Chefs’ Guide to Maple Syrup Grades

The USDA syrup grading system uses four different maple grades: Grade A Golden Color, Delicate Taste; Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste; Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste; and Processing Grade. These grades have upper and lower limits for color and flavor. As a rule, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor. Individual preference for a particular grade of maple syrup is similar to that of the wine consumer; some people prefer reds, some whites, some blush and so on. These similarities extend to other agricultural food products such as olive oil where extra virgin would be similar to light amber maple syrup; the first out – and then darker as the season progresses.

Maple Syrup Grades

Grade Flavor
Grade A Golden Color, Delicate Taste Light Amber A very delicate flavor
Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste Amber rich maple flavor, great for cooking and on oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, glazing salmon, etc.
Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste The consumer’s heartiest maple flavor choice, most often used in cooking. Great for cleansing diets.
Processing Grade Exceptionally strong in flavor, used as a commercial ingredient.