Here's what you can substitute for corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is often maligned by nutritionists, but regular old corn syrup is a classic ingredient in recipes like pecan pie, homemade candy, and other sweet treats. So, what's one to do if they go to do their once-a-year holiday baking, only to discover that they're out of corn syrup? Luckily, there are a few substitutions you can use. 

Corn syrup is used for a couple of different reasons in recipes. For one, it's sweet, so it adds a sugary flavor to your food. For two, it's an invert sugar (via David Lebovitz). This means that, when used in conjunction with regular sugar, it helps prevent crystallization, something you want to avoid when making smooth caramels and gooey pecan pies. So, what can you substitute for corn syrup when you run out? 

The best corn syrup substitutes

The easiest corn syrup substitute, and one that's made with pantry staples, is made by dissolving 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar in 1/4 cup hot water, to make a substitute for one cup of corn syrup (via MyRecipes). 

That will give you the viscosity and sweetness you need to replicate corn syrup in most baked good recipes, but it won't help prevent sugar crystallization, so it's best to use something else in candy and caramel recipes. 

You can use brown rice syrup or golden syrup, both invert sugars, as a corn syrup substitute when making caramels and candies (via Epicurious). Both have their own flavor profile — brown rice syrup tastes slightly nutty and toasted, while golden syrup has a buttery flavor — but those flavors work well in caramel-type applications. 

If you don't need to worry about sugar crystallization, you can try using agave nectar, honey, or cane syrup in your recipe. They have the same ooey-gooey texture as corn syrup, and are about the same level of sweetness.  

The next time you run out of corn syrup, don't panic. Chances are you have a corn syrup substitute already waiting in your pantry.