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Substituting Corn Syrup with Brown Rice Syrup

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2012

Can brown rice syrup be substituted in recipes that call for corn syrup?

Like corn syrup, brown rice syrup is made by treating the cooked grain with enzymes that convert starches into sugar; the resulting liquid is reduced until thick. To see if it makes a suitable substitute, we tasted Lundberg Organic Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup plain and used it in two recipes in which we normally use corn syrup: chocolate frosting and glazed chicken.

Corn syrup is approximately 45 percent as sweet as sugar; Lundberg claims that its rice syrup is about 50 percent as sweet as sugar, and we found the sweetness levels comparable when we sampled the products plain. But the rice syrup’s viscosity and pronounced cereal aroma made us skeptical about its feasibility as a stand-in for clear, neutral-tasting corn syrup.

To our surprise, tasters found the frosting and chicken samples very similar in taste, texture, and appearance—the complex flavors of the other ingredients masked the brown rice syrup’s toasty notes. But since Karo corn syrup costs $3.50 per 16-ounce bottle while a 21-ounce jar of Lundberg rice syrup set us back $6, we’ll stick with corn syrup.