10 Substitutes For Maple Extract [Healthy Options]

I know for some people Fall brings about an instant craving for pumpkin spice-flavored everything, but for me, it’s all about maple.

As soon as the leaves start to turn various shades of amber and gold I am reminded of the wonders of maple syrup. I love maple coffee, maple donuts, maple pie, cookies, cakes, maple everything! 

This year I decided to start baking my own maple goodies. When I started searching through recipes on Pinterest I was surprised to find that most of them call for maple extract instead of real maple syrup. 

If you’ve ever wondered what maple extract really is or if you really need it to read on.

I took a deep dive into the world of substitutes for maple extract in baking and luckily I came up with many alternatives to try.

So what can you use for a maple extract substitute?

Maple syrup and other maple products are probably the closest things that you can get to delivering that true maple flavor magic. If you are open to other flavors there are plenty of different extracts you can use instead that won’t ruin your whole recipe, like vanilla, rum, and almond extracts. For a more bold replacement, you can try honey, agave nectar, or molasses. And for an easy, convenient swap, just go with brown sugar.

Substitutes For Maple Extract 

1)Maple Syrup 

It probably comes as no surprise that real maple syrup is the best flavor replacement for maple extract.

One benefit of using maple extract over real maple syrup is that extract is more concentrated in flavor.

The stronger flavor means that you only need to use a very small amount to pack a good maple punch.

This is more important than you might think but when baking you can throw everything off if your measurements aren’t accurate.

If you substitute maple syrup for maple extract you just need to be careful to maintain a balance between your liquid ingredients and dry ingredients.

maple syrup

You might not be able to add very much liquid without ruining your recipe, so the maple flavor might be more subtle in your finished product.

If your recipe called for a teaspoon of extract, start with a half teaspoon of syrup and then adjust to taste.

2)Vanilla Extract 

Vanilla extract can be used as a substitute for maple extract. Since it is also an extract you still use a small amount and get a big flavor payoff. You won’t need to fiddle with your recipe as much to get it right.

The disadvantage, of course, is that vanilla is not the same flavor as maple.

If you are a diehard maple lover you won’t quite get your fix but the vanilla flavor is versatile and can be easily swapped for maple if you aren’t too picky and enjoy both.

3)Maple Butter

Maple butter is a great option as a flavor substitute for maple extract. Much like an extract, maple butter is a concentrated version of maple syrup. It is just maple syrup that has been cooked longer and with more care.

The thick consistency and concentrated flavor make it a great option to add to frostings, but it can be used in baked goods as well.

If you use maple butter you might want to leave out some regular butter, or just be careful not to use too much. Again, too much liquid in your batter is not a good thing.

4)Maple Candy

Maple candy is also made by overboiling maple syrup and then pouring it into molds to dry.

It is very concentrated in flavor if you know where to look. Most farmer’s markets, gift stores, and even many grocery stores will stock maple candy year-round.

Some maple farms even sell a ground-up version of maple candy as maple sugar that can be sprinkled on top of pancakes and other goodies.

The advantage of using maple candy is that it is a dry ingredient. If you grind it up it will be similar to brown sugar.


Honey is another good option to replace maple extract. The ooey gooey sweetness of nature is not going to disappoint even though it doesn’t taste quite the same as maple syrup.

It has a similar depth of flavor that will add something special to your treats.


A small amount goes a long way, so don’t overdo it. Just like with other liquid substitutes, this might take some trial and error before you get it right.


Just like honey, Molasses is another sticky kitchen staple that can be used as a substitute for maple extract.

Molasses has a similar smokiness to the flavor that you will find in some maple syrups.

If you tend to like darker, lower-grade maple syrup that is a rich amber color then molasses might be right up your alley.

It has a strong flavor and the scent will be sure to fill your house with happy fall feelings for days.

If you aren’t sure what Molasses tastes like, it is used to create the well-loved flavor of gingerbread cookies.

7)Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a pantry staple for any home baker. If you are in a pinch you can just use extra brown sugar in a recipe to replace maple extract.

It always adds extra sweetness and flavor to any cookie or cake. Brown sugar is made by adding molasses syrup to sugar crystals.

Brown Sugar

It will add a more mild molasses flavor than using molasses itself, but it will still give you something extra that will not disappoint.

Many recipes call for a mix of white and brown sugar. If you add brown sugar you can balance out your ingredients by using less white sugar.

8)Almond Extract

Almond extract adds a great marzipan flavor to your baked goods. A little bit will go a long way!

Just like with Vanilla extract, if you like the flavor of almond extract then you can choose to use it instead of maple whenever you want. It won’t mess with the balance of your recipe ingredients. 

It is a different flavor option but that doesn’t mean that it won’t work. Almond extract is especially good in recipes that include fruit or fruit flavors.

9)Rum Extract

Rum extract is another flavor that can replace maple in most recipes. It doesn’t taste like maple syrup but it has a unique depth of flavor that some people love.

It is very sweet, just like maple, and more complex than vanilla or brown sugar.

If you want something a little bit more dramatic or different then rum extract would be a good option for you to replace maple extract with.

10)Agave Nectar 

Agave nectar has become a pretty mainstream grocery item in the past few years because of its versatility as a sugar substitute.

The sweet syrup is made from the agave plant, which is also used to make tequila. Agave Nectar has a flavor that is similar to honey but more mild.

It does not spike insulin levels as much as honey or sugar, so it is a popular option for those with diabetes or insulin resistance.

Agave Syrup

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between Maple Syrup And Maple Extract?

Maple syrup is made from the sap that is collected from sugar maple trees every spring.

The sap is boiled in a very controlled process until it reaches the thickness and temperature of the syrup.

Maple extract, on the other hand, is mostly alcohol that has been infused with the flavor of maple syrup.

It is made by steeping or pressure-cooking alcohol with real maple syrup or maple products.

Once the flavor has been infused the alcohol is separated and bottled to be sold or used.

Can You Make Maple Extract?

Yes, you can make maple extract at home but the process might take longer than you would like.

You need to let the maple vodka mixture sit for up to six weeks to really get the flavor to infuse.

If you have a pressure cooker you might be able to speed up the process, but this will likely yield a weaker extract. 

Is Maple Extract Made With Real Maple Syrup?

Some maple extract uses real maple syrup, but others use artificial flavors or fenugreek seeds.

Maple extracts will be labeled to tell you how they were made. Just like with vanilla extract, you might see different bottles labeled pure or artificial. 

Pure maple extract should be made with real maple products. Some even use parts of the maple tree.

Artificial extracts will use sugar that has been manipulated to taste more like maple.

Extracts made with fenugreek seeds might be labeled as natural or imitation, but they should not be labeled as pure. 

Can I Use Regular Pancake Syrup That Isn’t Real Maple Syrup? 

Artificial syrup can be used as a substitute for maple extract but it doesn’t make it into my top ten list for two reasons.

One, I don’t think the flavor is strong enough to give a similar taste or effect. And two, it is mostly just corn syrup. 

Not only is corn syrup unhealthy, it can also change your baked goods more than other syrups because it has a softening effect when baked.

It prevents sugar from crystallizing, which is a property that is unique to corn syrup. It should be used in only small amounts and usually for making things like candy or caramel sauce. 

Final Words

Maple is a very special flavor that cannot be replicated exactly, so if you are in need of a replacement for maple extract you will find the closest taste comparisons from nature pure maple products.

Syrup, maple cream, and maple candy are great options if you really want that special maple taste.

If you are a little bit more flexible you can usually replace maple flavor with another extract like vanilla, rum, or almond.

There are many options and the best choice will all depend on your taste preferences and what type of recipe you are working with. 

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