Maple syrup vs maple-flavoured syrup

What's the difference?

Have you ever been shopping for maple syrup and noticed that some bottles are labelled ‘pure’, ‘real’ and ‘organic’ while others are described as ‘maple-flavoured’? 

To the untrained eye, they may seem like the same product – but in reality, there is a big difference in taste and quality. 

Curious to know what separates pure maple syrup from maple-flavoured syrup? Continue reading for a full breakdown of the two products…

What is pure maple syrup?

As the name suggests, pure maple syrup (sometimes referred to as real or organic maple syrup) is maple syrup in its purest form. Just a single ingredient is used to make the product – the sugary sap found in maple trees – with nothing extra added or taken away.

During spring, maple tree sap is harvested and then boiled down to reduce the water content, eventually forming a thick, sweet-tasting syrup.

And that’s it! No additives are used, and the simple production process means the end product retains most of the nutrients naturally present in the sap to begin with.

Pure maple syrup sold in Australia comes in four different grades – golden, amber, dark and very dark – with each possessing its own distinct colour and flavour. 

The lighter grades are made at the start of the harvest and have a more delicate taste, while the darker grades collected at the end of spring have a more pronounced flavour.

Learn more about how pure maple syrup is made below.

What is maple-flavoured syrup?

Maple-flavoured syrup (also known as pancake syrup) is generally made by mixing pure maple syrup with an artificial sweetener – typically inverted sugar syrup or corn syrup – in a process that dilutes pure maple syrup’s natural flavour and nutritional qualities. 

In many cases, maple-flavoured syrup will not contain any trace of maple sap, with manufacturers instead using a mix of sugar, water and other additives like colourings and preservatives to simulate the rich flavour and sticky texture of real maple syrup. 

The heavy processing and use of artificial ingredients means maple-flavoured blends offer little to no nutritional value while the flavour also falls short of the real deal. 

If you’re unsure what type of syrup you’re dealing with, remember that pure maple syrup will clearly be labelled as ‘real’, ‘organic’ or ‘100% pure’. 

Imitation blends, on the other hand, will be more tentatively described as having a ‘maple flavour’. If you’re still in doubt, check the ingredients!

Maple syrup vs maple-flavoured syrup

Now that you know how pure maple syrup and maple-flavoured syrup are made, as well as how to tell the difference in your local supermarket, let’s take a closer look at how the products differ in terms of taste, nutrition and usage.


Pure maple syrup has a rich, naturally sweet flavour with subtle notes of caramel, toffee and butterscotch. Weather conditions cause the flavour to intensify throughout the tapping season, with the darker grades having a stronger, more robust taste. 

Maple-flavoured syrup, on the other hand, tastes more like regular sugar, owing to the fact that it is mostly made up of refined sugars like corn syrup or inverted sugar syrup that have been treated with artificial flavourings. 

For this reason, it lacks the complexity of flavour that is a distinguishing feature of pure maple syrup, as well as the scope to select a specific grade that suits your own personal taste.

Learn more about the nutritional profile of pure maple syrup below.

Health benefits

Along with its vitamins and minerals, pure maple syrup has also been found to contain 67 different polyphenols, a category of plant-based compounds that have been shown to have antioxidant properties. 

Nine of these polyphenols are unique to pure maple syrup. One of these polyphenols, Quebecol, has received particular interest among scientists for its ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in humans. 

One study, which looked into the effects of replacing refined sugars with pure maple syrup found that the switch led to a reduction in abdominal fat, decreased systolic blood pressure and improved glycaemic response.

Learn more about the health benefits of pure maple syrup below.

Shelf life

Pure maple syrup and maple-flavoured syrup will both last a long time before going off. This is because of their high concentrations of sugar, which make it difficult for bacteria to grow.  

In the case of pure maple syrup, an unopened bottle will still be safe to eat several years after it has been produced. Once opened, it will generally last six months to a year in the fridge. 

