Can I use molasses instead of sorghum syrup?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can substitute molasses for sorghum syrup in most recipes. Molasses has a very similar flavor profile and consistency to sorghum syrup. The main difference is that sorghum syrup tends to be sweeter while molasses has a more robust, bittersweet flavor. When substituting, use 1 cup of molasses for every 1 cup of sorghum syrup and reduce any additional sugars in the recipe by 2-4 tablespoons to account for the increased sweetness of molasses. Molasses can be swapped in for sorghum syrup in recipes for baked goods, glazes, sauces, dressings, and more. Just keep in mind the sauce or glaze made with molasses may end up slightly darker in color.

What is Sorghum Syrup?

Sorghum syrup is a type of natural sweetener made by processing the juice extracted from sorghum cane. Sorghum is a tall grain plant that is grown as a cereal crop primarily in the Southern United States. To make sorghum syrup, the stalks of the sorghum plant are crushed to extract the juice. This juice is then boiled down into a thick, molasses-like syrup.

Sorghum syrup has been produced in the U.S. since the mid-1800s. It rose in popularity, especially in the South, as an alternative sweetener to cane sugar. Today, sorghum syrup is still commonly used in Southern cooking. It’s prized for its unique flavor – sorghum syrup tastes richer and more complex than plain sugar. It has notes of molasses along with butterscotch, vanilla, and coffee. Sorghum syrup is about as viscous as honey but tends to be lighter in color, ranging from amber to dark brown.

What is Molasses?

Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. It comes from crushing and processing sugarcane or sugar beets into table sugar. After the sugar crystals are extracted from the plant juice, the remaining dark, thick liquid is molasses.

There are several types of molasses:

– Light molasses – This comes from the first boiling of the sugarcane juice. It’s the lightest in color and mildest in flavor.

– Dark molasses – This is from the second boiling and concentration of the juice. It’s darker, thicker, and more full-flavored.

– Blackstrap molasses – This comes from the final boiling of the sugar syrup and contains the most minerals and robust flavor.

While different types of molasses vary somewhat in taste and sweetness, they can generally all be used interchangeably in baking. Molasses brings a rich, slightly bitter taste with notes of toffee, treacle, and burnt sugar. Its thickness and glossy sheen also make it useful in glazes or sauces.

Sorghum vs. Molasses

So how do sorghum syrup and molasses really compare when it comes to taste, texture, and cooking properties? Here’s a breakdown:


– Sorghum syrup has a milder, cleaner sweetness compared to molasses. It tastes light and buttery with vanilla, grassy notes.

– Molasses is much more robust, with a slight bitterness and burnt sugar taste. It tastes strongly of toffee and treacle.


– Sorghum syrup is mildly sweet, with a light, golden syrup-like flavor. On a sweetness scale, it’s about as sweet as honey.

– Molasses is sweeter than sorghum, especially blackstrap molasses. It can add more rich, concentrated sweetness.


– Sorghum syrup is light amber to medium brown in color.

– Molasses is extremely dark brown or black.


– Sorghum syrup has a medium-thick consistency, similar to honey.

– Molasses is extremely thick and viscous, especially blackstrap molasses.


– Sorghum syrup can be used as a topping for biscuits, pancakes, and cornbread. It’s also great in baked goods, marinades, sauces, and stewed fruit.

– Molasses works well in gingerbread, baked beans, barbecue sauces, and braising liquid for meat. Blackstrap molasses is also commonly used as a health supplement.

So in summary, sorghum syrup has a cleaner, lighter, golden flavor compared to molasses which tastes richer, more bitter, extremely sweet, and complex. However, despite some differences, molasses makes a very suitable substitute for sorghum syrup in recipes.

Substituting Molasses for Sorghum Syrup

When swapping molasses for sorghum syrup, keep these guidelines in mind:

– Use 1 cup molasses for every 1 cup sorghum syrup called for. The thick consistencies are very similar.

