What can I use as a substitute for date syrup?

Quick Answers

Date syrup, also known as silan, is a thick, dark brown liquid made from dates. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor and can be used as a sweetener in baked goods, desserts, smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and more. If you don’t have date syrup on hand, there are several ingredients that can be used as substitutes in recipes.

Some common date syrup substitutes include:

  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Maple sugar
  • Brown sugar

When substituting, you’ll want to account for differences in sweetness and flavor. Date syrup has a more pronounced caramel taste than lighter options like maple syrup or honey. Molasses is the closest match, but may overpower more delicate recipes. Brown rice syrup is gluten-free and vegan, making it a good option for specialty diets.

What is Date Syrup?

Date syrup, sometimes labeled as silan, is a thick syrup made from date fruits. Medjool, deglet noor, and honey dates are common varieties used. The dates are boiled down into a concentrated, viscous liquid that resembles molasses or caramel.

Date syrup has been produced in the Middle East and North Africa for centuries. It emerged as a way to make use of the region’s abundant date harvests. Its popularity spread along ancient spice trade routes, making its way to Europe. Today it is still commonly used in Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian cuisines.

The flavor of date syrup is incredibly sweet and distinctive. It tastes similar to a dark caramel, with hints of maple and butterscotch. There are also subtle nutty and floral notes depending on the variety of dates used. The syrup has a smooth, rich texture.

In addition to being a versatile sweetener, date syrup contains some key nutrients. It provides potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and copper. Date syrup contains amino acids which are not often found in other sweeteners. The antioxidants in dates may also be present in the syrup.

Culinary Uses

There are many creative ways that chefs and home cooks incorporate date syrup:

  • Use it to sweeten or add color to cakes, cookies, pies, puddings, ice cream and other desserts
  • Drizzle it over yogurt, oatmeal, or porridge
  • Add it to smoothies, milkshakes, coffee and tea
  • Use as a glaze or sauce for meat and poultry
  • Whisk it into salad dressings, marinades and sauces
  • Replace maple syrup, honey or sugar in recipes
  • Sweeten energy balls, granola bars, trail mixes and other snacks

The rich, molasses-like flavor of date syrup pairs especially well with chocolate, almond, coconut, ginger, coffee, maple and fall spice flavors.

Best Substitutes for Date Syrup

When a recipe calls for date syrup, but you don’t have it in the pantry, there are several alternatives that can mimic its flavor and texture profile. Here are the best substitutes:


Molasses makes an excellent 1:1 substitute for date syrup in most recipes. It has a very similar dark color and robust, bittersweet flavor. The texture of molasses is also thick and viscous like date syrup.

For baking, unsulfured blackstrap molasses works best as it will not overpower other ingredients. When using molasses in liquids like dressings or glazes, a milder variety like dark corn syrup molasses is recommended.

The mineral profile of molasses is also comparable to dates. It provides iron, potassium, calcium and copper. Look for organic, unsulphured types to get the most nutrients.

Overall, molasses accurately replicates the dark, butterscotch notes of date syrup. The flavor comes through a bit stronger, so you may want to use 10-25% less molasses if substituting in a more delicate recipe.

Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup is lighter in color and flavor than date syrup, but it can still work well in place of silan. The sweetness level is similar, though maple has a hint of caramel that evokes dates. For 1 cup of date syrup, substitute 1 cup of maple syrup.

When baking, use a Grade A dark amber maple syrup for the most pronounced flavor. If making a glaze or sauce, Grade A medium amber will provide enough maple flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.

Maple syrup has some beneficial minerals like manganese and zinc, though less than date syrup. It has a lower antioxidant content as well. But it contains beneficial phytonutrients and may help support a healthy metabolism.

Overall, maple syrup captures the sweetness of dates well, but the flavor will not be as rich. It’s best for lighter dishes where you still want a hint of caramel flavor. You may want to combine maple syrup with a bit of molasses or brown sugar to better approximate the deeper flavor notes of dates.


Honey is a mildly flavored liquid sweetener that can work as a date syrup alternative, though the flavors are quite different. Replace 1 cup date syrup with 1 cup mild flavored honey, like wildflower or clover.

For cooking, a pasteurized liquid honey is best as it will blend smoothly into the dish. Raw honey may crystallize when heated.

