor profile as molasses, brown sugar can be a great alternative for the bake beans recipe.
Since baked beans are more savory than desserts, you can easily go for a 1:1 substitute and then, if needed, adjust the liquid amounts to get the right consistency.
Honey is sweet in taste, floral in fragrance, thick in consistency, and golden in color. Honey is like molasses in terms of texture, even though it lacks the caramel flavor we all know and love.
Using honey can be tricky since no two varieties taste the same. Given the varying flavors, you have to be careful while using honey. Ideally, you should opt for a variety that has a deeper color and taste that most resembles molasses. Consider this your excuse to go grab a few honey’s off the shelf to do some honey taste testing.
You can use 1 cup of honey if the recipe calls for 1 cup molasses. But taking into account the higher sweetness and thinner consistency of honey, you can use slightly less for a comparable outcome to molasses.
Apart from that, you can also try adding:
- 1/8th cup of Worcester sauce
- 1/8th cup of soy sauce
- 3/4th cup of honey
This should give your beans a tangy flavor. My personal favorite!
4. Sorghum Syrup
Sorghum is famous for its nutritional benefits as well as for being an alternative to wheat flour since it is gluten-free. You can crush the sorghum stalks, like sugarcane, to extract syrup that can substitute molasses.
Sorghum syrup is sweeter than molasses, although it still gives a strong hint of sourness. It is not as thick as molasses, so you have to be careful when using it in the recipe.
When using sorghum syrup for baked beans, make sure you add this sweet liquid in a limited quantity only, and you can also mix a few barbeque sauces to balance it out a bit.
5. Dark Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is known for adding sweet flavor to desserts like pecan pie since it doesn’t crystallize and adds a good texture to the dish. But that’s not all; it can also work as a solid substitute for molasses if it’s what you have lying around the pantry.
Dark corn syrup doesn’t have the flavor of molasses and might even be too mild for some recipes. Depending on the recipe and your preference, you can add sauces to make it suitable for baked beans to go with your ribs on the next cookout.
Although the syrup will ensure baked beans turn out moist and delicious, it will not activate baking soda as molasses does. Instead, try using lemon juice, cream of tartar, or add baking powder.
From sweet pies to savory baked beans, molasses is an essential ingredient used in a wide range of dishes. Even though molasses is a crucial part of your favorite baked beans recipe, it is replaceable if you find yourself low on molasses in the kitchen. Have no fear of using these alternatives as a substitution for molasses in baked beans for your future cookout.
If you stumble on your new favorite recipe with a molasses alternative, don’t forget to document and save your new family recipe with Morsel!
Ian Hoyt is a co-founder of Morsel – a family recipe cookbook software. When he isn’t working on building the best recipe app for your family Ian can be found hiking in the mountains of North Carolina, flying airplanes, or of course in the kitchen perfecting his beloved scone recipe.