Corn syrup is one of those ingredients that got a ton of bad reputation but truly is everywhere at the same time. While it may not be the healthiest, it isn’t necessarily the worst either, and it can be hard to replace in certain cases.
You can, however, find other easier and healthier choices that will result in a very tasty flavor.
Why even use corn syrup? The reality is that it is an affordable sweetener, and helps prevent crystallization, which is why many recipes call for it.
However, many people avoid it, and it can be quite difficult to buy it at times, so find other sweeteners that work just as well.
What Is Corn Syrup?
Though commonly mistaken for it, corn syrup is not high fructose corn syrup, which has been processed to convert glucose into fructose. On the other hand, corn syrup is pure glucose, which isn’t great for your body in high amounts either.
Corn syrup is a staple in many candies, including caramels and chocolate sauces, as it prevents sugar from clumping together.
Depending on what you are trying to prepare, corn syrup may be the best option for smoothness and sweetness. However, it is not a regular pantry food, so it can be difficult for some to justify buying it.
What Can I Replace Corn Syrup With?
Whether you want a healthier choice or you simply can’t find any, these corn syrup substitutes work great in many recipes:
Best For Candy, Caramel, Icing, and Frosting
#1. Brown Rice Syrup
This is a great alternative when it comes to making candy, particularly caramel, but also works in icing and frosting.
Brown rice syrup also prevents crystallization but it does have a specific brown color and somewhat nutty flavor, so take that into account when you add it to a recipe.
You can use the same amount of brown syrup as you would corn syrup. While not the most popular sweetener, this choice is relatively healthy, so you can probably find it in an organic market and some grocery stores.
Make sure you taste the flavor before you use it, as some people find it a bit too toasted for candy.
#2. Golden Syrup
Though more popular in the United Kingdom, this syrup has begun to gain popularity lately. It is light and buttery in flavor, but it prevents crystallization, which is why it is good to use in caramel, candy, icing, and frosting.
It is very similar to corn syrup, that it even has the same chemical properties, so it can be used in the same amount.
You may have a hard time finding golden syrup, but you can try online and in some specialty stores. Using it will give very similar results to corn syrup, but you will gain the same amount of sugar and calories.
See More: Golden Syrup Substitutes
#3. Homemade Corn Syrup Replacement
This choice is for when you want to make hard candy that requires no crystallization, but no other option is left. All you need is to use water, sugar, and cream of tartar, that when you mix at high temperature, will melt together to mimic the properties of corn syrup.
You probably already have these ingredients in your pantry, but if not, you can buy them in any grocery store. The flavor is not as sweet as corn syrup, but it will allow the candy to have a good consistency.
Best For Baking, Pecan Pie, Cookies, and Ice Cream
#4. White Sugar
This choice may seem obvious, but it is truly the best alternative for corn syrup, as it adds sweetness without altering the color. You can use one cup of white sugar dissolved in about ⅓ of hot water for every cup of corn syrup.
This flavor is sweet and the consistency is soft, but it will crystallize, which is why it works best in pecan pie, cookies, ice cream, and other baked goods.
If you want to make a dark-colored recipe, consider using brown sugar in the same way that you would use white sugar. You probably already have some at home, but if there’s none, it is easy to find one anywhere.
See more: The best caster sugar substitutes
A healthy and natural choice that has been used for many years, honey is a great sweetener to replace corn syrup. You can use one cup of honey for every cup of corn syrup but take into account that it doesn’t prevent crystallization, and because it contains fructose, it is very sweet.
This is a great alternative if you are looking to bake cookies, pies, muffins, or any other baked goods.
Most people already have honey at home for their tea or beverages, but if you don’t, it should be readily available at any grocery or convenience store. Make sure that you consider the color, as honey tends to give recipes a nutty, yellow final look.
See more: Best Substitutes for Honey
#6. Agave Nectar
Another natural choice, agave nectar is often referred to as the “better honey.” This nectar comes from the agave plant, and while a bit milder than honey, it is still sweet and potent. It has become extremely popular lately, so you can probably find it everywhere you go.
This choice works well in baked goods, like banana bread, pecan pie, muffins, and cookies. While it may alter the consistency and flavor, you can try using it for homemade ice cream or chocolate sauce as well.
Start with about half of what the recipe calls for, and taste as you go, as some people find agave nectar to be much sweeter than corn syrup.
Replacing dark corn syrup shouldn’t be too hard if you don’t need to worry about crystallization. Some good options include honey, molasses, agave nectar, or maple syrup. Otherwise, you can try golden syrup or brown rice syrup.
Yes, both corn syrups are good for caramel, but the darker kind will have a more salty and intense flavor. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but something to take into account when you make the caramel.
All sweeteners in excess are bad for your health. Corn syrup is just glucose at a higher concentration, which is absorbed quickly and can raise your blood sugar and make your body gain fat. However, it is not the same as high fructose corn syrup, but should still be consumed in moderation.
Not everyone knows or has used light corn syrup before, so it can be difficult to know what to use instead when you are making candy or baking. These six alternatives are all different, but they all work equally well in many cases. Try them and make your final product equally sweet!
Up Next: Does corn syrup go bad?
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