Vegan substitutes for honey include animal free sweeteners, like maple and date syrup.
Keep reading to discover some other sweet options, which ones actually taste similar to the “real” stuff, and why vegans avoid honey in this dietitian written article!
Disclaimer: This post is not providing personal medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor before adding a supplement or making major dietary changes. The writer expresses her own opinion about her favorite honey substitutes in this article. It is not meant to tell you what you must consume. See our Disclaimers for more details.
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Vegan Substitutes for Honey (Top Picks):
Most Similar Flavor to Honey (affiliate link*):
Most Versatile: Maple Syrup
Most Nutrient Dense: Homemade date syrup
Vegan Substitutes for Honey: The List
When we’re talking about honey substitutes, at the minimum, I’m focusing on a product that is sweet tasting (isn’t that obvious?) and liquid. So no: granulated sugar will not make this cut!
Please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive.
7 Vegan Substitutes for Honey:
- Maple Syrup
- Agave Nectar
- Date Syrup
- Bee Free Honey (vegan)
- Apricot Jam
- Coconut Nectar
- Corn Syrup
Now lets dive into if they actually taste like honey, nutrition, and how they can be used!
- Does it Taste Like Honey?: Not quite, but several recipes say it’s fine to sub maple syrup for honey!
- Flavor: warm, syrupy sweet, smooth, and sappy.
- Nutrition: Notable nutrients include decent amounts of certain nutrients, like potassium (around 176 milligrams per 1/4 a cup) and calcium (about 80 milligrams per 1/4 a cup) (1). For reference, that’s quite a bit more than the mere 5 milligrams of calcium in 1/4 a cup of honey(2)!
- How To Use: Maple syrup goes well in hot beverages like tea and coffee, in fact, it is my go-to sweetener for this! While it doesn’t taste like honey, it subs quite nicely in many recipes.
- Does it Taste Like Honey?: Some sources think it does. Identical to honey? Probably not.
- Flavor: Depending on whether it’s a light or dark variety, agave nectar is sometimes described as mildly sweet to intense (aka: strong like molasses)(3)!
- Nutrition: One fourth a cup of agave nectar contains about 52 mcg of beta carotene (a antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A), and some B vitamins (but not vitamin B12) (4). I wouldn’t recommend relying on it to meet nutrient needs because that would be alot of sugar!
- How To Use: A few vegan recipes suggest you can substitute agave nectar for honey.
- Does it Taste Like Honey?: Nope! It tastes like the fruit (by the way, did you know that dates are actually fresh fruits?)
- Flavor: Depends on the type of dates! If you are using medjool, you may get a more caramel like flavor as opposed to deglet nour dates. Both are quite sweet. But deglet nour dates tend to be less sweet than medjool.
- Nutrition: Unlike the other vegan honey alternatives, this natural sweetener has gut loving fiber! Dates also come packaged with a host of vitamins and minerals including potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
- How To Use: I love to put date syrup on oatmeal or as a sweetener in baked goods.
Because of the consistency, homemade date syrup doesn’t work well in coffee and tea in my experience!
Recipes may differ, but most have some kind of ratio for the date paste (typically water and dates). NutritionFacts.org has a simple recipe you can check out right here.
Bee Free Vegan “Honey”
Does it Taste Like Honey?: Yes! I think BlenditUp’s Bee Free Honey does taste like honey (of note: I haven’t had honey in a long time. 😉 )
- Flavor: Like honey! Sweet, slightly sour, earthy.
- Nutrition: While the I couldn’t find much on the nutrition panel in terms of vitamins and minerals except for a bit of potassium. That being said, the ingredients list is simply organic apple juice concentrate, organic cane sugar, and organic lemon juice concentrate. So, as an educated guess, this product probably contains some vitamin C(5).
- How To Use: This can be substituted for honey! I’ve used it in muffins, and as sweetener oatmeal or on coffee. It is delicious!
For those who find organic ingredients important, this product contains organic ingredients!
You can check out BlenditUp’s Organic Bee Free Vegan Honey below (affiliate link*):
- Does it Taste Like Honey?: Reminiscent, but not quite “there” It does have this twang that sort of reminded me of honey.
- Flavor: Sticky, sweet/sour, tangy.
- Nutrition: Crofter’s Apricot Just Fruit Spread contains about 10 milligrams of vitamin C per a 1 tablespoon serving.
- How To Use: This makes a tasty topping for yogurt, granola, oatmeal, etc. I wouldn’t use this instead of honey in baked goods.
- Does it Taste Like Honey?: That’s a stretch.
