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Maple Syrup vs. Pancake Syrup: Natural or Imitation?

Maple Syrup vs Pancake Syrup

Maple Syrup vs. Pancake Syrup: Natural or Imitation?

Drizzling syrup over your pancakes in the morning can almost feel like heaven. The smooth, rich syrup flavor is something adults and kids love. However, have you ever wondered the difference between maple syrup and pancake syrup? Well, this article will cover the basic differences between the two. While we will go more in-depth below, the quick answer is this: Maple syrup is natural syrup. It comes from the Maple tree and is the sap that undergoes boiling until it thickens. Pancake syrup is not natural. It is imitation syrup made to taste similar to maple syrup. Pancake syrup consists of corn syrup and maple extract. Maple and pancake syrup also vary in taste, with maple syrup being the richer of the two. 

Maple Syrup vs. Pancake Syrup: What are the Differences?

The main difference between the two comes down to the ingredients. Maple syrup is natural. It is extracted from the Maple tree and then boiled down until it is thicker. It goes through a process of eliminating any impurities. The only ingredient in pure, natural maple syrup is the sap from the Maple tree. 

Pancake syrup is corn syrup that mixes with artificial maple extract. These are just some of the two ingredients in pancake syrup. However, they are the main ones. Coloring and more artificial flavors are in this syrup as well. 

Another difference is in the price of the two. Pure maple syrup is more expensive than pancake syrup. The reason is because of how each syrup is processed. Extracting maple syrup from a tree and processing it is more labor intensive. Pancake syrup, on the other hand, can be mass-produced quickly. This leads to lower prices. 

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Tapping maple trees for sap to make maple syrup
The process of tapping the Maple tree to produce the natural sweet sap has been around for a very long time.

©Sweet Memento Photography/Shutterstock.com

The Flavor of Maple Syrup

Maple syrup grades will help you determine the flavor you will be getting. The syrup is graded from light to dark. The darker the maple syrup, the more intense and rich the flavor will be. Starting out, golden amber will give you a very light flavor. It is not quite as strong as the traditional maple flavor that many are used to. Also, it is often said to taste like vanilla. 

Medium amber is rich in taste. Typically, people seeking the traditional maple flavor will be looking for this one. Dark and very dark are more intense in flavor; they pack a punch, so to speak, when it comes to the natural maple flavor. 

The Flavor of Pancake Syrup

While pancake syrup is created to duplicate the flavor of maple syrup, it simply isn't there. Pancake syrup is very sweet. However, you can still taste the artificial flavors. In contrast, maple syrup is intense and pure. 

What is Maple Syrup?

When someone says they enjoy the taste of maple syrup, they are talking about the all-natural syrup found within the Maple tree. It is a wonderful process. When workers are ready, they will place a tap into the Maple tree. After the tap is in place, the sap will start flowing out. This is when collection takes place. After the maple syrup is collected, the process of boiling will begin.

Boiling the maple syrup until it thickens leaves you with a very concentrated and sweet natural, flavorful syrup. 

Maple syrup can pour over your pancake, or many people enjoy it in baking. It adds an intense sweet flavor that pancake syrup simply cannot duplicate. 

You will see different grades when you go to the store to look for maple syrup. The maple syrup will either be a grade A or a grade B. Grade B will have the darkest maple syrup out of both categories. If you are looking for something lighter, though, go with grade A. The choices will then vary between three different groups. 

What is Pancake Syrup? 

Pancake syrup got its start in the 1800s. Americans started to move to urban areas. They longed to have maple syrup's sweet and rich taste; however, the access was not there. Therefore, imitation pancake syrup got its start.

Pancake syrup is high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, artificial maple flavoring, and more mixed together. The result is a very sweet and similar-tasting syrup comparable to maple syrup. 

Woman pouring maple syrup on tasty pancakes
Pancake syrup got its start in the 1800s. Americans wanted maple syrup's pure and sweet taste, but access was scarce.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Uses of Maple Syrup

Many people love maple syrup! It offers a decadent and indulgent taste that goes amazing on top of pancakes, inside cakes, and much more! Here are some ways people choose to use maple syrup.

