Palm Sugar vs Coconut Sugar – What’s the Difference?

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Coconut sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar commonly used throughout Asia. These sugars are becoming increasingly popular as a substitute for white sugar and can be found in supermarkets and health food stores.

Whether you’re baking desserts or cooking a savory Asian dish you’re probably wondering if you can use palm sugar and coconut sugar interchangeably. 

So, what’s the difference between palm sugar and coconut sugar? Palm sugar and coconut sugar are different kinds of sugar. Coconut sugar is made from the milky sap of the flower stem of the coconut palm. Palm sugar is made from the sap of a palm tree. Palm sugar can be made from any type of palm tree, such as date palm, Palmyra palm, nipa palm, or sugar palm. 

In this article, we’ll tell you more about palm sugar and coconut sugar, including how they are made, and what’s different about them. Keep reading to find out if you can substitute palm sugar for coconut sugar and which is better. 

What Is Palm Sugar?

Palm sugar is a sweetener made from any type of palm tree. Palm sugars from different varieties of palm trees may have slightly different compositions, but are processed similarly and can be used interchangeably. 

Most commonly, palm sugar is made from Palmyra, date, nipa, sugar, and coconut palms.

Palm sugar is made by boiling sap, collected from the trunk of a palm tree until it thickens. The boiled sap is often sold as a palm syrup that is packaged in bottles and tins and tends to thicken and crystalize over time.

When the boiled sap is left to solidify, it forms bricks or cakes, that may be labeled as jaggery. Palm sugar can sometimes be found in a powdered or granulated form, but you’re more likely to come across palm syrup or jaggery. 

Palm sugar ranges in color from golden brown to dark brown, and almost black, depending on the variety of the palm tree it’s made from. It has a caramel and smoky flavor with hints of maple and is less sweet than refined white sugar and brown sugar. 

What Is Coconut Sugar?

Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar, coco sugar, coconut blossom sugar, and coco sap sugar is a type of palm sugar. It is made from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm tree. 

Despite common beliefs, coconut sugar isn’t made from coconuts. The production of coconut sugar usually has two steps. 

Everything starts with placing a tap in the coconut flower bud stem and collecting the sap that flows out. The sap is translucent and made of around 80% water.

The collected sap is placed over medium heat to evaporate the moisture content. As the moisture evaporates a thick sap syrup remains. From this form, the syrup can be further transformed into a soft paste, crystal, or block. 

Coconut sugar is usually sold in granulated form and has a similar brown color and is almost as sweet as brown sugar. But unlike brown sugar, coconut sugar also has a slight hint of caramel flavor. 

Palm Sugar vs Coconut Sugar: Difference

Palm and coconut sugar are very similar in terms of flavor, nutritional content, and the way they are used. However, they also differ in several ways.


The most notable difference between palm sugar and coconut sugar is that they come in different forms. 

Palm sugar comes in many forms, including syrup, block, powder, and granules, while coconut sugar is often sold in granule-like form. This makes coconut sugar much easier to substitute in recipes.

Although palm sugar also comes in granulated form it’s most commonly sold as a syrup or a hard block. This makes it harder to substitute in recipes.

If you decide to use palm sugar as a substitute for table sugar taste-test your recipes to ensure you’ve added enough palm sugar. 


Another important distinction between palm sugar and coconut sugar is their source. 

Coconut sugar is a type of palm sugar made from the sap of the flower bud of a coconut palm tree. Palm sugar is made from various palm trees and is sourced from the sap of the palm tree trunk.

The palm sugar sold in the USA is rarely a pure product. Manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand for palm syrup, so they often mix palm sugar with cane sugar or coconut sugar. 

Keep this in mind when shopping for palm sugar and always read the ingredient list to ensure you’re buying a pure product. 

Can I Replace Palm Sugar with Coconut Sugar?

Yes, you can substitute palm sugar with coconut sugar in recipes. Coconut sugar has a similar flavor, color, and texture as palm sugar and can be used to sweeten baked goods or savory dishes.

Coconut sugar is also less processed than palm sugar and it retains some nutrients from the coconut palm tree, including zinc, potassium, and calcium, as well as antioxidants, 

Is Coconut Sugar better than Palm Sugar?

Both coconut sugar and palm sugar are touted as healthier alternatives to table sugar. However, both of these sugars are high in calories and can contribute to obesity and weight gain if consumed regularly.

Coconut sugar retains some minerals from the coconut palm tree, is also low in glucose, and has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. As a result, coconut sugar might be a slightly better option than palm sugar. 


Coconut sugar and palm sugar are two types of sugar that are commonly used as a sweetener. These sugars have a similar appearance, nutritional value, flavor, and level of sweetness.

The most notable difference between palm sugar and coconut sugar is in the way they are made. Coconut sugar is a type of palm sugar made from the sap of the coconut tree flower. Palm sugar can be made from various types of palm trees, using the sap of the tree trunk.

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