Are you looking for a healthier alternative to sugar, yet unsure of what exactly jaggery is?
In this article, you will find out the five best substitutes for jaggery that are not only healthy but also delicious.
Discover healthier options today.
Jaggery is a type of unrefined, non-centrifugal sugar made from evaporated juice from from certain types of palm trees, or from the sap of sugar cane.
It has a unique flavor — slightly smoky and caramelly with hints of molasses — and it’s used to sweeten snack foods, desserts and drinks.
Jaggery is often used in Indian dishes such as rasmalai, gulab jamun, lumbus and other sweets.
Depending on where it’s sourced, jaggery may be made with only palm sap or a combination of both varying kinds of date palms (which contribute different levels of sweetness and aroma qualities) as well as sugarcane juice.
The end product can range in color from golden brown to dark-brownish black.
Jaggery tastes far more complex than white refined sugars — think the difference between Emmental cheese and processed cheese slices.
Though it can’t be used as a replacement in all applications due to its sturdy structure, jaggery has many benefits that refined sugars don’t offer: It’s rich in essential minerals that include calcium, manganese, iron, zinc; contains natural prebiotics for digestive health; is unprocessed so retains most vitamins present in its source material; it also helps increase metabolism.
5 Best Jaggery Substitutes to Consider
Sometimes labeled as “gur” or “gurr”, jaggery is used to sweeten a variety of dishes such as shrikhand (a traditional Indian sweet yogurt dish) or garam masala chai.
If you’re out of jaggery but don’t want the flavor and texture to suffer in your dish, there are several great substitutes that you can use instead.
Here are 5 of the best:
1 – Rapadura Sugar
Rapadura sugar is a naturally unrefined, dehydrated cane sugar.
It is simply made by crushing ripe sugar cane and boiling the juice until it thickens.
The thick syrup is then poured into dried trays and left in the sun until it hardens into unrefined granules with a deep golden hue.
Rapadura has many of the same benefits as jaggery, including the presence of essential minerals such as iron and magnesium.
Although it does contain some natural molasses flavor, unlike jaggery it does not have any smoky or earthy flavoring.
Plus, it’s available in most well-stocked grocery stores under various names like rapadura or panela.
Because of its sweet but mellow flavor, high mineral content and coarse texture, rapadura makes an excellent substitute for any recipe calling for jaggery.
2 – Demerara Sugar
Demerara sugar is another alternative to jaggery that has some slightly different flavors and characteristics.
The color of Demerara sugar is a darker brown color than regular white and yellow sugars, with a coarse texture.
It has larger crystals that are also irregularly-shaped compared to the smaller, uniform crystals of table sugar.
It also retains its natural molasses in the manufacturing process and gives it a slight molasses flavor.
Demerara sugar can easily be substituted for jaggery in both sweet and savory dishes since the texture will hold up well when heated or cooked for long periods of time.
3 – Dark Brown Sugar
For those looking for a more naturally-derived substitute to jaggery, dark brown sugar is a great option.
Dark brown sugar is produced by combining regular white cane sugar with molasses, providing an added layer of flavor and color.
It contains minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and its nutrient content is also higher than that of plain white sugar.
Its flavor profile adds hints of caramel and butterscotch – perfect when added to cakes and puddings.
However, do bear in mind that dark brown sugar has a subtle molasses taste that can be off-putting when used in certain dishes.
As with jaggery, make sure the sugar you buy has no additives such as preservatives or artificial flavors before using it as a substitute.
4 – Muscovado Sugar
Muscovado sugar is a form of unrefined sugar that contains molasses, making it stickier, coarser and darker than regular white sugar.
It also has a strong flavor which comes from the natural molasses content.
Muscovado sugar still contains some of the minerals which are extracted during the processing of standard white sugar, giving it a unique and more complex flavor.
It is considered a healthier alternative to other sweeteners as it has a lower glycemic index than other sugars and plenty of nutritional benefits.
It is best suited for baking brownies or biscuits as well as adding to drinks or desserts like crumble or trifles to give them an extra depth of flavor.
Muscovado sugar can be used as an ideal alternative for Jaggery in many recipes such as cakes, porridges, pastries and chutneys.
5 – Molasses
Molasses is another product of the sugar-making process and offers the strongest comparison to jaggery.
While both are dark brown in color, molasses has a slightly bitter flavor that some people may find too strong.
If you’re interested in molasses as a substitute, be sure to use an unsulphured variety.
Unsulphured molasses is made without the addition of sulphur dioxide during processing and has a richer, less bitter flavor than traditional molasses.
Because it provides fewer calories and contains amounts of iron, magnesium and B vitamins,unsulphured molasses is often seen as the healthier choice.
When substituting, use equal amounts of molasses for jaggery with no further adjustments needed to your recipe.
In conclusion, jaggery can add a wonderful depth and complexity to many dishes, from Indian curries to stir-fries.
Finding an appropriate substitution isn’t difficult with the five contenders we have outlined.
Whether you use molasses, maple syrup, honey, or panela depends largely on the taste profile you are trying to achieve.
All of these ingredients contain various levels of sweetness and varying degrees of nutrients like zinc and iron.
With careful experimentation you can find the best substitute for jaggery in your specific dish.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!