Can you mix honey and corn syrup?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can mix honey and corn syrup together. Both honey and corn syrup are sweeteners that contain glucose and fructose, so they can be substituted for one another in recipes. However, they may affect the texture and flavor of the final product differently.

What is Honey?

Honey is a sweet, viscous liquid made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers. Bees collect the nectar, add enzymes to break down the sugars, deposit it in honeycombs inside the beehive, and fan it with their wings until most of the water content evaporates, creating honey.

The main components of honey are:

  • Fructose: 38%
  • Glucose: 31%
  • Water: 17%
  • Other sugars: 9%
  • Minerals, enzymes, proteins, vitamins: 5%

The fructose and glucose ratios in honey vary based on the source of nectar the bees collected. But in general, honey contains slightly more fructose than glucose, giving it a subtly sweeter taste than pure glucose or sucrose.

Properties of Honey

  • Sweetness: Honey is very sweet, though less sweet than white granulated sugar by volume. Its sweetness comes from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose.
  • Acidity: Honey’s pH is between 3 and 4.5, meaning it is slightly acidic. The acidity comes from organic acids like gluconic acid and amino acids.
  • Viscosity: Honey is thicker than syrup and runs more slowly. Its viscosity depends on the water content, composition of sugars, and temperature.
  • Shelf life: Pure honey has an indefinite shelf life and does not spoil when stored properly due to its acidic pH and low moisture content. It may crystallize over time but can be reliquefied by heating gently.
  • Antimicrobial properties: Honey contains hydrogen peroxide and other compounds that give it antimicrobial properties. It can inhibit microbial growth and help wounds and burns heal.
  • Flavor and aroma: Honey takes on flavors and aromas from the nectar. Common varietals include orange blossom, clover, buckwheat, and wildflower.

What is Corn Syrup?

Corn syrup is a sweetener made from cornstarch. It consists almost entirely of glucose, with no fructose. There are two main types of corn syrup:

  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS): HFCS is made by converting some of the glucose in corn syrup into fructose enzymatically, resulting in a sweeter mixture. It typically contains 45-55% fructose.
  • Glucose corn syrup: Also called corn syrup or glucose syrup, this is 100% glucose, with no fructose. It is less sweet than sucrose or HFCS.

Compared to honey, corn syrup has a simpler sugar profile, milder flavor, and thicker viscosity. It does not crystallize.

Properties of Corn Syrup

  • Sweetness: Pure corn syrup is less sweet than honey or HFCS due to its lack of fructose. HFCS can be equally as sweet as honey.
  • Viscosity: Corn syrup is thicker and more viscous than honey. It helps maintain moisture in recipes.
  • Appearance: Corn syrup is a clear or pale yellow, translucent syrup.
  • Shelf life: Corn syrup has an indefinite shelf life due to its high sugar content and lack of water.
  • Flavors: Corn syrup has a mild flavor compared to honey and does not crystallize.

Substituting Honey for Corn Syrup

Honey and corn syrup both add sweetness, moisture, and texture to recipes. Here is how to substitute one for the other:

  • Replace 1 cup corn syrup with 3/4 to 1 cup honey, and reduce other liquids by 2-4 tablespoons to account for the extra moisture in honey.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for every 1 cup honey used. This neutralizes honey’s acidity and helps baked goods rise.
  • Reduce oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning, since honey causes faster browning.
  • For a direct substitute, use a blend of honey and corn syrup. Try 1/2 cup honey + 1/2 cup corn syrup for every 1 cup of corn syrup called for.
  • In candies and frostings, substitute honey for corn syrup 1:1 by volume. The texture may differ slightly.
  • For a glossy glaze, boil honey briefly to remove excess moisture before substituting for corn syrup.

The fructose content of honey will lend a more complex, fruity sweetness compared to corn syrup. Reduce liquids to compensate for the extra moisture in honey.

Substituting Corn Syrup for Honey

To replace honey with corn syrup:

  • Use 1 1/4 cups corn syrup for every 1 cup honey and increase other liquids by 2-4 tablespoons.
  • Add a pinch of citric acid or lemon juice to mimic honey’s acidity.
  • Increase baking temperature by 25°F since corn syrup browns slower than honey in baking.
  • For a 1:1 substitute, use a 50/50 blend of light corn syrup and golden syrup or maple syrup to match honey’s sweetness and viscosity.
  • In candies, replace honey with an equal amount of corn syrup by volume. The flavor will be milder.
  • Heat corn syrup to lower its viscosity when substituting for honey as a glaze or sauce. It will be less glossy.

The glucose-only makeup of corn syrup will give foods a milder sweetness than honey. The texture may also differ without honey’s fructose content.

Can You Mix Honey and Corn Syrup?

Yes, you can mix honey and corn syrup together in recipes. Blending the two sweeteners allows you to balance the flavors and textures.