- Flavor: Despite the name, some sources suggest it does not taste like coconut! Instead, it might taste more earthy or like maple syrup depending on the brand(6).
- Nutrition: I could not find a lot of information about the nutrition content of coconut nectar specifically. While coconut meat contains a decent amount of nutrients like potassium and selenium(7), I don’t know if these nutrients would be filtered out to extract nectar.
- How To Use: Coconut nectar can be used instead of honey in some recipes, but if you are looking for that honey like taste, there are more authentic options.
- Does it Taste Like Honey?: While it may look like honey, it’s probably a bit far fetched to say it tastes just like honey.
- Flavor: Depending on the type, it could have a sweet to vanilla or caramel like flavor(8).
- Nutrition: Despite the word “corn,” (a nutrient dense food), corn syrup has much less to brag about in the nutrition department. Compared to the other options mentioned on this list, corn syrup is likely the least nutritious (9). It’s your classic calorically dense sweetener that doesn’t provide much more than simple carbohydrates and sugars!
- How To Use: Depending on the recipe, you might be able to use this as a substitute for honey. While you could sweeten beverages with it, it may be more worthwhile to use a more versatile sweetener.
FAQ About Honey (Vegan Questions Answered!)
Do Vegans Eat Honey?
Vegans do not eat honey. Honey comes from bees that are both insects and animals. Ethical vegans avoid animal derived food as much as they practically can(10).
But perhaps you are wondering why taking honey from bees is considered a no go for them. After all, the bee’s aren’t affected right?
Not quite. Here’s why vegans avoid honey:
- Honey is a food source for bees. Taking honey for our consumption deprives them of their natural food source. They might be given a less nutrient dense option, like fructose corn syrup.
- While bees on farms may be given sugar solution instead of honey, whether this is an appropriate/nutritious choice for the bees is debated.
- Bee’s at a farm may be killed off during the winter.
- Queen bees are vital to bee hives. Her wing(s) may be clipped(11).
Do I Need It? Is Honey Good For Me?
You shouldn’t need honey unless you are in an extreme situation where eating honey is what you must do to survive. That scenario is probably unrealistic for many of us.
Obviously, those who are allergic to honey should avoid it. And before 12 months old, babies should not not consume honey – as there is a risk of botulism poisoning (12).
Research does not support that honey has special health benefits you can’t get elsewhere.
While honey may have antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids(13), plant based foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes also contain antioxidants, and gut loving fiber (something honey does not have).
The vitamin and mineral content of honey is so small that you would need to consume alot of honey to make a dent in your requirements. And consuming a ton of simple sugars, like those found in honey, is not recommended for an overall healthy diet(14).
There are plenty of better, more wholesome/nutrient dense carbohydrate choices, like oatmeal, sweet potatoes or whole wheat bread– just to name a few!
Are There Any Vegan Alternatives to Popular Products With Honey?
The “honey” in Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Comb cereal is not vegan!
If you are craving that flavor, Three Wishes Honey cereal is an example of a vegan cereal that has that honey flavor.
It reminds me of Honey Comb cereal, but in a O shape. I thought it was delicious and so does my non-vegan husband.
You can check it out here (affiliate link*):
As for other non vegan products with honey in them, like snack bar: I have not an decent alternative. But I’m sure there are vegan recipes out there for just about anything you can think of!
What happened To The Bee Free Honee Products?
If you were a fan of the Bee Free Honee, which use to be sold in various grocery stores know that they are no longer sold. According to one source, they apparently shut down in 2019 for unknown reasons(15).
Can I Make My Own Vegan Honey Recipe?
There are several vegan “honey” recipes that are animal product free! A quick Google search will give you lots of results.
Ingredients these recipes may use instead actual honey include:
- rice syrup
- brown rice syrup
- barley malt syrup
- lemon juice
- apple juice
Animal free honey substitutes include:
- maple syrup (most versatile)
- agave nectar
- date syrup (most nutrient dense)
- Bee Free “Honey” (affiliate link*) (most similar flavor to honey)
- apricot jam
- coconut nectar
- corn syrup
You can also make your own recipe.
A vegan diet does not include honey due to the exploitation of bees to produce honey.
Luckily, you don’t need it to be healthy! Still if you want to use a plant based sweetener, there are so many alternatives.
Finally do not give actual honey to those who are allergic or babies under 12 months old.
I hope this article helped answer your questions, or gave you some new ideas. What’s your favorite honey substitute? Anything I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below!
And while you’re here, why not poke around on the blog? We discuss other hot topics within veganism, such as what’s vegan at Costco, and whether or not chocolate is vegan.
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