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How to Make Gula Melaka Syrup and What to Use it For

baking coconut sugar gula melaka healthy sweetener maple syrup syrup vegan

substitute for maple syrup in Malaysia

I love to cook and bake. I especially love baking healthy treats for my kids. Full of nutrition, yet tasty too! I used to scroll through recipes online and see sooooo many that call for maple syrup, as it is less processed than cane sugar so a lot of people like to use it. But who can afford to use maple syrup in Malaysia?? 

Even using it for pancakes gets expensive!

So at first I used to use organic unrefined cane sugar and make it into a syrup as use that in recipes instead of maple syrup. And it worked fine, but I like to keep my use of cane sugar for special occasions. 

One day I saw a jar of gula melaka syrup in the store and I bought it. Yum! I liked that it was way cheaper than maple syrup, and I also liked that it had a good flavor and was less processed than cane sugar. Unfortunately, it wasn’t widely available. 

So I started making my own and have been for years! Now I know that Malaysians use gula melaka for a lot of local delicacies and many probably make it into a syrup, but just in case you haven’t thought about it, you can use it anywhere a recipe calls for maple syrup!

Here is how I make it:

Get a pack of traditional gula melaka

How to make gula melaka syrup


Place the pieces into a small saucepan

gula melaka syrup


Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water (more water will give more syrup, but not quite as sweet).  If you use less than a cup of water it will be too thick and will often re-crystalize.

using coconut sugar syrup instead of maple syrup 

Heat on medium/low until it comes to a simmer.  Stir occasionally.

making gula melaka syrup

Adjust heat as necessary to keep the syrup at a simmer.  If the heat is too high, it WILL boil over!  That is not a fun mess to clean up.  Trust me!  hahaha!

how to make coconut sugar syrup

Keep stirring occasionally, reducing the heat if necessary.  When the blocks become pretty soft you can use a spoon to cut them in half while still in the pan.  This just makes the dissolving faster.

alternative to maple syrup in Malaysia

Stir and scoop repeatedly from the bottom to make sure all of the gula melaka has been dissolved.  Turn off the burner and let it cool for a few minutes.  Pour through a metal sieve into a clean jar (I use two clean jam jars for each batch, it usually fills one and half of the jam jars).  You don't have to pour it through a sieve if you don't want to, but because of the way this is traditionally made, you'll sometimes find residue in it.  Bits of burnt stuff, or even parts of or whole wasps! eek!

You can use this syrup as a direct substitute for maple syrup in recipes.  I haven't come across any recipe where it didn't work.  It is tasty, unrefined, and soooooooo much cheaper than maple syrup!!!  We also enjoy it on pancakes, oatmeal, etc.  Let me know if you give this a try and what you like to use it for!

Click here for our high protein whole grain vegan pancake mix!

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  • CG on

    Hi. The gula meleka used looks like a good quality. May I know where you get them?

  • adelene on

    Hi I cooked gula melaka syrup for by business use. My problem is why at times there are gas in the syrup n what causes it,

  • Honey on

    Hi Katz – I keep the syrup in a glass jar on the counter top, it has never gone bad on me, but we usually use it up within a couple weeks at the most. I’ve tried putting it in the fridge, but it gets thick and sometimes crystallizes, so it’s easier to use when it is kept at room temperature

  • Katz on

    Hi thanks for this. Does it keep long? How do o store this?

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