What is the use of glucose syrup in baking?

Glucose syrup is a common ingredient used in baking for a variety of reasons. It can affect the texture, sweetness, moisture, and shelf life of baked goods. Understanding when and why to use glucose syrup can help bakers get the best results.

What is glucose syrup?

Glucose syrup is a sweet syrup made from the hydrolysis of starch. It contains varying amounts of glucose, maltose, and higher molecular weight sugars depending on the degree of hydrolysis. There are several types of glucose syrups available:

  • Corn syrup – made from corn starch, contains 24-42% glucose
  • Glucose syrup – made from corn, wheat or potato starch, contains at least 20% glucose
  • Malt syrup – made from barley, contains about 45% maltose
  • Rice syrup – made from rice starch, contains 50% maltose
  • Inverted sugar syrup – made by heating sucrose with citric or tartaric acid, contains equal parts glucose and fructose

The glucose and maltose in these syrups make them sweeter than plain sugar. They also inhibit crystallization due to their high dextrose equivalent (DE) values. The DE value refers to the percentage of reducing sugars present compared to dextrose. The higher the DE, the greater the sweetening power.

Effects on texture

One of the main reasons bakers use glucose syrup is to alter the texture of baked goods. Using syrup helps achieve:

  • Moister crumb – Glucose is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts and retains moisture. This keeps baked goods fresher longer.
  • Tender crumb – Syrup interferes with gluten development, resulting in a more tender texture.
  • Chewy texture – In cookies, syrup’s humectant properties provide chewiness.
  • Smooth icings – Syrup prevents icing and frosting from crystallizing or becoming gritty.

The impact on texture depends on the amount and type used. For example, a small amount of light corn syrup will make minimal changes, while using a larger amount of glucose syrup will create a notable difference.

Effects on sweetness

Glucose syrup is used to control sweetness in baking. Since different syrups contain varying amounts of sugars, they provide different levels of sweetness:

Syrup Type Sweetness Relative to Sucrose
Glucose syrup 25-50% as sweet
Corn syrup 30-80% as sweet
Inverted sugar syrup Sweeter than sucrose
Malt syrup Half as sweet as sucrose
Rice syrup 50-60% as sweet

Bakers may use glucose or corn syrup along with granulated sugar to provide sweetness without making the product overly sweet. Syrup’s humectant properties also maintain moisture to prolong sweetness shelf life.

Effects on moisture retention

Glucose syrup is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts and retains moisture. This property makes baked goods stay fresher longer. Moisture retention benefits include:

  • Prevents staling – Keeps products like cakes and muffins from drying out quickly
  • Improves shelf life – Maintains softness and flexibility in cookies so they don’t harden
  • Reduces ice crystal formation – Minimizes freezer burn in frozen doughs and ice creams

Glucose syrup’s humectant properties make it an ideal ingredient for recipes meant to last or be frozen. Products stay moist, soft and pliable for longer.

Effects on crystallization

Crystallization is when syrups and sugars transition from liquid to solid by forming sugar crystals. This results in a grainy texture. Glucose syrup helps prevent crystallization because:

  • Glucose does not easily crystallize on its own
  • Interferes with sucrose’s ability to crystallize
  • Slows down the crystallization process

The DE value correlates to crystallization prevention. Higher DE syrups like glucose syrup are extremely effective while lower DE syrups like malt syrup only provide moderate protection. Benefits of crystallization control include:

  • Smooth frostings and glazes
  • Glossy candy coatings
  • Non-gritty ice creams
  • Clear syrups for drizzling

This property makes glucose syrup well-suited for frostings, candies, ice creams and more products where a smooth texture is desired.

Effects on caramelization

Caramelization refers to the browning that occurs when sugars are heated. When used in the right amounts, glucose syrup can prevent excess caramelization with benefits such as:

  • Allows better control of browning
  • Reduces burning or charring
  • Provides even caramel color

Glucose caramelizes at higher temperatures than sucrose. When combined in recipes, it raises the caramelization temperature to allow better control over browning. This leads to caramel-type flavors without burning.

Effects on fermentation

Yeast fermentation is impacted by the available sugars. Glucose syrup provides sugars that are easily fermentable by yeast. Benefits include:

  • Food for yeast during fermentation
  • Increases CO2 production for better rise
  • Reduces proofing time

Glucose is readily consumed by yeast so dough rises faster when syrup is included. Using glucose syrup in yeasted products like breads and pizza doughs can shorten proofing times.

Types of baked goods using glucose syrup

Glucose syrup is used in a wide variety of baked recipes both at home and commercially. Some examples include:

  • Cakes and cupcakes – Keeps them moist and tender
  • Muffins – Reduces staling so they stay fresher longer
  • Bread – Provides sugar for yeast and aids with moisture retention
  • Pizza dough – Shortens proofing time
  • Cookies – Contributes to chewy texture
  • Candy – Prevents grittiness and crystallization
  • Frosting and glazes – Creates smooth, non-gritty consistency
  • Ice cream – Minimizes ice crystal formation

Virtually all types of baked goods can benefit from glucose syrup. Bakers should consider the desired outcome and use appropriate types and amounts of syrup to achieve their goals.


In some cases, glucose syrup can be substituted in recipes by using:

  • Honey – Replace 1 cup syrup with 1 cup honey then reduce liquid by 2-3 tablespoons. Honey caramelizes faster so adjust cooking temperature.
  • Corn syrup – Substitute 1:1 ratio. May slightly change texture and sweetness.
  • Granulated white sugar – Replace 1 cup syrup with 1 cup sugar and add 2-3 tablespoons of water or other liquid in the recipe. Will not provide moisture retention benefits.
  • Brown rice syrup – Substitute 1:1 ratio. Will alter sweetness and crystallization prevention.

When substituting, the texture, moisture, sweetness, and other attributes may differ from the original recipe. Some trial and error may be needed.


Unopened glucose syrup has a long shelf life of 1-2 years when stored properly. An opened container will last approximately 6 months. To maximize freshness:

  • Store in a cool, dry place away from heat and light
  • Keep the container tightly sealed
  • Refrigerate after opening
  • Watch for signs of mold or spoilage before use

Properly stored, glucose syrup maintains optimal quality and minimizes preservative needs when used in baking recipes.


Glucose syrup is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. However, there are some considerations when using it:

  • May not be suitable for people with diabetes or sensitivity to blood sugar spikes due to its high glycemic index.
  • Can contribute to over-browning or burning if too high of temperatures are used.
  • May impart a slight aftertaste in sensitive individuals.

When consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, glucose syrup is considered safe for most people.


Glucose syrup is a versatile ingredient that allows bakers to customize the finished product. Proper usage provides control over moisture, texture, sweetness, crystallization, fermentation, and more. Becoming familiar with the different types of syrups and their properties enables creating baked goods with the desired qualities.

While added sugars should be limited, glucose syrup in moderation can create baked goods that stay fresher longer, have an appealing texture, and taste just sweet enough. Consider the recipe’s intent and the syrup’s characteristics when deciding whether and how much to use.

With the right type and amount of glucose syrup, bakers can achieve delicious results and satisfy customers.

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