17 Maple Syrup Substitutes: What Alternatives For Baking?

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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A fluffy pancake glistening with warm, sweet maple syrup is a nutritious grab-and-go breakfast for many busy folks, and so am I! But imagine being so swamped that the syrup jar has been empty without you even noticing it.

Maple Syrup

Well, I’ve been there, too, and you know what? I have more than 15 ways to turn that bland pancake into a yummy treat with something new! Follow me to see what I used instead of maple syrup!

Top 17 Substitutes For Maple Syrup

1. Honey

If you ask me what the best maple syrup replacement is, it’s definitely honey! Its warm amber color and delightful sticky texture make it a perfect visual stand-in for maple syrup. It’s gluten-free but not vegan, so switch to another substitute if you are whipping plant-based baked goods.

How To Use

I find honey a bit sweeter with a distinct floral hint when topping on pancakes, but I don’t notice any difference in baking at all. So, swapping them at a 1:1 ratio is fine.

2. Simple Syrup

Well, my friends, simple syrup is nothing luxury; it’s simply white sugar syrup! All you need to do is take some water and white sugar (1:1 ratio), bring them to a boil, and let them simmer until they turn into a syrupy liquid. 

It can introduce a layer of sweetness to your batter (or pancakes) but don’t expect to get the subtle woody and floral note from it.

How To Use

When a baking recipe calls for maple syrup, I usually substitute the same amount of simple syrup. It doesn’t mess up with the batter’s texture and even adds some moisture to the cake layers.

3. Brown Sugar Syrup

You’ve guessed it right! Making brown sugar syrup is the same as simple syrup but with brown sugar. I sometimes stir in some vanilla extract (1 teaspoon for ½ cup of brown sugar) for an extra burst of flavor and aroma.

The result? A light brown syrup with richer, deeper sweetness and a delicate caramel hint – perfect for fooling your taste buds and your eyes.

How To Use

A 1:1 ratio will work for any baking recipe. Here’s my secret sauce: I drop in some maple extract to give the batter that iconic maple vibe when folding brown sugar syrup.

4. Molasses


Who doesn’t have some molasses around in the kitchen? Not us, home bakers! It’s a byproduct when making sugar, with a dark brown color and a rich flavor profile. 

Its consistency hits the right spot to stand in for maple syrup, but it might surprise you with a touch of bitterness if you drizzle it on pancakes. The good news is that bitterness mellows out beautifully when molasses is baked into goodies.

How To Use

Molasses delivers a milder sweetness yet a more robust flavor, so you’ll want to swap it with a ½:1 ratio and some extra sugar to compensate for the sweetness. 

5. Brown Rice Syrup

Are you watching your weight? Good news: brown rice syrup is a healthy replacement for maple syrup with a low glycemic index. The glistening amber color adds visual appeal while the half-sweet flavor keeps your sugar intake in check. 

How To Use

This sweet syrup is ready to use out of the jar with the same amount as maple syrup. I usually drizzle it on pancakes, make dips and glazes for desserts, or use it as a sweetener in your baking recipes. 

6. Date Syrup

Dates have a high level of sweetness, so date syrup can replace maple syrup just fine, even with a delightful note of caramel. It’s a great addition to desserts, smoothies, and baked goods. 

How To Use

This delicious syrup is a great 1:1 substitution for maple syrup. However, its thickness can vary a lot, so do experiment with your baking and adjust the amount accordingly.

7. Cane Syrup

Let’s breathe some tropical vibe into your kitchen with cane syrup – a staple in Southern households! Made from sugarcane (like granulated sugar), this syrup adds a bold sweetness to your recipe with a bitter aftertaste and a lingering toasty scent.

How To Use

I always use this flavorful syrup as I would with maple syrup in baking, which never disappoints me. However, if you love drizzling it on your pancakes or cookies, you’ll want to go easy on it for a subtler sweetness.

8. Corn Syrup

Corn Syrup

What do you usually use corn syrup for? I sometimes use it as a pancake syrup substitute that keeps my kids licking their fingertips. Of course, it lacks the classic maple flavor, but its consistency and vanilla hints are just on point. The best part? It prevents the pesky sugar crystals in your baked goods. 

How To Use

You can use either light corn syrup for a delicate vanilla touch or dark corn syrup for a richer flavor. Simply swap it at a 1:1 ratio in your favorite recipes like granola bars, pecan pies, cookies, and other sweets.

9. Golden Syrup

Golden Syrup

Got sugar, water, and a lemon on hand? You’re golden! You’re in luck! You can whip up this British-style molasses in less than 10 minutes. 

Just bring water, sugar, and a little lemon juice to a boil until the sugar completely dissolves and condenses into a sticky liquid. The result is a shimmering golden syrup bursting with a butterscotch aroma.

How To Use

Replacing maple syrup with British molasses is as easy as making it. Just toss it in cookie dough or bake batter without adjusting the amount.

10. Coconut Nectar/Sugar

Like maple syrup, coconut nectar comes from the sap of coconut trees. Surprisingly, I didn’t notice any coconut taste but a robust caramel note—a perfect stand-in for maple syrup. However, it brings in a milder sweetness with a lower glycemic index.

If you can’t get your hand on coconut nectar, make your own with some coconut sugar. Simply mix it with water in a pot and simmer it until it reaches a similar consistency to maple syrup. 

