If you don’t have maple syrup on hand, there are a few suitable substitutions you can use in its place. The best maple syrup substitutes will provide a similar flavor profile and consistency to enhance recipes in the absence of real maple syrup.
Quick Answer Summary
These are quick answers to what you can use if you don’t have maple syrup:
- Honey – A one-to-one substitution for maple syrup. Provides sweetness and thickness.
- Corn syrup – Provides the viscosity of maple syrup without the distinct flavor. Best for baking.
- Brown sugar – Imparts sweetness and a hint of maple flavor dissolved in water.
- Maple syrup flavoring – Maple extract or maple flavored syrups replicate maple taste.
- Fruit syrups – Syrups like blueberry, strawberry, or golden syrup work well on pancakes and waffles.
- Molasses – Adds deep, robust sweetness similar to maple with its own unique flavor.
- Maple sugar – Provides sweetness and actual maple flavor for sprinkling on foods.
Honey is one of the best substitutes for maple syrup and can be used as a one-to-one replacement in any recipe. It has a similar consistency and provides sweetness, viscosity, and texture comparable to real maple syrup. The flavor of honey is more floral than maple, but it won’t drastically change the overall taste of a dish when swapped into a maple syrup recipe. Look for mild honeys like clover or orange blossom if you want a more neutral flavor profile similar to maple. For baking, honey performs very similarly to maple syrup as a binding and moistening agent. Overall, honey duplicates both the physical and chemical properties of maple syrup better than any other alternative.
Benefits of Using Honey
- Very close approximation of maple syrup’s thickness and pour consistency
- Provides sweetness on par with maple syrup
- Easy 1:1 substitution
- Enhances flavor with floral notes
- Excellent binder and humectant like maple syrup in baking
Downsides of Using Honey
- More expensive than corn syrup or sugar
- Imparts slightly different flavor than pure maple
- Not an exact duplicate for maple flavor
Corn syrup is made from cornstarch and provides the characteristic viscosity of maple syrup. It can be used as a replacement in a 1:1 ratio. The main drawback is that corn syrup does not have an inherent flavor similar to maple. So while it will provide the thickness and appearance of maple syrup, it won’t replicate any of the maple taste. For baking like cookies and muffins, corn syrup will help retain moisture and bind ingredients together. It’s also a suitable topping option for pancakes and waffles when you just need something sweet. Overall, corn syrup makes a decent substitution when you only need the texture of maple syrup but not the flavor.
Benefits of Using Corn Syrup
- Very close approximation of maple syrup’s thickness and viscosity
- Provides sweetness
- Easy 1:1 substitution
- Useful binder and humectant like maple syrup in baking
- Inexpensive and easily accessible
Downsides of Using Corn Syrup
- No maple flavor
- Very high glycemic index so spikes blood sugar
You can make a basic maple syrup substitute by dissolving brown sugar in water. Use 1 cup of brown sugar for every 1/2 cup of water. Heat the mixture just until the sugar fully dissolves to form a syrup. Add a touch of maple extract or maple flavoring for an extra hint of maple taste. The benefit of this technique is that you likely have the ingredients on hand in your pantry already. Brown sugar provides subtle maple undertones that get enhanced when dissolved in water. The drawback is that the end result won’t have the robust maple flavor or quite the viscosity of real maple syrup. But in a pinch, brown sugar syrup gets the job done!
Benefits of Using Brown Sugar
- Made from ingredients you probably have on hand already
- Provides basic sweet maple-y flavor
- Very easy to make
Downsides of Using Brown Sugar
- Not an exact duplicate for maple flavor
- Lower viscosity than maple syrup
- Time consuming to make
Maple Syrup Flavoring
You can buy maple flavoring extracts or maple-flavored pancake syrups to provide the taste of maple without real maple syrup. Keep in mind that these fake syrups still won’t have the exact flavor profile of real maple syrup. But they come pretty close with the help of artificial and natural flavorings. Maple extract will provide concentrated maple flavor that you can add sparingly to dishes. Maple flavored syrup offers the maple taste in a viscous liquid form that you can use like regular syrup. Look for brands made with mostly natural ingredients if you want to avoid artificial flavors. These maple-flavored products make good alternatives when you just want the maple taste but not necessarily the exact syrup texture and behavior.
Benefits of Using Maple Flavoring
- Provides authentic maple taste
- Maple extract useful for adding flavor to all kinds of dishes
- Maple syrup easy to use like regular syrup
- Typically inexpensive
Downsides of Using Maple Flavoring
- Maple flavoring not 100% identical to real maple
- Maple syrup lacks true syrup consistency
- Often made with artificial ingredients
Fruit syrups like blueberry, strawberry, or golden syrup provide delicious flavor for topping pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and other breakfast foods and desserts. Fruit syrups tend to be thinner than maple syrup. But you can simmer them over low heat to reduce the water content and achieve a thicker syrup consistency. Fruit syrups offer great flavor variety compared to fake maple syrups. And they provide many of the vitamins and antioxidants found in real fruit. Just keep in mind that the fruit taste will come through instead of tasting like maple. Fruit syrups make great alternatives for those times when you want something different than maple anyway.
