My favourite 13 ways to replace maple syrup in baking and cooking recipes and to use for drizzling on pancakes. There are plenty of different options to choose from, including honey, agave syrup and my homemade recipe for simple maple syrup.
I’m going to keep to the maple syrup substitutes that are similar liquidity (aka also syrups) to make things a little easier when you are replacing maple syrup in your recipes.
Maple syrup is delicious to eat, but real – undiluted- maple syrup is quite expensive (and when you read how it maple syrup made, you realise why it needs to cost so much). Last time I’ve checked prices, the cost was around $40 (£32) per litre.
I often use maple syrup for my pancakes, making my homemade sweets and for baking. I do try to make sure I always have some around, I do sometimes run out.
When I did run out maple syrup last time, I tried to work out what to use instead.
Since maple syrup has such a unique flavour, it wasn’t exactly easy, but I managed to find at least 14 really good replacements for my maple syrup, which worked great!
What is the simplest way to substitute maple syrup? The quick answer
The easiest way to replace maple syrup is to use honey, agave syrup or pancake syrup.
There are of course other ways of substituting maple syrup, so I thought I’d test them for you, so that you can choose the best one to suit your recipe.
What is maple syrup?
Maple syrup is naturally sweet syrup.
Real maple syrup can be quite expensive.
A lot of maple syrups are blended with cheaper syrups, such as carob, golden syrup or honey, which makes the product more affordable, but also sweeter.
Maple syrup is traditionally harvested in Canada, where there are many small farming companies growing maple trees and harvesting maple syrup by hand from the sap of maple trees usually once a year. But, the maple syrup doesn’t just come out like that – you need about 10 litres of maple sap to produce one regular size bottle of maple syrup (about 250 ml).
The best maple syrup is usually from a single source, which means it’s never mixed with syrups from other farms or adulterated with additives to make sure it stays pure and keeps it’s unique flavour. The flavour of the maple syrup is very much influenced by where the trees are grown, on the type of soil and general environment.
Maple syrup is naturally vegan and vegetarian product. It’s high in nutrients such as zinc, potassium, calcium, manganese, riboflavin and antioxidants.
One reason, why people who are trying to cut down on sugar are using maple syrup is that it has about 17% lower glycemic index than regular white sugar.
What’s important to note, that maple syrup is still sugar, so it will produce a similar reaction in our bodies are sugar does, but just slightly less.
What does maple syrup taste like?
Maple syrup taste quite sweet with caramel and honey undertones. You might also detect a light woody after-taste and notes of vanilla flavour.
The flavour really depends on where the maple is harvested from, so it varies from company to company. Maple syrup looks like a very light brown sugar syrup with golden colour and it’s quite thick when you pour it (but thinner than honey).
What is maple syrup used for?
General baking and cooking
Drizzled over salad dressings
Making traditional sweets
Adding sweetness to cooked or roasted meats
To replace honey in cooking or baking recipes for vegan diets
Great for coating seeds or nuts to roast (instead of honey)
To drizzle over pancakes, breakfast porridge or oatmeal
To sweeten breakfast smoothies
Replacing maple syrup in recipes
Choosing the best maple syrup substitute for your recipe depends very much on what you are cooking or baking. You need to use your judgement which maple syrup substitution will be the best flavour wise, but the consistency (thick syrup) will be the same in all substitutions.
I’ve kept my maple syrup substitution list deliberately focused on sugar syrups with similar consistency and flavour to maple syrup. This means that you can replace the maple syrup substitution for the same amount of the other syrups.
The ratio is 1:1, for example 1/3 cup of maple syrup can be replaced with 1/3 cup of honey (or 100 grams of maple syrup can be replaced with 100 grams of honey).
The cheapest way to substitute maple syrup
The cheapest way to substitute maple syrup is to use what you already have at home from the list below. I know that’s kind of obvious, but if you don’t cook or bake that often, you might think that honey is going to be a better substitution for maple syrup than agave syrup.
Both are equally good, but if you don’t have honey, you don’t need to go out and buy some – use agave syrup if you have it.
If you don’t have any kind of syrup at hand, the cheapest way to substitute maple syrup is to make a homemade version of maple syrup (see my recipe below) with sugar and water.
Don’t worry about the maple flavouring in the recipe, I know you won’t have that at home either, which is why I’ve given you other options in the recipe.
