Substitutes for White Sugar in a Cake

cake image by Earl Robbins from

Running out of sugar when you are baking a cake may seem like a complete disaster. This does not need to be the case, however. You can substitute any of a number of other sweeteners for granulated white sugar in your cake recipe. These substitutes, will give your finished cake a different flavor and texture than it would have had if you had used sugar.

Other Sugars

Light brown sugar works as a substitute in some cakes, though you should not use it in white or sponge cakes. Use an equal amount of firmly packed light brown sugar as white sugar in the recipe. Other substitution options include sucanat, date sugar and powdered sugar. Use sucanat and date sugar in equal amounts as the white sugar your recipe requires, but use 1 3/4 cups of firmly packed powdered sugar per cup of white sugar you are replacing.

Liquid Sweeteners

Using liquid sweeteners in place of white sugar gives you many options, but requires more complex substitutions. Use only 3/4 cup of honey per cup of white sugar you are replacing, but 1 3/4 cup of rice syrup. Reduce another liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup per cup of sugar you are replacing with one of these liquid sweeteners. You can substitute corn syrup for half of the sugar in the recipe at a ratio of 1 1/2 cups of corn syrup per cup of sugar. As with honey and rice syrup, reduce another liquid by 1/4 cup per cup of sugar you are replacing.

Artificial Sweeteners

You can use artificial sweeteners to replace white sugar in cake recipes. These products use acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharin or sucralose to provide sweetness. Particular types and brands of artificial sweeteners will have completely different instructions regarding how much sweetener to use in place of sugar in cake recipes. Read the package of your specific artificial sweetener for exact use.


When all else fails and you find yourself without enough sugar or any acceptable substitute for baking your cake, you can simply reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. You can use as little as two-thirds the amount of sugar suggested in your recipe. Your cake's texture will be significantly affected, leaving it tougher and drier than it would have been, but otherwise the cake should turn out well.