Maple Syrup Substitute

Maple Syrup Substitute

The Spruce

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 1 cup (16 Servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
79 Calories
0g Fat
20g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 cup (16 Servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 79
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 13mg 1%
*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.)

Perhaps a pancake breakfast is a weekend tradition in your house, or whipping up a batch was a spur-of-the-moment decision. But what if you are out of maple syrup? While nothing can really replace the flavor of pure maple syrup, you can turn some pantry staples into a tasty and less expensive substitute to use as a topping for pancakes, waffles, and French toast.

Maple syrup starts as the sap of maple trees that is harvested and boiled to concentrate the sweetness and thicken it to the syrupy consistency. Tapping the trees takes place by hand during a few months in the late winter/early spring. The labor-intensive process partly accounts for the high price of pure maple syrup. Plus, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup.

This maple syrup substitute recipe results in a loose caramel sauce flavored with maple extract. While it can't stand in for maple syrup in baked goods, it does make a fine breakfast syrup.


Click Play to See This Maple Syrup Recipe Come Together


  • 1/2 cup granulated 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.

    Maple Syrup Substitute recipe
     The Spruce
  2. Spread the granulated sugar in an even layer in a heavy skillet.

    white sugar in a skillet
     The Spruce
  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 itself in the center.

    sugar caramelizing in a pan
     The Spruce
  4. Pull the pan off the heat as soon as the sugar becomes an amber liquid.

    caramelized sugar in a skillet
     The Spruce
  5. Add the brown sugar to a heavy saucepan.

    brown sugar in a sauce pan
     The Spruce
  6. Pour the boiling water over it and let it dissolve without stirring.

    brown sugar and water in a sauce pan
    The Spruce 
  7. Add the caramelized white sugar to the melted brown sugar in the saucepan. Simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens to syrup consistency.

    mixing sugar mixture
     The Spruce
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and maple or vanilla extract.

    whisking sugar mixture
     The Spruce
  9. Store in a sealable container or serve immediately.


  • 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 you work with boiling sugar to avoid especially painful burns.
  • Homemade maple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Before serving, warm the sauce to room temperature (or more) as it will be too thick to pour straight from the refrigerator.
  • In baking, maple syrup adds both sweetness and moisture to doughs and batters. Although you cannot use this substitute in place of maple syrup in baking recipes, you can make some adjustments to your baked good 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, and 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.
  • Honey, molasses, agave nectar, and corn syrup can all be substituted (1 for 1) for maple syrup in recipes, though each adds a different flavor.

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