Can I use monk fruit instead of maple syrup?

Using monk fruit as an alternative to maple syrup has become a popular option for people looking to reduce sugar and calories in their diet. Monk fruit sweetener provides the sweet taste of maple syrup without the high glycemic impact. But how well does it really work as a replacement, and what should you know before swapping monk fruit for maple syrup in recipes?

What is Monk Fruit?

Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a small green melon from China and parts of Thailand. Monk fruit gets its name from the monks who first cultivated it centuries ago. The fruit has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, but it has only recently become popular in Western countries as a zero-calorie natural sweetener.

The sweetness in monk fruit comes from unique antioxidants called mogrosides. When monk fruit is processed into a sweetener, the mogrosides are extracted and condensed into a sweet, syrupy liquid. Since mogrosides are not classified as sugars, monk fruit sweetener contains no calories or carbs. It has gained popularity among health-conscious consumers looking for alternatives to sugar.

How Monk Fruit Sweetener Compares to Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made from the boiled sap of maple trees. It contains sucrose, the type of sugar commonly found in many plants. One quarter cup of maple syrup has:

  • Calories: 200
  • Total carbohydrates: 54 grams
  • Added sugars: 32 grams
  • Potassium: 8% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Calcium: 4% of the DV
  • Iron: 11% of the DV

In comparison, monk fruit sweetener has:

  • Calories: 0
  • Total carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Potassium, calcium, iron: 0% of the DV

Monk fruit sweetener is a zero-calorie, low-glycemic alternative to sugar and maple syrup. Using monk fruit allows you to reduce the calories, carbohydrates, and glycemic impact of a recipe compared to using regular maple syrup. However, you will also reduce the small amounts of minerals found in maple syrup.

How to Replace Maple Syrup with Monk Fruit

Monk fruit sweetener is intensely sweet, with sweetness ranging from 100-250 times greater than table sugar. This means you only need a small amount of monk fruit sweetener to match the sweetness of maple syrup.

As a general rule of thumb, use:

  • 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Or 1 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1/4 cup maple syrup

However, taste and adjust the amount of monk fruit sweetener as needed. Since monk fruit sweetness varies by brand, you may need to tweak these conversion ratios.

When replacing maple syrup in recipes, there are a few important considerations:

Moisture Content

Maple syrup contains water that can help keep baked goods moist. Monk fruit sweetener does not contain moisture, so you may need to increase other wet ingredients slightly (like milk or eggs) to avoid dryness.


Maple syrup provides a smooth, viscous texture in recipes. Monk fruit alone won’t replicate this texture. For best results, mix monk fruit sweetener into heated honey, agave, or coconut oil to thin it out before swapping in for maple syrup.


Maple syrup provides a rich maple flavor that monk fruit sweetener lacks. You can boost flavor by adding maple extract or vanilla to recipes when using monk fruit instead of maple syrup.

Baking and Cooking Substitutions

Here are some tips for replacing maple syrup with monk fruit sweetener in different types of recipes:

Pancakes and Waffles

  • Use 1 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Increase milk slightly to maintain moisture
  • Stir in vanilla and maple extracts for flavor

Granola and Baked Oatmeal

  • Use 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Add extra cinnamon and raisins to boost flavor
  • Increase almond milk or water slightly for moisture

Salad Dressings and Marinades

  • Use 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Thin it out by mixing with heated olive oil or melted coconut oil before using

Glazes for Meat and Vegetable Dishes

  • Use 1 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Combine with balsamic vinegar and thyme or rosemary for flavor
  • For thicker glazes, simmer to reduce liquid

Fruit Desserts

  • Use 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit sweetener for every 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Add a dash of cinnamon or vanilla to boost maple flavor
  • Thicken with chia seeds or cornstarch dissolved in water if needed

Potential Benefits of Using Monk Fruit Instead of Maple Syrup

Here are some of the key benefits that may be associated with using monk fruit sweetener rather than regular maple syrup:

Fewer Calories and Carbs

Monk fruit sweetener contains zero calories and carbs compared to about 200 calories and 54 grams of carbs in a quarter cup of maple syrup. Using monk fruit allows you to reduce the calorie and carb load of recipes.

Lower Glycemic Impact

Maple syrup has a high glycemic index, meaning it causes a rapid spike in blood sugar. Monk fruit has a glycemic index of zero and won’t impact blood sugar at all, which is beneficial for diabetics and those managing glucose levels.

Less Processed

Monk fruit sweetener is minimally processed directly from the monk fruit. Maple syrup goes through more extensive processing to boil and condense the sap down to syrup. So some may perceive monk fruit as the “cleaner” choice.

No Artificial Ingredients

Many monk fruit sweetener brands contain only monk fruit extract without any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Be sure to check the ingredient label when purchasing it.

May Cut Sugar Cravings

The sweet taste of monk fruit may help satisfy a sweet tooth without the blood sugar spike of sugar or maple syrup. This effect may reduce sugar cravings.

Maple Flavor Still Possible

While monk fruit lacks maple flavor, you can add maple extract or vanilla to mimic the maple syrup flavor. So you don’t have to compromise too much on taste.

