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Dear Baker: What can I substitute for flour, sugar or honey?

It’s substitution time! Maybe you want to avoid what have been called the “malicious whites” (also known as flour and sugar), maybe you’re battling a food allergy, or maybe you just don’t have a particular ingredient on hand. Whatever the case, here are some delicious alternatives for this month’s spotlight ingredients: flour, sugar and honey. (Scale your recipes accordingly.)


  • Almond flour: Finely ground almonds allow you to avoid grains and boost protein at once. Used in French macarons, almond flour also works well in cakes, muffins and quick breads.
  • Coconut flour: High in healthy fats and packed with fiber, dried coconut absorbs a lot of liquid, so you may need to add eggs to your recipes to bind the ingredients.
  • Spelt flour: Sweet, light and slightly nutty, spelt flour is part of the wheat family but is not exactly wheat. Give your baking goods the same texture as regular flour, with a richer nutritional profile.


  • Agave nectar: As a syrup, agave nectar requires you to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe. It’s purported to have less effect on blood sugar than regular white table sugar — without a compromise in taste.
  • Maple syrup: Stick with real maple syrup vs. maple-flavored products for the nutritional benefits and healthy dose of minerals. Keep in mind that maple syrup baked goods brown faster than those made with sugar.
  • Honey: Swap out 3/4 cup honey for every 1 cup of sugar, and keep in mind that, like syrups, honey adds moisture (not to mention potassium and vitamins).


  • Need a honey substitute? Try agave nectar or maple syrup.