Maple Syrup Grades: What Do They Mean?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has changed the way maple syrup is graded. In the past, the strongest maple syrup generally available — the stuff with the darkest color and deepest maple flavor — was described as "Grade B."

It was my favorite kind of maple syrup and I'm not alone. Many maple fans reached for it.

And that was great for everyone in the know. But what about everyone else?

People are not exactly rushing to buy Grade B eggs or fill their carts with Grade B beef. Why would they be buying Grade B maple syrup?

So changes were made. Great, right?


Maple syrup is now marked Grade A though Grade A, with Grade A and Grade A in between.

The new maple syrup grades:

  • Grade A Golden: Delicate taste
  • Grade A Amber: Rich taste
  • Grade A Dark: Robust taste
  • Grade A Very Dark: Strong taste

And if you wonder what the difference among all those might be, the USDA explains it this way:

  • Delicate means mild maple taste.
  • Rich means a full-bodied maple taste of medium intensity.
  • Robust means stronger maple taste than the lighter colors.
  • Strong means a maple taste that is stronger than robust.

Yes, indeed. Strong at one end of the scale means that it is "stronger than robust" just below it. Thanks?

(Here's all you ever wanted to know about maple syrup grading in PDF format.)

The bottom line: Grade A Dark maple syrup, with its robust taste, is basically the equivalent of the old Grade B maple syrup.

I hope this helps. If it does, consider sharing this post.


P.S. Some might wonder: Why does the guy who wrote the book on waffling things that are not waffles care so much about maple syrup?

  1. I like maple syrup. (And, yes, I like waffles. I like a lot of things that I didn't write a book about: puppies, crisp autumn mornings — it's a long list.) 
  2. People who waffle things that are not waffle batter often make waffles too. (As they should!)
  3. Several of the recipes in my book call for maple syrup: Sweet and Savory Waffled Sausage Patties, Waffled Salmon with Miso-Maple Glaze and Asparagus, Waffled Ham and Cheese Melt with Maple Butter ... and, yes, waffles.

Buy "Will It Waffle?" at your local bookstore, or ...