How to Make Maple Sugar

Learn how to make maple sugar at home by drying out maple syrup and you’ll never again wonder where to buy maple sugar or have to pay an obscene amount for it.

A tin cup on its side with homemade maple sugar spilling out

Ever stared at the price tag for maple sugar at the store in disbelief and shook your head? Us, too. Then this simple recipe for how to make maple sugar at home is for you. Making it’s not difficult or tricky or fearsome in any way. It’s ridiculously simple. All you need is maple syrup, a pan, and some patience. It’s just as paleo-friendly as the store-bought stuff. Just less expensive. Swap it for granulated sugar 1:1 in just about any recipe. Originally published January 21. 2016.Renee Schettler Rossi

Why Learn How To Make Maple Sugar?

It has been argued that while store-bought maple sugar is pretty pricey, so is the maple syrup that’s necessary to make it. There’s some truth in that. And yet we see the value of this recipe not just in financial terms. (Although we still find that making it ourselves to be cheaper.) Part of the beauty is you can customize the maple sugar, using your favorite grade of syrup. Another part of its beauty is that maple sugar isn’t that accessible as many grocery stores don’t carry it, which means when you have this recipe in your Arsenal, you still make recipes that call for maple sugar. The other part of the beauty? The simple satisfaction derived from doing it because you can.

How To Make Maple Sugar

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Special Equipment: Candy thermometer

4.7/5 - 9 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients

Email Grocery List

Ingredients sent!

Send Grocery List

Email the grocery list for this recipe to:

Is required
Sign me up for your or newsletter, too!
Is required
  • 2 cups pure maple syrup (opt for a light, not dark, maple syrup)

Directions

  • 1. Pour the maple syrup into a sorta high-sided, heavy-bottomed saucepan and crank the heat to medium-high. As the syrup heats, it will begin to bubble vigorously. Don’t stir it unless the hot, sticky, bubbling syrup rises perilously close to the top edge of the pan, then stir it with a long-handled wooden spoon and the bubbling will subside. Boil until the syrup reduces to about half its original volume and turns darker in color and thicker in consistency and reaches 257°F to 262°F (125°C to 128°C) on a candy thermometer or deep-fry thermometer, which is the hard ball stage in candy making. This should take about 20 minutes. As the syrup cooks down, watch it carefully so it doesn’t boil over. And you may need to reduce the heat occasionally to keep the reducing syrup from scorching. You may also need to tip the pan towards the end to fully immerse the bulb of your thermometer in the syrup to get an accurate temperature reading.
  • 2. Once the syrup reaches the requisite temperature, remove the pan from the heat and start stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir until the syrup lightens and thickens in texture and eventually becomes granulated and similar in look and feel to light brown sugar, about 5 minutes. The transformation from liquid to granulated sugar happens really quite quickly. (You could opt to use your stand mixer or a hand mixer, but it goes surprisingly quickly when you beat it by hand. Trust us. And just think how toned your arms will be! Don’t forget to you switch back and forth between right and left!)
  • 3. Sift the maple sugar through a strainer to remove the larger clumps and then toss those larger clumps into your food processor and whir until they become granulated. Then mix this back into the other maple sugar. Store the maple sugar in an airtight container at room temperature and use it 1:1 in place of granulated white sugar in almost any baking recipe. (And, because we know you’re staring at the dirty pot and dreading having to wash it, here’s an easy technique for cleaning up. Simply fill the pan with water and set it over medium heat. The warm water will turn the sugar back into its liquid state, making cleanup a cinch.)

How To Make A Bigger Batch Of Maple Sugar Variation

  • To make a bigger batch of maple sugar, follow the recipe above but use a 32-ounce (950-milliliter) bottle of maple syrup and a stock pot. You’ll end up with about 3 cups (420 grams) maple sugar.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I've been intrigued by maple sugar since I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods as a child. I reread the book often—obsessively—as a child and loved the chapters about making maple syrup and maple sugar. After using my modern stove, I marvel that they made maple syrup over an open fire and then cooked the syrup down to sugar on a wood stove. We are so spoiled by modern conveniences! After making maple sugar once, I won’t hesitate to make it again.

