Brown rice syrup is often believed to be a healthier alternative to regular sugar and most other plant-based sweeteners. Not only is it all-natural and organic, but it also contains no fructose or gluten, therefore making it less sweet.
If your recipe calls for brown rice syrup but you don’t have it available in your pantry, there are several other viable substitutes you can use.
What substitutes can be used for brown rice syrup, you may ask? If a recipe calls for brown rice syrup, you may instead use honey, date syrup, maple syrup, and even agave nectar. However, since brown rice syrup is less sweet than any of the mentioned sweeteners, some adjustments may be necessary.
Read on to find out how to correctly measure your brown rice syrup substitute to match the original measurement needed in the recipe.
9 Healthy Brown Rice Syrup Substitutes
Brown rice syrup has a flavor unique to its name. It has a nutty, butterscotch-like aftertaste, and is less sweet than most sweeteners.
No other sweetener can match the taste of brown rice syrup, but there are several alternatives that fall quite close. Here are nine of the best substitutes you can use right now!
When you think of any sugar substitute, the first thing that often comes to mind is honey. Similar to brown rice syrup, honey is 100% natural and organic, made from flower nectars collected by friendly little bees.
Alongside honey’s antibacterial and antifungal properties, it’s extremely rich in antioxidants and is proven to have an array of health benefits.
Honey is arguably the sweetest of all sweeteners. Therefore, for every cup of brown rice syrup, use no more than 3/4 cup of honey.
A single tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, making it more or less the same as brown rice syrup. Compared to brown rice syrup’s high glycemic index of 98, honey has a low-to-medium glycemic index of 58.
Agave nectar, also known as maguey syrup or agave syrup, is a type of sweetener extracted from several species of agave plants native to Latin America, Southern United States, and South Africa.
Unlike brown rice syrup, agave nectar contains 56% fructose. However, it’s also 100% gluten-free and contains only small amounts of glucose.
While often advertised as all-natural, agave nectar is actually highly processed. Regardless, it does contain traces of potassium, sodium, and small amounts of important vitamins such as B2, B6, B9, and K.
For every cup of brown rice syrup, use about half or a third of a cup of agave nectar. One tablespoon of light agave nectar contains 60 calories and a glycemic index of only 30.
Maple syrup is another popular sweetener alternative. As the name suggests, maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees. It’s then boiled until the desired consistency is reached and filtered to remove any impurities before being packaged and shipped.
Similar to honey, maple syrup contains numerous amounts of minerals and antioxidants, including calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, and zinc. It’s preservative and gluten-free, and only contains about 4% fructose and less than 10% glucose.
Maple syrup typically comes in four different colors: golden, amber, dark, and very dark. The deeper the color, the stronger the flavor. Grade-A golden maple syrup has a subtle, delicate flavor, whereas grade-B dark syrup is robust, thick, and more intense.
When it comes to taste, maple syrup is just as sweet as honey. Therefore, the measurements should be just about the same: 3/4 cup for every cup of brown rice sugar. Maple syrup contains about 34 calories per tablespoon and has a glycemic index of 54.
A tablespoon of date syrup is said to contain more than twice the calcium, potassium, and magnesium as maple syrup, making it a favorite among nutritionists and health-conscious individuals. Some even believe that has up to 10 times the amount of antioxidants compared to honey!
Date syrup is almost always readily available in big supermarkets and stores. Even if it isn’t, it’s incredibly easy to make. After boiling the dates, all you’ll need to do is blend and strain, and voila! You have your very own homemade date syrup. It’s slightly thicker than maple syrup and has a honey-like consistency.
One cup of brown rice syrup equals three tablespoons of date syrup as it’s quite sweet. A single tablespoon of date syrup contains 59 calories and a GI of 47.
Brown rice syrup and corn syrup are almost always used interchangeably because they have about the same flavor profile and consistency. Moreover, it doesn’t crystalize and dissolves quite well when mixed with other ingredients, making it a suitable substitute for almost all other types of sweeteners.
It’s important to note, however, that corn syrup has just about the same amount of fructose and glucose as sugar, meaning it isn’t as healthy or beneficial as brown rice syrup.
Substitute a cup of brown rice sugar with equal amounts of corn syrup. A tablespoon of corn syrup contains 52 calories and has a GI level of 90.
Barley Malt Syrup
Barley malt syrup is a sweetener made from malted barley. It’s thick, sticky, and dark brown in color, so it may greatly affect the end result of your dish if not used in moderation. It’s quite sweet, as well, but not as sweet as honey or maple syrup.
Many love barley malt syrup because it contains a heart-healthy mix of potassium, folate, fiber, and vitamin B6; all of which help with lowering cholesterol and the risk of cardiac disease.[Source]
It has a rich but mellow taste, similar to that of molasses but not quite as pronounced.
