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Corn Syrup in the Kitchen: A Comprehensive Guide to Cooking with Corn Syrup

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Corn syrup is a food syrup which is made from the starch of maize (called corn in some countries) and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade.

Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor.

In this article, I’ll explain how to use corn syrup in cooking, and I’ll share some of my favorite recipes using this versatile sweetener.

How to cook with corn syrup

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What Exactly is Corn Syrup Anyway?

Corn syrup is a type of sweetener that is derived from corn starch. It is composed mainly of glucose, which is a simple sugar. This means that it consists of only one type of sugar, unlike regular sugar which is a disaccharide composed of two sugars, glucose and fructose. Corn syrup is available in a variety of types, including light and dark, and is commonly used in food manufacturing and culinary recipes.

The Difference Between Corn Syrup and Other Sweeteners

One of the main differences between corn syrup and other sweeteners like sugar and honey is that it is resistant to crystallization at high temperatures. This means that it can be used to make candy without the risk of the sugar crystallizing and ruining the texture. Additionally, corn syrup is cheaper than other sweeteners and is available in a liquid form, making it easier to use in recipes.

How to Select and Store Corn Syrup

When buying corn syrup, it is important to select a commercially available product that exhibits no signs of leakage or rusting on the bottle. This is a hint that the product may have been stored improperly and may not be safe to use. Once opened, corn syrup should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent it from spoiling. It can be used as a substitute for other liquid sweeteners in a variety of recipes, including baked goods and candy making, to provide shine and a smooth texture.

From Corn to Syrup: The Journey of Corn Syrup

  • Corn syrup is made by breaking down cornstarch, which is composed of long chains of glucose molecules, into shorter chains of glucose molecules.
  • This is done by adding enzymes to the cornstarch, which convert the complex sugars into simpler sugars.
  • The enzymes break the bonds between the glucose molecules, providing a type of sugar that our bodies can easily break down and use for energy.
  • Unlike table sugar, which is composed of two types of molecules (glucose and fructose) held together by a bond, corn syrup is entirely made up of glucose molecules.
  • The process of breaking down the cornstarch creates a sweet, dark liquid that is referred to as corn syrup.
  • To create the shiny, smooth form of corn syrup that is popular in making food, a second enzyme is added that converts some of the glucose molecules into fructose, creating a sweeter and creamier texture.
  • This form of corn syrup is commonly found in glazes, jams, and alongside frozen desserts like ice creams.

From Syrup to Recipe: Using Corn Syrup in Cooking

  • Corn syrup is a popular ingredient in many recipes, particularly those that call for a sweetener with a smooth texture and a mild flavour.
  • It is often used in place of granulated sugar because it dissolves easily and holds moisture well, making it ideal for creating soft and chewy baked goods.
  • Corn syrup can also be used to prevent sugar crystals from forming in recipes like caramel and fudge.
  • When using corn syrup in a recipe, it is important to note that it is a high-calorie sweetener, with one tablespoon containing around 60 calories.
  • However, it does contain some nutritional value, with small amounts of potassium and no added sodium.
  • While it is not recommended to consume corn syrup in large amounts on a daily basis, it can be a useful ingredient in moderation when making certain dishes.

Getting Creative with Corn Syrup: A Guide to Using this Versatile Ingredient

Corn syrup is a popular ingredient in many recipes, particularly in the preparation of candy, caramel, and baked goods. Here are some basic ways to use corn syrup in your cooking:

  • As a sweetener: Corn syrup is a great option for sweetening snacks, cakes, and other baked goods. It provides a smooth, consistent texture and helps prevent crystallization, making it a great substitute for granulated sugar.
  • In glazes and jams: Corn syrup can be used to create shiny, dark glazes for meats and vegetables, as well as to sweeten and thicken jams and jellies.
  • In ice creams: Corn syrup can be added to ice cream recipes to create a creamier texture and prevent ice crystals from forming.
  • Alongside other sweeteners: Corn syrup can be used in combination with other sweeteners, such as cane sugar or agave nectar, to provide a balanced sweetness and smooth texture.

Different Types of Corn Syrup

There are different types of corn syrup available, each with its own unique properties. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Light corn syrup: This type of corn syrup is the most popular and is often used in recipes that require a neutral flavor and a slightly sweet taste. It contains a high percentage of glucose molecules and a little bit of fructose.
  • Dark corn syrup: This type of corn syrup is similar to light corn syrup but contains a little bit of molasses, which gives it a darker color and a stronger flavor. It is often used in recipes that require a stronger, more caramel-like flavor.
  • High fructose corn syrup: This type of corn syrup is composed of longer glucose chains that have been chemically altered to contain more fructose. It is often used in processed foods and beverages as a sweetener.

