The real difference between corn syrup and golden syrup

As far as kitchen staples go, almost everyone has a bottle of corn syrup in their pantry. Golden syrup is a little less common though, which might lead to some confusion about the actual difference between the two. Even though they both have "syrup" in their names and are usually used for making desserts, corn syrup and golden syrup are completely different from one another.

You can probably guess from the name that corn syrup is made from corn. According to Food Network, the process includes extracting the glucose from corn and refining it until it becomes a thick, gooey liquid. True corn syrup is pure glucose and is different from high fructose corn syrup, which is made of a combination of glucose and fructose. Usually, corn syrup is used in frozen desserts since it easily dissolves in liquids without crystallizing, but sometimes bakers will use a spoonful or two in baked goods like brownies. According to Baking Bites, it's also useful for frostings and candy-making because it won't leave a grainy texture.

What is golden syrup, and how is it different?

While corn syrup might be a common pantry ingredient in America, golden syrup is a staple in British kitchens. According to BBC Good Food, golden syrup was created in London in the 1880s and comes from white sugar. Unlike corn syrup, golden syrup is made by breaking down sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are two simpler sugars. Though both have glucose, golden syrup doesn't come from corn and has a darker golden color. In the UK, golden syrup is usually used as a sauce for treacle sponge, or as part of the base for a treacle tart, but it can also be used as a substitute for honey.

According to Baking Bites, golden syrup also has a different flavor than corn syrup. Since golden syrup comes from concentrated sugar cane juice, it's sweeter than regular sugar, and also has a slightly toasty flavor. By comparison, corn syrup doesn't really have a distinct flavor, so it can blend into most dessert recipes.

However, despite their flavor differences, corn syrup and golden syrup have similar properties that make them good substitutes for each other. Epicurious notes that golden syrup can be used as a one-to-one substitution for corn syrup, including in candy-making. You might notice a slight flavor difference if you reach for golden syrup to replace corn syrup, but it shouldn't change the texture of the recipe. According to Baking Bites, the hardest part will probably be tracking down golden syrup if you live in the U.S., since it's typically only available at specialty stores. But if you do spot it, it might be worth trying in place of corn syrup in your favorite dessert recipe.