Sweet and sticky, golden syrup is mostly used in baking and desserts. Its pleasant, mild taste allows it not to overpower other recipe flavors, making it a popular sweetener.
If you have reached the bottom of the golden syrup jar halfway through baking, don’t worry. There are plenty of alternatives you can use successfully in your recipe instead.
The great news is, you can even make your own golden syrup if you don’t have any of the below-mentioned substitutes handy.
Here is a full guide to choosing the best golden syrup substitute for your baking endeavor.
What Is Golden Syrup?
Golden syrup, also known as light treacle, is a sweet, amber-colored syrup. You can use this syrup in baking, pies, dessert topping, dressings, marinades, and sauces.
This thick, sticky syrup is a natural by-product in the process of refining sugar cane. It can also be made from sugar beet juice where acid is added. The cane variety is, however, more common.
It is much lighter than molasses in both flavor and color. Since it is an invert sugar, it does not crystalize. It makes a great sweetener for baking as it also tends to add moisture to baked items. Lyle’s golden syrup is one of the most popular brands and easy to find in most large grocery stores.
Due to their similar texture, all substitutes can replace golden syrup measure for measure. Very thick syrups with a strong or bitter flavor can be slightly thinned out with water before measuring.
Here are some good choices you can use:
Honey and golden syrup are interchangeable in almost any application. Due to its natural sugars, honey is a healthier alternative to golden syrup. Honey is non-vegan and can be an expensive replacement if you need a large amount.
Honey is available in different varieties. Some types have a much stronger herbal flavor than others. When using honey as a golden syrup alternative, choose a non-creamed type that is runny and does not have a strong flavor.
Best for: Baking, topping desserts, adding to porridge, as a spread, in sauces, and dressings.
Related: Honey alternative
2. Brown Rice Syrup
As its name suggests, brown rice syrup is made from rice starches. They are broken down to form simple sugars which are then boiled. A syrup forms with a pleasant nutty flavor reminiscent of cooked brown rice.
As with golden syrup, it prevents crystallization from taking place. This makes it ideal as a substitution for golden syrup when making candy.
Best for: Making candy, caramel sauce, topping waffles, and baking.
3. Dark Treacle
Due to its dark color and pronounced flavor, using dark treacle as a substitute for golden syrup will change the color and flavor of your dish a little. If you are not too concerned about the darker appearance, it could be beneficial in adding a rich quality.
Dark treacle can have a slightly bitter flavor so give it a taste to determine the extent of change in flavor before you add it to your recipe. Some recipes will hold up to it while baked items with delicate flavors may be better off using a light treacle instead.
Best for: Sticky toffee pudding, ginger cakes, and fruit cakes.
Molasses is also a by-product of the sugar refining process. It is essentially a lighter version of dark treacle. Its flavor is less intense and not as bitter as dark treacle. In savory cooking, molasses is often used in making baked beans. Opt for light molasses when using it as an alternative to golden syrup. Dark molasses has a slight bitter taste and darker color.
Best for: Gingerbread, ginger cookies, items with coffee and dark chocolate notes, rye-, whole wheat-, pumpernickel-, and oatmeal bread.
Related: Molasses substitute for baking
5. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup has a very similar texture, level of sweetness, and color to golden syrup. Maple syrup is grouped into two grades, namely Grade A and B.
Depending on the quality, it can be less sticky with a runnier consistency. It is also available in varying intensity including light amber, medium amber, and dark amber.
Using this sweet amber liquid as a golden syrup substitute can alter the flavor of your recipe. If you like the taste of maple syrup, you probably won’t mind the caramel flavor in your baked goods.
Best for: Baking recipes, dessert, pancakes, waffles, pies, sweet and savory sauces, marinades, glazes, and dressings.
6. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is very versatile since it has a mild flavor that blends well with almost anything that requires sweetness. Processed light corn syrup is clear with no color which means it won’t have an effect on the color of your end product.
It adds a smooth and shiny component to candies and pies. The only downside to corn syrup is that it is not always easy to find.
Best for: Candy, frosting, jam, pies, and chocolate sauce.
See more: Corn syrup substitute
7. Cane Syrup
Cane syrup is golden brown and sweet without the bitterness that molasses has. It is also made from sucrose derived from sugar beet and sugar cane. Some brand also include a small amount of inverted sugar syrup. Cane syrup is a good substitute for golden syrup since it has a mild taste and similar appearance.
Best for: Pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, pecan pie, bread pudding, and fruitcake.
8. Agave Nectar
Agave syrup has a slightly thinner consistency, but its mild flavor makes it an ideal golden syrup substitute for baking. It is made from blue agave plants. The delicious syrup can be used in the exactly the same way in most recipes, however, it is not suitable for making candy.
Best for: Baking, pies, and making chocolate sauce.
How to Make Your Own Homemade Golden Syrup
If you have an hour to spare, you can make golden syrup yourself at home.
To create your homemade version, you will first need to make a small amount of dark sugar syrup. Place 200 grams of granulated white sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Give the pot a swirl and let the sugar caramelize until it turns dark golden. Be careful that it doesn’t turn too dark or burn.
At this stage, add 4 cups of boiling water, 1 kg sugar, and 2 lemon slices (or a few drops of lemon juice). Let it boil at low heat for 45 minutes until it thickens. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely. It will thicken more as it cools. Divide it into smaller quantities if needed. Store in a glass jar or airtight container.
For the closest outcome, use maple syrup, corn syrup, or honey.
Golden syrup is preserved well and will last a couple of years. As time passes, it might start to crystalize slightly. Warming it will quickly return it to its runnier consistency.
Yes, golden syrup is vegan-friendly. Since it is a by-product of the sugar refinement process, it contains only sugar. It does not contain any animal products or derivatives thereof.
Yes, crystalized honey can still be used, it just needs to be returned back to its liquid state To do this, heat water in a pot. Put the container with honey in the pot of hot water until the honey turns soft and liquid. The gentle heat helps bring the honey back to a liquid form without overheating it.
With a range of easy-to-find golden syrup substitutes, you should have no problem finishing your baking if you unexpectedly run out. Corn syrup is a little thinner than golden syrup but is a great alternative measure for measure. For gingerbread cake, dark corn syrup can add extra richness.
Maple syrup and honey both feature distinct flavors and are more pricey than golden syrup. However, if you have them in the pantry they make a good alternative especially in treacle tart and as pancake syrup . Regardless of the alternative you use, deliciously baked sweet goodness awaits.
*image by conssuella/depositphotos