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Corn syrup substitutes

5 healthier alternatives for corn syrup

If you're looking to make some healthy swaps while baking sweets, these five healthier substitutes for corn syrup should be on your shopping list.

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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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Last updated on September 26, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on July 23, 2022.

Corn syrup is a common ingredient used to make everything from candies and caramel to frosting, baked goods, jams, and jellies. But although it’s a staple in many sweets, it’s an item many people may not have on hand.

Consider that corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener made from corn syrup that is frequently found in processed foods and sugary soft drinks.

Still, corn syrup is high in sugar and calories. Furthermore, some people may want to opt for healthier sweeteners instead to help squeeze some extra nutrients into their diet.

Here are five substitutes you can use in place of corn syrup in your favorite recipes.

1. Maple syrup

Derived from the maple tree sap, maple syrup is a natural sweetener known for its distinct taste and aroma.

Pure maple syrup contains a variety of antioxidants, which are compounds that may protect against cell damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

It’s a great addition to many dishes and can be swapped in for an equal amount of corn syrup in most recipes, including glazes, frostings, and homemade jams.

However, keep in mind that using maple syrup instead of corn syrup may change the flavor and color of your final product.

Additionally, note that pure maple syrup can crystallize, which may not be suitable for making candy or caramel.

Summary: Pure maple syrup contains many antioxidants and can be used in place of corn syrup in a 1:1 ratio when making glazes, frostings, and homemade jams.

2. Honey

Honey is a popular sweetener that has been lauded for its health benefits.

Research suggests that honey may have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and these qualities make it an excellent alternative to regular sugar.

Many recipes can substitute an equal amount of honey for light corn syrup.

Like maple syrup, honey is not the best choice for making candies or caramel because it may crystallize.

However, it is a good option for making frostings, baked goods, jams, and jellies.

Be sure to opt for raw honey whenever possible. Raw honey is not heated or filtered before being bottled, so it retains more beneficial nutrients.

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Some traditional honey varieties contain other added sugar, including high fructose corn syrup.

Summary: Honey is a natural sweetener with antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. You can use an equal amount of raw honey in place of light corn syrup to make frostings, baked goods, jams, and jellies.

3. Stevia

Made from the stevia plant leaves, stevia is a healthier sweetener free of calories, carbohydrates, and sugar.

It may be an excellent choice for people with diabetes because it doesn’t increase blood sugar or insulin levels like regular sugar or corn syrup.

While stevia is not a suitable substitute for corn syrup in every recipe, it may be used in certain baked goods that feature corn syrup, such as pecan pie.

Because stevia is significantly sweeter than regular sugar or corn syrup, you will likely need to use it in much smaller amounts.

However, the amount of stevia you should use in place of corn syrup can depend on many factors, including the specific recipe, the type of stevia you use, and whether the stevia is combined with other sweeteners.

Summary: Stevia is a natural sweetener that may support healthy blood sugar levels. You can use it in place of corn syrup in certain baked goods, such as pecan pie, but the amount you’ll need may vary.

4. Golden syrup

Golden syrup is a sweetener made from cane sugar or sugar beet juice.

It is considered an inverted sugar, which has been broken down into the simple sugars glucose and fructose.

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Although it doesn’t offer any significant nutritional benefits over corn syrup, it can easily be used as a substitute in most recipes if you don’t have any corn syrup on hand.

It works exceptionally well when making candy or caramel and can be used in place of light corn syrup in a 1:1 ratio.

Keep in mind that golden syrup is slightly thicker than corn syrup and has a unique, buttery flavor, which could change your recipe results.

Summary: You can use an equal amount of golden syrup instead of corn syrup for most recipes, including candies and caramels.

5. Molasses

Molasses is a dark, thick syrup that is a byproduct of sugar-making.

It’s also rich in nutrients and may help boost your intake of several essential vitamins and minerals, including manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Molasses can be used in place of dark corn syrup in an equal amount when making baked goods, glazes, and sauces.

Alternatively, you can combine 1 part molasses with 3 parts light corn syrup to match dark corn syrup’s color, flavor, and consistency more closely.

Summary: Molasses contains several vital vitamins and minerals. You can use it instead of dark corn syrup in a 1:1 ratio or combine it with light corn syrup to better match the color and consistency of dark corn syrup.

Summary

You can use many substitutes in place of corn syrup, including several that may provide some health benefits.

However, remember that most sweeteners listed above are still high in added sugar. Added sugar has been linked to many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Therefore, it’s best to limit your intake and enjoy your favorite sweets in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Try this today:

Run your measuring cup under hot water or spray it with cooking spray before using it to measure syrup, honey, or molasses. This helps prevent sticking, makes it easier to measure ingredients accurately, and simplifies cleanup.

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