I have been trying to avoid refined sugar (white sugar, corn syrup, etc.) for health reasons. usually I replace it with demerara sugar, but I can also use honey, date syrup, unrefined cane sugar.

Is it possible to make candy (that will taste good) without the refined sugar? Are there some candies that will work better than others?

  • 1
    Although health advice is out of scope I would point out that there's no such thing as "healthy" sugar.
    – GdD
    Oct 26, 2015 at 10:30
  • @GgD - I never said healthy - just less unhealthy. I find that the refined sugar causes me specific problems.
    – user40292
    Oct 26, 2015 at 15:11
  • 6
    Have you tried searching for recipes that call for those particular sweeteners? A direct substitution might be problematic -- e.g. honey won't cook the same way granulated white sugar will -- but a recipe designed with that alternative sweetener in mind can work.
    – Erica
    Oct 26, 2015 at 18:55

3 Answers 3


The closer your sugar is to white refined sugar, the better your recipe will work. Unrefined cane sugar and demerara are both quite good choices. They just have a tiny bit of molasses, else they are almost the same thing and behave very similar to white refined sugar.

Honey has a lot of water, around 17%. The same goes for many other syrups (date syrup, agave syrup). Changing a recipe to work with those will need a lot of experimentation, costing you time and materials. I wouldn't recommend doing it. You can try finding a recipe developed with those in mind.

Other sugars such as pure dextrose or fructose also won't behave the same way as standard white sugar, even though they have no water content. You'll need new recipes for them too.

  • using demerara or unrefined cane, would I use just a 1:1 substitution, or something more complicated? Also, I would call myself a beginner candy maker - are there some types of candies that are more likely to work than others?
    – user40292
    Oct 26, 2015 at 15:10
  • @user1930608 yes, substitute 1:1. I can't think of any differences in "likely to work" right now, maybe somebody else will be able to provide more detail.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 26, 2015 at 19:36
  • How would you substitute for corn syrup?
    – user40292
    Oct 28, 2015 at 15:14
  • I cannot say without seeing the recipe. In general, substitutions are difficult and have to be tailored to the recipe. Unrefined sugar for standard sugar is an exception, as it is basically the same thing.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 28, 2015 at 20:14

This history of candy is rife with how to make candy from different sources of sweet, which also in turn means there is a huge amount of regional and cultural variety based on what is available to a local candy maker. The recipes are going to be VERY different with vast variations of end results.

Think honey based candies...Mary Janes, bit o honey are nothing like any other candy. Nougat is another platform for candy that can't be hardened. Hard toffees (like a brittle think Heath and skor) soft toffees, or baked seed candies have honey in them that isn't "hard" but it's stiffened by baking and drying.

Look for recipes that use your chosen primary ingredient. You might have to hunt a lot and learn new keywords other than "candy".


No, unrefined sugars do not produce the same results when cooking it to anything above a soft ball candy stage. IT takes much longer to reach those temperatures and when it does the results are very grainy with that distinctive pronounced natural Cane flavor that flavorings will not be able to mask.

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