Golden Syrup: Substitutes & How To Make

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Golden syrup is not an alien concept for those who have a sweet tooth and love baking. A thick, translucent, amber-colored, inverted form of syrup, golden syrup is a popular form of baking sweetener. Also known as light treacle, it is made from refining sugar beet cane or juice and is a byproduct of making sugar. It has a thick texture and viscosity that is similar to honey or maple syrup. Most vegans use it as they do not consider honey to be a viable option for consumption.

However, if you live outside of the UK or Australia, where it is easily available, it can be hard to find this ingredient at the local grocery store. Fortunately, there are several golden syrup substitutes that you might already have in your cupboards. Finding appropriate substitutes will help your recipes taste great, even if you’re short on the ingredients! So what are we waiting for? Let us look at them in detail.

Substitutes for Golden Syrup

The many golden syrup substitutes include honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and homemade golden syrup. Let us take a look at them below.

A close up shot of golden syrup substitutes- corn syrup, honey, molasses and maple syrup

In the absence of golden syrup, use honey, corn syrup, molasses, or maple syrup. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup, preferably dark, is the best substitution for golden syrup. Although light corn syrup is a bit runnier and less sweet, you could use it in a combination with honey at a 1:1 ratio to get the consistency and taste similar to that of golden syrup. A specific type of corn syrup called high fructose corn syrup is considered the best substitute as it has the same thickness, viscosity and won’t drastically change the flavor of the recipe.

Honey

Honey is a very popular substitute for golden syrup since most people already have it sitting in their pantry. While the sweetness and texture may be similar, using honey could alter the flavor of the recipe slightly as it reacts differently to heat. If you’re vegan, this may not be your most preferred choice as they try to steer clear of any kind of exploitation of animals, which also includes bees. You can also use a half-honey, half-corn syrup mixture as a substitute for the golden syrup to get a taste resembling that of golden syrup.

Maple Syrup

Real maple syrup can be used as a substitute for golden syrup, but the flavor of the recipe is likely to be different. If possible, use Grade A maple syrup, which is lighter in color and flavor than Grade B. If you’re using a maple-flavored pancake syrup, it’s mostly composed of corn syrup but will add a strong maple taste. You can use it on your pancakes, French toast, and in your porridge and you will be surprised to know that it has fewer calories than honey.

Molasses

Molasses are much dark in color and thicker in consistency than golden syrup. It also has a slightly bitter, burnt taste. You can use this as a substitute if your focus lies more on the texture of the dish and not its color or taste. If you prefer a less intense flavor, you can choose to use light molasses. If you find yourself using molasses, try using one-third molasses and two-thirds corn syrup to cut the taste.

Homemade Golden Syrup

Each of the aforementioned sweeteners can be used as a substitute but will still fall short in some way or the other – whether in taste, texture, color, thickness, or viscosity. The best way to acquire golden syrup when it isn’t easily available is to prepare it at home. It is fairly simple and you can always prepare it in bulk and refrigerate it so that you can use it later whenever you require it. Let us look at the detailed recipe below.

Homemade Golden Syrup Recipe

In a pinch, with sugar and vinegar, you can make your own golden syrup on the stovetop. However, you will have to be vigilant to make sure that the sugar does not burn. Here is a step-by-step process to make nearly 2 cups of golden syrup.

Syrup in a glass with a bottle in the background

How to Make Golden Syrup At Home: Easy Recipe

This is a simple, no-fuss recipe for golden syrup.
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Keyword: Golden Syrup
Appliance: Saucepan
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Author: Raksha Hegde

Ingredients

To Make The Caramel

  • 1/4 cup water filtered
  • 1 tbsp white sugar

To Make The Syrup

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice or
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Instructions

  • Boil a cup of water in a saucepan or bring a kettle of water to a full boil.
  • In another saucepan, begin making the caramel base by warming 1/4 cup of sugar with a tablespoon of water on a very low flame. 
  • You will notice that the sugar starts turning brown, and becomes like caramel.
  • Now, start adding the rest of the sugar into the saucepan.
  • Immediately, add the boiling water (2/3 cup) to this sugar mixture. The mixture will bubble but do not worry. It will settle down.
  • Add the vinegar or lemon juice and keep stirring till the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Let it simmer on a low flame for 40-45 minutes. You may have to stir it once in a while.
  • Pour the homemade golden syrup into a clean storage container once it is cool. Don't fret if the syrup hardens during the cooking process. It eventually all dissolves to form a lovely caramel-colored liquid. Enjoy your homemade golden syrup!
    Golden syrup in a glass bottle kept atop a wooden table

Notes

With this simple recipe, you can make golden syrup easily at home. Once made, you need to store it in a cold, dry place. It will keep for up to six months.

How To Use?

  • When using golden syrup or any of its substitutes, it is advisable to keep it in a light glass jar and store it in a refrigerator to keep its freshness intact.
  • It is best used as toppings on our desserts. It goes perfectly well with pancakes and is a useful ingredient in making biscuits, cookies, muffins, gingerbread, and even tarts among other things. It gives the dessert a moist texture and a sweet taste.
  • It should be used in moderation as it is high in carbs and calories.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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