As the holidays approach, more and more baked goods that use molasses are being made (gingerbread cookies or gingersnaps anyone?). For the other 11 months of the year, molasses just sort of sits in the back of our pantry, so it's no surprise that you might run into an oh-so-familiar dilemma on your next baking endeavor. You find the perfect recipe, the oven's preheated, you start baking, and you realize you're out of the key ingredient. Have no fear, because there are plenty of molasses substitutes to save the day.

Vienna Terrell

Molasses is just a super thick syrup-like substance that's derived from sugarcane. It's mainly used as a sweetener in cooking or baking. Instead of throwing out your half-made gingerbread, here are seven molasses substitutes you can use in your baking.

1. Maple Syrup

Vienna Terrell

Maple syrup is like molasses' more popular cousin. They're both thick, sugary syrups, so you can swap out a cup of molasses for a cup of pure maple syrup in your next recipe.

#SpoonTip: Spray your measuring cup with cooking spray to prevent your syrup from sticking to the surface.

2. Honey

honey dipper, honey, sweet
Sam Jesner

Just like maple syrup, honey is another molasses substitute you can use in your baking. Honey has a thicker consistency than maple syrup, so the texture of your finished product will be similar to if you had used molasses. Again, molasses is more bitter, while honey is sweet, so the taste may be somewhat altered. Keep the measurements the same, and use one cup of honey for every one cup of molasses the recipe calls for.

If you do choose to use honey or maple syrup, you might want to consider altering or adding more spices into your recipe to make up for the sweet profile of syrup. It'll also echo the potent flavor profile molasses would've added. 

3. Brown Sugar

soft Light brown sugar

rockindave1 on Flickr

Brown sugar is literally just molasses combined with granulated sugar. For every 1 cup of molasses your recipe calls for, replace it with 3/4 cup of tightly packed brown sugar. Keep in mind that dark brown sugar has a higher molasses to sugar ratio than light brown sugar. Since brown sugar already has molasses in it, this molasses substitute will give you the closest result to using the real thing.

#SpoonTip: If you're ever out of brown sugar, add 1 tablespoon of molasses to 1 cup of white sugar to make your own.

4. Dark Corn Syrup

Vienna Terrell

Noticing a pattern yet? There are plenty of molasses substitutes you can use in your baking, and most of them are sweet, thick syrups. Use 1 cup of dark corn syrup for every 1 cup of molasses.

The difference between dark and light corn syrup is that dark corn syrup is made with refiners' syrup, which is a specific type of molasses. Using this substitute gets you pretty close to the color, consistency, and flavor of actual molasses.

Alternatively, if you ever need dark corn syrup for a recipe, you can actually add 1/4 cup of molasses to 3/4 cup of light corn syrup for a quick substitute. 

5. Granulated Sugar

coffee, tea
Katie Walsh

If you're really in a crunch, you can combine 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of hot water to form a syrup. You'll forgo the deep brown color of molasses, but you'll get a similar result in the end.

Bonus points if you have any cream of tartar lying around. Adding 1 1/4 teaspoons to the sugar-water mixture will help stabilize your dish, and helps compensate for the thin consistency of your sugar-water combo by adding more volume.

6. Apple Sauce

CJ Kang

If you're trying to avoid processed sugars in general, use applesauce as a molasses substitute. Add some sugar and some cinnamon for a slightly healthier substitution in your baking. There isn't really an exact measurement for applesauce as a molasses substitute because they vary in consistency, so channel your inner Rachel Ray and just eyeball it.

#SpoonTip: Have leftover apples from your latest apple picking trip? Try making your own applesauce

7. Yogurt

coffee, sweet, cream, dairy product, milk
Kathleen Lee

Similar to applesauce, yogurt is another great, healthy alternative to molasses. It has similar properties, but it definitely has a different flavor profile than molasses, so again, consider increasing the amount of spices and seasonings in your recipe. Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you may need to alter the measurements. Start off with a one-to-one ratio, but alter the amount as needed.

molasses, pastry, candy, chocolate, gingerbread, sweet, cookie, ginger
Jayna Goldstein

One ingredient to avoid using as a molasses substitute is black strap molasses. On the off chance you have a bottle of it lying around, don't use it in your baking. While it is technically molasses, it's a lot more bitter and will completely overpower your recipe. 

If you do happen to dig up an old jar of molasses and you find that it's hardened or crystallized, you may be able to salvage it. Molasses has a long shelf life (about five years) so just heat it up on your stove and the crystals should dissolve. Or microwave it in 30-second intervals until it gets back to its usual texture. When you're done, keep it in an air-tight container in your pantry.

As your holiday binge-baking begins, keep these molasses substitutes in the back of your mind just in case you find yourself in a sticky situation.