Golden syrup is a popular ingredient in many dessert recipes throughout the world but isn’t always so readily available in the supermarket. If you cannot find golden syrup to make your favourite recipes, fear not! Instead of making a poor substitute, we give you the best golden syrup substitute with this homemade recipe, that teaches you how to make your own golden syrup at home.
In the United Kingdom Golden syrup is a common ingredient for so many traditional sweet British recipes such as Flapjacks, treacle tarts, Cinder Toffee, Cornflake Tarts many Biscuit Recipes and Cakes and Bakes too. British baking would look very different if this sugar syrup didn’t exist.
This sticky syrup with its amber colour, has a unique flavour that is hard to replicate with substitutes. Being that, in in some parts of the world golden syrup isn’t so readily available, we have given you a simple recipe containing only 2 ingredients (plus water) so that you can still enjoy recipes containing golden syrup by making your own golden syrup at home.
Making commonly used ingredients from scratch is a budget-friendly and fun project in the kitchen. Recipes like this homemade buttermilk are useful when you need it quickly and don’t want to venture to the supermarket. It’ll save you some money too!
In the United States, Golden syrup can be hard to find in grocery stores, leaving American bakers seeking out other alternatives to this amber-coloured syrup. Some may use maple syrup, light corn syrup, honey, light treacle and even agave syrup. Unfortunately, they won’t always work to replace the sticky, thick consistency and strong flavour that Golden syrup offers. The best alternatives will have different flavours and consistencies.
While you may find that this homemade golden syrup recipe doesn’t taste exactly like the real thing (it can be hard to fully replicate at home what is made under factory settings) it’s certainly a good substitute, producing a thick syrup that offers a golden colour and a sweet flavour.
It’s also much more cost-effective and a good alternative when you cannot buy the real thing.
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Golden Syrup Recipe
- Only 2 Common Ingredients – You will only two basic ingredients; sugar and a lemon (plus water) to make this recipe.
- A Recipe with Many Uses – There are so many ways in which you can use this key ingredient in recipes. From flapjacks to sticky toffee pudding.
- Made From Scratch – If you love to make recipes from scratch this golden syrup recipe is for you.
Equipment Needed To Make Homemade Golden Syrup
- A Large Heavy-Bottomed Stainless Steel Saucepan – We recommend using a stainless steel saucepan where possible as it conducts the heat more evenly, leading to less chance of the sugar burning.
- Wooden Spoon/Spatula – Used to stir the golden syrup as it heats.
- Sugar Thermometer (optional) – To ensure the best results with less chance of failure, a sugar thermometer is recommended for use, however you can still make it without.
- Sterilised Jar – We use this for storage.
- Caster Sugar – We recommend using white sugar as it makes it easiest to tell when the syrup is ready by looking at it. You can also substitute 100g of caster sugar with light brown soft sugar for a deeper flavour, but due to the brown colour, it makes it harder to see when the homemade golden syrup is ready. If you choose to use it, we highly recommend doing so with the aid of a sugar thermometer.
- Fresh Lemon – The lemon juice acts as an acidic component in the golden syrup which assists the inversion process of the sugar. It also acts as a preservative, helping your homemade golden syrup substitute to last longer.
- Water – We use a mixture of cold water initially, followed by boiling water that is added slowly over heat.
What is Golden Syrup?
Golden syrup is a popular ingredient in many dessert recipes in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and often found in as an ingredient in some Asian cuisines too. It is a thick amber coloured syrup, with a consistency similar to honey and a distinct flavour, that was originally created from the by-product of refining sugar.
The original by-product was sold off as pig food until two chemists realised that, with a few changes, they could make it suitable for human consumption,
The original by-product was sold off as pig food until two chemists realised that, with a few changes, they could make it suitable for human consumption, it was then that Golden Syrup was invented.
The origins of commercially available Golden syrup date back to the 1800s when the company, now know as Tate and Lyle began canning and selling it. Their trademark brand for Lyle’s Golden Syrup is famous as being the oldest in existence today and has appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Nowadays you can find this type of syrup also made by other brands throughout the world. And, it is still as popular as ever.
Golden syrup has a much thicker and stickier consistency to that of corn syrup and the two have distinctly different flavours, meaning that they do not make ideal substitutions for one another.
Step-By-Step How To Make A Homemade Substitute for Golden Syrup
Step 1: Dissolve sugar in water
- Place 100g of caster sugar into a saucepan.
- Add 3 tbsp of cold water.
- Heat the mixture gently and stir until the sugar dissolves into the water.
Step 2: Caramelise the mixture
- Continue to stir the mixture over medium heat until it turns a caramel colour.
Step 3: Add boiling water gradually
- Begin adding the boiling water slowly, stirring as you go.
- Take care not to add the water too fast to prevent splashing and burns.
Step 4: Dissolve remaining sugar
- Once all the boiling water has been added, add the rest of the caster sugar.
- Stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Stop stirring once the sugar has dissolved.
Step 5: Add lemon quarter
- Add the whole lemon quarter to the mixture.
