Can you buy corn syrup in the UK?

Quick Answer

Corn syrup is not as readily available in the UK as it is in the US, but it can be found in some stores or ordered online. The most common options for buying corn syrup in the UK are:

  • Specialty baking or confectionery suppliers
  • American food shops
  • Online retailers that ship to the UK
  • Make your own by mixing glucose syrup with water and heating

What is Corn Syrup?

Corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn starch. It comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Light corn syrup – the most common type used for baking/cooking. It’s clear and has a mild flavor.
  • Dark corn syrup – has some added caramel color and flavor. It’s commonly used making pecan pie and similar desserts.
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – sweeter version with higher fructose content. It’s the primary sweetener in many mass-produced food products in the US.

In cooking and baking, corn syrup is valued for its ability to:

  • Retain moisture and prevent crystallization in recipes like frostings, candies, jams
  • Contribute glossy texture and sheen when used in glazes or coatings
  • Act as a thickener
  • Replace granulated sugar in a 1:1 ratio (though it will change texture/flavor)

Availability of Corn Syrup in the UK

While very common in American pantries, corn syrup is not as ubiquitously stocked on supermarket shelves in the UK. Here are some tips for locating it:

Specialty Baking and Confectionery Suppliers

Shops that specialize in candy/dessert making ingredients or American baking supplies are some of the best sources for finding corn syrup in England. Places to check:

  • Squires Kitchen
  • Cake Stuff
  • Bake With a Legend
  • American Fizz
  • Callebaut Chocolate and Patisserie School

American Food Shops

Import stores that specialize in American groceries often carry corn syrup along with other staples from the States. Some options:

  • American Sweets
  • USA Food Store
  • American Food Depot
  • Yankee Sweet

Online Retailers With UK Shipping

If you can’t find corn syrup locally, ordering online is convenient. Retailers like Amazon UK and British Corner Shop carry major brands like Karo:

  • Amazon UK
  • British Corner Shop
  • American Fizz

Make Your Own

In a pinch, you can make a DIY corn syrup substitute by combining glucose syrup with water and heating it. It won’t get quite the same consistency as commercial corn syrup, but works well for many baking applications.

Popular Brands of Corn Syrup in the UK

While Karo is by far the most recognized corn syrup brand in the US, it’s less common across the pond. Some other options UK shoppers can look for:

  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup – famous British brand. Not technically corn syrup but made from sugar cane. Often suggested as a substitute.
  • Karo Light Corn Syrup – major US brand of light corn syrup. More limited availability in UK.
  • Karo Dark Corn Syrup – Dark variety by Karo.
  • Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup – Louisiana cane syrup. Contains no corn but has a similar viscosity and sweetness.

Karo Syrup

Karo corn syrup was invented in 1902 and remains the leading brand in the US today. They offer light and dark varieties:

  • Karo Light – Clear corn syrup good for recipes where you don’t want to add color. Similar to simple syrup but with added thickness.
  • Karo Dark – Amber colored with more pronounced flavor. Used in pecan pie and baked beans.

Both types can replace sugar cup-for-cup in recipes, but will create a different texture.

Lyle’s Golden Syrup

Golden syrup has been made by Lyle’s since 1885 using a refining process on sugarcane. It has a thick, amber color and distinctive flavor prized in British baking. While not actually corn syrup, it can often be used as a substitute in recipes.

Steen’s Cane Syrup

Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup is made in the US from Louisiana sugarcane. It has a mild, molasses-like taste and thick syrupy texture much like corn syrup.

Substituting Corn Syrup in Recipes

Finding a suitable replacement depends on how the corn syrup functions in your specific recipe:

Replace as a Sweetener

Corn syrup adds sweetness as well as moisture and texture. To replicate the sweetness:

  • Replace 1 cup corn syrup with 1 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup water or other liquid in the recipe. Increase cooking temperature slightly to allow moisture to evaporate.
  • Honey, agave, or maple syrup can also replace corn syrup as a sweetener, though they will impart their own flavors.

Replace as a Thickener

Corn syrup gives body and sheen from its viscosity. To mimic thickness:

  • Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water for every 1 cup corn syrup.
  • Soak 1 tablespoon plain gelatin in 3 tablespoons cold water, then heat to dissolve. Substitute for every 1 cup corn syrup.

Replace to Prevent Crystallization

Corn syrup prevents sugar crystallization in candies or frostings. To duplicate this effect:

  • Use glucose syrup like the Cake Mate brand.
  • Add a small amount of lemon juice or cream of tartar to your recipe.