Here are some tips for mixing honey and corn syrup:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio of honey to corn syrup for a blend of sweetness, moisture, browning, and glossiness.
  • Try using 25% honey and 75% corn syrup to mildly sweeten and add gloss without overpowering honey flavor.
  • For a very thick, fudgy texture, use more corn syrup than honey.
  • When creaming butter and sugar, you can cream honey and corn syrup together like sugar.
  • In chocolates or fudge, a touch of honey enhances flavor complexity while corn syrup provides good texture.
  • For a glossy cake glaze, blend 2 parts corn syrup with 1 part honey.

Mixing the two sweeteners combines the benefits of each – honey lends distinctive flavor notes while corn syrup provides an uncrystallized texture.

How Honey and Corn Syrup Affect Baked Goods

Using a blend of honey and corn syrup can improve the moisture, sweetness, browning, and texture of baked goods:

  • Moisture: Honey adds moisture which helps keep baked goods soft while corn syrup’s thickness prevents drying.
  • Sweetness: Honey lends fruity, complex sweetness while corn syrup provides pure sugary sweetness.
  • Browning: Honey causes quicker browning while corn syrup browns slower, so together they provide even browning.
  • Texture: Honey gives a fine, smooth crumb while corn syrup makes a chewier, thicker texture.

The exact recipe will determine the ideal ratio of honey to corn syrup. More honey gives distinctive flavor, more corn syrup makes a thicker, fudgier texture.

How Honey and Corn Syrup Affect Candy

Using a combination of honey and corn syrup when making candy affects the flavor, texture, glossiness and crystallization:

  • Flavor: Honey provides floral, fruity notes while corn syrup has a neutral flavor.
  • Texture: Corn syrup makes smooth, fudgy candy while honey gives a finer crystal structure.
  • Gloss: Corn syrup makes hard candy glossy. Honey can make it sticky.
  • Crystallization: Corn syrup inhibits crystallization. Honey’s fructose causes faster crystallization.

In most candy recipes, corn syrup is used in a greater ratio to honey since too much honey can cause a brittle texture. But a touch of honey uniquely enhances flavor.

Key Differences Between Honey and Corn Syrup

While honey and corn syrup can often be substituted for one another in recipes, they have some key differences that affect the final product:

Honey Corn syrup
Sweetness Very sweet from fructose content Less sweet than honey, no fructose
Flavor Distinct, floral, fruity honey flavor Mild, neutral flavor
Acidity Slightly acidic pH around 4 Neutral pH
Moisture Contains 17-20% water so adds moisture Anhydrous so stays dry in recipes
Browning Promotes faster browning during baking Minimal browning effect
Crystallization Tends to crystallize over time Does not crystallize
Shelf life Indefinite but may crystallize Indefinite

These differences mean corn syrup produces purer sweetness with a neutral flavor, while honey provides a complex sweetness and flavor. Honey also adds moisture and acidity while corn syrup gives a thicker, stabilized texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you substitute honey for corn syrup in baking?

Yes, honey can be substituted for corn syrup in baking recipes, though a few adjustments will help achieve the ideal texture:

– Use 3/4 to 1 cup of honey for every 1 cup of corn syrup and reduce other liquids by 2-4 tablespoons to account for the extra moisture in honey.

– Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of honey to neutralize its acidity.

– Reduce oven temperature by 25°F as honey causes faster browning.

What’s the difference between honey, corn syrup, and maple syrup?

  • Honey is made from flower nectar, corn syrup from corn starch, and maple syrup from maple sap.
  • Honey has a distinctive flavor profile while corn and maple syrup have more neutral flavors.
  • Honey contains fructose and is sweeter than corn syrup. Maple syrup has a moderate sweetness like honey.
  • Honey and maple syrup can crystallize while corn syrup has a smooth, stabilizing texture.

Can you use honey instead of corn syrup to make candy?

Honey can be used to make candies, though it may cause a brittle texture or faster crystallization. For best results, use a greater proportion of corn syrup to honey, like 2:1 or 3:1. This provides good flavor with the stabilizing benefits of corn syrup.

What happens if you substitute honey for corn syrup in a recipe?

Substituting honey for corn syrup will make the recipe sweeter with a more complex honey flavor. Baked goods may brown faster and be moister. Candy may crystallize easier or have a sticky texture. Using 3/4 cup honey for 1 cup corn syrup helps balance the properties.

Can I use a 50/50 mix of honey and corn syrup as a substitute in recipes?

Yes, a equal parts blend of honey and corn syrup can often be used as a 1:1 substitute for corn syrup in recipes. The honey adds sweetness, flavor, and moisture while the corn syrup provides stabilization. For baking, you may still need to adjust liquids and baking temperature to account for the honey.


Honey and corn syrup are two popular sweeteners used for baking, candy making, and more. While they have some differences, in many recipes they can be substituted for one another or mixed together. Blending honey and corn syrup combines the benefits of each – honey provides distinctive flavor notes, while corn syrup lends texture and helps prevent crystallization. When substituting honey for corn syrup, reduce liquids to account for moisture and add baking soda to neutralize acidity. Overall, using a blend of the two sweeteners can create ideal moisture, sweetness, browning, and texture in all kinds of recipes.

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