Homemade Corn Syrup You Can Use in Place of the Store-Bought Stuff | Cupcake Project

Homemade Corn Syrup You Can Use in Place of the Store-Bought Stuff

Every time I discover a way to make a popular commercial product at home, my mind is blown.  Homemade corn syrup is not something I had ever considered making, but much like homemade grenadine, homemade Baileys, homemade goldfish crackers, and homemade Oreo cookies, I am so glad that I did.  While I wouldn’t make any of these products from scratch every single time (I’m human and laziness often wins), every item on the list is better that its store-bought counterpart.

When I posted on the Cupcake Project Facebook page that I was making something with two pounds of sugar and corn, the guesses started rolling in.  Several of you (the first being Amanda Johnson) correctly surmised that I was making homemade corn syrup (have a look at the post to see the other guesses).  Susan Milner wasn’t so sure: “I thought corn syrup at first, too, but corn syrup doesn’t taste like corn. It’s just sugar from corn, so I say it’s a corn whiskey moonshine for sure!”  I didn’t make moonshine, but Susan is correct.  Store-bought corn syrup doesn’t taste like corn.  In fact, this corn syrup is quite a different product from what you are used to (see the corn syrup Wikipedia page for details on how commercial corn syrup is made).  This corn syrup is a thick sugar syrup that has a mild, pleasing taste of sweet corn.

Questions and Answers About Homemade Corn Syrup

Q.  Is homemade corn syrup the same as store-bought corn syrup?
A.  As I said above, it is not.  However, it can be used as a substitute for commercial corn syrup in most recipes.  Unlike commercial corn syrup, homemade corn syrup will develop some sugar crystals after it sits around for a while.  So, it might not be the best choice for use in candy making.

Q.  Will recipes made with this corn syrup all end up tasting like corn?
A.  I depends on the recipe – how many other flavors are present and how strong they are.  The corn flavor in homemade corn syrup is very mild and it is easily overpowered.  I like the corn flavor, but if you are looking for a corn syrup substitute and don’t want it taste like corn, you can leave the corn off entirely and just make a thick sugar syrup (I’ll show you how below).

Q.  What is the shelf life of homemade corn syrup?
A.  I haven’t put this to the test, but Stella from Brave Tart (whose recipe I used) says that it lasts indefinitely in the refrigerator.

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Homemade Corn Syrup Recipe

I found the recipe for homemade corn syrup on Brave Tart.  Stella has some amazing stuff over there.  She makes everything from scratch and I hugely admire her for it.  If I ever make it to Lexington, Kentucky, the restaurant she works at, Table 310, will be top on my list of places to go.  Here’s her recipe in my words with my notes:

Homemade Corn Syrup You Can Use in Place of the Store-Bought Stuff

Yield: About 2 1/2 pounds corn syrup

Homemade Corn Syrup You Can Use in Place of the Store-Bought Stuff


  • 14 ounces corn on the cob (For Amanda, this was 4 ears of corn; for me it was only two. The corn is just there to impart flavor, so if it's a little bit over or a little bit under, it won't matter.)
  • 5 1/4 cups water (use 2 1/2 cups water if you plan to leave the corn off)
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 vanilla bean


  1. Slice corn cobs into one-inch slices. This was the hardest part of making homemade corn syrup. It's not easy to cut corn cobs. Use a sharp knife, put your weight into it, and be careful. Note: If you plan to leave the corn off, skip directly to step five.
  2. Bring a medium-sized saucepan filled with the water and cut corn to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until water is reduced by half - about thirty minutes.
  4. Using a colander, strain out the corn, reserving the corn-flavored water.
  5. Return the water to the saucepan and add the sugar and salt.
  6. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan.
  7. Turn heat to medium-low and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  8. Simmer until the mixture is thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon. Amanda said to simmer for thirty minutes, but I let mine go for an hour. I know because I watched an entire episode of Mad Men while it was cooking down.
  9. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  10. Store in the refrigerator with the vanilla bean until ready to use.
  11. When ready to use, if necessary, microwave with a touch of water and gently stir to remove the sugar crystals.
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60 Responses to Homemade Corn Syrup You Can Use in Place of the Store-Bought Stuff

  1. Amanda February 27, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    This is such a great recipe, and I might have to use it!

