Can you use maple syrup instead of simple syrup?

When it comes to sweetening cocktails, drinks, and other recipes, simple syrup is a go-to ingredient for many mixologists and home cooks. Made by combining equal parts sugar and water and heating until the sugar dissolves, simple syrup is a versatile way to sweeten drinks without adding grittiness or an uneven sweetness profile. But if you’re out of simple syrup, could maple syrup be used as a substitute?

Quick Answer

Yes, maple syrup can be substituted for simple syrup in many recipes, but a few adjustments will need to be made. Maple syrup is thicker, sweeter, and has a more pronounced maple flavor, so you’ll need to use less maple syrup than you would simple syrup, and consider how the maple flavor will impact the overall taste of the drink or dish. Reduce the maple syrup by about 1/4 to 1/3 from the simple syrup amount, add it slowly to taste, and stir or shake well to incorporate.

Maple Syrup vs Simple Syrup Differences

While maple syrup can work as a simple syrup alternative, there are a few important ways that these two sweeteners differ:

  • Maple syrup is made from the boiled sap of maple trees, while simple syrup is just sugar and water.
  • Maple syrup contains minerals like manganese and zinc while simple syrup does not.
  • Maple syrup has a distinct maple flavor profile, while simple syrup has a neutral flavor.
  • Maple syrup is usually darker in color compared to clear simple syrup.
  • Maple syrup is significantly sweeter than simple syrup. Maple syrup has around 60 calories per tablespoon, while simple syrup has around 50 calories for two tablespoons.
  • Maple syrup is thicker and more viscous than simple syrup.
  • Maple syrup is more expensive than simple syrup, which is easy to make at home.

These differences mean that maple syrup won’t behave exactly the same as simple syrup in recipes, so adjustments will be needed if substituting one for the other.

Substitution Ratio

When substituting maple syrup for simple syrup, use about 3/4 as much maple syrup as you would simple syrup. This ratio takes into account maple syrup’s thicker consistency and higher sweetness level. For example:

  • If a recipe calls for 1 cup of simple syrup, use 3/4 cup of maple syrup.
  • For 1/2 cup simple syrup, use 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) maple syrup.
  • For 1 teaspoon simple syrup, use 3/4 teaspoon maple syrup.

The ideal maple syrup substitution ratio can vary depending on the specific recipe and your own taste preferences. Start with 3/4 the amount of maple syrup, and adjust from there as needed.

Maple Syrup Substitution Tips

Here are some tips for successfully using maple syrup in place of simple syrup:

  • Stir or shake vigorously after adding maple syrup to help incorporate it smoothly.
  • Add maple syrup slowly and taste as you go to prevent over-sweetening.
  • Try substituting grade A dark amber maple syrup first as it will have the most maple flavor.
  • For savory dishes, use grade A light amber maple syrup for a more delicate flavor.
  • Consider combinations like using both maple syrup and brown sugar to make up for the simple syrup.
  • In baked goods, reduce other liquids slightly to account for maple syrup’s added moisture.
  • If a recipe already contains maple syrup, you likely don’t need to use more when substituting for simple syrup.
  • To approximate simple syrup’s neutral flavor, try combining maple syrup with other sweeteners like honey or agave nectar.

While maple syrup won’t be exactly the same, with a few tweaks it can work nicely when you’re out of simple syrup and need a sweet substitute.

Using Maple Syrup in Cocktails

Maple syrup can be used to sweeten and enhance many cocktails in place of simple syrup or sugar syrup. Here are some tips for using maple syrup in cocktails:

  • Use a 2:1 ratio – for every 2 parts of simple syrup called for, use 1 part maple syrup.
  • Add maple syrup gradually and taste as you go to prevent over-sweetening the drink.
  • Shake or stir vigorously to incorporate the thicker maple syrup.
  • For maple old fashioneds, manhattans, and other spirit-forward drinks, use just 1/4 to 1/2 ounce maple syrup.
  • Maple syrup pairs especially well with bourbon, rye, rum, and warm fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • For maple cocktails, choose darker A or B grades of syrup for the strongest maple flavor.
  • To make a maple simple syrup, combine 2 parts maple syrup and 1 part water and stir or shake to combine. Heat to dissolve if needed.
  • For a maple sweet and sour mix, use maple syrup along with lemon and lime juice.

Maple syrup can lend delightful flavor, sweetness, and viscosity to cocktails, so don’t be afraid to drizzle it into your next mixed drink.

Using Maple Syrup in Baking and Cooking

In baked goods and other recipes, maple syrup can often be used to replace up to half of the required simple or granulated sugar:

  • For every 1 cup of sugar, use 1/2 cup maple syrup and reduce the liquid called for by about 3-4 tablespoons.
  • Reduce oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning.
  • Stir maple syrup into batter well to incorporate smoothly.
  • For the strongest maple flavor, use grade B maple syrup.
  • To make a maple sugar substitute, combine 1 cup maple syrup with 1 cup granulated sugar and blend or process until smooth.
  • Maple syrup works well in recipes for cookies, cakes, muffins, bread, granola, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and more.
  • For savory glazes on meats or vegetables, use just 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup per cup of liquid.

While maple syrup may change the texture slightly, it can impart delicious maple sweetness to baked goods, roasted veggies, oatmeal, desserts, and more.

