Golden syrup is an essential ingredient in many British desserts including classic ones like treacle tarts along with various cakes and cupcakes. It is unique enough that you need to try to keep the real thing around if you can. If you can’t and need a quick alternative, here are your best golden syrup substitutes:
Your best bet: Corn syrup
Like golden syrup, corn syrup is a liquid sweetener that is mainly sweet without any other strong flavors aside from sweetness. Corn syrup is an invert sugar like golden syrup. What this means is that it will not crystallize, which is beneficial when making candies as well as jams and jellies. Sugar crystals can make those products grainy.
Invert sugars can also help to keep baked goods moist when compared to other sweeteners. If you live in the United States, corn syrup will be much easier to find than golden syrup. Corn syrup can be found in most U.S. grocery stores while golden syrup is a specialty product that may be found only in those with an extensive international section.
The main downside of corn syrup as a golden syrup substitute is its flavor. Corn syrup has a much milder flavor than golden syrup, which has a distinct butterscotch flavor. This means that corn syrup won’t give you the flavoring benefits that you would get from golden syrup.
Other potential drawbacks of corn syrup include its consistency, which is thinner and more watery than golden syrup’s consistency. Commercial golden syrup is thick and viscous like honey.
A decent second choice: Make your own golden syrup
You can make a kind of golden syrup by combining water, refined white sugar and lemon juice. You will need to heat the mixture to ensure that all the sugar crystals dissolve. When cooked for a sufficiently long time, the homemade golden syrup can take on a similar thick consistency and amber color to that of the commercial product. How thick it gets depends on how long it is cooked.
Drawbacks of homemade golden syrup include the fact that it can take quite a while to achieve the right degree of thickness. As a result, it may not be worth it to make your golden syrup if you are pressed for time.
In a pinch: Honey
The most popular brand of golden syrup is Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which has a bee motif on its label. The reason for the bees has to do with the religious beliefs of founder Abram Lyle but also to connect it to the world’s oldest sweetener, honey.
Quality golden syrup evokes honey both with its amber color and thick, viscous consistency. The two sweeteners are similar enough that honey will make a good stand-in for golden syrup in some applications.
Honey does have a strong floral note that is quite different from the golden syrup flavor profile, which means that it may not be an ideal golden syrup substitute if the butterscotch flavor is essential.
The toffee and caramel notes of maple syrup can stand in for the golden syrup flavor profile despite not being the same. It should still work in most dessert applications. Also, important is the fact that the two sweeteners look alike. Amber maple syrups are the most similar-looking to golden syrup. Maple syrup won’t be an ideal substitute in all applications. Not only is it thinner than golden syrup it can be expensive.