    (Also, I’m so glad to see the brilliant woman from Brave Tart promoted at other blogs I follow, but her name is actually Stella Parks!)

    • chpadmini February 15, 2014 at 2:24 am #


  2. Stef February 27, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Amanda – Wow! I have no idea why I wrote Amanda instead of Stella. Thanks for letting me know. Oops. It’s been fixed.

  3. Texanerin February 27, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks a ton for this recipe! I live in Germany and they don’t have corn syrup here. I’d bring some back with me from the US, but I rarely use it and it’s so heavy. But now I have this. Woohoo! Thanks again. :)

  4. Sara February 27, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Wow, so cool!! What a great idea to make your own with real corn! :)

    • Bailey December 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

      Commercial corn syrup is also made from corn. I don’t understand why this is any less disgusting. I don’t know why viewers from other countries are upset about not having corn syrup. I think it’s great, one more reson why America is behind.

  5. Lisa @ Sweet 2 Eat Baking February 27, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Stef, I love you!

    You cannot buy corn syrup here in the UK and the nearest thing is Golden Syrup which is quite dark and, well, golden.

    So many recipes I see online that I want to try have corn syrup and I’m not sure whether using golden syrup will ruin it so this is perfect, thank you so much.

  6. Kimberly February 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Genious, Stef … absolutely genious!

  7. Stephanie February 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Wow! How cool! Nicely done

  8. Kittish February 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    I hate to be a nitpicker here, but I do feel the need to point out one thing. This syrup is NOT corn syrup. It is corn FLAVORED syrup. The product that goes by the name corn syrup is an entirely different beast than the recipe posted here.

    That said, I do like the idea of honestly flavored simple syrups in place of heavily processed commercial corn syrup.

  9. Stef February 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Kittish – You are absolutely correct.

  10. Miky @ Maids February 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    interesting stuff.
    i guess i can me a sweet syrup later and try the cheerios thingy.
    have a nice day and thank you for sharing.

  11. Anonymous March 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    This is an interesting idea but not technically corn syrup. Corn syrup has undergone an enzamatic reaction that converts the mass amount of starch in corn to sugar. You have created corn flavored syrup.

  12. Kat March 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    As other people have mentioned, this is not technically corn syrup.

    Corn syrup is an invert sugar, something that can easily be made by combining a simple syrup with cream of tartar.

  13. Anonymous March 10, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    So, I really want to make the lucky charms cupcakes, which requires this recipe, but I hardly need a cup of the final product! Can you help your readers divide this down properly? Is it dividable? Thanks!

    • Stef March 10, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      You can easily divide the whole thing in half or even quarter it and be just fine.

  14. Anonymous March 10, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    I just read the original post on brave tart, and she used naked cobs with no corn. Do you think that makes a difference?

    • Stef March 10, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      Probably not. Maybe mine is slightly cornier. Also, I had to strain the corn out and she could just fish out the cobs. But, if you plan to boil corn cobs for dinner anyway, this is a great way to do it.

  15. Anonymous March 16, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    Would the water from a can corn be used instead of “corn on the cob water”?

    • Stef March 17, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Hmm.. that could possibly work. Don’t see why not.

  16. JudyR March 17, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I made the “corn syrup” the other night and stored it in the refrigerator. Now it seems to have solidified. Is that normal??

    • Stef March 17, 2012 at 10:58 am #

      Just microwave it with a touch of water and it should be fine.

    • JudyR March 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm #


  17. Khalid Malik April 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    looks nourishing recipe with attractive colour but didn’t mention the humidity factor for corn that is taken e.g if corn is fresh not fully ripened (milky)then its colour and taste will be different as compared to fully ripened corn.

  18. matrix September 18, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    you realize that store bought corn syrup is cheaper than the 2 lbs of sugar in this recipe?

  19. Anonymous October 24, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Not when you include the return flight from the UK it’s not!

  20. Anonymous March 26, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    You can buy corn syrup in the UK, and you have been able to for quite a long time. And it works out a damn sight cheaper than using this recipe. And especially as this recipe has no resemblance at all to corn syrup

    • Anonymous March 29, 2013 at 7:40 am #

      Do you know where, I live in Norfolk. It would be a lot easier to buy rather than make

  21. Anonymous March 29, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Could this corn syrup be used to make molding chocolate or do you need to store bought stuff.

