What Are Substitutes for Corn Syrup?

Written by rebecca wehner
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What Are Substitutes for Corn Syrup?
Honey is a popular replacement for corn syrup. (honey image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

Corn syrup is a slightly thick liquid sweetener that is created by processing cornstarch and is commonly used in baking and cooking. It is one of the most affordable liquid sweeteners and comes in dark and light varieties. Most liquid sweeteners can replace corn syrup in a recipe, although some may crystallise and turn grainy when cold. Food prepared with other sweeteners may also not retain moisture as long.

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Use one cup of honey to replace one-cup corn syrup. Honey is the collected nectar from flowers that honeybees regurgitate into honeycomb. Using honey instead of corn syrup is beneficial because the bloodstream absorbs the natural, simple sugar directly and without digesting, according to mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research and Extension Consortium. It will add a stronger flavour and more sweetness than corn syrup.

Sugar and Water

An affordable method for replacing corn syrup involves white granulated sugar. One cup of sugar mixed with ¼ cup water can replace a cup of corn syrup, according to professor P. Kendall, a foods and nutrition specialist at Colorado State University Extension. Products will have a shorter shelf-life when using this substitute.

Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup is created from tapping certain varieties of maple trees for sap and can be used to replace dark corn syrup, says Dr. Lori Alden, author of The Cook's Thesaurus. Another natural sweetener, it contains fewer calories than honey, but also has a stronger flavour. Replace corn syrup cup for cup with maple syrup.

Golden Syrup

Although it is more common to find golden syrup in Europe than the United States, it is an ideal substitute for corn syrup. Golden syrup is created through the evaporation of sugar cane juice. It is slightly thicker and sweeter than corn syrup but it can be made thinner if necessary by mixing in a small amount of water. Replace corn syrup measure for measure with golden syrup.


Light or mild molasses works well as a replacement for dark corn syrup. When sugar is extracted from sugar cane or beets, a thick residue is left behind and is consumed as molasses. It is similar in sweetness and thickness to corn syrup, though it does have a more distinct flavour. It can also crystallise so it should not be used to replace corn syrup in frosting or fudge recipes. Replace the amount of corn syrup called for with an equal amount of molasses.

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