Benefits of Using Fruit Syrup
- Provides natural fruit flavor
- High in beneficial fruit phytochemicals
- Can be reduced to maple syrup-like thickness
- Adds interesting new flavor
Downsides of Using Fruit Syrup
- Won’t taste like maple
- Typically thinner than maple syrup before reducing
- May contain added sugars
For a rich, robust flavor similar to maple, molasses makes an excellent substitute. It’s thicker and darker than maple syrup, so you may want to thin it down with water or use less of it. But a touch of molasses provides deep, almost bittersweet notes that enhance foods like baked beans, cookies, gingerbread, and barbecue sauces. Blackstrap molasses offers the most concentrated maple-like flavor. For pancakes and waffles, combine molasses with brown sugar dissolved in warm water to temper the intensity. Molasses won’t taste exactly like maple. But its complexity can lend even more interest to recipes.
Benefits of Using Molasses
- Provides dark, robust maple-like flavor
- Thick, viscous consistency
- Enhances many baked goods
- High in minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium
Downsides of Using Molasses
- Can overpower more delicate flavors
- Dark color changes food appearance
- Not exactly like pure maple flavor
Maple sugar is made from evaporated maple syrup, so it provides the same flavor you find in the syrup. You can sprinkle maple sugar over oatmeal, fruit, or other foods in place of maple syrup. It dissolves when it comes into contact with moisture to lightly sweeten. For a syrup, you can dissolve maple sugar in warm water. Use about 1 cup of maple sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of water. Keep in mind that reconstituted maple sugar syrup won’t be quite as fluid or have the same mild flavor as pure maple syrup. But it does deliver recognizable maple taste conveniently from a shelf-stable ingredient.
Benefits of Using Maple Sugar
- Provides true maple flavor
- Easy to sprinkle on foods
- Long shelf life as a dry ingredient
- Simply dissolve in water for maple syrup-like consistency
Downsides of Using Maple Sugar
- Reconstituted syrup isn’t as fluid as real maple syrup
- Slightly different flavor when dissolved in water
- Lacks viscosity until reconstituted
Maple Syrup Substitute Recommendations
Here are quick recommendations for the best maple syrup substitutes to use in different situations:
|Recipes where you want a close approximation of maple syrup’s flavor and texture
|Baking items like cookies where you just need sweetness and moisture retention
|Quick homemade maple flavored syrup in a pinch
|Adding maple taste without changing syrup texture
|Pancakes, waffles, and desserts when you want a fruit flavor
|Recipes where a bold, dark flavor would pair well like barbecue sauce or baked beans
|Sprinkling on foods like oatmeal to get maple flavor without liquid syrup
Frequently Asked Questions
Does pancake syrup work as a maple syrup substitute?
Yes, pancake syrup or maple-flavored syrup can substitute for maple syrup in a pinch, but it won’t have quite the same flavor. Pancake syrup is made with corn syrup for sweetness and artificial or natural maple extract for flavoring. The maple taste won’t be identical to real maple syrup, but pancake syrup makes an acceptable replacement.
Can I make my own maple syrup?
Making true homemade maple syrup requires sap directly from maple trees, specialized equipment, and a substantial time commitment to boil the sap down to syrup. While you can make simple syrups with maple flavor at home, it’s difficult to duplicate real maple syrup’s unique flavor, color, and texture without tapping maple trees.
Is maple syrup healthier than honey or other substitutes?
Maple syrup provides more minerals like manganese, zinc, and calcium compared to honey or other substitutes. But it also has a higher glycemic index, so it impacts blood sugar more. For antioxidants and phytonutrients, honey has the edge over maple. Overall, the differences are minor. Maple syrup, honey, and other substitutes all provide their own nutritional benefits.
Can I use maple extract instead of maple syrup in baking?
Maple extract won’t provide the same moisture, binding, and physical properties that maple syrup lends to baked goods. But you can use maple extract in conjunction with corn syrup or one of the other substitutes to impart maple flavor. For something like maple cookies, use corn syrup for moisture and texture and add a teaspoon of maple extract for flavor.
What’s the difference between maple syrup grades?
Maple syrup grades indicate color and flavor intensity. Lighter maple syrup has a delicate flavor, while darker syrup has a more pronounced maple taste. Grades are classified as follows from lightest to darkest:
- Grade A Golden Color and Delicate Taste
- Grade A Amber Color and Rich Taste
- Grade A Dark Color and Robust Taste
- Grade B Very Dark Color and Strong Taste
Grade B syrup is not necessarily better or worse than lighter grades – it comes down to personal taste preference.
While maple syrup can’t be exactly replicated, there are suitable stand-ins like honey, corn syrup, or brown sugar solutions that offer comparable properties. Fruit syrups, molasses, and maple sugar also make interesting substitutes that provide their own flavors. Always opt for real maple syrup when you have it for the incomparable taste and quality. But these substitutes can fill in when needed without sacrificing too much texture and flavor.