Cost of Corn Syrup in the UK

As an imported specialty ingredient, corn syrup tends to be pricier in the UK compared to the US. Some average prices:

  • Karo corn syrup (16 oz/450g) – £5-£10
  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup (454g) – £2-£3
  • Steen’s Cane Syrup (355ml) – £6-£8

Buying in bulk sizes or looking for deals online can help lower the price per ounce. Making your own glucose syrup substitute further reduces the cost.

Reasons Why Corn Syrup Isn’t as Common in the UK

While corn syrup has been a baking staple in American kitchens for over a century, it never caught on in the same way in the UK. Why is this sweetener hard to find across the pond?

Different Crops and Agriculture

Corn is one of the biggest crops in the US thanks to the ideal climate and geography. Corn surplus allowed development of corn-derived products like corn syrup. The UK’s cooler climate isn’t as well suited for mass corn production, so corn syrup never became a byproduct.

Preference for Cane Sugar

Americans embraced cheap corn syrup as an alternative to pricier cane sugar. But with better access to imported cane sugar from former colonies, Brits stuck with a preference for traditional sugar in cooking.

Lyle’s Golden Syrup as a Substitute

The ubiquity of Lyle’s Golden Syrup since the late 1800s gave UK bakers an alternative syrup to use in place of corn syrup. This minimized demand for importing American corn syrup.

Different Food Manufacturing Industries

In the US, corn subsidies and demand made HFCS a default for mass-produced foods and drinks. Without those economic factors, UK manufacturers didn’t adopt corn syrup.

Consumer Skepticism of HFCS

While common in the US for decades, some British consumers have expressed concern over health issues with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as consumption has risen more recently. This casts corn syrup in a negative light.

Is Corn Syrup Healthy?

Nutrition Facts

Corn syrup is primarily composed of carbohydrates with small amounts of vitamins and minerals:

Nutrient Amount (per 100g)
Calories 316
Total Carbohydrates 82g
Sugars 3g
Protein 0g
Fat 0g
Sodium 13mg
Potassium 13mg
Calcium 3mg
Iron 0.2mg

It does not contain fiber, fat, protein or other macronutrients. The carbohydrates are almost entirely sugar.

Effects of Fructose

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has faced scrutiny over links to obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease when consumed in excess. But moderate intake as part of a balanced diet is still considered safe by major health and regulatory bodies.

Blood Sugar Impact

Corn syrup has a high glycemic index, meaning it causes rapid spikes in blood sugar. This makes it unsuitable for people with certain medical conditions like diabetes.

Lack of Nutrition

Since it is highly refined and contains minimal vitamins or minerals, corn syrup is considered a source of “empty calories” without much nutritional benefit.

Added Sugars

Excessive intake of added sugars like those in corn syrup has been tied to increased disease risk. But corn syrup can be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

Uses for Corn Syrup

Both light and dark corn syrup can be used in a variety of recipes:


  • Cakes – Adds moisture and sweetness
  • Cookies – Helps retain chewiness
  • Frostings and glazes – Prevents crystallization

Candy Making

  • Fudge – Gives smooth, velvety texture
  • Caramel – Aids in achieving the right consistency
  • Marshmallows – Helps retain moisture

Jams and Jellies

  • Fruit spreads – Reduces crystallization
  • Condensed milk – Boosts sweetness

Meat Glazes and Sauces

  • BBQ sauce – Balances sweet and tangy flavors
  • Glazes for ham or roast – Adds caramelized coating


  • Cocktails – Substitute for simple syrup
  • Hot chocolate – Sweetens without thinning
  • Smoothies – Blends easily without clumping

Storing Corn Syrup

Properly stored, corn syrup keeps well for extended periods, making it handy to keep on hand:

  • Store corn syrup in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Refrigeration is not needed.
  • Keep corn syrup sealed in its original container.
  • Shelf life for an unopened container is 2-3 years from the manufacture date.
  • Once opened, corn syrup will keep for 6-12 months.
  • Look for any mold, fermentation or changes in texture/color before using in recipes.
  • Proper storage helps prevent crystallization over time.

Corn syrup with high fructose content may have a slightly shorter shelf life of 1-2 years when opened.


While not as ubiquitous in the UK as in American supermarkets, corn syrup can be purchased from select retailers or ordered online. Brands like Lyle’s Golden Syrup are more common, but major US brands like Karo can also be found. Glucose syrup makes a convenient homemade substitute. When stored properly, corn syrup keeps well for extended periods – making it a handy ingredient for British bakers to have on hand. With versatility beyond simply sweetening, corn syrup brings moisture, thickness, and crystallization prevention to recipes ranging from pecan pie to fruit preserves when used in moderation.

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