The most basic way to eat maple syrup is to drizzle it over waffles, pancakes, and even French toast. However, you do not have to stop there! Maple syrup can taste amazing overtop popcorn, fruit, ham, or turkey. Some people enjoy putting maple syrup in their vegetables, baked beans, and sweet potatoes. Some enjoy maple syrup on their salads, rolls, or meat! The possibilities really are endless. 

Uses of Pancake Syrup

Pancake syrup is great over pancakes, waffles, and more. Pancake syrup can be used in much of the same way maple syrup is used. 

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  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
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Nutritional Value Chart

Maple syrup is often considered the healthier of the two pancakes. The truth is, neither one of these two syrups are all that healthy. Maple syrup is all-natural, yes. However, maple syrup's sugar and calorie content is very high. Pancake syrup is also high in sugar content and calorie content. Neither one of them offers any vitamins. However, maple syrup does offer minerals that can be good for your health. 

When it comes to maple syrup, there may be some health benefits. First, maple syrup does carry antioxidants. So, because of this, maple syrup can be good for your brain and more. 

However, just because it has potential health benefits does not mean the risks aren't there. Since maple syrup is high in sugar content, it has the potential to be bad for your teeth. Sugar can increase the risk of health conditions like diabetes or even heart problems. So, although maple syrup is delicious, it is always a good idea to consume it in moderation. 

Maple Syrup vs Pancake Syrup Nutritional Facts


Can You Substitute Maple Syrup for Pancake Syrup?

It is possible to substitute maple syrup with pancake syrup in a pinch. Maple syrup can be pricier than pancake syrup, making the latter a more convenient choice. However, the flavor may be less intense or rich if you use pancake syrup. It all comes down to preference.

History of Pancake Syrup

Pancake syrup, also known as table syrup, began hitting homes in the late 1800s. Many Americans wanted the pure and sweet taste of maple syrup; however, the location of where they were moving made it more difficult. 

That is when Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth began their journey of imitating pure maple syrup. This gave Americans a cheaper alternative. Although pancake syrup has the look, it doesn't quite have the taste of pure maple syrup. 

History of Maple Syrup

Tapping into making maple syrup has been around for a long time. It has roots in the history of Indigenous peoples. There are some very interesting legends circling around. If you enjoy reading interesting stories, here are some fun ones

The start of gathering maple syrup began with tribes cutting V shapes into the Maple tree. Much like the spout, there was a wedge and a basket to catch the syrup. Boiling the syrup until it was thick has also been around for a long time.

While methods have changed a bit, one thing remains the same. The delicious taste of maple syrup has been loved for centuries.  

In Conclusion

Infographic showing the differences between maple syrup and pancake syrup.
Maple syrup is so delicious.
  • Maple syrup is essentially maple sap that has been boiled. It is time-consuming and labor-intensive to produce, hence its higher price. Pancake syrup is made of corn syrup, maple flavoring, and some other ingredients.
  • Many people prefer maple syrup because it's made with all-natural ingredients. The ingredients used in pancake syrup are perfectly safe for consumption; in all honesty, both types of syrup should be consumed in moderation.
  • Maple syrup has antioxidants in it, which causes some to argue that it's healthier than pancake syrup. The high sugar content in both syrups means that neither of them are particularly healthy.

Whether you prefer pancake syrup or maple syrup is honestly a personal preference. Both of these syrups are sweet and rich in flavor. You can taste more artificial flavoring in pancake syrup. In comparison, maple syrup has a rich, intense, and natural flavor. There are plenty of uses for the two besides just on your pancakes! Try eating syrup with your fruit salad or mixing in your baked beans. However, paying close attention to your sugar intake when eating maple or pancake syrup is always essential. They can have adverse health effects if too much is consumed too often. 

Both maple syrup and pancake syrup are delicious, rich, and flavorful. What do you prefer to use your syrup on? 

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Raw Pork Chops

Maple Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

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  • Author: Moms Who Think


Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 34 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. The ingredients should all be mixed together in a bowl. 
  2. To prepare the pork chops, start by putting the skillet in the oven which should be preheated to 400 degrees. Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  3. Remove skillet from oven and place pork chops inside. Cook 2-3 minutes to sear and brush with glaze. Flip pork chops and repeat.
  4. Put the skillet back in the oven and bake about 5-8 minutes or until you can get a thermometer reading of 140 degrees. 

  5. Transfer pork chops to a plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes. Then serve with a bit of the glaze drizzled over the top. 

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