Honey has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties thanks to enzymes added by bees. It contains antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals as well though in lower levels than dates provide.

The main drawback of using honey is that it lacks the caramel, butterscotch dimension of dates. But in sauces, dressings, and baked goods, it can provide enough sweetness to balance the other flavors. For best results, use honey in combination with maple syrup, brown sugar or molasses to better approximate the date syrup flavor profile.

Brown Rice Syrup

For a gluten-free, vegan date syrup substitute, try brown rice syrup. It’s made by culturing rice with enzymes to break down the starch into simple sugars. The liquid is then cooked down into a thick syrup.

The texture of brown rice syrup is quite viscous and sticky, similar to date syrup. It has a subtle butterscotch undertone as well. Use an equal amount of brown rice syrup in place of silan.

One benefit of brown rice syrup is that it causes less spike in blood sugar compared to other sweeteners. It also contains some B vitamins and essential minerals like manganese, selenium and magnesium.

However, rice syrup is very mild in flavor. Using it alone may not provide enough of the caramel, maple-like taste of dates. Combine it with molasses, brown sugar, maple extract or chopped dates for a more accurate flavor.

Fruit Juice Concentrates

Thick fruit juice concentrates like pear, grape or apple can provide both sweetness and viscosity similar to date syrup. Replace 1 cup date syrup with 1 cup fruit concentrate.

Concentrated juice has a cleaner, lighter flavor than date syrup. But thicker varieties like grape concentrate add a pleasant fruity sweetness in dressings, glazes, sweets, etc.

Look for 100% juice concentrates with no added sugars. Pear and grape juice concentrates have a particular viscosity that closely mimics the mouthfeel of silan. For more caramel flavors, try adding molasses or maple syrup to the fruit juice.

Fruit concentrates retain some of the vitamins, antioxidants and plant compounds from fresh juice, especially pear and grape varieties. Overall, juice concentrates make a lighter, more fruity substitute for date syrup.

Brown Sugar

Packed brown sugar is a simple pantry ingredient that can approximate some qualities of date syrup. It has a darker color and slightly more complex flavor than regular white sugar. Use an equal amount of lightly packed brown sugar in place of date syrup.

Go for a dark brown sugar rather than light for a more concentrated effect. The molasses in brown sugar provides hints of caramel and toffee that are reminiscent of dates. Brown sugar also helps retain moisture in baked goods.

However, brown sugar dissolved in liquids will not provide the same consistency as viscous date syrup. And it lacks the distinct maple, butterscotch richness of dates. For better flavor, try combining brown sugar with maple syrup or a small amount of molasses.

Maple Sugar

Maple sugar is another dried sugar product made from concentrated maple syrup. It has an intense maple flavor when dissolved into liquids or batters. Replace 1 cup date syrup with 1 cup maple sugar blended into the wet ingredients.

The maple notes are similar to facets of date syrup’s flavor. And maple sugar adds trace minerals like manganese, calcium and zinc found in dates. It provides sweetness without diluting the thickness of glazes or dressings.

Keep in mind that maple sugar has a granulated texture when dry. Be sure to fully incorporate it into wet ingredients before adding other dry ones. The overall maple flavor may overpower more delicate recipes. So consider combining it with molasses or brown sugar to better balance the sweetness.

How to Replace Date Syrup in Recipes

When substituting for date syrup, keep these tips in mind:

  • Opt for molasses, maple syrup, grape concentrate or brown rice syrup for the closest texture
  • Match the amount of date syrup called for in the recipe
  • Brown sugar, maple sugar, honey provide sweetness but less viscosity
  • Combine maple syrup or fruit juices with molasses, brown sugar, or maple extract to approximate the flavor better
  • Cut back strong flavors like molasses by 10-25% to prevent overpowering the dish
  • For baking, go with moist ingredients like maple syrup and fruit concentrates rather than dry sugars
  • In liquids, dissolve granulated maple or brown sugars fully before adding other ingredients
  • Consider adding chopped dates or date paste for intense caramel flavoring

Here is an example of how you could replace date syrup in a cookie recipe:

Original Recipe

– 1 cup date syrup

– 1 cup butter

– 2 cups flour

– 2 teaspoons baking powder

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1 cup rolled oats

– 1 cup chocolate chips

With Substitutions

– 3/4 cup maple syrup

– 1/4 cup molasses

– 1 cup butter

– 2 cups flour

– 2 teaspoons baking powder

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1 cup rolled oats

– 1 cup chocolate chips

This replaces the 1 cup date syrup with 3/4 cup maple syrup for sweetness and moisture, plus 1/4 cup molasses for deeper flavor notes. You get both the texture and rich taste of dates in the cookies.

