Glucose syrup is an integral ingredient in many foods. It adds a certain taste, texture, and glossiness to the final product and can often be seen added to commercial products.
Since it is not a very common pantry item, it is fairly possible that you may be missing out on it when following a recipe at home and may find yourself looking for a substitute.
So, what are the best substitutes for glucose syrup? Since glucose syrup is an umbrella term for several types of syrups, you may come across many great substitutes in your pantry such as corn syrup. Other good substitutes include honey, boiled sugar, and maple syrup.
Read on to find out more about glucose syrup and our top picks of the 11 best substitutes for it:
What Is Glucose Syrup?
Glucose syrup, also called liquid glucose, is a commercial sweetener made by breaking down natural starch through the process of hydrolysis.
It is commonly made from cornstarch, but manufacturers may also use wheat, potatoes, rice, or anything with a high starch concentration.
The result is a glucose-rich sweet solution used in various food products such as cakes, candies, and beers. It is also used as a thickener to enhance the smoothness and bring out the texture of the finished products.
In addition to that, it doesn’t crystallize and provides improved stability and a longer shelf-life for the products. It allows balancing and controlling the viscosity of sweets, both for industrial and quality reasons.
Since it is clear, colorless, and easy to blend with other ingredients, it is the perfect additive for creams, ice creams, drinks, and other liquid and semi-liquid foods.
Compared to sucrose, glucose syrup has a lower level of sweetness and while it may be fat-free, it offers very little in terms of nutritional value.
One tablespoon of glucose syrup contains 62 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates, all of which are in the form of sugar.
Glucose syrup made from corn contains some calcium, zinc, and thiamine, although the amounts are insignificant. You can try Gourmanity Glucose Syrup to create the most delicious sweet goods.
Types Of Glucose Syrup
There are two different types of glucose syrup based on the method used to hydrolyze the starch and the level of the hydrolysis process.
Each has different characteristics and uses and can be broadly categorized according to its dextrose equivalent (DE).
Confectioner’s glucose syrup is produced by hydrolysis and contains 19% glucose, 14% maltose, 11% maltotriose, and the remaining 53% are higher molecular mass carbohydrates.
High-Maltose Glucose Syrup
High-maltose syrup is made with amylase, a naturally-occurring enzyme found in saliva. Some varieties contain over 50% maltose, while extra-high maltose syrup may contain over 70%.
It is fairly sweet, but not as sweet as table sugar, and is used as a sweetener and preservative. It preserves food by absorbing excess moisture and keeping it dry.
There are other variants of this sweetener that include:
- Dried Glucose Syrup – glucose syrup with its water content removed.
- Dextrose Monohydrate – contains 99.5% of D-glucose with a single molecule of water.
- Dextrose Anhydrous – derived from the corn drain and contains no water.
- Powdered Dextrose (icing sugar) – finely pulverized corn sugar anhydrous commonly added with an anti-caking agent.
Uses Of Glucose Syrup
Glucose syrup is used as a sweetener, thickener, and moisture-retaining ingredient for a variety of commercially produced items.
You can find it in many baked goods, candies, jams, and ice creams, and it can also be used in certain pharmaceutical products like lozenges.
It is used to improve the texture and volume of certain foods and, as discussed above, can also add gloss and shine to them.
However, since glucose syrup isn’t sweet enough to act as a sole sweetener, it is mostly used alongside sugar.
It may seem strange to combine different sweeteners. But while the sugar provides the required sweetness, the glucose syrup prevents the food from drying out and crystallizing, both of which help improve the food’s shelf life.
11 Best Substitutes For Glucose Syrup
Glucose syrup is a versatile liquid sweetener most often used in commercial canned and baked goods, as well as beer.
At home, you may use it as an ingredient in your baked goods, from cookies to cakes, or as a sweetener for your iced teas and lemonades.
If you are following a recipe that calls for glucose syrup, you may find yourself looking for substitutes. You most likely wouldn’t have it stocked in your kitchen pantry.
Glucose syrup refers to several types of syrups and you easily find great, and oftentimes healthier, alternatives in your pantry or nearby stores.
Here are our top picks of the 11 best glucose syrup substitutes:
1. Corn Syrup
Since corn syrup is considered a type of glucose syrup, you can easily use it in its place. Both corn syrup and glucose syrup are considered invert sugars. They have a lower chance of crystallization which results in a smoother texture.
Corn syrup is sweeter than glucose syrup since it is made of pure corn as compared to wheat and wheat-corn variants used to make glucose syrup.
Corn syrup is perhaps the most common commercial sweetener in the U.S. that you will find mixed with many pre-packaged goods. It effectively reduces the crystallization process and adds a smoother and glossier finish to your foods.
When using corn syrup in place of glucose syrup, you may want to reduce the sweetness level of the other ingredients or use complementary ingredients such as dark chocolate, citrus fruit, coffee, and peppermint.
Honey is an organic, natural sweetener made by bees that is used in a wide range of foods including baked goods, marinades, beverages, and much more.
Not only is it a great substitute for glucose syrup but is also easily available pretty much everywhere.
It is a healthier alternative and is packed with nutrients. It is a good source of antioxidants and can prevent heart issues such as heart diseases and diabetes.
You must keep in mind though that since honey has a distinct flavor, it might alter the flavor of your dish. To avoid this issue, choose a mild variety like acacia or clover. Avoid using dark honey unless you want the added sweetness.
