Can you substitute honey for maple syrup?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute honey for maple syrup?”, and how to make maple syrup substitute at home using pantry staples?

Can you substitute honey for maple syrup?

Yes, honey can be substituted for maple syrup. Honey has a similar texture but a slightly different flavor from molasses. Honey can be used to drizzle over pancakes or used in baking cookies or muffins, etc. Estimate a 1:1 ratio when substituting honey for maple syrup. Read on if you want to know what are the other substitutes for maple syrup. 

Maple syrup is rich in minerals including calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. It has the same calcium content as whole milk. Vitamins B2, B5, B6, niacin, biotin, and folic acid are also present in maple syrup. The caloric content of maple syrup at standard density is 11.36 J/mL, lower than corn syrup and honey. Like most honeys, maple syrup is predominantly Newtonian especially within the temperature range of 25 to 45°C (1). A Newtonian fluid is one whose viscosity is not affected by shear rate: all else being equal, flow speeds or shear rates do not change the viscosity. Air and water are both Newtonian fluids (3).

How to make a maple syrup substitute at home using pantry staples?


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (or vanilla extract)


  1. Gather all the ingredients mentioned above. 
  2. Take a heavy skillet and fill it evenly with ½ cup of sugar. 
  3. Let the sugar melt and brown over medium heat. Then gently fold the sugar from the edges to the center of the skillet using silicone or a wooden spatula.
  4. When the sugar transforms into a melted liquid, take off the pan from heat.
  5. In a saucepan, add the brown sugar. Then pour boiling water and let it sit undisturbed until the sugar dissolves.
  6. Stir the caramelized sugar into the melted brown sugar mixture. Cook until a thick syrup forms. Keep stirring the syrup so that it does not burn. 
  7. When the syrup starts to become thick, remove it from heat and stir in the butter and maple or vanilla extract.
  8. Use right away or let it cool before packing it away in an air-tight container.

Can I use this maple syrup substitute in baked goods? 

This maple syrup substitute is not suitable for baking but there are some things you can do to make your baked product have a moist crumb and a maple-like taste.

  1. Replace every 3/4 cup of maple syrup called for in the recipe with 1 cup of sugar.
  2. Stir in an extra 3 tablespoons of liquid for each cup of sugar you end up using.
  3. Reduce the amount of baking soda by 1/4 teaspoon for each cup of sugar as well, as sugar is less acidic than maple syrup.

If you are a vegan, honey is not an option for you when it comes to substituting maple syrup. However, you can try other alternatives such as molasses, corn syrup, or agave nectar. Note that all of these substitutes impart a specific flavor of their own to the end product.

Other substitutes for maple syrup 

Maple syrup is a good alternative to natural sweeteners. Studies showed that a single oral administration of maple syrup in rats produced significantly lower peak and global responses of glycaemia and insulinaemia as compared to brown rice syrup, corn syrup and a reference solution of pure dextrose. Maple syrup also contains significant levels of some phenolics acids, it is particularly rich in certain lignans such as lariciresinol and secoisolariciresinol, which are linked to lower type 2 diabetes symptoms (2). However, other syrups and molasses can be used to substitute honey.


Molasses is sweet and has a complex flavor profile. Light molasses has a milder taste than dark molasses. Estimate a 1:1 ratio when substituting molasses for maple syrup. You can use molasses to make cakes, candies, and many other delicious desserts. By comparing different sugar substitutes, a study showed that molasses not only had the highest content in polyphenols, it also had the greatest variety of compounds. This source of sugar was particularly rich in phenolic acids, and especially contained high amounts of the cinnamic acid, syringic acid, vanillic acid, chlorogenic and caffeic acids (2). 

Corn syrup 

Corn syrup comes in a variety of lighter and darker versions and makes for a great alternative to maple syrup in desserts or sweet drinks. Corn syrup adds moisture, volume, and caramel flavor to the end product. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting corn syrup for molasses. Compared to other sugar substitutes, corn syrup is poor in phenolic compounds and has a higher glucose and insulin responses (2).

White sugar syrup 

White sugar syrup does not have a similar taste or sweetness level as maple syrup but it makes for a good substitute in a pinch. Reduce the amount of other liquids in your recipe when using this substitute to sweeten desserts and drinks.

Brown sugar syrup 

Add some water to a saucepan. Then stir in the brown sugar, water, and vanilla. Heat until the sugar dissolves and syrup starts to become thick. Once cool, use the brown sugar syrup pancakes, baking goods, desserts, and other recipes to replace maple syrup. This substitute can be refrigerated for up to a month. Brown sugar syrup has a medium level of phenolics and antioxidant capacity, but no antibacterial activity (4).

Agave nectar 

Agave nectar has a similar consistency and flavor to honey and maple syrup. However, it leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste. Agave syrup contains 87% fructose, has medium levels of phenolic compounds (lower than molasses but higher than corn syrup) and has lower glycaemic response compared to sugar and honey (2).

Coconut nectar 

Coconut nectar is another excellent substitute for maple syrup. It adds a rich caramel taste to the end product just like maple syrup. The consistency of the two sweeteners is also similar. This sugar is widely used as a sweetener for beverages and foods. It does not only provide the sweetness to the products, but also develop their color, aroma, and taste. Coconut sugar has been reported to have a health benefit due to its lower glycemic index value (5).

Brown rice syrup 

Brown rice syrup has a similar mild, nutty, and sweet taste to honey. The thick and sticky texture of the brown rice syrup makes it an excellent substitute for maple syrup for making desserts. Brown rice has a fairly high concentration of antioxidants due to the presence of phenolic compounds in its composition, but did not show any antibacterial activities against S. aureus methicillin susceptible strain at 20% concentration, unlike other syrups tested (molasses, agave and date syrup) (4).


In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute honey for maple syrup?”, and how to make maple syrup substitute at home using pantry staples?


  1. Ngadi, M. O., and L. J. Yu. Rheological properties of Canadian maple syrup. Canad biosys eng, 2004. 
  2. St-Pierre, Philippe, et al. Comparative analysis of maple syrup to other natural sweeteners and evaluation of their metabolic responses in healthy rats. J funct foods, 2014, 11, 460-471.
  3. Alexander, David E. Nature’s Machines: An Introduction to Organismal Biomechanics. Academic Press, 2017. 
  4. Grabek-Lejko, Dorota, and Kinga Tomczyk-Ulanowska. Phenolic content, antioxidant and antibacterial activity of selected natural sweeteners available on the Polish market. J Environ Sci Health B, 2013, 48, 1089-1096.
  5. Saputro, Arifin Dwi, Davy Van de Walle, and Koen Dewettinck. Palm sap sugar: A review. Sugar Tech, 2019, 21, 862-867.