In place of a cup of brown rice syrup, use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of barley malt syrup. Since it’s quite dark, you may want to mix it with a different type of sweetener like corn or maple syrup. However, if the color of your dish isn’t much of an issue, use it as is.
A tablespoon of barley malt syrup contains about 60 calories. It has a glycemic index of 105, the highest on this list.
Molasses, also known as black treacle, is made from refining sugar beets or sugarcane into sugar. It’s dark brown, almost black, in color, so you might not want to use it if you don’t want to alter the color of your dish. It has a thicker consistency and a much bolder flavor than brown rice syrup, too.
The best thing about molasses is that it’s rich in iron, calcium, selenium, and copper, all of which plays a vital role in the development of bones. Furthermore, it’s a great source of potassium; one tablespoon has about 300 milligrams of potassium, which is about the same as half a banana.
For every cup of brown rice syrup, use half a cup of molasses. A tablespoon of molasses has 61 calories and a low glycemic index of 55. Try to avoid using blackstrap molasses as a replacement for brown rice syrup as it has a bitter aftertaste that may greatly affect your dish.
Sugarcane syrup is perhaps the closest to brown rice syrup in terms of taste as it, too, has a slightly butterscotch-like flavor with light caramel undertones. It tastes similar to molasses, but not quite as overpowering. It’s made by simply heating sugar cane juice over an open fire until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistency.
Some of the major nutrients found in sugar cane syrup include carbohydrates, iron, and Vitamins B1 and B2. It’s also rich in antioxidants that help boost your body’s immunity and fight infections.
For every cup of brown rice syrup, use half a cup of sugarcane syrup. One tablespoon of sugarcane syrup contains 68 calories and a low glycemic index of between 30 to 40.
Stevia, a sweetener that comes from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana, is said to contain absolutely no calories or carbs. Despite that, the leaves of a Stevia plant is extremely sweet, with some reports stating that it’s up to 200 times as sweet as regular sugar.
This sweetener isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to taste. It has a licorice-like and almost metallic aftertaste, which might come as a bit off-putting to some people.
A cup of brown rice syrup equals a drop of liquid stevia. It has a glycemic index of zero.[Related Article: Can I Replace Maple Syrup With Honey?]
Why Use Brown Rice Syrup?
Brown rice syrup, also known as rice syrup, rice malt, or maltose syrup, is a sugar alternative that comes from brown rice. It’s made by steeping cooked rice starch with several types of saccharifying enzymes before straining and reducing the liquid until desired consistency is reached. This results in a thick, sugary syrup that’s reminiscent of honey or maple.
Most sugars are composed of two compounds known as glucose and fructose. In large amounts, glucose and fructose can be extremely detrimental to one’s health, which is why most people try to avoid or use low-glucose or fructose sweeteners and substitutes instead. This is where brown rice syrup comes in.
Brown rice syrup contains no fructose and only 3% glucose, compared to the 50% found in regular sugar. It doesn’t contain gluten, either, making it ideal for those who are partaking in a gluten-free diet or are suffering from celiac disease, gluten-sensitivity, and frequent IBS.
Unlike regular white sugar, brown rice syrup is 100% organic and natural, therefore making it a suitable sugar alternative for vegans. This is especially true as refined white sugar is sometimes filtered using bone char or powdered animal bone.
Can You Make Brown Rice Syrup at Home?
Homemade brown rice syrup is quite easy to make and doesn’t require any more than three ingredients: 2Â¼ pounds short-grain brown rice, 2 cups barley malt powder, and 5 cups of water. YouTuber Maangchi created a great Korean rendition of brown rice syrup below that I highly recommend.
Keep in mind that this recipe takes a total of 10 hours to make, so it’s relatively time-consuming. Therefore, it may be better to purchase brown rice syrup instead of making it at home. They’re typically sold in jars and can be found in most specialty grocery stores, Asian markets, and also online.
Brown rice syrup is often slightly more expensive than other types of liquid sweeteners but that might be attributed to the fact that it isn’t widely sold in the US just yet.
Reasons You May Want to Avoid Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup has been getting a lot of praise due to its desirable flavor, high viscosity, and browning power. Despite that, brown rice syrup does have several notable disadvantages.
For one, it has an extremely high glycemic index of 98. Eating too much high GI foods may result in a repeated spike in blood sugar and insulin, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, as with every type of sugar or sweetener, it’s best to use brown rice syrup in moderation.
Brown rice syrup is also said to have minimal traces of arsenic, which is a toxic substance that may cause adverse health effects if consumed in excess.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that the arsenic compound found in brown rice syrup is far too low to be truly dubbed as harmful. Regardless, it’s best to avoid feeding infants anything that contains brown rice syrup.
Brown rice syrup adds a deliciously toasty and complex flavor to your baked goods. However, it normally isn’t always in your local grocery store. If your recipe calls for brown rice syrup, you can instead use any of the alternatives above you have available. Keep the measurements in mind and gradually add more if you find the recipe a bit lacking in taste. Happy cooking!