Corn syrup is a syrup made from corn starch. It is commonly added to processed foods and soft drinks as a sweetener. In the United States, corn syrup comes in two varieties, light and dark. Light corn syrup is clarified, which removes all taste and color. Dark syrup is created with the addition of molasses and caramel color. Both types of syrup are often required in recipes for jam, jellies, frosting and other sweet items. If you don’t have light or dark corn syrup on hand, there are several substitutes that you can use that won’t affect your recipe.
Treacle is a syrup that is created during the process of refining sugar cane. If you live outside of the United States, especially in a British territory, you are likely to find the product in grocery stores. It is structurally very similar to light corn syrup and you can substitute the exact amount if your recipe calls for corn syrup.
Granulated white sugar can work as a substitute for corn syrup if the purpose of the corn syrup is to sweeten an item. Substitute the exact amount of sugar for corn syrup, such as 1 cup for 1 cup. But you will need to increase the recipe’s liquid by ¼ cup for every cup of granulated sugar that you use. While the granulated sugar will work as a sweetener, it will not fully mimic the texture of the corn syrup, so it wouldn’t be ideal for something that would be thickened by corn syrup, such as a pecan pie.
Honey is another good substitute for corn syrup, and due to the variety of honey available, you can find a honey that is similar in color to either a light or dark corn syrup. The substitution is equal, such as 1 cup to 1 cup. While the texture is similar, honey does have a distinct taste, so it may not be ideal if the purpose of the corn syrup in your recipe is to just add sweetener and not flavor.
Light Corn Syrup and Molasses
If your recipe calls for dark corn syrup, but all you have on hand is light corn syrup, you can easily make dark corn syrup. Mix together 3/4 cup of light corn syrup with ¼ cup of light molasses. The resulting mixture will be similar to dark corn syrup in color, texture and taste.
References and ResourcesMayo Clinic: What are the Health Concerns About High-Fructose Corn Syrup?; Jennifer K. Nelson
O Chef: What is Corn Syrup?
Recipes 4 Us: Treacle
Joy of Baking: Baking Ingredient Substitution Table