Maple Syrup Substitute

Amber-colored maple syrup substitute drizzled over waffles on a plate

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
70 Calories
0g Fat
17g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 70
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 15mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you're out of maple syrup, nothing can really replace the rich flavor of pure syrup. But you can turn some pantry staples into a tasty and less-expensive substitute to achieve the sweet goodness of a moist bite of pancakes and syrup. Our quick and easy recipe can be used on waffles, French toast, or fruit salads, and it keeps well in the fridge for two weeks. Before serving, warm the sauce to room temperature, as it will be too thick to pour straight from the refrigerator.

Maple syrup starts as the sap of maple trees. This sap is boiled to concentrate the sweetness and to thicken it to syrupy consistency—around 40 gallons of sap are needed to make a gallon of maple syrup. This labor-intensive process partly accounts for the high price of pure maple syrup. Our recipe won't break your bank, however, and it's a great substitute that you can use to sweeten beverages and at breakfast.

Be mindful that our recipe uses butter, so it's not a vegan alternative unless you use plant-based margarine instead.


Click Play to See This Maple Syrup Recipe Come Together


  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

  • 1 cup water, boiling

  • 1 teaspoon butter

  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (or vanilla extract)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for quick maple syrup substitute recipe gathered

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  2. In a heavy skillet, spread the sugar in an even layer.

    White sugar evenly spread in a non-stick pan

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  3. Cook it over medium heat until it starts to melt and turn brown. Slowly swirl the pan or use a silicone or wooden spatula to gently fold the liquifying sugar from the edges into the center.

    Amber-colored caramelized sugar in a non-stick pan

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  4. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the sugar becomes an amber liquid. Reserve.

    Caramelized sugar in a nonstick pan off the heat

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  5. Add the brown sugar to a heavy saucepan.

    Brown sugar in a small saucepan

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  6. Pour the boiling water over it and let it dissolve without stirring.

    Water added to the brown sugar in the saucepan

    The Spruce Eats

  7. Add the caramelized sugar to the melted brown sugar in the saucepan. Simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency.

    Caramelized sugar and brown sugar mixture being stirred in the saucepan with a wooden spoon

     The Spruce Eats

  8. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and maple or vanilla extract.

    Butter and flavoring being whisked into the mixture in the saucepan

     The Spruce Eats

  9. Use immediately, or let cool before storing in an airtight container.

  10. Enjoy.

Can I Use This Maple Syrup Substitute in Baked Goods?

In baking, maple syrup adds both sweetness and moisture to doughs and batters. Although this substitute cannot be used in place of maple syrup in baking recipes, you can make some adjustments to your recipe to mimic the taste and effects of maple syrup:

  • Use 1 cup of sugar for every 3/4 cup of maple syrup called for in the recipe.
  • Add an extra 3 tablespoons of liquid for each cup of sugar you end up using.
  • Baking soda should be decreased by 1/4 teaspoon for each cup of sugar as well, as sugar is less acidic than maple syrup.

There are other maple syrup substitutes that you can use when baking in a 1-to-1 correspondence. Use honey, molasses, corn syrup, or agave nectar. The flavor of the baked goods will be different, but because of the texture of these products, the result will be as moist as it would have been with maple syrup. If using honey, be mindful that vegans might not feel comfortable eating it, as it is ultimately an animal-derived product.

Careful When Cooking With Sugar

Although this is a basic recipe, there are a few things to keep in mind when caramelizing the sugar:

  • You need to watch the caramelizing sugar carefully because it can go from desirably browned to irretrievably burned in a matter of seconds.
  • You should also wear oven mitts when working with boiling sugar to avoid especially painful burns.
  • Use shoes when cooking sugar, and keep kids and pets out of the kitchen.

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