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Are you in a sticky situation and unsure of whether to add light or dark corn syrup to your recipe? Do not worry! We love to talk about the differences between these two products and how they can affect your recipe.
Both light and dark corn syrups are called invert sugar, which means that they are liquid at room temperature. They are made from cornstarch, which corn syrup makers can shape into a sweet, concentrated solution due to their sugar combination.
The only difference between light and dark syrup is in the ingredients that manufacturers add to this base. Light corn syrup contains vanilla and salt, while dark syrup contains refinery syrup (a type of molasses) and sometimes caramel flavor.
How will it affect the taste?
Light corn syrup is clear and colorless and has a moderately sweet taste. The addition of vanilla can also give foods a smooth, rich taste. Light corn syrup often makes a cameo in recipes that just need a touch of sweetness, like those made with fruit.
Dark corn syrup takes on a caramel color due to this addition of molasses. This gives it a distinct taste that gives the food a sweet, smoky taste. It’s often used in dishes like pecan pie and gingerbread cookies.
Thumbs up from us.
How does it affect a recipe?
Aside from the taste and color of your food, you probably won’t notice a difference whether you use light corn syrup or dark corn syrup in your recipe.
They are comparable in terms of calorie and sugar content. Light corn syrup has about 62 calories and 17 grams of sugar per tablespoon, and dark corn syrup provides about 57 calories and 16 grams of sugar per tablespoon.
Using light or dark corn syrup in a recipe will add moisture to the food and prevent sugar from crystallizing. Corn syrup often plays a key role in fudge, ice cream, and candy, and prevents sugar crystals from forming when cooled, which gives these foods a grainy texture and keeps them looking smooth and shiny.
If you are in the middle of baking and realize that you have run out of corn syrup (😱), there is an easy way to make a corn syrup substitute. This recipe only uses four ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry:
- Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
- Once your syrupy hodgepodge is boiling, reduce the heat to simmer the mixture, cover the pan, and let simmer for 3 minutes.
- Uncover and keep stirring until it reaches the “soft ball phase” (a cooking term that means the syrup has reached 234-240 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Let it cool, then store it in a covered container at room temperature.
Going to the dark side: Turning light syrup into dark syrup Changing
If you’ve whipped up a batch of light syrups (or that’s all you have in the pantry) but want to go dark, this is an easy adjustment.
All you have to do is add 1/4 cup of molasses to 3/4 cup of your light syrup. This helps keep the syrup the same consistency and gives it the robust taste of dark syrup.
No molasses? You could also dissolve brown sugar in water on the stove until it forms a syrup.
Making syrup from scratch
If you browse the internet, you can find several recipes that suggest making corn syrup in different ways. Some even involve the use of real corn kernels or cornstarch.
Here are some tools you will need to make corn syrup from scratch:
While eating large amounts of sugar is not ideal, it can be enjoyed in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of added sugar to no more than 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons of sugar) for women and 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons) for men.
If you want to make a ton of sweet treats but want to use something different instead of corn syrup, here are some healthier alternatives.
Honey is similar to corn syrup on the nutritional side (it contains around 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar per tablespoon). But it could offer a few additional health benefits. Although the research is mixed, a 2017 review concluded that it might have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
Side note: Children under the age of 1 should not consume products containing honey as it may contain bacteria that can lead to botulism (a deadly disease that affects your nervous system).
Stevia or monk fruit
These plant-based sweeteners add little or no calories or carbohydrates. The FDA has approved both, reporting that stevia is 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar and monk fruit is 100 to 250 times sweeter.
That’s pretty darn cute, which means you can use a lot less.
These artificial sweeteners don’t add calories or carbohydrates to your food, but it’s important that you choose it based on what you’re cooking. For example, sucralose (also known as Splenda) goes well in baked goods as it can retain its sweetness even over high heat, according to the FDA.
Be warned that changing the sugar can give your dish a different taste and texture. Another option is to swap out some of the corn syrup for a low-sugar option so that you reduce the total amount of sugar while maintaining the taste and texture of the corn syrup.
If you want to put these syrups to the test with specific recipes, give one of them a try!
Many recipes work well whether you have light corn syrup or dark corn syrup in your pantry.
You might notice a difference in taste, but the texture will come out exactly as you’d expect. If you don’t have corn syrup but your recipe calls for it, you can make a substitute at home with just a few ingredients.