Step 6: Simmer the syrup
- Turn the heat down to low and allow the syrup to simmer gently for about 45-60 minutes.
- Do not stir the mixture at this point.
- The mixture will begin to thicken and turn a rich amber colour, but will remain runny while hot, thickening more as it cools.
Step 7: Check the temperature
- Ideally, use a heat thermometer to check the syrup’s temperature.
- The syrup is done when the temperature reaches 120C (250F).
Step 8: Decant the syrup
- Turn off the heat.
- Decant the syrup into a sterilised jar through a metal sieve or strainer. Allow it to cool completely before placing the lid on it.
NOTE: The syrup will still be runny while it is hot, but will thicken to a honey consistency as it cools.
Troubleshooting – How To Prevent Overcooking Golden Syrup Substitute
When making confectionary, preserves or syrups and anything else that involved boiling sugar, the best way to mitigate mistakes made by overcooking is to use a sugar or candy thermometer.
Overcooking homemade golden syrup will result in a hard, candy like syrup that is difficult to use or burning of the sugars and thus, giving it a bitter flavour and making it inedible.
A sugar thermometer is a very useful piece of kitchen equipment that can be used in a variety of ways and will save you money by preventing you from making mistakes when boiling sugar and give you the best fool-proof results by being precise.
My Homemade Golden Syrup Substitute is Too Runny
If you find that the finished result of the golden syrup is still too runny, it is usually down to needing a longer time to cook.
Simply return the golden syrup to the pan and add some more water, heat it gently and stir the water through. Simmer the golden syrup for a little longer before letting it cool again.
Don’t forget that it will thicken as it cools.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, while they are both sweet syrups used as an ingredient in many recipes, the two have a distinctly different flavour and consistency and are not the same product.
Homemade golden syrup will harden if it is overcooked. For best results, it is best to use a sugar thermometer and turn off the heat when it reaches 120C (250F).
Homemade golden syrup that has crystalised slightly is still useable. The best thing to do is to place it back into a saucepan and boil again with a slice of lemon.
No, golden syrup does not require refrigerating, simply store it in a cool, dark place. Like a kitchen cupboard, away from heat sources.
Pro Tips and Guidance For Making Your Own Golden Syrup
- For the best results use a thermometer – Using a sugar thermometer will remove the guess work for doneness. It will prevent you from over or under cooking the homemade golden syrup.
- Be very careful with the boiling water – Be sure to add the boiling water in SLOWLY. Pouring it in too fast will result in the mixture bubbling up and possibly splashing you, causing burns.
- Sterilise the jar well – This delicious syrup will last much longer if you make sure to sterilise the jar properly. When decanting the golden syrup, it is a good idea to ensure the jars are still warm from sterilising, to prevent them from cracking.
- Don’t rush the cooking time – When making golden syrup, avoid the temptation of turning up the heat to make it cook quicker, this will only result in the sugar burning and ruining the end result.
- For A Deeper Flavour – Try Replacing 100g Caster sugar with light brown soft sugar. If you do this, be sure to use a thermometer as the brown sugar will add the amber flavour and it will be hard to visually tell when it is ready.
- You can use citric acid too – Some people prefer using citric acid in place of the lemon wedge. If you choose to do this, add 1 tsp of citric acid and omit the lemon. Be aware that citric acid can sometimes cause a bitter flavour in the end result.
- Storage when made: Store the Golden Syrup Substitute in a clean, sterilised jar with a sealed lid. Keep in a cool, dark place at room temperature and it will keep for several months to a year.
- Storage Once Opened – Once you have opened the Jar of homemade Golden Syrup, store at room temperature for up to 3 months.
Check Out These Golden Syrup Recipes
These simple to make bars incorporate the flavours of Mars Bars along with Golden syrup.
Another easy and tasty recipe using golden syrup as one of the ingredients.
Along with the caramel flavours of Biscoff, the sweet glue holding these delicious flapjacks is golden syrup,
The Best Golden Syrup Substitute – Homemade Recipe
- 600 g Caster Sugar
- 1/4 Lemon
- 3 tbsp Cold Water
- 300 ml Boiling Water
- Place 100g of Caster Sugar into a saucepan with 3 tbsp of cold water.
- Heat gently and stir until the sugar dissolves into the water.
- Continue to stir the mixture over medium heat until it turns a caramel colour.
- Begin adding the boiling water slowly, stirring as you go. Take care with this step and do not add the water too fast, otherwise it may splash up and cause burns.
- Once you have finished adding all the boiling water, add the rest of the caster sugar, stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Stop stirring the mixture once the sugar has dissolved.
- Add in the lemon quarter whole.
- Turn the heat down to low and allow the syrup to simmer gently for about 45-60 minutes. Do not stir at this point.
- The mixture will begin to thicken but at this point (while it is hot) it will stay runny and thicken more as it cools. It will turn a rich amber colour, which is a sign that it is ready.
- Ideally, you can use a heat thermometer, the syrup is done when the temperature reaches 120C (250F).
- Turn the heat off and decant the syrup into a sterilised jar through a metal sieve or strainer.
- Once cooled completely, place the lid on and store in a cool, dry place.