12 Best Maple Syrup Substitutes

Last Updated on May 22, 2024 | 0 Comments
There are many maple syrup substitutes to use

Have you ever wondered what maple syrup substitute to use when you're all out? Or perhaps you want a different flavor profile to enhance your pancakes, waffles or baked goods? Whether you're in the middle of a recipe and realize you're out of syrup or are simply looking for a healthier or more affordable alternative, our guide to maple syrup substitutes has got you covered.

From common kitchen staples to unique sweeteners, there's a maple syrup substitute for every need and preference. No matter why you're looking for an alternative, read on to discover your new go-to maple syrup substitute.

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What Is Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of maple trees. The production process begins in early spring when the trees are tapped to collect their sap, which is then boiled down to concentrate its sugars, resulting in the rich, amber syrup known for its distinctive flavor. Typically, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. This labor-intensive process yields a syrup that is prized for its unique taste, making it a staple for use with pancakes, waffles and so much more.

Nutritionally, maple syrup is notable for its high sugar content, with one tablespoon containing about 52 calories and 12 grams of sugar. Unlike refined sugar, it also offers trace amounts of essential minerals such as manganese, zinc and calcium. Despite these benefits, those seeking to reduce their sugar intake or looking for a different flavor profile may opt for a maple syrup substitute. These alternatives can range from honey and agave nectar to fruit-based syrups, each providing a unique twist while catering to various dietary preferences and needs.

Maple syrup bottles on a table
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What Is the Purpose of Maple Syrup in Cooking and Baking?

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that can be used in a number of sweet and savory dishes. Most commonly, it is drizzled over pancakes, waffles and French toast, providing a deep and rich sweetness. Beyond breakfast, maple syrup serves as a natural sweetener in baking, enriching cookies, cakes and muffins with its unmistakably smoky taste. It is also the star of the show in dishes such as maple-glazed carrots, adding a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor. Some even use maple syrup as a sweetener for coffee and other beverages.

With all these uses, it may be concerning if a recipe calls for maple syrup and you don’t have any or if you go to add it to your favorite dish and you’re all out. Luckily, there are many substitutes for maple syrup, which we cover below, that can tide you over until you replenish your stock. 

Maple syrup being poured over pancakes
via Canva

12 Best Substitutes for Maple Syrup

1. Honey

Honey has a similar viscosity and natural sweetness to maple syrup, but can you substitute honey for maple syrup? The answer is yes! Honey's rich, floral notes can complement a wide range of dishes, making it a versatile alternative. It works particularly well in baking, where its moisture content helps keep cakes and cookies soft and sweet. Honey can also be drizzled over pancakes, waffles and yogurt, or used in salad dressings, marinades and sauces in place of maple syrup.

To make the substitution, use a 1:1 ratio, meaning one cup of honey for one cup of maple syrup. As honey is sweeter than maple syrup, you may want to reduce the amount if you prefer a less sweet result. Additionally, when baking, remember that honey can cause baked goods to brown more quickly, so adjust your baking times and temperatures accordingly. With these tips in mind, honey can be a delicious and effective maple syrup substitute in many recipes.

A jar of honey with a honey dipper
via Canva

2. White Sugar

White sugar is an easily accessible substitute for maple syrup and one of the most common types of sugar. When substituting sugar for maple syrup, it’s important to understand that sugar provides sweetness without the distinctive flavor or liquid content of maple syrup. This makes it an excellent choice for recipes where a neutral sweetness is desired, such as in cakes, cookies and muffins.

To substitute white sugar for maple syrup, use a 1:1 ratio by volume, but adjust the liquid content in your recipe. For every cup of maple syrup replaced, add an additional quarter cup of liquid (such as milk or water) to maintain the proper consistency in batters and doughs.

White sugar is a good maple syrup substitute
via Canva

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3. Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a great maple syrup substitute due to its rich, molasses-like flavor, which closely resembles the deep complexity of maple syrup. This makes it particularly well-suited for recipes where a robust sweetness is desired, such as in baked goods like cookies and cakes. Brown sugar's moisture content also helps keep these items soft and chewy, similar to how maple syrup would.

Use a 1:1 ratio by volume when opting for brown sugar as a maple syrup substitute. However, since brown sugar is dry and maple syrup is liquid, you'll need to adjust the liquid content in your recipe, adding a quarter cup of additional liquid to your batter or dough. Brown sugar can also be used in sauces and glazes where its caramel notes can enhance the overall flavor profile, making it a versatile maple syrup substitute.

Brown sugar in a spoon
via Canva

4. Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a good maple syrup substitute as its syrupy sweetness mimics that of maple syrup. If you’ve been wondering: “Can I substitute corn syrup for maple syrup?” Yes, you can, particularly in recipes where the texture and moisture content are crucial. Corn syrup is best used in baking and cooking, such as in recipes for cookies, cakes, candies and glazes, where it helps maintain the desired texture and prevents crystallization.

As a maple syrup substitute, add one cup of corn syrup for each cup of maple syrup a recipe calls for. However, note that corn syrup lacks the earthy flavor of maple syrup, so the final dish will have a more neutral sweetness.

A spoon with corn syrup on it
via Canva

5. Coconut Nectar

An excellent maple syrup substitute, coconut nectar has a similarly caramel-like flavor, which adds an edge to dishes without overpowering other ingredients. Coconut nectar is best used in recipes where its subtle sweetness and hint of caramel enhance the overall flavor profile, such as in cakes and cookies.