With maple-flavoured syrups, the shelf life will usually be similar, however there can be some variation as different brands use different ingredients. In any case, it’s best to check the label to be sure.

Learn more about how to store pure maple syrup below.


When it comes to versatility, pure maple syrup’s more complex flavour makes it a far better option than maple-flavoured syrup, which is generally only reserved as a topping for pancakes. 

Pure maple syrup can also be used to drizzle over desserts, but this only scratches the surface of its culinary versatility. In baking, it can be used as an alternative to other sweeteners for mixing into doughs and batters. 

It’s also great for adding a touch of sweetness to sauces, glazes and marinades, as well as iced drinks and cocktails. Essentially in any recipe where sugar or honey is used, pure maple syrup serves as a ready replacement with a subtle difference in flavour.

Learn more about the versatile uses of pure maple syrup below.

Recipes with pure maple syrup

Opting for pure maple syrup over maple-flavoured syrup gives you more options when it comes to making your drinks and meals. 

One of the easiest ways to use pure maple syrup in your cooking is as a glaze for meats and vegetables, as with this sweet and sticky maple-glazed ham or these stunning maple-glazed carrots. 

Adding a few tablespoons to savoury sauces is a great way to add depth of flavour to dishes, with pure maple syrup perfectly complementing the other ingredients found in this pumpkin soup, as well as this beef massaman curry.

Another option for using pure maple syrup is by mixing it into dressings and vinaigrettes, both of which can be bottled up and stored for use throughout the week – check out our noodle salad or barley and chicken salad for inspiration! 

In terms of desserts and other sweet treats, pure maple syrup can be used in place of both brown and white sugar to reinvent classic bakes like lamingtons, blondies and cinnamon rolls. 

Along with being an excellent natural sweetener for hot drinks, pure maple syrup can also be added to chilled brews like this vegan iced coffee, as well as cocktails like our spicy margarita and passion fruit martini.

Pure maple syrup – pure joy!

Nothing beats the quality and versatility of pure maple syrup, produced in a way that retains the natural flavour of the sap from which the finished product is derived in its entirety. 

Looking for more ways to incorporate pure maple syrup into your cooking and baking? Make sure to check out our full range of maple syrup recipes, covering everything from sides and starters to drinks, desserts and main dishes.

Frequently asked questions

Is maple-flavoured syrup the same as maple syrup?

Maple-flavoured syrup may look the same as maple syrup, but the two are worlds apart in quality. Pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener made solely from maple sap, while maple-flavoured syrup is a type of sugar syrup mixed with artificial flavourings.

Is pure maple syrup healthy?

Pure maple syrup is healthier than maple-flavoured syrup as well as other artificial sweeteners like caster sugar and golden syrup. This is because pure maple syrup is processed in a way that preserves the nutrients naturally present in the sap.

Is pure maple syrup vegan?

As a plant-based product that’s free from artificial flavourings, preservatives and other additives, pure maple syrup is perfectly suitable for vegans. It therefore serves as a great alternative to honey, as well as maple-flavoured blends that may be made with animal products.

Is pure maple syrup gluten-free?

Pure maple syrup is derived from just a single, gluten-free ingredient – maple sap – so is suitable for a gluten-free diet. Maple-flavoured syrup is generally gluten-free but the additional ingredients involved can risk cross-contamination with gluten-containing products.

More about Maple

Maple syrup comes in four grades

The classification of maple syrup is based on its colour – which changes subtly throughout the spring harvest – and its flavour profile.

Maple syrup is an excellent source of energy

Maple products contain simple carbohydrates that turn into glucose and act as fuel during exercise, which is why they are a popular choice for athletes and fitness fanatics before, during, and after training sessions.

Discover more about using pure Canadian maple syrup to fuel exercise here.

Pure Canadian maple products are stocked all across Australia

From online suppliers to your local stores, find your local stockist of pure Canadian maple syrup here.

A Source of Natural Energy

Maple syrup is a natural source of energy. Check out how maple can act as fuel before, during, and after exercise.