Cut The Sugar With These Corn Syrup Substitutes

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If you’re looking for a substitute for corn syrup, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, we’ll show you how to make a delicious and healthy alternative using honey or maple syrup. So whether you’re allergic to corn or just trying to cut down on your sugar intake, these substitutes are perfect for you.

substitute for corn syrup

Read on and make the best substitute for corn syrup!

What is Corn Syrup?

Corn syrup is a sweetener derived from the starch of corn. It’s a thick, viscous liquid that’s used in a variety of food products for its ability to retain moisture and prevent sugar crystallization. There are two main types of corn syrup: light and dark. Light corn syrup is clear and mildly sweet, often used in candies and jams, while dark corn syrup is mixed with molasses, giving it a deeper flavor, perfect for robust desserts like pecan pie.

How It’s Made

The production of corn syrup starts by mixing cornstarch with water. Enzymes are then introduced to break down the starch into sugars. Amylase enzymes convert the starch into oligosaccharides, which are further broken down into glucose by glucoamylase. For high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), another enzyme, D-xylose isomerase, is used to convert glucose into fructose, creating a sweeter product.

Uses in Cooking

Corn syrup is a staple in the kitchen, particularly for bakers and confectioners. It’s used to make frostings, candies, and baked goods like pies and pastries. Its main advantage is preventing the crystallization of sugar, which is essential for achieving smooth textures in sweets and syrups.

Health Considerations

While corn syrup can be a useful ingredient, it’s important to use it in moderation. High consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, in particular, has been linked to health issues such as obesity and diabetes. As a food blogger, I recommend exploring natural sweeteners and using corn syrup sparingly in recipes.

Remember, whether you’re whipping up a batch of homemade candies or glazing a ham, corn syrup can be a versatile ingredient in your pantry. Just be mindful of the sweetness and the health implications of using it too frequently. 🍯

Substitute for Corn Syrup

Corn syrup can be a delicious addition to a few treats, but it should not be consumed in large quantities.

You will be pleased to know that there are many options for corn syrup substitutes.

Some of these options are healthier than corn syrup, but others have just as much sugar. Some are better suited for certain recipes than others.

We have compiled a list with all these options for you:

1) Agave nectar as a Corn Syrup Substitute

agave nectar

It is a concentrated liquid from the leaves of agave plants. It can contain up to 90% fructose. Some people experience a rash after consuming agave honey.

Similarities: It may taste a little sweeter than corn syrup and has a thinner texture.

Conversion Suggested: Use a 1:1 ratio for a similar effect.

Flavor Notes: Mild, sweet, neutral

Suggested Dishes: Baked goods, salad dressings, clear glazes; not appropriate for candy-making.

2) Maple syrup

maple syrup

Maple syrup is made from concentrated sap from several maple tree species. It is primarily made of sucrose and has an identifiable flavor that includes hints of vanilla, wood, and nuts. A stronger taste is indicated by darker colors.

Similarities: It is a great substitute for dark corn syrup in recipes that call for it, especially if you have strong-flavored or deeply colored maple syrup. Although maple syrup is thinner than corn syrup, it works the same way in a recipe.

Suggested Conversion: Use in a 1:1 ratio

Flavor Notes: Vanilla, rum, nuts, caramel

Suggested Dishes: Baked goods, spiced cakes, winter vegetables, glazes; not appropriate for candy-making.

3) Cane Syrup

cane syrup

Similar to molasses, cane sugar is a staple in southern kitchens. Cane syrup is a part of the liquid left over from the refinement of white sugar.

Similarities: Cane syrup is similar in texture, moisture-holding capacity, and flavor to corn syrup (the especially dark one), however, it has a more intense flavor.

Suggested Conversion: Use in a 1:1 ratio

Flavor Notes: Molasses, burnt, earthy, rich, coffee.

Suggested Dishes: Baked beans, gingerbread, and whole wheat bread; not suitable for use in candies or caramels.

4) Simple Syrup

simple syrup

Mix 1/4 cup of brown sugar with 1/4 cup warm water to make a viscous liquid that closely resembles corn syrup.

You cannot use this simple syrup to make candies or caramels unless you take additional steps (see below).

Similarities: Simple syrup is very similar to corn syrup in taste and texture. White sugar can be used as a substitute for light brown syrup. To make simple syrup, if you don’t have dark corn syrup, you can use brown sugar.

Suggested Conversion: Use in a 1:1 ratio

Flavor notes: Sweet with no additional flavor notes.

Suggested Dishes: Baked goods, dressings, glazes; not appropriate for candies, caramels, or chocolate.

5) Honey


A mixture of glucose, fructose, and a little bit of sucrose, honey can be described as a natural invert sugar that is produced by bees to make concentrated flower nectar.

The nectar spends time inside the bees’ digestive systems, where it is exposed to an enzyme called invertase. This enzyme hydrolyzes large sugar molecules and breaks them down into smaller monosaccharides. Honey is resistant to recrystallization for long periods.

Similarities: Honey has about the same sweetness as corn syrup and its viscosity, among other properties, is very similar to honey.

Conversion Suggested: Substitute in 1:1 ratio.

Flavor notes: Honey often comes with floral and fruity aromas to complement many desserts.

Suggested Dishes: Caramels, candies, ganache, candy fillings, bread, and rolls.

6) Brown Rice Syrup

brown rice syrup

This straw-colored syrup is made from brown rice. Brown rice syrup contains maltose as well as maltotriose. It has only 3% glucose.

Brown rice syrup is slightly sweeter than corn syrup which is pure glucose.

Similarities: Despite the sweetness difference, some people may prefer brown rice syrup. It has excellent viscosity, water-binding, and also functions as an invert sugar.

Suggested Conversion: Use in a 1:1 ratio.

Flavor notes: Brown rice syrup is lightly nutty and sweet.

Suggested Dishes: Cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. It will work with caramel and candy, but may not be sweet enough.

7) Golden syrup

golden syrup

Also known by light treacle, golden syrup is a bright and flavorful byproduct of sugar processing.

It has a distinct taste and is the main ingredient of the British desserts sticky toffee pudding and treacle tart. Golden syrup is slightly sweeter than corn syrup.

Similarities A near-perfect corn syrup substitute, golden syrup is a great choice in sweetness, viscosity, and as invert sugar.

Suggested Conversion: Use in a 1:1 ratio

Flavor Notes: Rich, buttery, caramelized

Suggested Dishes: Great for caramel and chocolate work, but also suitable for baking goods.

8) Homemade Invert Sugar

substitute for corn syrup

Invert sugars take table sugar, which is made up of the molecule sugar, and use enzymes and acid to break it down into smaller molecules glucose or fructose.

You can make simple syrup at home by using…

  • 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 cups warm water.
  • Mix in 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or lemon juice substitute, 3/4 tsp crème of tartar, and 1/4 TSP invertase (found in specialty candy shops).
  • Boil the mixture and wash down the sides with a brush.
  • Pour into jars and allowed to cool before you seal it with a lid.
  • It should be dated. The inverted sugar should last for several months before crystallization occurs.

Similarities: Food made with homemade invert syrups will not last as long as food made with corn syrup.

Conversion Suggested: Substitute in 1:1 ratio.

Flavor notes: Sweet with no additional flavorings.

Suggested Dishes: Caramel, candy, chocolate truffles.

A Sweet Goodbye

Thanks for checking out our guide on corn syrup substitutes! We hope you found it helpful. Now go on and make your best substitute for corn syrup and enjoy!

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