Have you ever been in the middle of making a recipe and realized that you're completely out of maple syrup and need an alternative? I know I have! To save you a trip to the grocery store, here are the top 10 BEST maple syrup substitutes for baking.
Who doesn't love maple syrup? Made from the boiled and concentrated sap of the maple tree, maple syrup is not only a delicious topping for pancakes, French toast, waffles, and many other breakfast foods. It is also a staple in a variety of recipes for sweets and desserts, like my No Bake Vegan Oreo Pie and Red Velvet Chickpea Cookie Dough.
But what happens when you're baking and realize that you're completely out of maple syrup? We've all been there! That's why I have compiled the top 10 best maple syrup alternatives.
Before we dive in, I want to say that many of these substitutes won't have the same taste as maple syrup. Maple syrup is used to sweeten rather to flavor many recipes, so choose a substitute according to the flavor you want.
Now, let's dive into the best maple syrup replacements for baking and drizzling!
¾ tablespoon honey = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Honey is probably the most intuitive healthy alternative for maple syrup in a recipe. It has a similar texture and is found in almost everyone's kitchen cabinets, making it the perfect substitute for maple syrup in sweet and savory recipes.
Honey is sweeter than sugar and sweeter than pure maple syrup, so use ¾ cup of honey for each cup of maple syrup.
Raw honey is a natural sweetener and is known to have many nutritional and health benefits. Research suggests that honey is rich in antioxidants and has immune boosting properties. However, honey loses some of its benefits when it is cooked, so use it as a topping if you are wanting the potential health benefits.
For the closest maple syrup taste, try using darker honey, like Buckwheat. Any kind of honey works in a pinch!
2. Agave Nectar
1 tablespoon agave nectar = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Another way to replace maple syrup is by using agave nectar instead. It is a similar color and texture as maple syrup but has a flavor profile more similar to honey.
Agave nectar can be used to replace maple syrup at a 1:1 ratio. Agave nectar is known to have a slight floral aftertaste that may effect the taste of your recipe. Just something to keep in mind!
1 tablespoon molasses = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Molasses is a great maple syrup substitute. It has a sweet, warm, and somewhat smokey flavor that tastes incredible in baked goods. It has a similar color and texture to maple syrup while being a little more "spicy". Fun fact: molasses is a byproduct of extracting sugar from sugarcane or sugar beets!
You can replace maple syrup at a 1:1 ratio with either light or dark molasses depending on your preference. Light molasses is made after the first boil of the sugarcane and has a milder flavor than dark molasses. Dark molasses is made after the second boil and has a thicker texture and more distinct flavor (think gingerbread cookies).
Like honey, molasses is a natural sweetener and free of added sugars. Molasses is also a great source of iron, magnesium, and other minerals.
4. Brown Sugar Syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar syrup = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Brown sugar is a combination of cane sugar or table sugar and molasses. Molasses is what lends it its brown coloring and rich flavor.
You can make brown sugar syrup by whisking equal parts brown sugar and water together in a saucepan on medium heat. When the sugar dissolves and the mixture beings to simmer and thicken, take it off the heat and store in an airtight container. Use the brown sugar syrup at a 1:1 ratio to replace maple syrup.
Also, this syrup is perfect for making a copycat Starbucks Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso at home!
5. Simple Syrup
1 tablespoon simple syrup = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Simple syrup is popular for making coffee drinks and cocktails. It is made the same way as the brown sugar syrup above but with either cane or white table sugar. Simmer and stir equal parts sugar and water on the stove until it begins to thicken, take off the heat, and store in a bottle.
This is a substitute for maple syrup that is totally neutral in taste but still sweet. Simple syrup is super versatile and can be used in many different drinks and baked goods. Use it at a 1:1 ratio to replace maple syrup.
6. Coconut Sugar Syrup
1 tablespoon coconut sugar syrup = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Coconut sugar, also called coconut palm sugar, is the dried sap of the coconut palm. It's different from palm sugar (which is made from a different type of palm tree). It's a natural sweetener with a taste that is similar to brown sugar but with more toasty qualities. It tastes nothing like coconut!
Using the same steps to make simple syrup, you can make coconut sugar syrup! Easy peasy.
Coconut sugar is considered a more nutritious alternative to table sugar. It contains iron, zinc, potassium, and other minerals as well as antioxidants. It also contains a fiber called inulin, which is why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than table sugar.
7. Caramel Sauce
1 tablespoon caramel sauce = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Caramel sauce is made from brown sugar, cream, butter, sea salt, and (usually) vanilla extract. It is delicious drizzled over ice cream, pancakes, waffles, and other dishes. The gooey texture and rich, buttery, sweet taste honestly goes with everything.