To make the substitution, use a 1:1 ratio. As coconut nectar offers a similar sweetness and liquidity to maple syrup, it can be used in almost all recipes that call for maple syrup, such as moreish soufflé pancakes with white miso maple syrup. It's not the best choice, however, if you're looking for a pouring substitute for maple syrup.

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6. Molasses

Looking for a great maple syrup substitute as well as a brown sugar substitute? Molasses fits the bill for both, down to its rich and robust flavor. Molasses works particularly well in baked goods, such as peppery gingerbread, and in marinades and glazes for meats, where its strong flavor can enhance the overall taste.

It's simple to substitute molasses for maple syrup, just use one cup of molasses for one cup of maple syrup. If the strong flavor of molasses is a concern, you can mix it with a bit of water or another sweetener to dilute its intensity. This substitution is ideal for recipes that benefit from the rich, complex flavor profile that molasses brings, making it arguably the best maple syrup substitute.

Molasses is an excellent maple syrup substitute
via Canva

7. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is another clever maple syrup substitute due to its similar viscosity and sweetness. It's derived from the agave plant and has a mild flavor that doesn't overpower other ingredients, making it versatile for various culinary uses. Agave nectar works particularly well in baking and as a topping for pancakes, waffles and yogurt. You could even use it as a beverage sweetener if you usually add a little maple syrup to your tea or coffee.

Since agave nectar is sweeter than maple syrup, you may want to use slightly less than a 1:1 ratio if you prefer a less sweet result. Additionally, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than maple syrup, making it a good option for those looking to manage blood sugar levels. 

Agave nectar can work as a maple syrup substitute
via Canva

8. Date Syrup

Date syrup is a good substitute for maple syrup because of its natural sweetness and rich, caramel-like flavor, which closely resembles that of maple syrup. Made from puréed dates, this syrup also offers additional nutritional benefits, including fiber, vitamins and minerals, making it a healthier alternative to refined sweeteners. Date syrup works particularly well in recipes that benefit from a deep flavor profile, such as baked goods and sauces.

As a maple syrup substitute, swap out one cup of maple syrup for one cup of date syrup. This straightforward substitution allows you to maintain the same sweetness and consistency in your recipes. Its wholesome, nutrient-rich composition also makes it a preferred option for those looking to reduce their intake of refined sugars while still enjoying a sweet treat.

Dates and date syrup on a board
via Canva

9. Cane Syrup

A wonderful maple syrup substitute, cane syrup imparts a rich, caramel-like flavor and shares a similar consistency. Its robust taste, which adds depth and complexity to dishes means that cane syrup is best used in recipes where its distinctive flavor can shine, such as in baked goods, glazes, sauces and marinades.

To make the swap, simply use cane syrup in place of maple syrup at a 1:1 ratio. Cane syrup provides a delicious and distinctive maple syrup substitute, perfect for adding depth to a variety of recipes.

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10. Golden Syrup

Golden syrup serves as a handy maple syrup substitute and store cupboard staple. Golden syrup’s versatility in various recipes is pretty evident. From cakes and cookies to simply drizzling over pancakes or oatmeal, this popular syrup makes for a delightful maple syrup substitute.

Swap like for like, using one cup of golden syrup for one cup of maple syrup. Keep in mind that golden syrup has a slightly thicker consistency than maple syrup, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipe accordingly.

Additionally, while golden syrup shares a similar caramel flavor profile with maple syrup, it lacks distinct maple notes and is somewhat more sugary, so the final dish may have a different flavor profile. Nevertheless, golden syrup's smooth texture and delicate sweetness make it a perfect maple syrup substitute. 

A white ceramic bowl with thick syrup and a spoon
via Canva

11. Monk Fruit Syrup

If you're watching your sugar intake, monk fruit syrup is the maple syrup substitute for you. Its natural sweetness and low glycemic index makes it an ideal choice for individuals following low-carb or ketogenic diets. Unlike maple syrup, which is derived from tree sap, monk fruit syrup is made from the extract of the monk fruit, native to Southeast Asia. Monk fruit syrup is best used in recipes where a liquid sweetener is required, such as in baking, cooking or drizzling over pancakes and waffles.

To make the substitution, use monk fruit syrup in a 1:1 ratio with maple syrup. Just keep in mind that monk fruit syrup may be sweeter than maple syrup, so you may want to adjust the amount based on your taste preferences. Additionally, monk fruit syrup does not have the same caramel-like flavor as maple syrup, so the final dish may have a slightly different taste profile. 

Monkfruit nectar is a unique maple syrup substitute
via Canva

12. Pancake Syrup

While not the best choice for baking, pancake syrup (also called table syrup or waffle syrup) is an excellent maple syrup substitute if you’re looking for an alternative to pour over breakfast dishes like pancakes, French toast or waffles. Pancake syrup is slightly sweeter than maple syrup and lacks maple notes but it works perfectly as a sweet topping.

Also, remember that pancake syrup is less healthy for you than maple syrup as it is a more processed product. However, if you’re pouring some over dishes like pancakes as a treat, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. In terms of use, you can use a 1:1 ratio of pancake syrup for maple syrup. 

A person pouring syrup on pancakes
via Canva

In exploring the best maple syrup substitutes, we've uncovered a diverse array of alternatives that cater to various dietary needs and flavor preferences. Whether you're seeking a lower-glycemic alternative or simply looking to switch up your pancake topping, there's a maple syrup substitute to suit every taste.

From honey and agave syrup to coconut nectar and date syrup, each option offers its own unique flavor profile and nutritional benefits. By incorporating these maple syrup substitutes into your recipes, you can experiment with new flavors, enhancing both the taste and sweetness balance of your dishes. 

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.