Dark Corn Syrup Substitutes

With and Without Molasses or Corn

Close-Up Of Syrup Pouring In Spoon Against Gray Background

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If you're making a pecan pie, candied sweet potatoes, or another recipe that calls for dark corn syrup, and you just discovered that you don't have any in your pantry, use one of these substitutes until you're able to get to the store for more. The easiest and best substitute for dark corn syrup is made with light corn syrup and molasses. But if you don't have those available, there are other options.

Preparation

This is the easiest and best solution, assuming that you have both light corn syrup and molasses in your pantry. Just mix three parts light corn syrup and one part molasses. You can use this in place of the dark corn syrup called for in your recipe. 

Dark corn syrup is mostly made of the same ingredients as light corn syrup, with the addition of refiner's sugar, which is a type of molasses. It's the refiner's sugar that gives dark corn syrup its dark color and caramel-molasses flavor. By adding molasses to light corn syrup, you'll replicate that flavor.

More Substitutions for Dark Corn Syrup

If you don't have light corn syrup, or you're trying to avoid using corn syrup altogether, use one of these in its place:

  • Simple sugar syrup: If you have molasses, but you don't have light corn syrup, you can make simple sugar syrup to replace the light corn syrup. Dissolve 1 cup of white sugar in 1/4 cup of hot water. Allow it to cool. It will produce an acceptable substitute. This replaces 1 cup of light corn syrup, but the volume is entirely different. Use the quarter cup of simple sugar syrup to replace the 1 cup of light corn syrup in the original substitution. Add a quarter cup of molasses to make it a dark corn syrup substitute. You may need to adjust liquids in your recipe.
  • Honey: You can also use honey as a substitute for light corn syrup. It'll be sweeter than the corn syrup, so you may need to make some adjustments to your recipe to account for the additional sweetness. Add one part of molasses to three parts of honey to make a dark corn syrup substitute.

If you don't have molasses, use these substitutions for dark corn syrup:

  • Brown sugar: Brown sugar contains some molasses. Make a simple sugar syrup from brown sugar, and water, and you'll get some of that molasses flavor that your recipe intends. Karo recommends 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar dissolved in three to four tablespoons of water. This recipe is from the company making the best-known dark corn syrup.
  • Maple-flavored syrup: This is often simply corn syrup with maple flavoring. It can be substituted for dark corn syrup in a pinch. Your recipe will take on a maple flavor rather than a molasses flavor, but that could prove to be just as tasty. Consider how maple will work with the other ingredients in your recipe, and if the flavor combination sounds good to you, give it a try.