How to Work with Corn Syrup in Recipes

Here are some steps to follow when using corn syrup in your recipes:

  • Measure carefully: Corn syrup is a sticky ingredient, so be sure to measure it accurately using a tablespoon or measuring cup.
  • Add it slowly: When adding corn syrup to a recipe, add it slowly and stir constantly to prevent clumping.
  • Use it as a substitute: Corn syrup can be used as a substitute for other sweeteners in recipes. Use 1 cup of corn syrup for every 1 cup of sugar, but be sure to reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for every cup of corn syrup used.
  • Store it properly: Corn syrup should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within six months of opening.

Overall, corn syrup is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways in cooking. Whether you’re making candy, caramel, or baked goods, corn syrup can provide the perfect consistency and sweetness you need to make your dish a success.

To Corn or Not to Corn Syrup: The Health Risks and Benefits

Corn syrup is a sweetener that is commonly used in cooking and baking. It is a type of sugar that is derived from corn and comes in different forms, including light corn syrup and dark corn syrup. While corn syrup is a key ingredient in many recipes, there is a lot of debate about whether it is good or bad for your health.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Corn Syrup

Like any other food, corn syrup has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the key points to consider:


  • Corn syrup is a processed form of sugar that is easy to use in cooking and baking.
  • It has a long shelf life and can be stored for a long time without spoiling.
  • It is commonly found in many foods and is a key ingredient in many recipes.


  • Corn syrup contains a high amount of sugar and calories, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
  • It is often used in processed foods, which can increase the risk of health problems such as liver damage, memory loss, and hunger.
  • Corn syrup is often used in place of natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup, which have more health benefits.

Alternatives to Corn Syrup

While corn syrup is a staple sweetener in many dishes, some people may want to avoid it for various reasons. For instance, some people may want to reduce their sugar intake, while others may be looking for a suitable alternative to corn syrup for a specific dish. Whatever the reason, there are several substitutes for corn syrup that you can use.

Types of Corn Syrup Substitutes

Here are some of the most popular substitutes for corn syrup:

  • Sugar: You can use granulated sugar as a substitute for corn syrup in most recipes. However, note that sugar is not as sweet as corn syrup, so you may need to increase the amount of sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness.
  • Honey: Honey is an excellent alternative to corn syrup, especially in baked goods and homemade candies. It is sweeter than corn syrup, so you can use a smaller amount. Additionally, honey has some significant health benefits, such as helping to protect your body against certain compounds that can harm your blood vessels.
  • Glucose: Glucose syrup is a type of sweetener that is typically made from corn, but it can also be made from other sources like cane or beet sugar. It is similar to corn syrup in taste and consistency, making it an excellent substitute for corn syrup in most dishes.
  • Stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener that is known for its low calorie and low glycemic index. It is an excellent substitute for corn syrup in dishes that require a high level of sweetness. However, note that stevia has a distinct taste that may not be suitable for all dishes.

Corn Syrup Vs High Fructose Corn Syrup: What’s the Difference?

Corn syrup is made by breaking down cornstarch into glucose molecules. On the other hand, HFCS is made by converting some of the glucose in corn syrup into fructose using an enzyme. The resulting syrup is sweeter than corn syrup and is used by manufacturers in a variety of food products.

What are the uses of corn syrup and HFCS?

Corn syrup is often used in cooking and baking as a sweetener and to control the texture of the final product. It is also used as a table syrup, often sold under the brand name Karo. HFCS, on the other hand, is used by manufacturers in a wide variety of food products, including soft drinks, baked goods, and condiments.

How do they differ in terms of sweetness?

HFCS is sweeter than corn syrup, which means that less of it is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. For example, a recipe that calls for one cup of corn syrup may only need ¾ cup of HFCS.

Are they considered healthy?

Both corn syrup and HFCS are highly processed and contain a lot of sugar. While they are not inherently unhealthy, having too much of either can lead to health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

Which one should you choose?

When it comes to cooking and baking, corn syrup is the ideal choice because it is easier to control and measure. However, if you are looking for a sweeter product, HFCS may be a better option. It is also found in many products, so it may be easier to find in stores.

Overall, it’s important to know the difference between corn syrup and HFCS and to read the labels of the products you buy. While both can serve a purpose in cooking and baking, it’s best to use them in moderation and to opt for more natural sweeteners whenever possible.


So, there you have it- everything you need to know about using corn syrup in cooking. 

It’s a great way to add some sweetness to your dishes without using sugar, and it’s pretty versatile too. 

So, don’t be afraid to experiment with it!

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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.