Maple syrup and honey are two of the most popular natural liquid sweeteners in North America. They are both viscous and amber-colored, but beyond that, they each have some unique properties. They are both versatile, but is one more versatile than the other? Can you use them for the same applications? Let’s compare them in this SPICEography Showdown.
How does maple syrup differ from honey?
Maple syrup and honey are both mainly sweet, but their sweet flavors are accentuated by various subtle notes. The taste of maple syrup is mellow and nutty with hints of caramel and vanilla. Honey’s flavor has mild floral notes that can vary slightly depending on the plants from which the bees that make it get their nectar.
Maple syrup and honey have some significant nutritional differences. Neither is a rich source of any nutrients, but they aren’t void of beneficial compounds either. Maple syrup is a rich source of minerals like calcium, potassium, and manganese but is not as good a source of vitamins as honey. Honey contains vitamin C and B vitamins but doesn’t have maple syrup’s high mineral content. Maple syrup is also a lower-calorie sweetener than honey.
Can you use maple syrup as a substitute for honey and vice versa?
Because maple syrup and honey are amber-colored and viscous liquid sweeteners and are primarily just sweet, they can be suitable substitutes for each other in many dishes. Because they both have strong, distinctive flavors aside from their sweetness, they are a few dishes where they just won’t work as substitutes for each other.
Maple syrup is an excellent honey substitute as a general sweetener and in many baked goods like muffins but won’t be a good one if a neutral flavor is important. Maple’s flavor may not pair well with other ingredients. Honey’s flavor is more neutral in baked goods.
Similarly, honey is great in most recipes for baked goods that might require maple syrup, but it won’t replace its flavor profile. Honey is sometimes recommended as a maple syrup substitute, specifically for people who don’t like the maple taste.
Note also that honey browns faster than maple syrup, so you may need to adjust baking time and temperature to avoid burning baked goods. Keep in mind that maple syrup is a vegan product, but honey isn’t.
When should you use maple syrup, and when should you use honey?
The fact that it has fewer calories makes maple syrup the easy choice if you are trying to lose weight. Bear in mind that it is still a calorie-rich syrup, so you will want to consume it in moderation.
You should use it where its strong flavor will be beneficial for a dish. This includes everything from maple bars to hams and bacon. You can use it as a glaze for salmon as well. You can use maple syrup to flavor and sweeten your oatmeal and as an ingredient in your homemade barbecue sauce. Be aware then, in all cases, it will provide its strong flavor along with its sweetness.
Honey is a more versatile sweetener since its flavor isn’t always as noticeable. It is an effective all-purpose sweetener that can work in tea or oatmeal or the glaze for your hams and bacon. It also works well in an assortment of baked goods as an alternative to sugar.