What can I substitute for corn syrup in icing?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question, “What can I substitute for corn syrup in icing?”, and discuss what corn syrup is, and also briefly discuss some of the substitutes for icing sugars.

What can I substitute for corn syrup in icing?

Flavours are not added by corn syrup. The only role of corn syrup is to provide the sweetness, so all types of sugars can definitely be used as alternatives to corn syrup in icing. 

The sugars can be converted to syrup forms by adding small quantities of water creating a simple syrup that is highly concentrated. Below are some important substitutes.

Table sugars

Table sugars, granulated or cane sugars, cornstarch and powdered milk added to sugars, agave nectar, honey, molasses, maple syrups and brown rice syrups can be substituted for corn syrup in icing. 

Icing is made by mixing powdered milk, corn syrup, vanilla and milk, forming a fine smooth consistency which can then be used to create designs in bakery products such as cookies and cakes. 

Table sugar or granulated sugar can be blended at high speed in a blender, and can be used for icing. The sugar is blended until it has a consistency of that of powder. Once done, the sugar can be removed and mixed with the spoon to avoid the formation of lumps. 


A Cup of cornstarch with the same quantity of granulated table sugar can be combined together to make the icing. Both the ingredients are put into the blender and blended until they form a powder-like consistency. The purpose of the addition of cornstarch is to prevent the sugar from clumping when stored. 

1 part of grained sugar, 2 parts of cornstarch and 2 parts of powdered milk can be combined to make the icing sugar which is mostly used for cooking purposes rather than frosting. All the ingredients are then blended together until they form a fine powder. 

The purpose of adding the milk powder is to provide the bulk or substance, and also gives a pleasant taste suited to baked goods. 

Sugar or sugar syrups

A cup of sugar, combined with 3 tbsp of molasses or treacle will also work as a substitute for corn syrup in icing. 

Corn syrup can also be substituted by sugar syrup.a cup of pure cane sugar combined with one-fourth cup of water is heated at low flame, cooled and then used. The pan can be covered for 3-4 minutes to remove the crystals of sugar, adding one-fourth of a tsp of lemon juice or cream of tartar , stirring frequently. 

The syrup is then stored in sealed containers at room temperatures and can be used for upto 2 months. 


A cup of honey, a cup of light molasses, a cup of maple flavoured syrup, a cup of agave nectar, or a cup of brown rice syrup are good substitutes to be used instead of corn syrups in the preparation of icings. Maple syrup is also derived from corn syrup making it an ideal alternative that can be used. 

Honey adds to the flavour along with retaining the moisture of the bakery item. The mild flavours of agave nectar are also good alternatives to be used in pies, sauces and other types of desserts. 

Molasses can be considered as a light resort, as they have very distinct flavours which will most likely overpower the other flavours.

What is corn syrup?

Corn syrup is a type of syrup which is derived by the sugar extractions from corn starch. Corn syrups have a small amount of vanilla flavourings added to them. The property of corn sugar is that it does not undergo crystallisation like table sugar thus can withstand high temperatures. 

Corn syrups are a must have in preparing icing,  for a smooth icing, and keeping the surface dry and shiny. To achieve a white product, light corn syrups can be used, and on the other hand, dark corn syrups can be used if the desir is an ivory hue.


In this brief article, we answered the question, “What can I substitute for corn syrup in icing?”, and discussed what corn syrup is, and also briefly discussed some of the substitutes for icing sugars.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.