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5 Substitutes for Malt Syrup: Discover Nectar Alternatives

Malt syrup is a sweet, malty-tasting viscous liquid commonly used in brewing, baking, and various food and beverage preparations, made from sprouted barley grains.

It’s cherished for its unique flavor, but what if you’ve run out or need a healthier alternative?

Fear not, malt syrup devotees and the malt-intolerant alike; I’m here to present you with five fantastic substitutes that are just as adaptable, with their own healthful twists.

Key Takeaways:

  • Malt syrup is a natural sweetener with a distinct malty flavor.
  • When substituting malt syrup, consider the flavor profile and sweetness of the substitute compared to malt syrup.
  • Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, date syrup, and brown rice syrup are all great substitutes for malt syrup in different recipes.
  • Adjustments may need to be made to maintain the balance of wet to dry ingredients and sweetness levels when using these substitutes.

Overviewing of Malt Syrup

Malt syrup is a natural sweetener made from malted grains such as barley, wheat, or rice. Malted grains are essentially sprouted grains that have been dried and ground into flour. This flour is then combined with water to create a mash and heated to activate enzymes that break down the starches into sugars. The resulting malty liquid is then strained and reduced to create a thick, syrupy consistency.

Today, malt syrup is primarily used in baking and brewing. In baking, it adds a complex, slightly nutty flavor to breads, cakes, and cookies. It also helps with browning and moisture retention in baked goods. In brewing, malt syrup is an essential ingredient in the production of beer.

But what if you’re unable to use malt syrup due to dietary restrictions or simply prefer the taste of other natural sweeteners? The following substitutes will answer that question for any recipe that calls for malt syrup.

5 Substitutes for Malt Syrup

Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, date syrup, and brown rice syrup

1 – Honey

Honey, often referred to as “nature’s sweetener,” is the oldest known sweetener and has been used for thousands of years. It boasts a distinct floral taste that can elevate the flavors in any dish or drink.

When choosing honey as a malt syrup substitute, it’s important to select one that complements the intended flavor of your recipe — wildflower, clover, or chestnut honey, for example.

In terms of sweetness, honey is similar to malt syrup. It is slightly less sweet than sugar, and its consistency varies depending on the temperature and the specific type of honey. Generally, honey tends to be thicker when at room temperature and can become more pourable when warm.

Use honey as a malt syrup substitute by swapping it out at a 1-to-1 ratio. This applies in most recipes, but it’s a good idea to start by using less and adjusting to taste, as honey can be sweeter and more potent in flavor than malt syrup.

Additionally, when substituting honey in baked goods, you might want to reduce the quantity of other liquids by about 1/4 cup per cup of honey to maintain the balance of wet to dry ingredients.

2 – Maple Syrup

Maple syrup, derived from the sap of the maple tree, is a beloved sweetener, particularly in North America. It has a rich, complex flavor with subtle caramel notes that can add depth to any recipe. Its viscosity is thinner than malt syrup, which can be an advantage depending on the dish.

The flavor profile and sweetness level of maple syrup are somewhat comparable to malt syrup, making it a suitable replacement in many recipes. It is, however, distinctly different in flavor. When using maple syrup as a substitute, consider that its flavor will contribute a distinct maple characteristic to your dish that malt syrup wouldn’t have.

In recipes calling for malt syrup, replace it with maple syrup using a 1-to-1 ratio. You’ll also want to consider that maple syrup is a bit sweeter than malt syrup. Its subtle bitterness may also require minor adjustments to the balance of sweetness or acidity, depending on your recipe.

3 – Agave Nectar

Agave nectar, a sweetener derived from the same plant that gives us tequila, contains fructose as its primary sugar, resulting in a lower glycemic index than malt or maple syrups. This makes it a popular choice for those watching their sugar intake. Agave nectar has a mild, neutral flavor that doesn’t skew the taste of a recipe, much like malt syrup.

In terms of viscosity, agave nectar is thin and pours easily, similar to maple syrup. It’s about 1.5 times sweeter than malt syrup, so you may want to use a little less when substituting in your recipe.

A general rule is to use 2/3 cup of agave nectar for every cup of malt syrup in a recipe. Since it’s sweeter, make sure to adjust other sweet or acidic elements in your dish to maintain the intended balance.

4 – Date Syrup

Date syrup, made from concentrated date juice, is a natural sweetener abundant in antioxidants and nutrients. It has a rich, earthy sweetness that can be a delightful substitute for malt syrup. Date syrup is less sweet and thinner than malt syrup, and it offers a distinct date flavor that can enrich the taste experience of your dish.

When using date syrup instead of malt syrup, you’ll want to adjust the quantity. Use about 1.25 cups of date syrup for every cup of malt syrup that your recipe requires. The low glycemic index and high mineral content of date syrup make it a healthier choice, especially for those with sugar or gluten sensitivities.

5 – Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup, a sweetener made by fermenting brown rice with enzymes to break down the starch, offers a mild sweetness that is less sweet than sugar and malt syrup. It has a light, caramel taste and is popular in Asian dishes and some health food products. In terms of consistency, it’s very similar to malt syrup.

When substituting brown rice syrup for malt syrup, you’ll want to adjust your recipe’s liquid content. Use 1 and a 1/3 cups of brown rice syrup for every cup of malt syrup, and reduce the other liquids in the recipe by about 1/4 cup for every cup of brown rice syrup used.


In conclusion, malt syrup is a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can be easily substituted with several natural sweeteners without compromising the taste of your dish.

Whether you opt for honey, maple or date syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup, there’s a perfect substitute that will add its unique twist to your recipe while still offering the same level of sweetness and viscosity as malt syrup.

Experiment with different substitutes and find the one that best suits your needs and taste preferences.

Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, date syrup, and brown rice syrup

Malt Syrup Substitutes Recipe Ratio

A guide to substituting malt syrup with other natural sweeteners in various recipes.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, French, Italian
Servings 4 Servings


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • pot or saucepan


  • 1 cup of malt syrup = 1 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of malt syrup = 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup of malt syrup = 1.25 cups date syrup
  • 1 cup of malt syrup = 1 and a 1/3 cups brown rice syrup


  • Determine which substitute you will be using based on availability and your desired flavor profile.
  • Measure out the required amount of the substitute according to the ratios listed above.
  • If using maple syrup or date syrup, pour into a pot or saucepan and heat until slightly warm.
  • Adjust other liquid ingredients in the recipe as needed to maintain the desired consistency.
  • Taste and adjust for sweetness if necessary.
  • Use in place of malt syrup according to your recipe’s instructions.


  • Adjustments may need to be made depending on individual taste preferences and the specific recipe being used.
  • Keep in mind that substitutes may also have slight variations in viscosity, so it’s important to make adjustments accordingly.
Keyword Malt Syrup Substitutes
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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
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