When substituted for maple syrup, caramel works best as a topping. You can use homemade caramel or store bought at a 1:1 ratio.
If you caramel is too thick at room temperature or straight out of the fridge, you can microwave it for about 10-15 seconds to loosen it. Don't leave it out too long after since it might harden.
8. Date Syrup
1 tablespoon date syrup = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Date syrup is a natural sweetener made from water and (you guessed it) dates. Dates are packed with iron, magnesium, and other minerals and has a low glycemic index. This syrup is a dark color and has a rich taste with notes of caramel and vanilla.
Date syrup is less sweet than maple syrup and is more similar to light molasses. You can replace maple syrup with date syrup at a 1:1 ratio, but you may want to add a little more depending on your preference.
9. Brown Rice Syrup
¾ tablespoon brown rice syrup = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Brown rice syrup (also known as maltose syrup) is a liquid sweetener derived from brown rice. It is made when rice is exposed to enzymes that break down starches into smaller sugars. A sweet and sticky syrup is left behind after the sugars are filtered.
Brown rice syrup is perfect for replacing maple syrup in baked goods. It's also great for making granola bars or anything that needs a binding agent due to its sticky texture. For every 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, substitute ¾ tablespoon brown rice syrup.
The flavor profile of brown rice syrup is less sweet than maple syrup. Many say it is mild in flavor compared to other maple syrup replacements and has a nutty taste similar to butterscotch.
Brown rice syrup has a high glycemic index compared to honey or molasses. You can buy it at the grocery store.
10. Corn Syrup
1 tablespoon corn syrup = 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Corn syrup is made by extracting glucose from corn and leaves a thick, sweet, caramel-like syrup behind. This syrup is purely glucose, and it's important to note that corn syrup is different than high-fructose corn syrup (which is made from a combination of glucose and fructose).
Corn syrup comes in light and dark varieties, and is great for baked goods like pies, cakes, and even popcorn balls. It dissolves well compared to other sweeteners and is also great for making candy and sweet sauces.
How to Choose a Substitute
Here's the TL;DR of this blog post so you can decide what pancake syrup alternative is best for your purpose.
Here are the best replacements for drizzling maple syrup on pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, and more.
- Brown sugar syrup
- Coconut sugar syrup
- Date syrup
These are the best replacements for maple syrup when using it to sweeten baked goods like muffins, cakes, and pastries.
- Agave nectar
- Brown sugar syrup
- Simple syrup
- Coconut sugar syrup
- Date syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Corn syrup
How to Choose Store Bought Pancake Syrup
Now that you have a great list of substitutes, you may be wondering how you can avoid all this and buy the best maple syrup you possibly can.
However, purchasing maple syrup from the store can be tricky. Brands like Pearl Milling Company (formerly Aunt Jemima) and Mrs. Buttersworth use a combination of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial caramel color to make their syrups. They typically have less than 5% of actual maple syrup in them!
That is NOT real maple syrup.
When buying maple syrup, make sure the bottle says 100% pure maple syrup. This means that the syrup comes directly from the sap of the maple tree.
Maple Syrup Grades
Real maple syrup is available in four grades: Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark. The color corresponds to the strength of the maple flavor. If you want a light maple taste, go for Golden. If you want a strong taste, go for Very Dark.
These grades are also useful for choosing a maple syrup substitute. For example, if a recipe calls for Very Dark syrup, try using molasses as a substitute. If a recipe calls for Golden maple syrup, then try using honey as a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Processed or unprocessed, sweeteners made from the same molecules are digested the same way by the body. However, when choosing a sweetener, please consult with a registered dietician or nutritionist to decide what is best for you.
Yes. Maple syrup lasts indefinitely until it is opened. Once it is opened, it can last for about 6 months when stored properly in the refrigerator. You can tell that maple syrup has expired if there is mold present.
Yes, maple syrup needs to be refrigerated. Once you open the container, store it in the refrigerator to prevent mold growth and spoilage. Refrigeration also helps to keep the moisture from evaporating and the syrup from crystallizing.
Yes, maple syrup is vegan. However, sometimes animal fat is used to de-foam the syrup after it is boiled. Make sure your syrup is labelled certified organic, Kosher, or vegan to avoid any animal products. If it is not labelled any of these things, contact the company directly to find out.
Yes! Maple syrup is naturally gluten free. However, carefully read all nutrition labels and look out for cross contamination.
Yes! Maple syrup is the best substitute for honey. The two can be used pretty much interchangeably.
I hope you enjoyed learning about what you can substitute for maple syrup in baking! If you liked this post, I'd appreciate if you shared this post on Pinterest!