Corn syrup and maple syrup are two of North America’s most common liquid sweeteners. They get used for a vast range of different applications but have different characteristics. This SPICEography Showdown offers a quick comparison to help you determine which to use.
How does corn syrup differ from maple syrup?
The first notable difference has to do with the sources of corn syrup and maple syrup. Corn syrup is derived from cornstarch, which comes from the endosperm of the corn kernel. Maple syrup comes from the maple tree’s sap, which is boiled and reduced to become a sweet and strongly flavored concentrate.
The sugars in corn syrup are typically a combination of glucose and maltose depending on the specific formulation. The sugar in maple syrup is usually only sucrose. Because of corn syrup’s sugars, it won’t crystallize. The sucrose in maple syrup is essentially the same as refined white sugar, so it will crystallize.
Corn syrup and maple syrup have different flavor profiles. Light corn syrup is flavored with vanilla and salt, while dark corn syrup contains a kind of molasses called refiner’s sugar that gives it a subtle molasses note.
It is worth noting that maple syrup is different from maple-flavored pancake syrup, which is corn syrup with a small amount of maple syrup or maple extract. Some cheaper versions of pancake syrup may be flavored with fenugreek, which has a maple-like flavor. Pancake syrup tastes and looks like maple syrup but is similar to corn syrup in every other respect.
Can you use corn syrup as a substitute for maple syrup and vice versa?
Corn syrup is often used as a substitute for maple syrup in various parts of the United States. One of the common uses of maple syrup is as a topping for pancakes and waffles. Maple-flavored pancake syrup can be used in place of real maple syrup. So can dark corn syrup, especially since many people consider the molasses flavor from dark corn syrup to be preferable to the taste of maple.
Light corn syrup can be a superior alternative to maple syrup in candy making since it has an almost neutral flavor. Maple syrup will give the candy a strong maple flavor.
Maple syrup can stand in for corn syrup in baked goods. You can even use it as one of the sources of sweetness in barbecue sauce. It is not ideal in candies since it won’t resist crystallization, and the maple taste is strong. So don’t use it unless you want maple-flavored sweets. For the same reason, you may not want to use maple syrup to replace all of the corn syrup in a recipe for ice cream or frosting.
When should you use corn syrup, and when should you use maple syrup?
Corn syrup is perfect in certain baked goods because of its effect on texture and because its humectant properties enable it to help slow staling. Because it resists crystallization, it is excellent in frozen treats and for making candy. Use dark corn syrup as a topping for waffles, French toast, and pancakes if you don’t like the maple flavor.
Use maple syrup to get the purest form of the maple flavor. It is a flavorful accompaniment to waffles and other similar breakfast foods and can even be used to sweeten oatmeal. It is also an effective flavoring that you can use in a range of baked goods.