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6 Best Maple Syrup Substitute Options

This naturally sweet syrup is well-loved around the world as the perfect topping to warm, fresh-from-the-skillet pancakes or even as a delicious meat sauce glaze. But this syrup can be quite expensive or unavailable. This is why you’ll need substitutes for maple syrup. You can use honey, molasses, agave nectar, maple candy, or homemade maple syrup. I’ll cover each substitute for maple syrup with tips, uses, and ratios. Let’s jump in!

What is Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum). The sap is boiled down in evaporators, and the final product is the sweet, amber-colored syrup with a rich, complex taste. Maple syrup is commonly used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast foods, but it also adds a unique sweetness to various dishes and recipes.

Is Maple Syrup Healthy?

If you’re looking for a natural sweetener, maple syrup can be a great option. It’s made from the sap of the sugar maple tree, a rich source of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

Here are some of the health benefits of consuming maple syrup:

  • Antioxidants: Maple syrup is a rich source of antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants can also help reduce inflammation in your body.
  • Minerals: Maple syrup contains several important minerals, including calcium, iron, and zinc. These minerals are essential for maintaining healthy bones, blood, and immune system.
  • Vitamins: Maple syrup also contains small amounts of vitamins, including vitamins B2, B5, and niacin. These vitamins are important for maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and nervous system.

How to Use Maple Syrup

Since maple syrup has fewer calories than most sweeteners, it’s the most obvious sugar replacement for health-conscious people. Bear in mind that even if it’s a natural sweetener, it’s still a calorie-rich ingredient that should be consumed in moderation.

Naturally, when substituting maple syrup for sugar in recipes, you’ll wanna keep an eye on the additional liquid added that may affect the final texture and flavor of your dish. Here are some great recipes to include more maple syrup in your cooking:

different colors of maple syrup—golden, amber, dark, and very dark

How to Make Maple Syrup

If you wanna create your own maple syrup, combine 1 cup of light corn syrup, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of maple extract, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Once the mixture comes to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes to achieve the desired thickness. Adjust the ratio of brown sugar and corn syrup to customize the sweetness, and experiment with the maple extract quantity to enhance the flavor according to how you like it.

6 Best Maple Extract Substitutes

DIY Maple Syrup

This is a quick, easy, and less expensive alternative to maple syrup. To make your own homemade maple syrup, simply combine brown sugar, water, and maple or vanilla extract. The overall taste will be different, but there is also a dark, rich taste from the brown sugar and the extract that will make this a pleasurable alternative for your pancakes or baked goods. Use in the same manner as regular maple syrup, in a 1:1 ratio. 

oatmeal with maple syrup

Honey

While honey can be used in many of the same ways, it will not give the same maple flavor. Its most important quality is that it will not replace the maple taste in a recipe, as honey’s flavor is more neutral-tasting, especially in baked goods like muffins, cakes, and cookies.

It’s the same dark to light amber hue and is thick in consistency, sometimes a little thicker than maple syrup. Honey also has a distinct sweet taste with mild floral notes, coming from the flower species that many bees pollinate.

Corn Syrup + Maple Extract

This is another easy and quick way to substitute for maple syrup. If you have corn syrup at home, use it on a 1:1 ratio, and you’re good to go. Even with no additional ingredients, this tastes great on pancakes and is an affordable alternative.

If you want to bring it closer to the flavor of maple syrup and you have maple extract on hand, we suggest adding a teaspoon to every cup of the syrup. 

corn syrup

Molasses

Refined sugar cane or sugar beet juice that has been turned into crystallized sugar is extracted to form molasses (treacle). This thick, syrupy, dark liquid is a viable stand-in for maple syrup despite the fact that it’s still much darker and has a stronger caramel flavor. Try this in a 1:1 ratio.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is sourced from the agave cactus plant, indigenous to Mexico. Like maple syrup, it’s made by boiling the sap from an agave plant. It’s a good replacement for those who are watching their sugar intake, with its low glycemic index and better taste over store-bought imitation maple syrups. 

Though nothing can truly beat the taste of freshly-made pancakes with high-quality maple syrup, a neutral-tasting agave syrup enhanced with pure maple extracts comes really close. Whisk together several drops of pure maple extract into 2 Tablespoons of agave nectar and use as a direct substitute for maple syrup in breakfast treats.

Maple Candy

Maple candy is a sugar candy made by boiling sugar maple sap past the syrup point. The liquid is then poured onto clean snow to harden, turning it into candy. Some confections contain high amounts of maple syrup or maple flavoring, which makes them a good substitute for maple syrup.

But taste the candy first to gauge whether the flavor is a close match, then utilize it in a 1:5 ratio. Melt the candy in a skillet over low heat, mix in a bit of water, and then add it to your recipe and follow the directions accordingly.

FAQs

What is the difference between maple flavoring and maple extract?

Maple extract is made by boiling down maple syrup until it becomes a concentrated liquid, while maple flavoring is usually made from artificial ingredients that mimic the taste of maple.

Does maple syrup go bad?

Maple syrup can go bad if it’s not stored properly. So, the best way to store maple syrup is in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard.

How long does maple syrup last?

The shelf life of maple syrup depends on how it is stored. Unopened maple syrup can last for several years if it is stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, maple syrup should be refrigerated and will last for up to a year.

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