Looking for a maple syrup substitute for baked goods and pancake toppings? Read here for ELEVEN substitutes and a few healthier alternatives, too. Learn all about ratios, flavor profiles, and when to use each of them. You’ll be craving a good drizzled pancake or cookie with any and all of these substitutes by the time you’re finished reading!

Maple syrup in a glass bowl on the countertop with the original container in the background.

What is maple syrup?

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of maple trees. As many people might know, this sap is simply collected from the tree trunks and cooked down into a syrup. It is used on French toast, as pancake syrup, and poured on many breakfast foods. 

The serving size of maple syrup is around 2 tablespoons, which contains roughly 100 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, and no other amount of fat or protein.

The Best Substitutes for Maple Syrup

Take a look at the 11 best alternatives to maple syrup that will still give you the deep flavor and classic taste.

Honey in a glass bowl on the countertop with the original container in the background.
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1. Honey

Honey is considered the best maple syrup replacement. While you won’t get that maple flavor with honey, you still get that similar consistency and taste of sweetness. Not only can it be a great pancake topping, but it also works well in baking when you don’t have maple syrup on hand. 

  • Ratio: 1:1 ratio of honey to pure maple syrup can be used in any recipe.

Learn more about honey and its substitutes by reading this Honey Substitute post. 

2. Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is simply white sugar syrup. You boil down equal parts white sugar and water until it has a viscous texture. It sweetens your recipes just like maple syrup, and it won’t negatively affect batter consistency. You won’t have the same depth of flavor that maple syrup offers, but you have that exact amount of sweetness that you need.

This is a great alternative in baking recipes because it moistens cake layers. Simple syrup can also be used to sweeten cocktails. Try out our Simple Syrup recipe with our favorite Mexican 75 cocktail recipe.

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of simple syrup to pure maple syrup can be used in this recipe.

3. Brown Sugar Syrup

Brown sugar syrup is another great substitute that gives a deeper flavor that other substitutes might not have. Just like making your own simple syrup, you can boil down equal parts brown sugar and water to get a slightly thicker, sweeter syrup with a very light molasses taste. 

Let this syrup cool completely before use to get a thick consistency, and use what the recipe calls for on this one. Additionally, even adding a few drops of maple extract can give it that delicious maple syrup vibe you’re going for.

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of brown sugar syrup to pure maple syrup can be used in this recipe.
Simple syrup is easy to make at home with only two ingredients.

4. Molasses

Speaking of molasses, its thick and sticky consistency makes it a great maple syrup alternative. If you’re searching for a deeper flavor, this one’s your best bet. The only catch is that you’ll need to add extra sugar, since molasses brings on a bitter taste.

Less molasses is more. Add sugar, taste, and adjust. Then you’ll be good to go!

  • Ratio: A ½ ratio of molasses to pure maple syrup can be a great place to start in any recipe.

5. Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a good substitute only because of its similar consistency and neutral flavor. It’s helpful to use as an alternative in recipes like pecan pie and granola bars because it acts like glue. You can switch it up with this substitute by either using dark corn syrup or light corn syrup depending on what you’re using it for. Light has a more vanilla flavor while dark has a more molasses taste to it.

You can always add in a few maple or vanilla extract drops to really tune into the pure maple syrup flavor.

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of corn syrup to pure maple syrup can be used in any recipe, especially in baked goods and caramels and candies.

Learn more about corn syrup and its own substitutes in this Substitute for Corn Syrup post. 

Top view of Karo light corn syrup.

6. Golden Syrup

Golden syrup is an option, but it’s not common commonly carried in United States grocery stores, so it’ll have to be made at home (which is extremely easy). If you’re wanting a more butterscotch flavor to a maple syrup alternative, simply boil water, sugar, and lemon juice together. 

Because it is sweet, golden syrup can be used in the same amounts as maple syrup. It’s great for cookie and cake baking as well as drizzled over fruit parfaits and oatmeal.

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of golden syrup to pure maple syrup can be used in any recipe.

7. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar has a slightly sweeter, neutral flavor and comes in light, dark, and amber varieties. It’s used in cocktails, baked goods, sauces, and as a topping depending on how rich you want your final product to be. 

To get closer to the pure maple syrup flavor, try adding a few drops of maple or vanilla extract.

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of agave nectar to pure maple syrup can be used in any recipe. For non-baking ratios, use ½ and adjust to taste.
Agave nectar in a glass bowl on the countertop with the original container in the background.

