Is Honey Actually A Good Sugar Substitute?

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ... but what about honey?

Whether drinking tea or coffee, sweetening baked goods, or gussying up a warm bowl of oatmeal, the sugar vs. honey battle has been raging for centuries. Frankly, they're both delicious — but there are certain recipes that clearly call for one over the other. Of course, in some instances, you're out of one and are about to use the other in its absence before thinking "wait ... is this actually a good substitute?" At least when subbing honey in place of granulated, white sugar — the answer is a resounding yes.

Spiceography notes that sugar is "simply sweet," while "the flavor of brown sugar consists of subtle caramel and butterscotch notes along with sweetness." On the other hand, honey has a floral note. One other difference is clear: honey is viscous, thick, and incredibly sticky, while granulated sugar is much easier to work with. According to Taste of Home, honey "doesn't spoil," elevates most baked goods, and has a higher nutritional value than sugar.

Taste of Home notes that it's important to be careful to use the right honey ("the darker the honey, the stronger its taste"), to be careful to use the proper measuring tools and utensils (coat them with non-stick spray to ensure the honey doesn't cause a huge mess), and to use a touch less honey than you would sugar: about 3/4 cup honey for every cup of sugar is an ideal swap.

What are the differences in nutritional value?

In addition, Taste of Home also notes that you can add baking soda to alleviate the acidity of the honey, lightly decrease the amount of liquids in the recipe, and lower the temperature. Also: use common sense. Make sure the swap is logical and don't just substitute willy-nilly.

Little Coffee Place notes that while the caloric content of sugar and honey is similar, the GI (or glycemic index) is much lower in honey than in sugar, which is better for you in the long-run. Medical News Today reports that sugar has "no added nutrients." Honey also has a slew of vitamins and minerals, and is also an antioxidant. Honey also helps with digestive issues, and can alleviate issues like cough and sore throat. There are many different types of honey, and the nuances differ wildly from honey to honey. Furthermore, honey is "less processed than sugar as it is usually only pasteurized before use," according to Medical News Today. Honey has been found to help with burns, wounds, and dry skin. Be mindful not to give honey to any child younger than 12 months — it can result in infant botulism.

As Greatist notes, "no type of sweetener is a health food," so definitely be mindful of your consumption. Overall, however, swapping honey for sugar (or vice-versa) is definitely doable and delicious. Try some honey in your coffee tomorrow and see if you're fond of the swap. It's also absolutely delicious in cocktails – with or without alcohol.