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Maple Syrup Substitute

Maple syrup is a favorite treat in the morning – you can drizzle it over pancakes, mix it into oatmeal, or create delightful baked goods with it. While it’s hard to imagine swapping it out with another sweetener, that doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent alternatives. Here’s a maple syrup substitute list for you to try with your next breakfast.

bottle labeled Maple syrup and small white dish filled with brown liquid

What is maple syrup?

Maple syrup is a commonly used sweetener that is often portrayed as being poured over pancakes. Maple syrup originates from the sap of maple trees, which is naturally sweet and sugary. Canada produces most of the maple syrup in the world. It has a sweet and caramel flavor.

The process for collecting maple syrup from trees is as follows. A small hole is drilled in each maple tree with a bucket or container waiting under to catch the sap when it drips out. After the sap is collected, vendors boil and process it. After the moisture is allowed to escape, a thick, sweet, tasty syrup is leftover.

types of maple syrup

There are four different varieties of maple syrup that are in grocery stores. Their color and taste differentiate them. The four types of maple syrup are golden, amber, dark, and very dark.

When you head to the store, you’re most likely to see the amber-grade syrup on the shelves. It’s the most commonly used syrup and most readily available. Use this syrup in sauces, dressings, and as a topper for French toast. It has a decadent taste and a beautiful yellow-brown color.

Best Substitute For Maple Syrup

1. Honey

Honey works as a sweet substitute for maple syrup. You’ll find the consistency to be thicker than maple syrup and the taste to be different. It is created differently and from flowers instead of trees. However, it works well in baked goods, sauces, and even drizzled over pancakes or toast.

Honey is created when bees collect nectar from flowers, bring it back to their hive, and digest it. This process makes the sticky sweetener found on store shelves that are a favorite for many. The flavor of honey is affected based on which flowers the nectar is siphoned.

Honey provides a fantastic amount of sweetness to any recipe you use it in. Substitute honey in most recipes to replace maple syrup (including BBQ sauce). It provides a delicious taste. It’s also effortless to find at farmer’s markets and stores.

Honey can be pretty pricey at the grocery store – similar to real maple syrup. It also has a taste that differs slightly from maple syrup, so it’s not an exact match flavorwise.

Cooking Tip:
Use honey in a 1:1 ratio as a swap for maple syrup when baking.

2. Agave

Agave works as one of the best maple syrup substitutes due to its similar consistency and sweetness. It’s often compared to honey as well, making it an excellent swap. This alternative has a slightly different taste, though it can be used in baking recipes and as a topping.

Agave syrup has a similar consistency (albeit a bit thicker) and sweetness that you would typically find in maple syrup. It’s an excellent choice for baked goods and can also be used to top waffles or mix into drinks (like coffee or tea).

Agave, like honey, has a different flavor profile than maple syrup. While it provides sweetness, it also ends with a slightly bitter flavor. Keep this in mind when creating recipes with agave as a substitution.

Cooking Tip:
The ratio of agave to use depends on the recipe. Start with ½ tablespoon for every tablespoon of maple syrup and adjust based on the desired consistency.

3. Molasses

When most people think of molasses, they picture a dark brown syrup that adds flavor, sweetness, and color to gingerbread cookies. This inclusion in gingerbread cookies should be an indicator that this is a fantastic maple syrup replacement. It works well for baking recipes and provides a sweet, smoky flavor.

Molasses is made by extracting sugar cane juice. Once the liquid is removed, a boiling process ensues. Each time it’s cooked, grains of sugar form. These sugar grains are filtered and removed. Every process creates a new variety of molasses.

Using molasses in recipes adds a similar sweetness to dishes. It works well in baked goods, cooked desserts, and breads.

The smoky flavor that molasses offers can limit the desserts you can add it to. Molasses do not match the taste provided by maple syrup. It also does not work well as a pancake syrup.

Cooking Tip:
Use molasses in a 1:1 ratio when swapping it for maple syrup in baking recipes.

4. White Sugar

It’s pretty easy to substitute maple syrup for sugar – especially in baking recipes. White sugar has a sweet, neutral flavor, making it an excellent choice for most desserts. Since the flavor is mild, you can feel free to use white sugar to sweeten drinks or oatmeal.

White sugar works well in any recipe because it has a subtle flavor. It dissolves well in warm drinks and creates an excellent level of sweetness in dishes. White sugar works best in cooked desserts, though you can include it in uncooked recipes like a cocktail sweetener.

Unfortunately, sugar is not an excellent topping for pancakes or waffles. It doesn’t have quite the same appeal as pouring delicious maple syrup over these breakfast foods. White sugar also is less sweet and doesn’t add much flavor to recipes. You’ll need to incorporate an additional flavoring like vanilla extract when using granulated sugar.

Cooking Tip:
You can use the below ratio for baked goods. Another option is to increase white sugar by 1.3 times to equal the same amount of sweetness as maple syrup.


Can I use brown sugar instead of maple syrup?

Yes, you can use brown sugar as a maple syrup alternative. It provides a similar sweetness and a similar golden-brown color that maple syrup would provide. Since the syrup has a higher level of sweetness, you’ll need to use extra brown sugar. Use 1.3x what the recipe calls for to achieve the best results.

Can you bake with maple syrup?

You can bake with maple syrup. It’s an excellent way to incorporate sweetness and the beloved maple flavor into baked goods. Try sweetening your muffins with maple syrup the next time you make them.

How do you substitute maple syrup for baking?

Maple syrup is an excellent swap for white sugar (and vice versa). If you run out of granulated sugar, use maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio, and you’ll have the perfect amount of sweetness in any dish.

What is the difference between maple sugar and maple syrup?

Maple sugar and maple syrup are similar except for the final step in processing. They’re both created from the sap of maple trees and are boiled to get rid of the water. Maple sugar is boiled for longer so that all of the moisture evaporates. Granules of sugar are left to use as a sweetener in recipes.


When comparing the above maple syrup alternatives, honey and agave come out on top. They are easy swaps due to the consistency and amount of sweetness they add. They’re also available in most grocery stores, making them easily accessible. Plus, you can use each to top breakfast items.

If your primary concern is cost, white sugar is your best option. It is usually about 1/3 – 1/2 of the price of agave, honey, and molasses. Plus, it adds a nice amount of sweetness to dishes and baking recipes.

Choose your favorite alternative from the list above. You will surely have an easy alternative in your pantry or can grab it from your closest store. Additional options include melted brown sugar, brown sugar syrup, and corn syrup.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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