Raise your hand if you've ever whipped up a batch of hot, buttermilk pancakes on a Saturday morning, only to realize you were out of syrup! Well, save yourself an early morning run to the store with a sweet maple syrup substitute.

close up of stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup, from Shelf Cooking

Maple syrup is UH-MAZING, but boy, can it be expensive! Currently, the average cost per gallon of maple syrup is $41. It's so pricey that store-bought syrups are mostly just other fillers with a tiny amount of pure maple in them. Very few are actually 100% syrup!

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There's got to be a better way! You'll be shocked by all the options for alternatives – available right in your pantry. Next time you run out, try one of our sneaky maple syrup substitutes.


glass jar of maple syrup, from Shelf Cooking

Have you ever laid awake wondering how maple syrup is made? No? Well, it's quite fascinating actually, and it explains exactly why maple syrup is so expensive.

Pure maple syrup is harvested by HAND from the sap of maple trees. It takes 40 GALLONS of sap to make a single gallon of pure maple syrup! That's a lot of sticky sap!


If pure maple syrup is so spendy, then it's no wonder that most pancake and breakfast syrups have added ingredients in them. Imitation maple syrup is mostly just corn syrup with less than 5% pure maple in it. Some are simply artificial maple extract and contain no pure syrup at all!

Because your trusty table syrup isn't probably pure maple anyway, there's no reason not to sub in some alternatives when the bottle runs dry. You may even learn that you like the substitute even better!


whisk and pan with imitation maple extract, from Shelf Cooking

The next time you serve up a Saturday morning French toast breakfast and find you're out of store-bought syrup, don't panic! Here are a few alternatives you can go to instead.

  • Buttermilk Syrup – Once you try out this easy recipe, you may never go back to regular syrup again! It doesn't take long at all and you can even make it in the microwave. Bonus? You don't need buttermilk to make it!
  • Honey – Honey is a great option for pancakes or baking. You can simply swap out the maple and add in honey as a one for one substitute.
  • Corn Syrup – Substitute out the maple syrup for corn syrup in a 1:1 ratio, and you're good to go!
  • Molasses – Molasses has a slightly different, dark flavor from maple that is super yummy. Try adding this in place of maple in a 1:1 ratio.
  • Agave Nectar – Agave can be used in a 1:1 ratio and adds a slightly flowery taste alternative.
  • Coconut Oil – If you want a healthier alternative to maple syrup, then try topping your pancakes with a spoonful of solid coconut oil and allowing it to melt. It's a tasty trip to the tropics in your mouth!
  • Brown Sugar Syrup – Want an easy substitute for maple syrup with a slightly different flavor? You can add 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to a saucepan and heat it over medium heat. Stir the mixture for 1-2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cool slightly before serving!

With all these tasty options hiding in your pantry, we won’t be shocked if you never go back to the original store-bought syrup again. We don’t blame you cause we may not either!


If you REALLY want to nail down a tried-and-true substitute for store-bought maple syrup, this is it. You can make it with just a few ingredients that you have on hand in your pantry, and you'll avoid all the extra fillers and preservatives! Imitation Maple flavor can easily be found in any major grocery store with all the other extracts.

Mix up a batch of this super simple syrup adapted from mrbreakfast.com, and we DARE you to say that you still like the store-bought version better!

close up of stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup, from Shelf Cooking

Simple Maple Syrup Recipe

Need a super easy mock maple syrup to whip up when you run out? You'll find yourself making this one on repeat over and over again.
Cook Time 5 minutes
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ tsp Mapleine imitation maple flavoring


  • Boil the sugar and water gently, then add the Mapleine flavor.
  • Allow the syrup to cool before serving immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Keyword easy breakfast, easy recipe

You can store this yummy maple syrup substitute in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Now that we've shown you so many alternatives to your good ole bottle of store-bought maple syrup, breakfast will never be the same! Simply pass up those pricey bottles on the grocery store shelf next time. You can sleep easy knowing that you've found the secret to a cheaper alternative right at home in your own pantry.

Leave a comment to let us know which of these yummy substitutes you try out. We are excited to hear which is your fave!

Syrup being poured over stack of pancakes with butter on top, from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more simple ideas?

Stay sweet!