Potential Disadvantages of Using Monk Fruit Instead of Maple Syrup

However, there are also some downsides to consider when using monk fruit as a maple syrup alternative:

Higher Cost

Monk fruit sweetener tends to be more expensive than maple syrup. Expect to pay about $1 per ounce for liquid monk fruit sweetener versus $0.33 per ounce for maple syrup.

May Cause Digestive Issues

In some people, large amounts of monk fruit sweetener can cause digestive problems like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Start with small amounts and discontinue use if any intolerance occurs.

Doesn’t Work the Same in All Recipes

While monk fruit may work well in some recipes, the lack of moisture and viscosity compared to maple syrup means it won’t work as a direct replacement in all recipes. Some trial and error may be needed.

No Nutritional Benefits

Monk fruit sweetener doesn’t offer the same micronutrients found in maple syrup like manganese, riboflavin, zinc, and calcium. So some nutritional benefits are lost.

May Need Flavor Adjustments

You’ll likely need to boost flavor with maple extract, cinnamon, or another flavoring to mimic the maple syrup flavor when using monk fruit.

Has a Cooling Effect

Monk fruit contains unique compounds called mogrosides that provide a slight cooling effect on the tongue. Some people dislike this light cooling sensation when it’s not balanced out by other flavors.

Best Practices When Switching to Monk Fruit

Follow these tips to make the transition from maple syrup to monk fruit go smoothly:

  • Start with a substitution ratio of 1 teaspoon monk fruit for every 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Taste test and adjust monk fruit amounts to your taste preferences
  • Add moisture to recipes by increasing wet ingredients slightly
  • Blend monk fruit with heated oils or honeys to improve texture
  • Enhance maple flavor with maple extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla
  • Consider combining monk fruit with a small amount of maple syrup for cooking and baking if you miss the maple flavor
  • Look for organic monk fruit sweeteners without chemical additives
  • Store monk fruit sweetener in a cool, dry place away from sunlight
  • Start with partial monk fruit substitutions in recipes before completely replacing the maple syrup

With the proper adjustments and expectations, monk fruit can be an excellent low-glycemic, low-calorie alternative to maple syrup for health-conscious eaters looking to reduce sugar and carbohydrates in their diet.

Health Concerns with Monk Fruit

Although monk fruit sweetener appears to be generally safe for consumption, there are some health considerations to keep in mind:

Blood Sugar

Monk fruit extract does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels. However, some monk fruit sweetener blends do contain sugar alcohols like erythritol which can slightly impact blood glucose. Check labels if diabetes is a concern.


Rare cases of monk fruit allergies have been reported. Discontinue use if any signs of allergic reaction occur.


There is insufficient research on monk fruit consumption during pregnancy. Consult a doctor before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Intestinal Effects

Overconsumption may cause mild laxative effects. Reduce intake if diarrhea occurs.

Medication Interactions

May potentially interact with immunosuppressant drugs. Speak to your doctor if taking any medications.

Lack of Long-Term Studies

As a relatively new sweetener alternative, no long-term studies have conclusively demonstrated the health effects of regular monk fruit consumption over decades. Moderation is recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does monk fruit taste like maple syrup?

No, monk fruit has a very pure sweet taste without any maple flavor. You will need to add maple extract or vanilla if aiming to mimic the maple syrup flavor.

Is monk fruit sweeter than maple syrup?

Yes, monk fruit extract is significantly sweeter than maple syrup. It contains sweet compounds called mogrosides that are estimated to be 100-250 times sweeter than granulated sugar.

What is the glycemic index of monk fruit?

Monk fruit sweetener has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it does not impact blood glucose levels. Maple syrup has a moderately high glycemic index.

Does monk fruit have calories?

No, pure monk fruit extract does not inherently contain calories or carbohydrates. However, some monk fruit sweetener blends do contain a small amount of sugar alcohol which provides about half the calories of sugar per gram.

Is monk fruit safe for diabetics?

Yes, monk fruit is generally considered safe for diabetics based on its zero-glycemic impact. But check labels, as some blends contain other sweeteners that can minimally impact blood sugar.

Does monk fruit caramelize like maple syrup?

No, monk fruit does not caramelize or brown the same way when exposed to high heat. For recipes needing caramelization, you may want to only partially replace the maple syrup with monk fruit.

Is maple syrup healthier than monk fruit?

Maple syrup does contain some micronutrients like manganese, calcium, potassium, and iron that are not found in monk fruit. However, monk fruit is much lower in calories and carbohydrates compared to maple syrup. So monk fruit would be considered the healthier choice overall for people watching their sugar and carb intake.

The Bottom Line

Monk fruit sweetener can be an excellent low-glycemic, low-calorie alternative to maple syrup. By using the proper conversion ratios and adding moisture, texture, and flavors to recipes, monk fruit can work well in place of maple syrup for health-conscious individuals looking to reduce sugar and carbohydrates in their diet. However, some recipes may not turn out as well with monk fruit, so be prepared for some trial and error. Look for high-quality monk fruit extracts without additives and enjoy monk fruit in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

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