Also, since honey doesn’t prevent crystallization as well as glucose syrup, it may not be the best option for making candy. But it is great for other uses.
3. Boiled Sugar
Sugar is a pantry staple and can easily be used to replace glucose syrup. To give it the same syrupy consistency as glucose syrup, it is best to mix or boil it in water.
Due to its availability, it is among the most straightforward substitutes for glucose syrup. All you have to do is mix a cup of sugar and add enough water to cover it. Boil it until it reaches the softball stage.
Alternatively, you may skip the boiling process and let the sugar dissolve at ambient temperature. Just make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved before adding it to your recipe.
Since it is sweeter than glucose syrup, the amount you are using needs to be adjusted accordingly.
Also, like honey, sugar will crystallize when heated, making it unsuitable for making candy. The sugar and water combination can be used in baking in place of glucose syrup.
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the sap of the maple tree. It is known for its distinct flavor and aroma and is rich in antioxidants known to protect against cell damage and inflammation.
It is a great addition to many dishes, especially as a topping for pancakes and waffles, and can easily be swapped in for glucose syrup in baking. However, since pure maple syrup can crystallize, it may not be suitable for making candy.
It has a richer flavor and smoother texture as compared to glucose syrup. It may change the flavor and color of the final product.
5. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup, also called rice malt syrup, rice syrup, or maltose syrup, is made by cooking brown rice and exposing it to natural enzymes that break down and turn the starches into smaller sugars.
The result is a thick and sweet liquid that contains no fructose or gluten, has low levels of glucose, and a high glycemic index.
It is a type of glucose syrup and is often interchangeable in many recipes. Just as corn syrup is commonly used in the U.S., brown rice syrup has a long history of use in Asian countries.
Both have a similar consistency and effect on food, making brown rice syrup a good substitute for glucose syrup, for baking as well as candy-making. It does, however, have a nutty flavor that you will not find in glucose syrup.
6. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a sweetener extracted from the sap of the agave plant. It has a fairly mild flavor and can be used in pies, sauces, and other desserts.
When substituting glucose syrup, agave nectar is a good option for baking. However, since it has a different composition than glucose syrup, it may not be the ideal choice to make candy.
Agave nectar can be used in the same ratio as glucose syrup. For instance, if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of glucose syrup, you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of agave nectar.
7. Golden Syrup
Golden syrup, also called “light treacle” in the U.K., is a sweetener made from cane sugar or sugar beet juice. Like glucose syrup, it is also considered an invert sugar. That means it has been broken down into simple sugars.
These properties prevent it from seizing at high temperatures, making it the perfect substitute for glucose syrup for candy-making as well as other recipes.
While it doesn’t offer any significant health benefits over glucose syrup, it can easily be substituted in its place. Keep in mind that if you are using dark treacle, it may give a slightly bitter taste to your food.
Birch syrup is harvested from birch trees and is produced in a similar manner as maple syrup. It is one of the more expensive substitutes for glucose syrup. It takes roughly 100 to 150 liters of birch sap to make 1 liter of the syrup.
Birch is similar to glucose syrup. Since it contains mostly glucose and fructose, it can be used for both baking and candy-making.
If you are looking for a glucose syrup substitute solely for thickening purposes, butter is a great choice. The fat present in butter prevents crystallization, making it suitable not just for baking but also for making candy.
If you are not a fan of butter, you may also use cream instead. It has the same effect as butter.
Molasses is a dark and thick syrup, which is a by-product of the sugar-making process. It can be used in place of glucose syrup and usually adds a sweet but slightly burnt flavor to your food.
Although molasses will give your food the body, it is usually the last option when substituting glucose syrup. It will most likely alter the flavor of your dish. Avoid using blackstrap molasses as it has a very distinct taste and may overpower the other flavors.
11. Homemade Glucose Syrup
For times when you do not have glucose syrup in your pantry and do not wish to use any substitutes, you can easily make your own at home!
Contrary to popular belief, making glucose syrup at home is quite easy and requires just a handful of ingredients that include:
- 2 cups caster sugar
- ¾ cups water
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Here are simple step-by-step instructions to follow to make homemade glucose syrup:
- Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and let them simmer.
- Keep stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Turn down the heat and cover the saucepan.
- Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until it thickens.
- Pour the mixture into a jar and let it cool.
- Use it right away or store it for later use.
Alternatively, you may heat sugar and water with some lemon juice until it takes on a golden color to make another version of homemade glucose syrup.
How To Choose The Best Substitute
While there are many great substitutes for glucose syrup, not all can work in all scenarios.
Since glucose syrup is used as a sweetener, thickener, as well as moisture retainer, you need to see what your recipe calls for and choose the best substitute.
Some options are best for baking, some are great for candy-making, and some are great for both. You can choose the best substitute depending on what you need the glucose syrup for.
Out of the lot, corn syrup is the best option as it is a type of glucose syrup used for the same purpose. It is slightly sweeter due to it being made with corn, otherwise, it should work perfectly.
You can use boiled sugar if the purpose is to sweeten the recipe. However, it is not the ideal choice for candy-making as it crystallizes at high temperatures.
If you do not mind the taste, maple syrup and honey are two of the best options for all scenarios. In the case of honey, you can opt for the subtle-tasting varieties for the least effect on the recipe’s flavor.