I boiled the syrup while I was making dinner. It only required a stir every so often and an eye on the thermometer. Most of the time was really hands-off while the syrup boiled away. But it had to be attentive hands-off time to make sure the syrup didn’t burn, or boil over. It took 35 minutes to get the syrup to my target temperature. I probably could have had the heat higher in the beginning to bring the syrup to a boil faster, but I was afraid of burning it. I started out at just under medium-high and lowered the heat gradually as the syrup boiled down. I’m not sure if I had to reduce the heat, but the syrup was getting darker, and I wasn’t sure if it was starting to burn (it wasn’t). Probably a less hesitant cook (or one more experienced with candymaking and hot sugar syrup) would've used higher heat and reached the target temperature sooner than I did.

Once it reached the proper temperature, it took just about 5 minutes to stir the hot syrup until it granulated. The syrup filled the kitchen with luscious, toasty maple scents while it was boiling. And the maple sugar tastes just like it smelled—darker and more concentrated than its parent syrup. I am busy thinking of ways to use my stash of maple sugar. For now I am settling for eating a lump every time I walk by the bowl—I have not taken the time to grind the sugar in the food processor yet. I’m enjoying the lumps too much to change them in any way!

This recipe works. First, I really was able to get the maple syrup to become maple sugar. Second, it looked just like the maple sugar in the bag I purchased.

The timing for when it becomes sugar was about 5 minutes. As you stir, it looks like nothing is happening, then suddenly it gets thicker and changes color. As with all sugar work, don't leave the kitchen once you start this recipe. It will get bubbly up to the top of the pan, and if you stir immediately when you see it, it will go down. But if you aren't watching, you might have a mess. (I learned my lesson a long time ago.)

A lot of the granules were too large. I put the larger clumps in the food processor twice and then ground some using a mortar and pestle.

Would I make it again? Yes, if I'm in a pinch and can't make it to the store because I always have maple syrup around.

HUNGRY FOR MORE? CHOW DOWN ON THESE:


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. This worked….after trying the manual stirring to no avail, then reheating the “sugar” and putting it in the mixer. Much better. I would recommend just putting it directly into the mixer if you have one unless your looking for a substitute to your gym workout. :-o

  2. Although this isn’t maple syrup related, I make hickory syrup and used this technique to make hickory sugar. Worked well. Afterwards, I made caramels using my hickory syrup, hickory sugar, and hickory smoked salt. Delicious.

  3. So incredibly easy!!!!! Could not find maple sugar for my maple cake I was making. So I googled and you came up. Thank you…Thank you…Thank you…simple…fast and oh so yummy!!

  4. Ahhhh, brilliant! Thank you for this recipe! Worked out perfectly. And what a fascinating thing to watch – a molten syrup gradually crystallizing into sweet dust. I’m never buying maple sugar again.

  5. I followed your precise instructions with one minor change. Since we live at 7000 feet altitude I had to alter the final “hard ball” temperature at which you start to stir vigorously to about 240°F since water boils at a lower temperature here. The maple sugar turned out perfect. I would also recommend one use a 2 1/2- to 3-quart saucepan for 2 cups syrup to give the syrup room to bubble. As with other reviewers I must say the kitchen and the rest of the house smelled delicious. In fact it smelled just like being in the sugar shack our friend in the Catskills Mountains used to operate.

    1. Karen, thrilled to hear that you appreciate this recipe/technique/winter trick as much as we do! And we appreciate you sharing your high-altitude tweaks. It never ceases to amaze me how aroma and food instantly transport us back to another time and place. Thanks for taking the time to let us know and we look forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next!

  6. Maple syrup is ‘expensive’ for a reason. I suggest you go work at an established maple farm for a few weeks and see the amount of money & labour invested in making syrup available in large quantities. I also suggest you research the cost of the equipment required to make syrup, and the cost to keep all this free from contamination. After you gain the knowledge of the actual maple syrup process, you should change your blog to reasonably priced, rather than crazy expensive.

    1. Mic, thanks for this. But I don’t see the connection between the cost of labor, machinery, and sanitation and making this maple sugar. If anything, it’s encouraging the greater sales of maple syrup, which financially benefits the makers.

