Substitutes for Corn Syrup

If you're trying to avoid using corn syrup, or maybe just need to substitute it for something you have on hand, then you're in luck! We've listed eight excellent substitutes for corn syrup below. Before diving in, know that some of these alternatives do not have the same chemical makeup as corn syrup. Corn syrup is used in recipes to prevent crystallization for a softer texture, making it perfect for candy making, and it can also give shine and volume to recipes like caramel and chocolate sauces or ice creams and brownies. A few of these alternatives cannot be used for candy making, so take the time to read about each one before using it.

Corn Syrup Substitute

When substituting corn syrup, know that corn syrup’s sweetness level is around 77 Brix (a scale used to measure the dissolved sugar content of a liquid solution). Because corn syrup has a high Brix number, you’ll want to use a sweetener that has a matching (or similar) Brix number if you’d like the substitute to be just as sweet. However, finding a matching Brix number is not always necessary if you just want a corn syrup substitute that will mimic the other properties that corn syrup lends. Check out these corn syrup substitutes to use in your recipes.

1. Brown Rice Syrup

pouring brown rice syrup over granola in a bowl

Brown rice syrup is one of the best substitutes for corn syrup. Brown rice syrup’s Brix level is at 78, making it almost at the same sweetness level as corn syrup’s 77. Brown rice syrup also prevents crystalization and can withstand candy-making temperatures. It also has a light brown color (making it a great light corn syrup substitute) and has the same viscosity as corn syrup. The only downside is the difference in taste. This syrup is made from rice starch that has a lightly toasted rice flavor that may not be suitable for all corn syrup substitutes.

  • Brown Rice Syrup Brix Level: 78 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: candy, marshmallows, fudge, baked goods, and granola

2. Maple Syrup

wooden spoon and dish of maple syrup with leaves in the background

Maple syrup is another corn syrup substitute you can try out and is most likely in your pantry right now. Keep in mind, maple syrup is not the best corn syrup substitute as it has a lower viscosity, different flavor, and a Brix level that trickles between 66 and 68 (not as sweet as corn syrup). However, it can still be used for desserts like sauces, cookies, and quick bread! Plus, maple syrup comes in many different hues, so choose the best maple syrup grade for your corn syrup substitute.

  • Maple Syrup Brix Level: 66-68 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: sauces, cookies, and quick bread

3. Agave

pouring agave from a measuring cup into a bowl

Agave is another corn syrup substitute, especially for light corn syrup! Agave is fairly mild in flavor so it can work in many different dishes without altering the taste other than making it sweeter. It’s a 1:1 swap for corn syrup and can be used in pies and sauces, but is not suitable for candy making. Just note that some agaves are sweeter than others!

  • Agave Brix Level: 67-76 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: sauces and pies

4. Simple Syrup

a small measuring spoon full of simple syrup

Making simple syrup is also a great option if your pantry is truly looking sparse. Simple syrup usually has a 1:1 sugar-to-water ratio that calculates to 50% Brix, but you’ll want this mixture to be a lot thicker to mimic the viscosity of corn syrup. Instead, dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1/4 cup of water to mimic corn syrup and bring the Brix level to around 80%. Since the only taste the simple syrup will bring is sweetness, you can use it for a variety of recipes like pies, sauces, and cocktails. However, do not use it for candy making!

  • 4:1 Simple Syrup Brix Level: 80 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: drink recipes, sauces, and pies

5. Tapioca Syrup

pouring tapioca syrup over flour in a bowl

Tapioca syrup is another useful corn syrup substitute. It’s made from the root vegetable cassava so it’s mild in flavor. It's super easy to incorporate into recipes, has the same viscosity as corn syrup, and is around the same Brix level as corn syrup. Tapioca syrup is best for use in quick bread, cakes, ice cream, sauces, and marinades, but shouldn’t be used for candy making.

  • Tapioca Syrup Brix Level: 78-80 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: quick bread, cakes, ice cream, sauces, and marinades

6. Honey

honey being drizzled into a white dish

Honey can be used as a corn syrup substitute, but be aware that honey’s Brix can reach up to 80%, making it a little sweeter than corn syrup. Honey also lends a more distinct taste, so remember when choosing your honey type that the lighter the honey, the lighter the flavor. Honey is not suitable for making candy or caramel because it crystallizes easily, but is great in beverages, ice cream, cheesecakes, salad dressings, marinades, and quick bread.

  • Honey Brix Level: 70-80 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: beverages, ice cream, cheesecakes, salads dressings, marinades, and quick bread

7. Golden Syrup

refined golden sugar syrup in dish

Golden syrup is scarce in the US and more commonly found in pantries across the UK, but if you happen to have a canister of this deliciousness, use it. Golden syrup is an excellent corn syrup substitute as it can be used 1:1 for corn syrup and is ideal for candy making. However, its Brix level is a bit higher than corn syrup, so keep that in mind. Otherwise, golden syrup has a lovely caramel flavor that complements any recipe, especially treacle tarts.

  • Golden Syrup Brix Level: 82 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: candy, marshmallows, fudge, caramels, sauces, and pies

8. Black Treacle

spoon dipping into a dish of black treacle

A cousin to golden syrup, black treacle makes a great corn syrup substitute, especially for dark corn syrup. While black treacle has a higher Brix level (80%), there is some pleasant bitterness in the flavor to balance out the sweetness. This other UK pantry staple is one of the main ingredients when making the British baked good sticky toffee pudding. Black treacle is technically suitable for candy making but note the significantly darker color and pronounced molasses notes.

  • Black Treacle Brix Level: 80 degrees Brix
  • Best As a Corn Syrup Substitute For: sauces, marinades, and baked good recipes with different cinnamons and winter flavors

Substitutes for Corn Syrup FAQ

There are a lot of questions surrounding corn syrup substitutes and when you can and can't use them. We've answered some of the most common ones below:

Corn Syrup vs High Fructose Corn Syrup

The difference between corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup is in their processing and chemical makeup. Corn syrup is a type of inverted sugar that's made from corn starch and is 100% glucose syrup. High fructose corn syrup is also made from corn starch, but some of the glucose is processed into fructose. Since high fructose corn syrup is more processed, it has many negative effects on the body.

Light Corn Syrup Substitute

The best light corn syrup substitutes are golden syrup, brown rice syrup, golden or amber maple syrup, agave, tapioca syrup, simple syrup, and light honey.

Dark Corn Syrup Substitute

The best dark corn syrup substitutes are black treacle, dark maple syrup, and buckwheat honey.

Corn Syrup Substitute for Candy

The best corn syrup substitutes for candy making are brown rice syrup and golden syrup.

Corn Syrup Substitute in Baking

The best corn syrup substitutes for baking are brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agave, tapioca syrup, honey, golden syrup, and black treacle.

Whether you’re avoiding using corn syrup, are allergic to corn, or don’t have it on hand, there are a ton of substitutes for corn syrup to try instead. Make sure that your corn syrup substitute can work for the recipe you’re making, and you’re good to go!

Posted in: Bakeries|Kitchen & Cooking Tips|Menu Tips|By Val Goodrich
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.
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