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Substitute Maple Syrup for Brown Sugar

Various ingredients in cooking are so unique; you’re sure there can’t be any other thing to use in its stead. Let’s take a look at a highly sought-after ingredient like brown sugar. Because of its specified variants and unique color and taste, brown sugar has become a staple in baking and other recipes. And we’ve gotten so accustomed to it that we never imagined anything in its stead.

But as impressive as brown sugar is, substitutes that can replicate its function are available. And one of the most commonly employed is maple syrup. But you may wonder how these two ingredients can be swapped, especially since they’re so different. And it’s why we’ll explore their contents and properties so you can be convinced that maple syrup can replace brown sugar.

What is Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is a type of sugar mix of sucrose and molasses. It’s found in two different color shades of dark brown and light brown, as the sugar crystals are covered in molasses. This factor indicates how much molasses is added, meaning the darker the sugar, the more molasses in it.

Many recipes that require brown sugar without specifying a particular type refer to light brown sugar. And it contains approximately 3.5 percent molasses by weight, while dark brown sugar contains 6.5 percent. The latter is mainly used when an extra rich flavor or color is preferred.


Brown Sugar in Recipes

Brown sugar is used in recipes to provide a touch of extra flavor, and the hygroscopic nature of molasses means more moisture retention. It’s why brown sugar is commonly required in baked goods, which thrive on this factor to provide tenderness. It’s also a staple sweetener in baked goods and provides a mild caramel taste. Plus, it’s an ideal way to infuse a more moist result in cakes, puddings, pies, chocolate cookies, and muffins.

Its crumbly texture makes it a staple part of puddings as a topping and in cobblers to get a crunchy yet nice, bubbly top when baked. It’s also used to balance the flavor of barbecue sauce and in salad dressings and vinaigrettes to add a pleasant sweetness. Brown sugar gives a rich flavor to coffee due to its molasses and can be used as a replacement for sugar. It’s also great for making a sweet, smooth, rich glaze, and the molasses combine well with baked goods like pies and tastes brilliant over meats.

You’ll also find brown sugar in cookie recipes where it adds more chewiness, taste, and tenderness. It’s also used in making cinnamon rolls, caramel sauce, and edible cookie dough.

What is Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener from concentrating the maple tree sap. The tree is tapped in early spring, and the liquid is extracted, then it’s cooked down into a rich, fine syrup with a lovely flavor. Maple syrup is boiled until it contains only 33 percent water, leaving a 66 percent sugar concentration and creating a pure syrup. And anything that’s not made up to such standard is only considered pancake syrup or corn syrup.

There’re different grades of maple syrup, depending on the color and when the sap was extracted. And the darker the syrup, the later in the season it was harvested. In 2015, the USDA changed its maple syrup grading system to fit international standards and ease selection for home cooks. As such, the following criteria were established:

Grade A Golden, the lightest type, has a subtle flavor perfect for breakfast dishes and desserts.

Grade A Amber has a classic maple flavor, making it a perfect choice for table syrup, and it also has a rich flavor.

Grade A Dark possesses the most flavor and is probably the most popular. It’s excellent for cooking.

Processing Grade is extracted at the end of the season, and like said before, that means it’s the darkest of all. This one is used for maple-flavored commercial products.



Maple Syrup Nutrition Facts

Maple Syrup

Uses of Maple Syrup

It’s safe to say the entire world only knows maple syrup as a topper for waffles and pancakes. But it also has other uses in savory dishes, combines very well with vegetables, and is a glaze for meat. It’s an excellent multipurpose ingredient that can be added directly to recipes and used to make barbecue sauce and other flavor enhancers. Numerous other recipes containing maple syrup in their list include;

  • Maple syrup cake
  • Sticky maple roots
  • Maple-baked granola
  • Parsnip
  • Plum crumble
  • Duck salad
  • Chicken wings
  • Roast chicken
  • Doughnuts
  • Dipping sauce
  • Coconut maple coffee
  • Bacon
  • Cannellini bean salad
  • Roasted butternut squash soup
  • Apple crisp
  • Salmon
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Walnut ice cream
  • Custard cups

Substituting Maple Syrup for Brown Sugar in Recipes

Combine one cup (200 grams) of granulated sugar and one tablespoon (15 ml) of maple syrup to produce an almost ideal alternative to brown sugar.

By now, we can already identify these ingredients are similar in many ways. Regardless of their different modes of production, they’re still regular additions to many similar recipes. With that in mind, substituting maple syrup for brown sugar shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish. You can use maple syrup if you’re seeking an alternative to sugar that’s a source of trace minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and iron, as well as to provide a new taste.


The replacement quantities of maple syrup for brown sugar vary in recipes, and however, one cup of brown sugar can be replaced with ¾ cup of maple syrup. But since brown sugar is dry and maple syrup is a liquid, you must eliminate three tablespoons of fluid from your recipe for each of the ¾ cup of maple syrup used.

Reducing water or milk measurement is also needed to reduce the overall liquid volume. And add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of baking soda, except your recipe already contains sour cream, sour milk, or buttermilk.

Another thing to note is your oven temperature. Batter containing maple syrup tends to caramelize faster around the edges, so you’ll need to reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees. Maple syrup works perfectly in substituting brown sugar in any recipe, but it’s a matter of awareness and knowing the substitution ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is maple syrup healthier than brown sugar?

Yes, pure maple syrup has more calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese than brown sugar. It’s also a healthier option, especially for people with diabetes. These minerals are excellent sources of immune support, cell formation, and healthy red blood cell formation.

Is honey healthier than maple syrup?

No, quite the opposite. Maple syrup is healthier than honey. A tablespoon of honey carries 17 grams of carbohydrates from different sugars. And these sugars are primarily from fructose, a little bit from glucose, and very much less from sucrose. Maple syrup has less overall sugar, especially fructose.

What can I use in banana bread if I don’t have brown sugar?

Maple syrup is an excellent substitute for brown sugar in banana bread. But you can also use sugar options like coconut, granulated white, turbinado, muscovado, and date. Other options for this purpose include honey, brown erythritol agave syrup, molasses, and Truvia. But apart from maple syrup, coconut sugar is considered the second healthiest option, and it’s also closest in terms of texture.


Substituting maple syrup for brown sugar in recipes can be venturesome and entertaining. And you’ve all the liberty in the world to experiment and uncover all the numerous ways maple syrup can stand in brown sugar’s stead in your various recipes. Healthy cooking is highly recommended, and maple syrup is better for sugar and sweetener. So, have fun while you uncover these culinary wonders and enjoy your dishes.