    2. Also maple sugar isn’t available where I live and I’m a Canuck so making it really doesn’t affect the industry or steal profits if you make your own, I paid for the syrup that keeps the industry going. Maple syrup is not popular here and people would prefer the cheap sugar pancake syrup because it’s cheap, an article like this would double anyone’s interest in buying maple syrup. It has mine.

  7. I just tried this recipe and success!!! A friend just started making maple syrup and gave me a few jars of (sugar). They were hard rock pieces of sugar mixed with syrup/water. I was grateful, but in order to try this, I first had to put the jars they were in inside a simmering pot of water to soften them up. That done I transferred them to an 8-quart pot and turned on the heat. It took awhile but when it turned to sugar it was fast. I’m letting them cool on cookie sheets then I sift and food process the lumps. I’m so pumped! Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Kimber, so sorry that you had issues with this. Have you checked your thermometer to see that it is calibrated correctly?

  8. Yes, this recipe worked for me. I have never made candy, fudge, etc before. I had to go out a buy a candy thermometer. Turned out fine, but took me closer to an hour and 20 minutes from when I first put the syrup on the burner (electric stove). Maybe I should have had the heat higher, but I knew I was going to be occupied with other things, and at higher temps, this bubbled to close to the edge of the pot. Never did reach 125 on the thermometer, but I noticed it starting to look granular while I was stirring the pot when it was getting close (120ish), so I took it off the stove at that point and kept stirring for maybe 2 minutes, and voila – maple sugar first try! I just needed patience.

    1. So much of life is about just needing patience, yes, Natalie?! Thank you for taking the time to let us know. The timing, as you noted, depends on a lot, including the size of the pan and the temperature of the flame and who knows, probably the barometric pressure outside and the phase of the moon…

  9. If you lightly butter the top inch of your pan this impedes the bubbles and they won’t spill out the top. Passed down Granny advice, tried and true.

  10. Yep, it’s a pretty good flavor :) … Nice! just tried it. … It does however stubbornly stick to the pan a little bit … need a chisel to get it out lol. Any tips for this?

    1. Brandon, so glad this recipe appealed to you! We, too, love the flavor. Several of our testers tried this with just minimal sticking of the sugar to the pan. May I inquire, did you remove the sugar from the pan immediately after pulling the pan from the heat? That will help tremendously. Otherwise, next time keep careful watch on the maple sugar as it develops and remove the pan from the heat a touch earlier than you did this time. It sounds like there was just a touch too much heat going on that solidified the sugar to the pan.

  11. Will definitely try this! We can’t get this in New Zealand. Does this sugar keep well food safety-wise?

  12. I needed 21 ounces of maple sugar for a cake recipe and had an 8-ounce package at home. So I found this recipe and tried it. It works well — probably 2/3 of the batch had to be ground up in the food processor, and it’s not as fine a texture as the maple sugar I bought from King Arthur, but it made a lovely cake.

  13. Which grade of maple syrup should you use: grade A or B? I’ve heard grade B is cheaper and has a more pronounced maple flavor than the more expensive grade A.

    1. Ann, grade B is indeed more intensely maple-y than grade A. As for the price, I’m not certain whether one is appreciably less expensive than the other, but in terms of which maple syrup to use, it depends on your personal preference as well as your intended use for the sugar. A lot of baked goods for which you want a subtle maple flavor would work will with maple sugar made from grade A syrup. Conversely, if you crave a robust and dominant maple flavor, then grade B is your ticket. Also, please note that the labeling for maple syrup has recently changed the government has done away with the official distinctions of “grade A” and “grade B” although we’ve noticed that most packaging has remained the same thus far.

    2. If you want to REALLY learn about maple from the sugar bush to the container, get Helen and Scott Nearing’s book The Maple Sugar Book. If you want to read a very interesting account of homesteading, get their book Living The Good Life. I salute these social pioneers and have done most of the activities they describe (yes, I am that old!). Shout out to all my friends in VT who spent time with me in the sugar house and cuttin’ and haulin’ the fuel. Miss you, don’t miss mud season!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Upload a picture of your dish