What is Corn Syrup?

Also known as ‘Glucose Syrup’ or ‘liquid glucose’

Selection Corn Syrup myfavouritepastime.com

Corn syrup is a viscous food syrup made from corn starch (maize starch). It contains varying amounts of glucose (dextrose), maltose and dextrins, depending on the grade. Corn syrup is also known as glucose syrup to confectioners.

Corn syrup is made by hydrolysis of corn starch. In simple terms, this means breaking down starch into simpler sugars like glucose and maltose, using water and catalysts. The resulting syrup is colourless and transparent and the main ingredient is glucose (dextrose) hence the name’ glucose syrup‘.

In the US, glucose syrup is made from cornstarch (maize starch) hence the name corn syrup. Glucose syrup can also be made from starch extracted from other cereals like wheat and rice.

Corn syrup is used widely in the food industry for sweetening soft drinks, baked goods, alcoholic beverage, sauces like ketchup, most prepared foods and pickles.

For home use, corn syrup is available in two flavours, the light coloured corn syrup and the golden or dark coloured corn syrup.

Light Coloured Corn Syrup

The main ingredient in light coloured corn syrup is glucose which is a monosaccharide sugar. Glucose is less sweet compared to fructose so this syrup will be less sweet than table sugar which is made up of glucose and fructose in equal quantities.

Dark Coloured or Golden Corn Syrup

Pure corn syrup is colourless, transparent and flavourless. To make it have more flavour and colour, molasses or blackstrap molasses is added to produce the golden or dark coloured corn syrup. Sugar may also be added to make it sweeter, and artificial flavour, to give it more flavour or aroma. I suggest you read the label on your product to see exactly what has been added to make it ‘golden’ or ‘dark’.

What is light corn syrup used for?

  • In general light corn syrup can be used as a sweetener, thickener or to retain moisture in baked goods.
  • Light corn syrup is used in baking for making fondant icing.
  • It can be used to make home made candy.

What is dark or golden corn syrup used for?

  • Can be used as an all-purpose sweetener.
  • Can be used as a table syrup and added to pancakes or crepes
  • Perfect for desserts, candy bars and glazes.

Commercial Use of Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is used in commercially prepared foods as a sweetener, thickener, and humectant (an ingredient that retains moisture and maintains the food’s freshness).

It’s also used to prevent crystallization of sugar, and to enhance flavour.

Corn syrup is the primary ingredient in most brands of commercial “pancake syrup”, as a less expensive substitute for maple syrup.

Corn syrup was the primary sweetener in the United States but now HFCS  high fructose corn syrup, is preferred as a sweetener.

Corn syrup is used to make High fructose corn syrup by converting some of the glucose in glucose syrup into fructose, using an enzymatic process. This results in a much sweeter product.

Food labels

Glucose is also known as dextrose or grape sugar. In food labels it may be listed as dextrose or’ grape sugar.’ It may also be listed as ‘corn sugar’, wheat sugar or ‘rice sugar’ depending on the source of the starch.

Commercial Grades of Corn syrup

Depending on the method used and time taken to breakdown the starch, different grades of corn syrup with different percentages of glucose, maltose and higher oligosaccharides (dextrin) are produced. The glucose content can vary between 19-43% and up to 90%.

A typical confectioner’s syrup contains 19% glucose, 14% maltose, 11% maltotriose and 56% higher oligosaccharides.

Glucose syrup containing over 90% glucose is used in industrial fermentation and is also to produce high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

2 thoughts

    1. That’s cool. In North America it’s mostly made of corn (maize). Good to know wheat is also commercial used to prepare corn syrup. Have a great week!

Please join the conversation.....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.