Honey is an easy maple syrup replacement as it’s widely available. If you happen to have a darker honey (such as forest or pine honey), the flavour will be richer and the colour darker – mimicking the flavour and colour of maple syrup.
How to use – Use honey to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio
Agave syrup is slightly less pricey than maple syrup and it’s usually used for drizzling on breakfast pancakes or baking healthy granola bars or muffins. It’s the perfect replacement for maple syrup as it’s light and has similar colour and flavour to maple syrup.
How to use – Use agave syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio
Although you probably won’t find date syrup in regular supermarkets, they are usually stocked by Mediterian food shops, where date syrup is a quite common sweetener.
As you can imagine, date syrup is thick, sweet and has a very rich flavour. This might suit some recipes, but if you want slightly less strong flavour, I’d suggest to dilute the date syrup with corn syrup, glucose or honey to get slightly milder flavour similar to maple syrup.
How to use – Use date syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer a milder taste dilute date syrup 2/3 date syrup to 1/3 of glucose, corn syrup or light honey
Golden syrup is easily available and more budget friendly than agave or maple syrup. It’s light in colour and flavour, which means that it’s easy to use for cooking and adding sweetness to savoury dishes.
I find golden syrup quite sweet and actually very bland, so adding a hint of caramel flavouring or dissolved dark sugar helps to bring the flavour and colour closer to the maple syrup.
Golden syrup is easily available in most food shops, but if you fancy making your own homemade version I have a simple recipe for golden syrup for you too.
How to use – Use golden syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio
Rice syrup has a mild flavour and whilst it’s a little sweeter than maple syrup, it’s a very good replacement as it has a similar flavour and thickness.
I don’t always see rice syrup in supermarkets, but when I do, I’ve noticed that the price is very similar to agave syrups and definitely cheaper than maple syrup, so I think it’s a good substitution all round.
How to use – Use rice syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio
The syrup version of stevia is also very versatile. It’s light in colour and flavour, which means that it won’t add as much flavour as you’d get from maple syrup.
It’s also a lot less sweet and with less calories than a regular syrup (such as honey or golden syrup), which means, that if you use stevia syrup instead of maple syrup, it’s a great opportunity to ease on your sugar intake!
How to use – Use stevia syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio
Pancake syrup is a cheaper version of maple syrup, usually made from corn syrup (glucose – inverted sugar) and flavoured with brown sugar and small amount of real maple syrup or maple syrup flavouring.
Pancake syrup is mainly used for drizzling on a pancakes, but you can also use it for general cooking and baking. Since pancake syrup is imitation of maple syrup, you can of course use in stead of maple syrup without any problem.
If you live in the UK you would have seen Maple syrups that are much cheaper than real Maple syrups, because they are diluted with golden syrup, light brown sugar or carob syrup.
How to use – Use pancake syrup (or diluted maple syrup) to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio
Molasses syrup is very thick and rich in flavour, in fact on it’s own is probably too flavoursome to replace maple syrup as it is.
If you have the extra ingredients, I would suggest to blend molasses syrup with honey, glucose or golden syrup to get slightly lighter syrup. 1/3 of a portion of molasses syrup to 2/3 portion of the lighter syrups should give you a good well balanced substitution for maple syrup.
How to use – Use molasses syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer a milder taste dilute molasses syrup with these ratios: 50% molasses syrup and 50% of glucose, corn syrup or light honey for fairly strong flavour or 1/3 molasses syrup to 2/3 of glucose, corn syrup or light honey, agave or other light syrups, including homemade sugar syrups to make a lighter version of molasses
Similarly to date syrup, carob syrup is not something you’ll find in a regular food shop. I first tasted carob syrup in Malta, where carob trees are grown and the carob trade was fairly common back in medieval times as carob powder was a cheaper alternative to dark chocolate.
Carob syrup doesn’t taste much like chocolate, but it’s thick, sweet and rich in flavour. If you happen to come across it in your health shop or online it’s definitely worth using, although since it’s fairly pricey, I wouldn’t use it for baking, but drizzling over puddings, pancakes or adding to baked fruits.
How to use – Use carob syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer a milder taste dilute carob syrup with these ratios: 50% carob syrup and 50% of glucose, corn syrup or light honey for fairly strong flavour or 1/3 carob syrup to 2/3 of glucose, corn syrup or light honey, agave or other light syrups, including homemade sugar syrups to make a lighter version of carob syrup.
