Substitutes for Pure Maple Syrup

Substitutes for Pure Maple Syrup. (Image: AnnaPustynnikova/iStock/GettyImages)

Maple syrup is often associated with breakfast foods such as pancakes and waffles, but it's actually quite versatile. It can be used as a substitute for sugar, and it tastes great when drizzled on top of ice cream or yogurt. Its versatility makes it a pantry staple, so when it's unavailable, it can be a bit of a pain. Still, this isn't a fret-worthy situation. Even though the taste of maple syrup is unique, with a little creativity, you can use one of a number of items already in your cabinet to use as a substitute for maple syrup.

Liquid Substitutes

Honey is easy to use as a stand-in because it's almost a one-to-one swap, and better yet, you may already have some in your kitchen. Use it to replace maple syrup when baking or making a mixed drink. Honey is a little thicker and doesn't taste as sweet, but it will do the trick.

Molasses is made by boiling the juice of sugar cane and sugar beets to create sugar crystals. It's the leftover brownish/black mixture, and it's available in light, dark, blackstrap and sorghum varieties. Light molasses is the closest to maple syrup, and some people prefer it on their pancakes. If you like to use maple syrup when you make baked beans, molasses will work just as well; just use a little less.

Corn syrup comes in a light and darker version; it's made from processing cornstarch along with acids or enzymes. The lighter version gets its appearance because it has been clarified. Choose the dark iteration when using it as a substitute for maple syrup. More flavorful than the light version, it tastes like caramel, but you can add a little almond, maple or vanilla for an extra kick. The best thing about corn syrup is that when stored at room temperature, even if it's been opened, it will last almost indefinitely. Corn syrup makes a good substitute for maple syrup when making cookies.

Solid Substitutes

Grab a jar of your favorite jelly, jam, preserves or marmalade; then heat a small saucepan on a burner set to medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of water; then whisk in some jelly. Reduce the heat to low, and add more water if needed, but just enough to make it syrupy. You can also add in some of your favorite fruits; then serve warm on top of waffles, french toast, crepes or pancakes. Or, cool the mixture and serve it with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Bartenders often keep simple syrup on hand for making mixed drinks. They tend to use white sugar, but a simply syrup can be made with brown sugar when using it in lieu of maple syrup. The recipe is simple because it is a one-to-one ratio. Heat a saucepan on a medium burner. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of brown or turbinado sugar. Stir as the water mixture starts to simmer. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat source and let it cool. You can add in vanilla beans, almond or coconut extract, and an herb or spice to enhance the flavor if you choose.

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