What do Canadians call syrup?

Canadians have a few different terms for syrup, depending on the specific type and use. When it comes to pouring syrup on pancakes, waffles, French toast and other breakfast foods, the most common term is probably “maple syrup.” This refers to syrup made from the sap of maple trees, which is a iconic part of Canadian cuisine and culture.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a thick, sugary syrup that comes from the sap of maple trees. It takes about 40 liters of maple sap to produce just 1 liter of maple syrup! Maple syrup is commonly separated into two main grades:

  • Grade A – This is the most common grade found on grocery store shelves. It has a light amber color and more delicate maple flavor.
  • Grade B – This grade is darker and has a more pronounced maple flavor. It is usually used for baking or cooking.

Real maple syrup is only made in areas with native maple trees, mainly the northeastern US and southeastern Canada. That’s why maple syrup is so iconic in Canada – provinces like Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia produce the majority of the world’s maple syrup. Vermont is also a big maple syrup producer in the US.

When Canadians talk about pouring “maple syrup” on their pancakes or waffles, they are referring to 100% pure maple syrup, not artificial syrups which are simply sugar, corn syrup and flavoring. Real maple syrup is an all-natural product made by simply boiling down maple sap. It takes 40-50 gallons of maple sap to produce just 1 gallon of maple syrup, which is why real maple syrup can be expensive.

Table Syrup

While maple syrup is preferred, some Canadians also use “table syrup” which refers to lower cost corn syrup blends. Table syrups include popular brands like Mrs. Butterworth’s, Aunt Jemima, and Log Cabin. However, true syrup connoisseurs tend to look down on table syrup as an inferior product. Table syrup is thinner, much sweeter, and has a milder flavor than real maple. It is also mostly made of high fructose corn syrup with some artificial flavors and coloring added.

Maple Syrup Table Syrup
Made from maple tree sap Made from corn syrup with flavorings
All natural Contains artificial ingredients
Expensive Cheap

Some key differences between real maple syrup and table syrup are highlighted in the table above.

Other Syrup Terms

Besides “maple syrup” and “table syrup”, Canadians sometimes use other terms for syrups depending on the context:

  • Golden syrup – A popular sweetener in Canada made from sugar cane. It has a light golden color and smooth, thick texture.
  • Blueberry syrup – Syrup made from concentrated blueberry juice, often mixed with sugar and water. Poured on pancakes, waffles, ice cream.
  • Chocolate syrup – Syrup used as a topping for ice cream, milkshakes and other desserts. Made from corn syrup, cocoa and flavorings.
  • Fruit syrup – Sweet fruit-flavored syrups poured over desserts like ice cream sundaes. Common flavors are strawberry, raspberry, and cherry.
  • Cough syrup – Syrups containing medicinal ingredients used to treat coughs and sore throats.

Regional Syrups

Certain regions of Canada also have their own unique syrup terms based on local food cultures:


  • Sirop d’érable – French term for maple syrup used in Quebec.
  • Tire d’érable – Maple taffy made by boiling maple syrup to a thick consistency and pouring it on snow to cool and harden.


  • Fricot syrup – Maple-flavored syrup containing pork and spices used to flavor the Acadian stew called Fricot.


  • Squirrel stew syrup – A sauce/syrup containing vegetables, dumplings, and meat used to flavor traditional Newfoundland squirrel stew.

Uses of Syrup in Canada

Beyond pancake toppings, Canadians use various forms of syrup in cooking and baking:

  • Maple syrup is used to add sweetness and maple flavor to baked goods like maple cookies, cakes, muffins, etc.
  • Fruit syrups like blueberry and strawberry flavor desserts like ice cream, milkshakes, and yogurt parfaits.
  • Golden syrup and maple syrup are common ingredients in homemade candy recipes and confections.
  • Maple syrup also features in classic Québecois dishes like sugar pie and pouding chômeur.
  • Thick, maple-flavored syrups often top breakfast meats like sausages and bacon.
  • Cough syrups containing medicinal ingredients relieve sore throats and coughs during Canadian winters.

Canadian Syrup Brands

Some of the most popular Canadian syrup brands include:

  • Quebec Maple Syrup Producers – Represents thousands of maple syrup producers in Quebec, the world’s largest maple syrup producer.
  • Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association – Represents maple syrup producers in Ontario, another major maple region.
  • Island Mist Maple – Family-owned brand from Prince Edward Island.
  • Coureur des Bois – Producer in New Brunswick.
  • Bama – Fruit flavored syrups popular for baking/topping desserts.
  • Nokomis – Traditional blueberry syrup from Nova Scotia.

There are also many independent, family-run maple syrup farms and sugar shacks across Canada’s maple-producing regions.

In Summary

Syrup has many forms and uses in the Canadian food landscape. But when Canadians refer simply to “syrup”, they typically mean pure maple syrup from maple trees. This iconic product is produced mainly in Eastern Canada and sets the standard for syrup comparisons due to its natural origin and complex flavor. Table syrups offer a cheaper alternative, while fruit, chocolate and other flavored syrups satisfy different culinary roles. Syrup is not just for breakfast – creative Canadian chefs use it as an ingredient in all types of dishes spanning sweets to savories. So next time you hear a Canadian mention syrup, chances are they are referring to our liquid gold – maple syrup!

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