8. White Sugar

White sugar is a great lazy substitute. Without any work or preparation, you can sub white sugar for maple syrup in baked goods. It will not give the moisture that maple syrup offers, so you’ll need to add more liquid or fat of whatever your recipe already has listed. 

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of white sugar to pure maple syrup can be used in any recipe, but remember to add a liquid, so check the consistency before finishing your batter.

9. Brown Sugar

Like white sugar, brown sugar is another lazy maple syrup alternative. It has a deeper flavor than its white counterpart because of its molasses flavor. It is also thicker in texture, so it would be a better alternative for maple syrup than white sugar. It’s best used in baking recipes, and it’s easy to adjust.

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of brown sugar to pure maple syrup can be used for any recipe with an addition of liquids or fats for the moisture factor.
Simple syrup is an easy substitute for other sweeteners.

10. Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar is basically a coconut syrup that is thick. It is from actual coconut tree sap. It has all the components you’d want in a maple syrup substitute with color, sweetness, and caramel flavor. It’s considered a healthier alternative because of its lower glycemic index. 

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of coconut nectar to pure maple syrup can be used in frostings, bars, cakes, sauces, and marinades.

11. Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup isn’t the most common alternative, but it’s a great alternative to use in baked goods, salad dressings, sauces, and glazes. Like coconut nectar, it’s considered a healthier alternative to maple syrup because of its lower glycemic index. It has a nutty flavor, and is about half as sweet as the more sugary alternatives. 

  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of brown rice syrup to pure maple syrup can be used in any recipe, especially as a pancake topper!
Top view of maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey poured in clear glass bowls.

What is the best maple syrup substitute?

There are 2 maple syrup substitutes that are better than the rest: honey and brown sugar syrup. Honey is convenient while brown sugar syrup is deeper in flavor similar to maple syrup.

You’re most likely going to have honey in your pantry, and it involves zero preparation. It is best used as a substitute in baking and in a time crunch.

Brown sugar syrup will match your maple syrup flavor profile better, and it takes a little preparation. You will most likely have brown sugar in your pantry too, since it’s such a staple in most homes. You can make your own following this method for simple syrup and subbing brown sugar for white. This one is best used for drizzling and can be stored in an airtight container or mason jar for awhile. 

Hot honey is sweet and spicy and easy to make at home.

Maple Syrup FAQ

What can I use if I don’t have maple syrup?

Start by using honey, brown sugar syrup, or simple syrup in equal parts. 

What can I substitute for maple syrup in a cookie recipe?

​For cookie recipes, use honey, corn syrup, coconut or agave nectar, or molasses with a 1:1 ratio.

What tastes like maple syrup?

With any maple syrup substitute, adding a few drops of maple extract will give you a more exact maple syrup flavor you’re looking for.

Is maple syrup healthier than sugar?

Maple syrup can be healthier than sugar, but it’s still a sugar. It is a natural sweetener that is less processed and retains more nutrients than sugar. Maple syrup will not spike blood sugar as much as sugar, but it still needs to be used moderately for any diet.

What is the difference between pure maple syrup and maple flavored syrup?

Maple syrup is made from 100% maple sap without any additives. Maple flavored syrup is a sugar syrup with added maple flavorings. When sampling pure maple syrup and maple flavored syrup, you can definitely tell a difference. Pure maple syrup has more of a rich, caramel flavor while maple flavored syrup tastes more sugary and less caramelly. Even the price difference between the two can be substantial because buying pure maple syrup for a crowd is more expensive than simply buying maple flavored syrup!

What are the health benefits of maple syrup?

Even though maple syrup is a high-calorie food that contains a lot of sugar, pure maple syrup is also high in manganese, which strengthens your bones. Pure maple syrup also contains copper, calcium, zinc, and iron. It is rich in antioxidants that can help reduce free radicals in your body. Note that we are talking about PURE maple syrup, not the generic maple syrup imitation brands that are also very common and cheaper than pure maple syrup.

What can I use instead of maple syrup?

Honey, coconut nectar, and brown sugar syrup are some of the many substitutes for maple syrup. It might be tempting to turn to imitation maple syrup, which is cheaper and closely resembles pure maple syrup. However, you might be better off with more natural alternatives, both when it comes to health benefits and taste.

Stir to combine.

Alternative-Friendly Maple Syrup Recipes

These recipes all use maple syrup in some form, giving you a great opportunity to try out some of the alternatives listed above. Experiment and see which one you like best!

Salad Dressings

Cocktails & Mocktails

Breakfast Foods

Cookies, Bars, and Sweet Bites


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