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6 Best Maple Syrup Substitute Options

With recent studies touting its potential health benefits, maple syrup might just be the pantry staple your kitchen needs. This naturally sweet syrup is well-loved around the world as the perfect topping to warm, fresh-from-the-skillet pancakes. It has a strong flavor that is distinctive and versatile in both savory and sweet dishes. 

As a sweetener, maple syrup is a more expensive option, especially if opting to buy pure maple syrup. Fret not, because here are a few helpful maple syrup alternatives, in case you’re looking for a quick replacement or can’t make it to a physical store.

What Makes Up Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup is a viscous, amber-colored liquid sweetener. Made from the sap of sugar or black maple trees, it is made by boiling the collected sap and then refining it. Canada, and in particular Quebec, is the world’s top producer of maple syrup, accounting for 80% of the total global output.

This rich, hearty syrup is not overwhelmingly sweet and is used in a variety of goods and confections. It has a complex sweetness and delicate aroma— you can literally experience its nuanced flavors in every spoonful of pancakes doused in maple syrup. Every bite is perfectly sweet, buttery, and nutty, with caramel and vanilla undertones. 

It’s classified based on color, ranging from light or golden, amber, dark amber to very dark. Typically the darker the color, the later in the season the sap was harvested.  There are many imitation maple syrups or maple-flavored corn syrups out in the market, so when purchasing, look for “pure” on the label. This means that the syrup has been processed directly from the sap of maple trees. 

High-quality pure maple syrups don’t contain added sweeteners like corn syrup or sugar. It largely consists of sucrose, which is a simple sugar, containing equal amounts of glucose and fructose.

How to Use Maple Syrup

Maple syrup contributes sweetness, a moist texture, and maple flavor in many recipes, but the best-known use for it is as a decadently sweet topping for pancakes, waffles, and French toast.

It’s a versatile ingredient that can enhance the taste of baked goods such as cakes, cookies, bars, sauces, and syrups. 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 is still a calorie-rich ingredient that should be consumed in moderation. 

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

Naturally, when substituting maple syrup for sugar in recipes, be aware that the additional liquid may affect the final texture and flavor of your dish.

It is a popular commercial flavoring for sausage, bacon, ham, cereal, oatmeal, milk, and even whiskey. And naturally, it’s a go-to ingredient when making homemade dishes that require some sweetness. Here are some great recipes to include more maple syrup in your cooking:

If you don’t have maple syrup, you can make a simple maple syrup dupe at home by heating and mixing maple extract, brown sugar, and water. Alternatively, look at the list below for our recommended alternatives.

oatmeal with maple syrup

6 Best Maple Extract Substitutes

There are other ways to obtain these three qualities, even though real maple syrup is the best.

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. 


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. Use in a 1:1 ratio.

Maple syrup is often compared to honey, another natural sweetener similar to maple syrup. It is the same dark to light amber hue and thick in consistency, sometimes a little thicker than maple syrup. Honey 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 sub 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


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 suitable stand-in for maple syrup, despite the fact that it is 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. 

Agave nectar is top on the list as an alternative to maple syrup. Though nothing can 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 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. 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.

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