How To Use

Use it as a pancake syrup? You got this! What’s even better is that you can substitute it for maple syrup in bars and cookies. A 1:1 ratio is a good starting point, but feel free to adjust it to taste.

11. Agave Nectar

Here we welcome another natural sweetener to our substitution squad—agave nectar. Agave nectar’s smooth, pourable texture makes it a dream to mix into cake batter or get drizzled over desserts. 

You can easily find a bottle of agave syrup in a light, amber, or dark tone at most grocery stores in town.

How To Use

Use a lighter hand unless you want its sweetness to overwhelm the baked goods, say ½ or ¾ that of maple syrup. And be careful with the dark agave nectar! It delivers a bold caramel note that can dominate other spices in your cake.

12. White Sugar

Different sugar with bowls.

After all, maple syrup acts as a sweetener in baking, so I see no reason that white sugar can’t replace it.

You can take an extra step by boiling sugar with water for that smooth, syrupy consistency. There’s nothing wrong when using it as is, though. It might lack the caramel scent of maple, but don’t worry; I barely notice it when getting my cake out of the oven.

How To Use

Scattering white sugar on your pancake is the last thing you want. Oh, that annoying gritty texture! However, this sweetener, available in granulated or syrup form, still gets the job done in baking recipes at a 1:1 ratio.

13. Brown Sugar

Brown and vanilla sugar on a background

Another lazy substitute! Brown sugar, with its natural caramel flavor, even gets the job done better than white sugar. Again, you can make brown sugar syrup for a pancake topping in a matter of minutes. Otherwise, just toss it into your baking recipes for the same sweetness level and depth of flavor.

How To Use

A 1:1 ratio is a great starting point when substituting brown sugar for maple syrup in baking. However, this replacement is drier than syrup, so you need to adjust the liquid ingredients to maintain the desired consistency.

14. Yacon Syrup

Extracted from yacon roots, this syrup boasts a sweeter flavor than maple syrup but with a comparable consistency. What I like most about this alternative is its outstanding health perks, which promote mineral absorption and improve GUT health.

How To Use

Yacon syrup shines in cookies, muffins, cakes, and bread! Since it’s sweeter than maple syrup, you can use half the amount when making a substitution.

15. Golden Monkfruit & Water

Calling for those who are on a diet out there! You are in for a treat—this powdered golden monkfruit is a carb-free alternative! If luck is on your side, you can find monkfruit syrup in the supermarket. 

Otherwise, you can make it by mixing monk fruit powder with water to yield a delicious golden color.

How To Use

Though containing no carb, monkfruit’s sweetness is quite dominant. So, you might want to dial it back when swapping it for maple syrup. Start with half of the amount and increase gradually if needed.

16. Stevia

Another substitute for health-conscious bakers, stevia adds no sugar to your recipe. Notice that it’s an artificial sweetener and might leave a slightly unpleasant aftertaste. If the granulated form is not your cup of tea, try some stevia syrup if it’s available.

How To Use

Like monk fruit, stevia bears an intense sweetness, so it’s best to start with a small amount and adjust it accordingly.

17. Keto-Friendly Syrups

Wrap up my list with a healthy substitute for maple syrup, especially for those who follow a Keto diet. Wholesome Yum and Lakanto syrup are my trusted companions in my kitchen whenever I have to serve diabetic customers. They are low on carb and sugar-free yet still beautifully fill in the gap that maple syrup leaves behind.

How To Use

With these healthy alternatives, just pour in the same amount as you would do with maple syrup. You will soon notice a significant drop in your daily sugar intake.

Homemade Alternative To Maple Syrup

Have 10 minutes free? If yes, follow me and whip up your own maple syrup substitute with ease! Here are what you need:

  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ tsp maple extract
  • A little salt

Now, roll up your sleeves and follow these steps:

Step 1: Whisk brown sugar and water in a large saucepan on medium heat. 

Step 2: Bring it to a boil and wait for 5-8 minutes until it thickens up a bit.

Step 3: Turn the heat low and dump in the butter, maple extract, and salt. 

Step 4: Gently stir the mixture until combined and sticky. Pour it into a glass jar and let it cool. Then, close the lid tightly and stack it in your fridge. It should be used up within 1 year, though.


What Tastes Like Maple Syrup The Most?

If you crave for the distinct maple flavor, go for maple extract. However, reduce the amount to only a few drops because the extract holds an intense sweetness.

How Do Maple Syrup And Maple Flavored Syrup Differ?

Maple syrup is completely derived from the sap of maple trees and boasts a strong caramel flavor. Meanwhile, the maple-flavored syrup is simply sugar syrup with maple flavorings, so it will lean towards a sugary taste rather than that natural caramel note.

Can I Use Pancake Syrup Instead Of Maple Syrup?

While pancake syrup can work in a pinch, I don’t highly suggest this substitute. It’s an artificial product with corn syrup, food coloring, and preservatives. It can make up for the sweetness but not the depth of flavor like other alternatives.

Is Honey Or Maple Syrup Healthier?

No, honey is packed with more sugar and has a higher glycemic index than maple syrup. Though the difference is minor, it can still significantly impact diabetics or those with poor health conditions.

Good luck on your baking!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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