When you go to make your salad dressing and realize that you’re out of maple syrup, you may be tempted to just abandon the whole thing and order a pizza.
But don’t give up so easily!
There are plenty of substitutes for maple syrup that work just as well in salad dressings—though they might not have the same delicious flavor.
In fact, some of them are even better for your health than maple syrup is.
So before you throw down the towel, give these substitutes a try!
11 Substitutes for Maple Syrup in Salad Dressing
If you love maple syrup, you know how versatile it is.
You can use it on your waffles, in your coffee, or as a secret ingredient in your salad dressings.
It’s important to remember that not all sugars are created equal, and some add a more distinct flavor than others.
Below are 11 substitutes for maple syrup so you can whip up your favorite recipes without worrying about keeping an extra bottle of the sweet stuff on hand:
1. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is a great substitute for maple syrup in salad dressing because it is light, has a mild flavor, and is easier to work with than honey or maple syrup.
It is made from the agave plant and has a high fructose content, which means it will keep your salad dressing well-preserved.
You can prepare it by heating it up on the stove before adding it to your salad dressing, which will make your dressing smooth and easy to stir in with the other ingredients.
Honey is another great substitute for maple syrup in salad dressing recipes.
Like agave nectar, it’s lower on the glycemic index than refined sugar and has antibacterial properties, as well as vitamins and minerals including iron and calcium.
If you want to use honey in your salad dressing, though, keep in mind that its strong flavor might not pair well with all types of dressings—it may work better in dressings with stronger flavors (like mustard-based ones).
3. Rice Syrup
Rice syrup is made from fermented rice, which has its own distinct flavor that you may or may not enjoy—it’s certainly not for everyone!
It does, however, make for a low-glycemic sweetener that won’t send your blood sugar through the roof.
4. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is one of those ingredients that’s gotten a bad rap over the years, but the truth is it’s neutral in terms of health benefits and drawbacks.
It can be used as a substitute for maple syrup in salad dressings because it’s just as sweet, although not nearly as flavorful.
5. Barley Malt Syrup
Barley Malt Syrup is a viscous liquid that is very sweet with a somewhat nutty flavor.
It’s made by sprouting grain, drying it, and then crushing it up to release the malt sugar from the grain.
This sugar is then heated until it forms a syrup.
It’s similar to molasses in consistency, but unlike molasses, barley malt syrup does not undergo any refining or processing other than cooking.
6. Pancake Syrup
Pancake syrup is another good alternative to maple syrup in salad dressing.
It does not have a strong flavor, so it will not overpower the other flavors in your salad dressing recipe.
It also comes in several different flavors that you can add to your dressing to give it more depth of flavor.
Molasses—the thick, dark liquid that’s a by-product of the refining process that turns sugar cane into sugar—is rich and sweet, but less sweet than maple syrup.
It has a low glycemic index and is packed with nutrients, so you can feel good about using it as a substitute for maple syrup in your dressing.
8. Red Wine Vinegar
If you’re looking for something with a little less sweetness, try red wine vinegar instead!
Red wine vinegar adds color and tanginess to your dressing without making it too runny or sugary.
Just make sure you don’t use too much—you want enough to coat the leaves of your lettuce, but not so much that it’s dripping off them (unless you like drippy salads).
9. Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar can add a tangy sweetness to your dressing without adding any unwanted sugars.
It also brings a delicious depth of flavor that can make you feel like you’re indulging in a complex dressing from a five-star restaurant instead of just tossing together some lettuce and grocery store vinegar.
10. Fruit purée
Fruit purée works perfectly as a replacement for maple syrup: if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, just use ⅓ cup fruit purée and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 5 teaspoons.
Note: this is best when swapping it in for recipes that call for smaller amounts of maple syrup.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another great substitute for maple syrup; if you’re using it in your salad dressing, replace the amount of maple syrup with apple cider vinegar at a 2:1 ratio.
Tips for Substituting for Maple Syrup in Salad Dressing
One of the best parts about making homemade salad dressing is that you can tailor it to your taste buds.
But even seasoned chefs make mistakes (like not having enough maple syrup on hand for a dressing recipe that calls for it)! In these cases, you may need to find a substitute.
If you’re in this situation, here are a few things to keep in mind:
The first thing to remember is that depending on the type of salad you’re making, you may want to use a different ingredient.
If you’re making a sweet salad with fruit, for example, then using honey or molasses will probably be too overpowering and make the salad taste like dessert.
You’ll want to use something like rice syrup instead.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you want to substitute for maple syrup, it’s important to remember that not all sweeteners are interchangeable.
That’s because some are sweeter than others.
For example, if you’re substituting honey but only have half as much as the recipe calls for maple syrup, your salad dressing won’t be sweet enough and it will taste off.
In this case, you may have better luck using something like pure cane sugar instead.
Last but not least: since so many of the foods we eat today are processed and contain ingredients that can be harmful to our bodies, it’s important to try your best not to fall victim to them (or at least limit how much exposure we get).
11 Substitutes for Maple Syrup in Salad Dressing
- Agave Nectar
- Rice Syrup
- Corn Syrup
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Pancake Syrup
- Red wine vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fruit purée
- Apple cider vinegar
- Pick one of the alternatives from this list to use in your salad dressing.
- Prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Be ready to munch in no time!