This one is for my American friends – if you have a corn syrup at home, than you can easily use it to replace maple syrup. You can use it as it is for baking or cooking – the texture of corn syrup is perfect for this and the flavour won’t spoil any recipe.
Slight problem is that corn syrup doesn’t have much of a flavour – well it taste like a thick sugar syrup with no flavour at all.
To add flavour and colour, I use 1-3 teaspoons of brown, light brown or molasses sugar (whatever you have at hand) dissolved in small amount of hot water.
Add a tiny pinch of salt and if you have 1/2 teaspoon of caramel or maple flavouring (don’t worry if you don’t have that). Mix this with 1/2 – 1 cup of corn syrup (depending on how much flavour you want to add). And there you go, you have something that resembles maple syrup!
How to use – Use corn syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer to add more flavour to corn syrup see notes above.
Glucose is slightly thicker than corn syrup and it’s also white ‘see through’ thick syrup, that’s usually used in baking, cooking or making traditional sweets. I use glucose for my chocolate making, so I do have a stock at home all the time and use it for other purposes, like thinning down date, carob or molases sugar syrups to replace maple syrup.
You can find glucose syrup in the baking section of any large supermarket.
You can use glucose for cooking and baking instead of maple syrup. It will add the sweetness that maple syrup has, but not the flavour.
How to use – Use glucose syrup to replace maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer to add more flavour to glucose syrup see notes above for corn syrup.
Flavoured sugar syrups
To replace maple syrup you can also use most sugar syrups. The closes ones in colour and flavour are going to be made from light or brown sugar with caramel flavouring or plain sugar flavours.
You can also use my homemade syrup recipes which will also work as replacements for maple syrup. Only use them if the syrup flavour complements your recipe, although the syrup flavours are not overpoweringly strong.
All of these are perfect for drizzling over pancakes, oatmeal or breakfast porridge.
- Brown Sugar Syrup (most versatile) >>
- Earl Grey Sugar Syrup >>
- Pear Simple Sugar Syrup >>
- Cardamom Infused Sugar Syrup >>
Homemade maple syrup
Light brown or brown sugar, water and a tiny pinch of salt is the cheapest way to replace maple syrup and the chances are you probably have all of these ingredients at home already.
You can also use other types of unrefined sugars, such as coconut sugar or it’s substitutes which also make a great replacement for the sugar element in the homemade maple syrup.
Mix 2-3 tablespoons of light brown or dark brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of water in a microwave suitable bowl (or a very small saucepan). Heat in the microwave to dissolve the sugar and tiny pinch of salt.
Optional: Add 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup flavouring – I know that’s not something you will have readily at home, but if you are thinking of making homemade maple syrup in the future, it might be useful to buy maple syrup flavour and have it ready for next time.
If you don’t have maple syrup flavouring, you can also add other flavours to recreate the flavours of maple. I find that adding caramel or vanilla flavouring is the next best option with a pinch of ground cinnamon or my homemade mixed spice. I once got a smoke flavouring (for adding ‘smoked’ flavour to meat mainly) and a few drops helped to add depth to my homemade maple syrup.
Simple Maple Syrup (homemade maple syrup substitute)
- small saucepan
- wooden spoon
- medium sized jam jar or glass bottle with a lid
- 1 cup sugar white or light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Maple flavouring essence or more depending on your preference
Flavouring that you can use instead of maple essence to get a similar result
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or caramel flavouring or both – use more if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder or ground mixed spice
- Measure out the water and sugar and place in a medium sized saucepan.
- Add a generous pinch of fine salt.
- Let the sugar dissolve over a very low heat first.
- Once the sugar has dissolved completely, bring to boil and simmer for a minute or so. Depending on your type of sugar, you might like to let the white sugar to caramelise a little, but don't let it boil for too long.
- Add your flavourings – either maple syrup flavouring if you have it or vanilla/caramel flavouring with cinnamon or mixed spice.
- Allow the homemade maple syrup to cool a little before pouring into a medium sized jar or small glass bottle.
- Your homemade maple syrup is ready once it cools down a little and can be kept up to one month in the fridge.
This blog post was originally written on 19 February 2023 and last updated on 20 February 2023