The Best Corn Syrup Substitute: 10 Easy Alternatives for Hard Candy & Other Desserts
If you’re looking for a corn syrup substitute, many great options provide the same sweet taste for desserts. Keep reading to find out more.
Corn syrup is a staple ingredient in many homes, essential for desserts like pecan pie cheesecake, homemade caramel sauces, and honeycomb candy.
If you’re out of it, worry not. So many other alternatives are just as good as the classic corn syrup.
What is Corn Syrup?
Also known as glucose syrup, corn syrup is syrup made from corn starch. You can use it to sweeten recipes and improve their overall flavor.
Corn syrup prevents sugar crystallization, thus softening and improving the texture of any food or drink.
Corn Syrup vs High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Some people confuse corn syrup with high-fructose corn syrup, but the two are entirely different.
For instance, high-fructose corn syrup is unhealthier because our bodies don’t process it well. And it has been linked with health issues like diabetes.
However, corn syrup isn’t considered healthy either since it’s packed with sugar. But it’s better to consume it than high-fructose syrup, as long as you do it in moderation.
Corn syrup is sugar made by extracting and refining glucose from corn, which is then liquified; this results in a thick, light syrup that consists of pure glucose.
In terms of appearance, corn syrup is runny. So when you’re looking for a corn syrup substitute, you need ingredients with similar consistency. It must also prevent sugar from crystallizing, especially if you want to make hard candy.
High-fructose corn syrup is still sugar but much sweeter. The glucose is processed, partly turning into fructose.
Additionally, corn syrup is something you can pick up at the grocery store. On the other hand, high-fructose corn syrup is used mainly by processed food manufacturers.
The Best Substitute for Corn Syrup: Our Top Picks
Check out the following alternatives to corn syrup:
Without a doubt, honey is the healthiest substitute for corn syrup. Although itcontains high amounts of sugar, it’s nothing compared to corn syrup.
Even better, the sugars found in honey are natural compared to the processed ones in corn syrup.
And, just like corn syrup, honey prevents sugars from crystallizing, although not as effectively. As such, honey is probably not the best option for homemade candy or glaze.
However, it works well in baked goods since it helps hold moisture. The problem is the strong, slightly tangy flavor.
But, you can improve the flavor by adding other ingredients or using a milder tasting variation like acacia honey.
Use the 1:1 ratio in baked goods to substitute corn syrup with honey.
2. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is syrup made from the blue agave plant’s liquid. It doesn’t contain as much sugar like corn syrup.
Because of that, agave nectar is mainly used as a sweetener. But this doesn’t mean that it’s the healthiest choice.
It’s not that similar to corn syrup since it has a thick consistency with a mild but sweet taste.
It also doesn’t do an excellent job of preventing crystallization, so you shouldn’t use it to make hard candy. On the bright side, it works well in baked goods.
3. Cane Syrup
Cane syrup is simply sugar cane juice. It’s sweet and has a balanced flavor that doesn’t feel overpowering.
You can make cane syrup by boiling sugar cane juice until it achieves a thick consistency similar to corn syrup.
However, due to its chemical composition, it’s not the best option for hard candy or a glaze.
When using cane syrup as a corn syrup substitute, stick to the 1:1 ratio.
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup has a rich taste, making it popular for topping pancakes. Many people don’t like the robust and earthy flavor, though.
While maple syrup has a high sugar content, it’s purely natural, making it healthier than other options.
Plus, it prevents crystallization, so you can use it forhomemade hard candy.
If all you have in your kitchen is maple syrup, use the 1:1 ratio to substitute corn syrup.
5. Sugar and Water
Dissolved sugar is probably the closest to corn syrup on this list since it has the same taste.
The only difference is that it’s watery, making it ideal for baked goods. It’s not suitable for hard candy, though, since it crystallizes at temperatures above 230 degrees F.
6. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is made from starch extracted from brown rice. The starch is broken down into glucose before boiling it to create a syrup.
It has a similar consistency to corn syrup. And the taste is mildly nutty, almost like you are eating brown rice.
Here is a surprising fact: brown rice syrup has more sugar content than all other corn syrup substitutes we mentioned, making it the least healthy option on this list.
On the bright side, it’s fantastic for hard candy.
7. Golden Syrup
Also known as light treacle, golden syrup is more popular in the UK than in the US. It’s buttery with a mild flavor and similar consistency to corn syrup, excellent for hard candy,
You can easily make golden syrup by mixing water, sugar, and a slice of lemon. To use it as a corn syrup substitute, stick to the 1:1 ratio.
8. Light Molasses
It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about corn syrup substitutes, but light molasses works well.
Plus, it’s better than dark since its color and consistency are similar to corn syrup. Light molasses is also sweeter.
And while the flavor is less intense than dark molasses, it’s more robust than other corn syrup substitutes.
9. Date Honey
Yes, date honey. It sounds like an unusual substitute for corn syrup, but it works.
Date honey is made from date palms. It’s significantly darker than corn syrup but surprisingly sweeter, so use it in moderation.
However, unlike corn syrup, date honey crystalizes, so you shouldn’t use it in your hard candy recipe. On the bright side, it’s a wonderful choice for baked goods like cakes.
10. Glucose Syrup
Glucose is a syrup made from wheat and potato starch instead of corn.
If you use glucose syrup as a corn syrup substitute, only use it as the last option.
Discover more helpful information about corn syrup and its alternatives.
Which is the healthiest corn syrup substitute?
Agave nectar is healthy because it has low syrup levels, great for pies and sauces but not for hard candy. Maple syrup is also healthy because it’s unprocessed and rich in iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and other nutrients.
How is corn syrup used?
You can use corn syrup to make desserts like pecan pie, homemade caramel sauces, hard candy, rolled fondant, and homemade marshmallows.
How long does corn syrup last?
After opening a can of corn syrup, it will last up to 6 months. But it loses flavor over time and may not taste the same.
You can use so many substitutes when you run out of corn syrup. The one aspect you need to keep in mind is crystallization, especially for baking goods.
When preparing hard candy, pick something that doesn’t crystallize when heated, like brown rice syrup or golden syrup. On the bright side, ingredients that crystallize are fantastic for baked goods.
You should also consider the sugar contents, particularly if you’re watching your diet. Maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey make the safest and healthiest corn syrup substitutes.
What’s your favorite corn syrup substitute? Let us know in the comments below!