Replacing Granulated Sugar with Maple Sugar (or Syrup)

Reader Lee-Ann writes:

Tis Maple season up here in Canada and I have found a good source for Maple sugar, which I have heard is better for you. I love baking and have tried a couple recipes switching out the brown or white sugar for Maple sugar. What is your view on baking with Maple sugar and is it a one to one ratio with white sugar?

Hey Lee-Ann! I’m not sure about maple being better for you, however I can totally understand wanting to make the substitution from a flavor and convenience standpoint. When you say “sugar” I presume you mean “syrup” (we in the Midwestern U.S. often conflate those two words where maple is concerned). I know there is such a thing as granulated maple sugar and it can indeed be used as a 1-to-1 replacement for regular white granulated. It performs identically save for adding maple flavor and a vaguely brown color.

If you’re talking syrup, a cup of sugar and a cup of maple syrup are virtually identical. They have the same amount of sugar and calories in them and they deliver the same amount of sweetness. The main difference between the two is that maple syrup — like most syrup — contains water. In fact most maple syrup is one third water, sometimes more. That extra liquid can make a difference in a baking formula, so in order to compensate you’ll want to subtract an equivalent amount from the liquid portion of the recipe, either water or milk. Since a cup of maple syrup weighs 11 ounces, you’ll take 3.5 ounces (3.6 if you want to be truly precise) of some other liquid away. Thanks for a great question, Lee-Ann!

12 thoughts on “Replacing Granulated Sugar with Maple Sugar (or Syrup)”

  1. How about using it in a buttercream? I assume you could use it in place of the sugar syrup in an Italian buttercream?

    1. Hi Jane!

      That’s a good instinct, although a syrup like maple syrup or honey isn’t dense enough for a buttercream (too much water). You could use it as a flavoring once the buttercream is complete, though. I bet it would be delicious.

      Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

  2. Maybe you’ve already clarified this with Lee-Ann, but isn’t maple sugar different than maple syrup? I always thought it was another form of granulated sugar.

    1. Hey Alison!

      In fact I did not, that’s a good point. I’ve never really used granulated maple sugar though I know it exists. In most of the sugaring areas I have any experience with (in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana) “maple sugar” just means “maple syrup”. Or anyway most of the time.

      But granulated maple sugar can simply be used interchangeably!

      Thanks, Alison!

      – Joe

      1. As a New Englander, it’s interesting re the Midwest use of maple “sugar” to mean “syrup”.
        At first, I thought you didn’t understand the question and that shook me up a little! If I ever order pancakes in Michigan, I’ll be on top of the situation now.

        1. Ha!

          Hey Morag! I think I need to amend the post a little to reflect my Midwestern biases. Though truth be told I think it’s mostly older people that say “maple sugar” now (I’m in my 40’s but I guess that counts). I did a little research this morning and noticed that the “Maple Sugar” festival I used to attend in Parke County, Indiana recently changed its name to the “Maple Syrup” festival. But regardless of the age of the person you encounter in Michigan, no one will be confused when you ask for maple syrup, that I can promise you!


          – Joe

  3. Hey Joe,

    Do you have a brand you recommend for a good strong flavored Grade B? Is maple syrup vulnerable to the same quality endemic fraud/quality issues as honey and olive oil? That is, could we be getting maple syrup adulterated with pancake syrup?

    1. Hi Rachel!

      When it comes to maple syrup I pretty much buy what I can afford…and that changes from week to week. I prefer a grade B like you do because the flavor is more intense. Much better for adding maple flavor to baked things.

      Regarding quality, maple syrup quality standards are pretty well enforced as far as I know. As long as the bottle says “maple” and not “pancake” or “breakfast” you can be pretty sure it hasn’t been cut with anything.

      That’s about as much as I can tell you!


      – Joe

  4. I’ve got an allergy to cane sugar and have been baking with the dried maple sugar for years. It is MUCH more expensive but it works well. I usually cut back the amount called for a bit as it has so much more flavor. It’s a good option for people with a problem with cane.

  5. Hi…I’ve made recipes where I substituted white sugar with maple syrup. The ideal way to get the maple flavor into the recipes without “watering” them down too much is to heat the syrup to about 112.5C to make maple taffy and then using it in the recipes…you will get an intense maple flavor without adding too much water. For reference, I would recommend looking at Sugar shack Pied de Cochon cookbook by Martin Picard; you will find recipes such as maple mille-feuille, paris-brest, maple bread, maple candy, creme brulee, etc!

    1. Very interesting, Karel. Boil the water out first…another bankable way to go. Thanks very much!

      And I shall look for that cookbook!

      – Joe

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