Dark brown, sweet, and rich, maple syrup is a faithful companion of a thick stack of pancakes. However, because it’s so good, it’s very easy to run out. If you find yourself with an empty bottle while making a tasty recipe, you might wonder what you can use as a substitute for maple syrup.
The answer is quite a few things. As essential as this Canadian treasure is, it’s not irreplaceable. In fact, there are plenty of decadent sweeteners you can use instead of maple syrup to give your dish the flavor boost it needs.
6 Best Substitutes for Maple Syrup
When thinking of a substitute for maple syrup, honey is probably the first thing that comes to mind. This isn’t surprising. This thick, golden nectar has roughly the same level of sweetness, with a slightly thicker consistency. It also lacks that signature earthy bite maple syrup is known for. However, that doesn’t make honey any less tasty, or a bad substitute for maple syrup.
Another point in honey’s favor is the fact it’s a natural sweetener just like maple syrup. They have the same glycemic index and offer similar health benefits, hence why health-conscious users prefer them to traditional white sugar.
Since both sweeteners are so alike, swapping them is simple.
1 Tbsp of maple syrup = 1 Tbsp of honey.
However, you can always adjust the amount by adding 1 cup of honey for every ⅔ cups of maple syrup. But be warned that honey is much thicker than maple syrup. Therefore, this will change the consistency and texture of the food. Nevertheless, it will still be delicious.
2. Agave Nectar
For vegan readers, a substitute for maple syrup that beats out honey is agave nectar. This golden syrup is derived from a type of cactus native to Mexico called agave. Therefore, it’s entirely cruelty-free. Not only that but it’s also a completely natural sugar substitute with plenty of health benefits.
In terms of sweetness, agave is on par with honey. But it has a very specific bitter aftertaste which makes it much closer to maple syrup in terms of flavor. In light of this, it’s an excellent substitute for maple syrup in dessert dishes.
Once again, swapping maple syrup for agave is a simple affair.
1 Tbsp of maple syrup = 1 Tbsp of agave nectar.
The same principle applies to cup measurements. Therefore, 1 cup of agave is equal to 1 cup of maple syrup. But keep in mind that agave is thicker than maple syrup, so you’ll once again be faced with a dish that will have a different texture and consistency.
The third best substitute for maple syrup is molasses. Though it’s a byproduct of refining sugar beets or sugar canes, it actually offers a plethora of health benefits that white sugar lacks. It’s rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium to name a few. Therefore it’s on par with maple syrup and honey in terms of being a healthy natural sweetener.
Furthermore, it actually has a warm, very smoky flavor that makes it much closer to maple syrup. This rich taste imparts a fairly strong note to desserts, which works especially well for spicey, autumn confections. Molasses comes in two varieties —light and dark.
Light is a bit milder in taste, so it’s a much better substitute for maple syrup.
1 Tbsp of maple syrup = 1 Tbsp of molasses.
However, it’s important to note that molasses isn’t as sweet as maple syrup. Therefore, if you want a dessert that’s extra decadent, you can get away with adding 2 Tbsp of molasses for 1 Tbsp of maple syrup. But keep in mind that the unique flavor of molasses will alter the taste of the dish slightly.
4. Corn Syrup
In terms of an affordable substitute for maple syrup, it doesn’t get much more cost-effective than corn syrup. Since real maple syrup can be very expensive, many people across the US use maple-flavored corn syrup as a pancake topping. Dark corn syrup is also a good substitute, as the rich molasses flavor imparts the same delightful earthiness as maple syrup.
Other options, like caramel-flavored corn syrup, work particularly well as a substitute in sweet drinks. This syrup also adds a softer texture and a bit of volume, especially to liquids.
Since corn syrup is so similar to maple syrup in terms of sweetness and consistency, swapping them is simple.
1 Tbsp of maple syrup = 1 Tbsp of corn syrup.
However, since corn syrup is more refined than maple, it lacks some of the health benefits of the beloved Canadian nectar. So if you’re a bit more health-conscious, feel free to use another substitute for maple syrup on this list.
5. Coconut Syrup
A more decadent substitute for maple syrup, coconut syrup makes for quite the tasty addition to any dessert. It’s derived from the natural nectar of coconut palm flowers. The nectar is found inside the coconut blossoms and is refined into a thick syrup that can be either white or light cream. Because it’s plant-based, it’s an excellent choice if you’re a vegan.
In terms of flavor, the syrup tastes as you’d expect. It’s creamy, nutty, with a rich sweetness and a coconut aftertaste. This is very different from the more liquid, earthy taste of maple syrup. However, since they’re both on the same sweetness level, coconut syrup is a good substitute especially if you’re a coconut lover.
When swapping, keep the ratio in mind.
1 Tbsp of maple syrup = 1 Tbsp of coconut syrup.
However, since coconut syrup may not be widely available, if you can’t find any, feel free to use other options on this list.
6. Brown Rice or White Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is yet another excellent plant-based substitute for maple syrup. Manufacturers produce the nectar by exposing cooked brown rice grains to enzymes that break them down and turn them into simple sugar. They make white rice syrup in the same way, except they use white rice in place of brown.
Consequently, the syrup has a sweet, delightfully nutty flavor that makes it an excellent substitute for maple syrup’s earthy smokiness. Moreover, both syrups have a thickness that’s comparable to maple syrup, so using it won’t change the texture of the dish.
1 Tbsp of maple syrup = 1 Tbsp of brown or white rice syrup.
However, both syrups lack the health benefits of maple syrup, so if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, go with honey or agave.