  22. Lora Reynolds April 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    I like this idea because corn syrup is most likely made with GMO corn.

    • Bailey December 30, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

      And so is this recipe. Look at the corn she used. More than 3″ long and all yellow

  23. top of the hill July 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    can, you can the syrup? or will it solidified

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  25. saeid January 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    What are the uses of corn syrup?

    • Bailey December 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

      Ruin all your body systems, make you fat, if you’re in the U.S.- waste money twice (once in taxes bc government pays farmers to grow it, then again when you buy the corn), confuse your GI tract, etc.

  26. Naela January 28, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    Dear Stef,

    Excellent !! but unfortunately in Pakistan I cannot find vanilla pods, I have vanilla extract. Can you suggest something.

  27. Annie February 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Stef, I wonder if this syrup works in place of normal corn syrup to prepare royal icing. Thoughts anyone? :)

  28. chpadmini February 15, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    sooooooooooooooooooooo gggggggggggggggggggoooooooooooooodddddddddddddddddddddddd

  29. Linda February 19, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    I have been wanting such a recipe since I have been watching the products I buy and put in my body. This is AWESOME. I have used agave syrup in place with great results, but I have since learned one must be careful with this product as well. Again, thank you!!!

  30. Linda February 19, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    I have been wanting such a recipe since I have been watching the products I buy and put in my body. This is AWESOME. I have used agave syrup in place with great results, but I have since learned one must be careful with this product as well. Again, thank you!!!

  31. Linda February 19, 2014 at 2:20 am #

    I have been wanting such a recipe since I have been watching the products I buy and put in my body. This is AWESOME. I have used agave syrup in place with great results, but I have since learned one must be careful with this product as well. Again, thank you!!!

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  34. Tom July 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    I am new at this– homemade cooking, please be patient with me… I am trying to find ways to cut back on sugar as I live in househould with people who has diabetiece…. I have found a sugar substitute call “Ideal”. Can I use this ideal sugar as a substitute for the 2 poud sugar calls for in your reciept?

    • Stef July 6, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      I’ve never tried Ideal so I couldn’t say. Sorry. :(

    • Bailey December 30, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

      If you’re trying to cut back on sugar, why are you looking up corn syrup recipes? That’s like an oxymoron. Substitute the corn syrup in whatever recipe you’re using with honey. Honey is a great sugar replacer for diabetics. Not corn syrup.

    • Tauny March 15, 2015 at 8:22 am #

      The answer is yes! (Ideal it’s my favorite sweetener) I am baking for a wedding with lots of diabetics, I made this recipe without the corn option, and it came out perfectly. The second time I made it, I used the liquid from a can of corn with the water, same results, a little sweeter and slightly corny.
      This recipe gets a big thumbs up from me!

  35. Shikha July 10, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    I needed clear corn syrup to put in making gum paste… But after making this syrup I realized that the vanilla seeds are visible. What should I do to remove them? Scooping out with spoon is not possible as the seeds are so minute.
    Plz help

    • Stef July 11, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      That’s a touch one. I honestly have no idea how you would remove them. Sorry. :(

    • Sarah September 18, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      Filter the syrup through a coffee filter or a similarly fine fabric placed in a funnel.

  36. Jui Patel August 1, 2014 at 5:17 am #

    can I use this homemade corn syrup in chocolate rose decoration for cake ???? please reply….

    • Stef August 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

      I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it.

  37. Tahira September 19, 2014 at 3:45 am #

    thnx Stef for the recipe..can i use it for making a rolled fondant????

  38. princess March 10, 2015 at 4:46 am #

    is it necessary to use vanilla??

  39. Lydia April 3, 2015 at 2:41 am #

    Dear Stef,

    A lot of make-it-at-home corn syrup recipes online use cream of tartar. Why have you avoided it? What is the use of cream of tartar in corn syrup? I have a recipe which needs corn syrup and I think it is because it gives the frosting a particular consistency, will this syrup behave the same way store bought corn syrup or the ones with cream of tartar does?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Stef April 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

      I have not experimented with cream of tartar in my corn syrup so I really can’t say. While this corn syrup works great as a sweetener, it does not behave exactly the same way as store-bought corn syrup. In particular, it won’t work for all candy making applications.


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