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

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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.

Products Related to Homemade Corn Syrup

To make homemade corn syrup you need a vanilla bean. Vanilla beans can be expensive. In the Whole Foods near my house, one bean costs six dollars. If you plan to bake vanilla cupcakes on a regular basis, I recommend purchasing vanilla beans online – you’ll save a ton of money. These beans are incredibly fresh and my mailbox has never smelled as good as the day the beans arrived. (View on Amazon) [paid link]

Homemade Corn Syrup Recipe

The recipe I used comes from Stella Parks of BraveTart. I’ve rewritten it and added my own notes here.

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4.16 from 13 votes

Homemade Corn Syrup

Homemade corn syrup is not something I had ever considered making, but much like homemade grenadine, I am so glad that I did.
Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 36 servings
Calories 107kcal
Author Stefani


  • 14 ounces corn on the cob For Stella, 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


  • 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.
  • Bring a medium-sized saucepan filled with the water and cut corn to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and simmer until water is reduced by half - about thirty minutes.
  • Using a colander, strain out the corn, reserving the corn-flavored water.
  • Return the water to the saucepan and add the sugar and salt.
  • Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan.
  • Turn heat to medium-low and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • 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 [paid link] while it was cooking down.
  • Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Store in the refrigerator with the vanilla bean until ready to use.
  • When ready to use, if necessary, microwave with a touch of water and gently stir to remove the sugar crystals.


Yield approximately 2.5 pounds of corn syrup


Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Sodium: 132mg | Potassium: 29mg | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. dbmartinsays:

    4 stars
    Havent tried this recipe, but I do make corn cob jelly. Very Similar, but without the vanilla bean. Will try with vanilla bean next year. The corndog jelly uses the corn cobs only after you have harvested the corn. Then I can my corn cob jelly. Lasts indefinitely.

  2. Maureensays:

    To solve the sugar crystal problem use a basic candy making trick. Add a tiny pinch of cream of tartar when you bring the sugar to a simmer. Do not stir during the simmer process and wash down sides of pan to prevent crystals from forming.

  3. favoursays:

    5 stars
    wow…so much love to give it a trial. Thanks so much for this easy step by step method. Bless u

  4. caroline jettesays:

    5 stars
    let sit overnight before strain out for a rich flavor of corn.

  5. Erika Nelsensays:

    Hi. I was wondering if I could use an erythritol based sweetener instead of regular sugar for the corn syrup recipe?

    • Sharonsays:

      I don’t know the answer to this but I would think it may be quite runny because of the structural differences between them. I am going to try and make a half batch using 1/2 erythritol and 1/2 xyitol since xyitol has a similar structure to sugar and I think the mixture would have a better taste more similar to sugar than erythritol alone. Did you ever try it, and if so how did it turn out and taste?

  6. Aminahsays:

    Hi! I was wondering if this homemade corn syrup will work in a recipe for royal icing and if it will harden the same way as if I used store bought corn syrup.

  7. terrisays:

    i believe boiling the corn removes the starch from the corn which helps with thickening as well as a tiny bit of flavor.

  8. john welskiesays:

    this is so awesome,it did not work, cool hahahahahaha!!!!!1

  9. Mary-Ann Nagelsays:

    Thank you so much, going to try it today!

  10. Aliciasays:

    Thanks for the idea.Praise Yahshua for sweet idea’s!
    Jewsforjesus. Org!
    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
    That whosoever believeth in Him
    Should not perish but have eternal life.
    Praise Yahshua for salvation!

  11. Meghansays:

    Thinking you could use the cobs from corn after you cut the corn off for freezing. I blanch my corn cut it off and have all those cobs left.

  12. Cindysays:

    You know Stef, I want to thank you for this recipe. Thank you for clarifying over and over the uses and NON uses (as in candy making). You made it very clear it was not actual corn syrup, so the last remark was totally uncalled for.Keep giving us those recipes. Have a great day.

  13. androshisays:

    corn syrup is used mostly for the non crystallization it gives to sugar syrup.

    it is mostly a simple syrup base sweetener PLUS they use an acid to the formula.

    the acid in the corn syrup is what helps the sugar not crystallize!

    all your making here is simple syrup with corn flavor.

    its not really “corn syrup”

    its corn FLAVORED SYRUP you made here!

    my god do some fuckin research!!!!!

    its 2 different things!!

    • Sharonsays:

      In contrast, corn syrup is a sweetener derived from fresh corn picked and processed at its peak for flavor and sweetness. This is the ingredient in Karo® Corn Syrups used for baking—Karo® Light, Karo® Dark and Karo® Lite (reduced calorie).

  14. Lydiasays:

    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.

    • Stefsays:

      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.

  15. princesssays:

    is it necessary to use vanilla??

  16. Tahirasays:

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

  17. Jui Patelsays:

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

  18. Shikhasays:

    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

  19. Tomsays:

    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?

    • Stefsays:

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

    • Baileysays:

      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.

    • Taunysays:

      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!

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  22. Lindasays:

    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!!!

  23. Lindasays:

    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!!!

  24. Lindasays:

    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!!!

  25. chpadminisays:

    sooooooooooooooooooooo gggggggggggggggggggoooooooooooooodddddddddddddddddddddddd

  26. Anniesays:

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

  27. Naelasays:

    Dear Stef,

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

  28. saeidsays:

    What are the uses of corn syrup?

    • Baileysays:

      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.

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  30. top of the hillsays:

    can, you can the syrup? or will it solidified

  31. Lora Reynoldssays:

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

  32. Anonymoussays:

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

  33. Anonymoussays:

    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

  34. Anonymoussays:

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

  35. matrixsays:

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

  36. Khalid Maliksays:

    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.

  37. JudyRsays:

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

  38. Anonymoussays:

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

  39. Anonymoussays:

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

    • Stefsays:

      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.

  40. Anonymoussays:

    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!

  41. Katsays:

    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.

  42. Anonymoussays:

    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.

  43. Miky @ Maidssays:

    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.

  44. Stefsays:

    Kittish – You are absolutely correct.

  45. Kittishsays:

    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.

  46. Stephaniesays:

    Wow! How cool! Nicely done

  47. Kimberlysays:

    Genious, Stef … absolutely genious!

  48. Lisa @ Sweet 2 Eat Bakingsays:

    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.

  49. Sarasays:

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

    • Baileysays:

      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.

  50. Texanerinsays:

    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. :)

  51. Stefsays:

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

  52. Amandasays:

    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!)

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