– Reduce additional sugars in the recipe by 2-4 tablespoons per cup of molasses. This accounts for molasses being sweeter.

– Know that sauces, baked goods, and candies made with molasses instead of sorghum will turn out darker in color.

– For less intense flavor, substitute light or dark molasses. Blackstrap molasses will add the strongest taste.

– Bump up spice flavors like ginger, cinnamon, or cloves to balance out the robust molasses.

– Add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to counter the slight bitterness of molasses.

Molasses works especially well as a sub for sorghum syrup in recipes like:

– Breads, muffins, pancakes, and cakes – Darker color, but great flavor

– Cookies like gingerbread – Molasses intensifies the classic flavor

– Glazes for meat, especially barbecue – Deeper notes work well

– Vinaigrettes and salad dressings – Adds nice complexity

– Baked beans – Molasses gives a traditional taste

– Fruit sauces and baked fruit – Enhances flavor beautifully

Example Substitution in Baked Goods

Here is an example of how to substitute molasses for sorghum syrup in a gingerbread cake recipe:

Original Recipe

– 1/2 cup sorghum syrup

– 1/4 cup sugar

– 1 large egg

– 1/2 cup butter, melted

– 2 cups flour

– 2 tsp ginger

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1/2 tsp cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp cloves

With Molasses Substitution

– 1/2 cup molasses (replaces sorghum syrup)

– 2-3 Tbsp less sugar (to offset molasses sweetness)

– 1 large egg

– 1/2 cup butter, melted

– 2 cups flour

– 2 1/2 tsp ginger (slightly increased)

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1/2 tsp cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp cloves

The molasses will provide plenty of rich flavor and color on its own. Scaling back the sugar a bit prevents the cake from becoming overpowering. Slightly boosting the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves helps balance the strong molasses taste.

Cooking Tips

– When using molasses in marinades, sauces, or glazes, apply toward the end of cooking. Too much heat can make molasses taste bitter.

– For easier pouring, heat molasses first or blend with a little warm water to thin it out as needed.

– To substitute molasses in a recipe calling for brown sugar, use 1 cup molasses for every 1 1/4 cups brown sugar.

– Store opened molasses at room temperature in a sealed container. It will last for several years.

– Molasses is more acidic than sorghum syrup and can react with baking soda. Make sure your recipe includes baking powder or adjust it.

– Mixing a little molasses into smoothies, milkshakes, or coffee is a nutritious way to add its vitamins and minerals.

Nutrition Comparison

Here is a nutritional comparison between sorghum syrup and molasses:

Nutrient Sorghum Syrup Molasses
Calories (per 100g) 290 280
Carbs 76g 74g
Sugar 55g 60g
Fat 0g 0g
Protein 0g 0g
Fiber 0g 0g
Iron 2% DV 20% DV
Potassium 4% DV 21% DV
Magnesium 2% DV 16% DV

As you can see, sorghum syrup and molasses have a very similar calorie and carbohydrate content. However, molasses contains more micronutrients like iron, potassium, and magnesium. This makes it slightly more nutritious overall.

The takeaway is that molasses makes an excellent 1:1 substitute for sorghum syrup in any recipe, providing very similar texture and a deliciously complex, bittersweet flavor. Just keep in mind that molasses has a darker color and stronger taste, so adjust any additional sugars and spices accordingly. With the right tweaks, you can successfully use molasses in place of sorghum syrup for baking, glazing, sauces, and more.


Molasses can easily be substituted for sorghum syrup in most recipes. The two have a comparable consistency and sweetness, though molasses has a more robust flavor. When swapping molasses in place of sorghum syrup, use an equal amount of molasses and decrease other sugars by 2-4 tablespoons per cup to account for the increased sweetness. Molasses adds great flavor to baked goods, sauces, glazes, dressings, and more. Just keep in mind that it will result in a darker coloration. With a few minor adjustments, molasses makes an excellent stand-in for sorghum syrup.

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