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Best Substitutes for Maple Syrup

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

We all know maple syrup as a breakfast staple for pancakes, waffles, and everything in between. However, for one reason or another, you might need a substitute. Maybe maple syrup is too sugary. Perhaps you’re not the hugest fan of the taste but still want something sweet to put on your food.

Fortunately, there are several maple syrup substitutes such as Honey, White or brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup. You can use the same amount to sweeten your food as you would maple syrup for many of these substitutes.

Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup

What is Maple Syrup Made Of?

Maple syrup is made from the rich xylem sap of different oak trees, namely black maple, sugar maple, or red maple. These trees store starch in their trunks and roots, which rises as sugar in the sap just before springtime.

Manufacturers collect the syrup by drilling holes into maple tree trunks and collecting the sap, which is then heated to evaporate the water. The final product is a concentrated, sweet syrup.

1. Honey

Honey As Maple Syrup Substitute

Here’s a fun fact for you: during WWII, people had to ration food so more supplies could go to the American troops. Therefore, people substituted sugar in some foods by using maple syrup or honey instead. Therefore, if you’re looking to substitute maple syrup (or sugar), honey is a great alternative.

Honey is almost like a superfood. Not only does it contain nutrients that can boost your immune system, but it’s also a sweet and delicious way to do it. In fact, it has about the same sweetness as sucrose (table sugar) while having a few more benefits than sugar.

In many ways, maple syrup and honey are similar. They have the same warm amber color and are easy to come by in grocery stores. They also have the same warm sweetness that complements waffles, French toast, pancakes, toast, and other breakfast treats so well. Plus, the way they both pour so smoothly over food is sometimes soothing to watch.

While honey is a touch sweeter than maple syrup, you can probably use it in a 1:1 ratio with maple syrup.

2. Sugar (White or Brown)

White or brown sugar
White or Brown Sugar

Using sugar as a sweet maple syrup substitute goes without saying. It’s especially nice if you’re looking for a real sweet treat and don’t want to worry about being healthy for one meal.

The fun part about sugar is you can implement it into your food in a few different ways. You can sprinkle it lightly over food, or you can cook with it. For example, you could sprinkle sugar over a plate of pancakes or add the sugar to the batter to give it extra sweetness.

If you added sugar to pancake batter, you might also consider adding other maple syrup substitutes on top for an even sweeter flavor, like honey or molasses.

Plus, there’s always the choice of using white or brown sugar. If you’ve ever done any baking, you’ll know that these two sugars have their individual uses (white sugar sweetens things up, while brown sugar also adds soft brown color and a slight caramel sweetness).

That’s the fun of it, though. Experiment with these two sugars in your food and see which one goes best with which things. What you find may surprise and delight you.

You can also consider making brown sugar syrup. You just need to combine a tablespoon of brown sugar, a quarter cup of water, and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. Heat the mixture on medium heat and stir until the born sugar dissolves. Don’t let it simmer too long on heat since that can change the taste and texture of your syrup.

Keep in mind that you may need more sugar to create the same sweet factor as maple syrup. That is, for however much maple syrup you normally use, you would need to add 25% more sugar. If you’re baking with sugar, you may also need to reduce temperature and baking time.

3. Molasses

Molasses as a substitute for maple syrup

If you require a bit of a darker, more powerful sweetener, molasses might be worth a try. Molasses is formed through boiling sugar beets or refined sugar, creating a sweetener. Similar to honey and maple syrup, it comes in a light to dark amber color and pours smoothly over food.

Molasses comes in either a light or a dark form. We suggest using light molasses as a sweetener since dark molasses has a robust flavor and might ruin the overall taste of your food.

Like honey, you can use molasses in a 1:1 ratio for maple syrup, though the color of your food may change depending on the molasses type you use.

Can’t find molasses? See recommended pomegranate molasses substitutes.

4. Corn Syrup

Corn syrup as maple syrup replacement
Corn Syrup on Substitute

You may recoil at the idea of eating corn syrup, but it’s pretty similar to refined sugar. It’s created by processing cornstarch into a sweetener and contains about the same amount of calories as sugar. We put corn syrup on this list because of its lack of color, taste, and smooth pouring ability.

Corn syrup is colorless, so you don’t have to worry about changing your food’s color. Like honey and molasses, it pours smoothly and satisfyingly over food. It’s also incredibly inexpensive, probably the most affordable alternative for maple syrup available now.  

However, it’s not quite as sweet as maple syrup, so you might need to add a little more to get the taste you like best.

5. Chocolate or Caramel Ice Cream Syrup

Caramel ice cream syrup
Caramel Ice Cream with Fudge

Using chocolate or caramel ice cream syrup can turn an otherwise drab breakfast into a fun dessert. It also takes no preparation. Just open the cap and drizzle as much syrup over the food as you like.

You might also consider doing fun combinations with the two syrups. If you want to have fun with the kids (or by yourself) at breakfast, you can draw different things on food with different colors. Or you can create a beautiful creation for a social media page (which you can do with any one of these substitutes).

If you don’t have actual caramel or chocolate spread on hand, you can melt chocolate or caramel candy in the microwave to create a sweet drizzling syrup. Be careful not to let it sit out too long and harden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make a maple syrup replacement at home?

While all the above substitutes are great for sweetening food, you can make your own syrup at home. You’ll need the following items:

½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon butter

Boil the water in a saucepan, then add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Caramelize the white sugar in a separate pan, and then add to the brown sugar mixture. Then add the vanilla extract and butter, and stir until the mixture thickens just the way you like it.

Don’t serve the syrup until it has cooled to room temperature.

Is jam or jelly a good substitute for maple syrup?

It sounds a little unusual, but you can use melted jams or jellies as sweeteners, quite similar to maple syrup.

All you need to make a fruity syrup with jam or jelly is to add a small amount to a saucepan, along with a few tablespoons of water. Cook on low heat until the mixture becomes a thick liquid. For every tablespoon of maple syrup you use, you may need 1 ½ tablespoon of jam syrup to match the sweetness.

Similarly, you can take any fruit and melt it with a few teaspoons of sugar and water into a syrup. You may need a few cartons of strawberries or blueberries to make it, though.

Can I pour a sub for maple syrup on things besides pancakes and waffles?

The joy of using maple syrup and its substitutes is that you can sprinkle or bake it into anything that requires something sweet.

Here are some of the things besides pancakes and waffles to which you can add maple syrup:

1. Muffins
2. Scones
3. Toast
4. Ice cream
5. Yogurt
6. Cooked sweet potatoes
7. Baked beans
8. Cinnamon rolls
9. Plain popcorn
10. Fruit salads
11. Hot cereal
12. Cooked vegetables
A glaze over ham, turkey, or bacon

Where can I find the ingredients for maple syrup substitutes?

Luckily, you can find the ingredients for substitutes, as well as the replacements themselves, in the baking or breakfast aisles at your local grocery store. Some items, like honey, you can also find at convenience stores or in airports.


Maybe you’re out of maple syrup at breakfast, or you just want to give something besides maple syrup a try.

Either way, you have plenty of substitutes right at home (or at your local grocery store) for sweetening up a delicious treat for you, your friends, or your family. Give them a try and see which one is your new favorite.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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