How Does Date Syrup Taste Compared to Substitutes?

Date syrup has a very distinctive, potent flavor that’s hard to truly replicate. Here’s how it compares to taste and texture of common substitutes:

Maple Syrup: Lighter, tangier, still has caramel hints but not as deep. Thinner and more pouring consistency.

Honey: Much milder, floral sweetness. Thinner texture and drizzling consistency.

Molasses: Strongest match for bold caramel/butterscotch flavor. Very thick and coats the tongue.

Brown Rice Syrup: Mildly sweet, not much flavor on its own. Quite thick and sticky.

Fruit Juice Concentrates: Fruitier, often one-note flavors. Grape is closest to viscosity of date syrup.

Brown Sugar: Toasted, slightly bitter notes. Needs moisture added back when baking. Dry granular texture.

Maple Sugar: Very pronounced maple taste, almost too strong on its own. Dry powder form becomes syrupy dissolved in liquids.

So while none of the substitutes are a perfect match, combinations of ingredients can approximate the complexity. Molasses + Maple extract gets you close for minimal effort.

Recommended Date Syrup Substitute Combinations

Here are some easy date syrup substitute combinations for commonly used amounts:

For 1 cup date syrup:

– 3/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup molasses

– 1/2 cup brown rice syrup + 1/2 cup grape juice concentrate

– 1 cup pear juice concentrate + 1 teaspoon maple extract + 1 tablespoon brown sugar

For 1/2 cup date syrup:

– 1/3 cup maple syrup + 2 tablespoons molasses

– 1/4 cup brown rice syrup + 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate

– 1/2 cup grape juice concentrate + 11⁄2 teaspoons maple extract + 11⁄2 teaspoons brown sugar

For 1/4 cup date syrup:

– 3 tablespoons maple syrup + 1 tablespoon molasses

– 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup + 2 tablespoons pear juice concentrate

– 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate + 3/4 teaspoon maple extract + 3/4 teaspoon brown sugar

These combinations provide both the textural thickness and rich sweetness of date syrup. The brown sugar, molasses and maple extract reinforce the complex caramel, butterscotch notes. Fruit concentrates add body while diluting the sweetness a bit.

Feel free to experiment with proportions to suit your tastes. Other flavor pairings that complement dates include almond, coffee, coconut, ginger, citrus, cocoa and fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

How to Make Your Own Date Syrup Substitute

You can make a homemade date syrup substitute by combining dates, water and sugar. Here is a simple stove top recipe:

Homemade Date Syrup


– 10 Medjool dates, pitted
– 1 1⁄2 cups water
– 1⁄4 cup organic cane sugar


1. Roughly chop the dates and add to a small saucepan with the water.

2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until dates are very soft.

3. Transfer the date mixture to a blender. Puree until completely smooth.

4. Return to the saucepan and add the sugar. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves.

5. Let cool before using as you would standard date syrup! Keeps refrigerated for up to 1 month.

This will give you rich, homemade date syrup to use in baking recipes, porridges, dressings, marinades, and more. You can adjust the quantity of dates and sugar to suit your tastes.

For a no-cook option, soak the dates in hot water for 30-60 minutes until softened. Then puree the dates with their soaking liquid and mix in sugar to taste.


Date syrup brings a uniquely sweet, deep caramel flavor that can be difficult to truly replicate with other ingredients. But combinations of molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, juice concentrates and extracts can provide a close approximation in texture and taste.

Match the viscosity of date syrup with thick liquids like molasses, grape concentrate or rice syrup. Brown sugar, maple sugar, honey and fruit juices add complementary sweetness. Blend two or three of these substitutes together to create layers of flavor while retaining the thickness of silan.

With some strategic mixing and matching of sweets likely already in your kitchen, you can successfully substitute for date syrup in recipes. Your cookies, cakes, dressings and marinades will still have plenty of rich, caramelized character even without silan on hand.

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