Maple Syrup Nutrition

Maple syrup contains beneficial nutrients including:

  • Manganese – Maple syrup has 24% of your daily value of manganese per tablespoon. Manganese supports bone health and metabolism.
  • Zinc – Zinc helps keep the immune system strong. Maple syrup provides 6% DV of zinc per tablespoon.
  • Calcium – Just 1 tablespoon of maple syrup provides 4% of the recommended daily calcium intake.
  • Potassium – With potassium, maple syrup helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure.
  • Antioxidants – Maple syrup contains beneficial plant compounds like lignans and polyphenols which have antioxidant effects.

However, it’s high in sugar, with about 60 calories and 12-15 grams of sugar per tablespoon. Enjoy maple syrup in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

Maple Syrup Grades

Maple syrup comes in a few main grades that differ in color and flavor:

  • Grade A Light Amber – Very light in color with a mild, delicate maple flavor. Use when you want just a hint of maple.
  • Grade A Amber – Medium amber color with a rich maple flavor. The most common and versatile grade.
  • Grade A Dark Amber – Much darker with a more pronounced maple character. Use when you want that true maple taste to come through.
  • Grade B – The darkest, with a very robust maple flavor. Best for baking and recipes where maple is front and center.

When substituting for simple syrup, Grade A Dark Amber or Grade B will provide the truest maple flavor.

Maple Syrup vs Honey

Both maple syrup and honey can be used as alternatives to simple syrup. Here’s a look at how they compare:

Maple Syrup Honey
Primary Flavor Notes Maple Depends on flower source – commonly clover, orange blossom, wildflower
Made From Sap of maple trees Nectar collected by bees
Consistency Moderately thick and viscous Viscous but can crystallize over time
Sweetness Level Very sweet Less sweet than maple
Glycemic Index 54 (medium) 58 (medium)
Nutrition Manganese, calcium, antioxidants Antioxidants, small amounts of nutrients
Cost Expensive Moderate price

Both can work well in place of simple syrup, so use whichever you have on hand or suits the flavors of the particular recipe best.

Buying and Storing Maple Syrup

When purchasing maple syrup:

  • Look for Grade A Dark Amber or Grade B for the strongest maple flavor when substituting for simple syrup.
  • Check the grade on the label when buying pure maple syrup.
  • Avoid “pancake syrup” which is mostly corn syrup with maple flavoring.
  • Buy 100% pure maple syrup, not “maple flavored” syrups.
  • Look for syrup packaged in glass bottles to prevent any metallic taste.
  • Buy syrup produced in the same year for the freshest flavor.

To store maple syrup:

  • Keep maple syrup in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator after opening.
  • To retain flavor and texture, store unopened maple syrup at room temperature.
  • Maple syrup can last opened for up to 1 year in the refrigerator.
  • If mold develops, discard the syrup.
  • Can be frozen for up to 2 years if not planning to use within a few months.

Maple Syrup Price

Maple syrup tends to be one of the more expensive natural sweeteners, for a few reasons:

  • Maple syrup production is labor-intensive, requiring tapping each tree and boiling large amounts of sap to make syrup.
  • It takes approximately 40 gallons of maple tree sap to make just 1 gallon of syrup.
  • The maple syrup harvesting season lasts just 4-6 weeks in early spring when conditions allow sap flow.
  • Over 80% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada, so supply is limited.
  • Demand and popularity of maple syrup is growing, putting further pressure on prices.
  • Artisanal, small-batch maple syrup producers can also command a premium.

Given these high production costs, maple syrup prices tend to be higher than more mass-produced sweeteners. Expect to pay anywhere from $15-30 for a 16 oz bottle of pure maple syrup depending on the grade and brand. Buy in bulk or during the spring harvest season for potential savings.


Is maple syrup healthier than simple syrup?

Maple syrup does contain some beneficial nutrients like manganese, zinc, calcium, and antioxidants. However, it has about the same number of calories and total sugar content as simple syrup when compared ounce for ounce. So neither one is necessarily “healthier” overall.

What’s the difference between maple syrup and simple syrup?

The main differences are that maple syrup is made from maple tree sap, while simple syrup is just sugar and water. Maple syrup has a distinct maple flavor, while simple syrup is flavorless. Maple syrup is also thicker and sweeter than simple syrup.

Can I use maple syrup instead of sugar in baking?

Yes, maple syrup can replace up to half the sugar in many baking recipes. Reduce the liquid in the recipe slightly and lower the oven temperature to account for maple syrup’s higher moisture content and propensity to brown faster.

Is maple syrup Keto-friendly?

Pure maple syrup does contain 12-15 grams of sugar per tablespoon, so it is not considered Keto-friendly. People following a Keto diet should use low-carb sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit instead.

What’s the difference between maple syrup grades?

Maple syrup grades indicate differences in color and flavor. Lighter syrups have a delicate maple taste, while darker grades like Grade B have a much more robust maple flavor. Darker syrups are best for baking.

The Bottom Line

Maple syrup makes a good substitute for simple syrup when you’re in a pinch, but expect some adjustments to get the right sweetness level and texture. Reduce the maple syrup amount, use darker grades of syrup, and stir it in well. While it won’t be exactly the same, maple syrup can work nicely when you’re out of simple syrup and need a flavorful sweet swap-in.

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