5 Best Substitute For Malt Powder

Malt Powder Substitute

Malt powder is a baking and brewing essential, treasured for its sweet, nutty flavor, its role in the browning of bread, and its function as a key provider of fermentable sugars in brewing. Derived mostly from barley, this ingredient is often the hidden hero behind the enticing aroma of fresh bread and the refreshing taste of your favorite beer. But sometimes, you may find your pantry devoid of this key component, or you may be catering to dietary needs that restrict the use of malt powder. So, what do you do then? You turn to substitutes, of course!

Substitutes for malt powder offer you a chance to keep the integrity of your recipes intact while exploring new flavors and textures. The best substitutes mimic the core qualities of malt powder while adding their unique characteristics to your culinary creations. Whether it’s the sweet complexity of barley syrup or the subtler, gluten-free sweetness of brown rice syrup, these substitutes ensure that your baked goods or brewed beverages do not lose their charm. The exploration of these alternatives opens up an exciting avenue of culinary innovation, where creativity is only limited by imagination.

What is Malt Powder?

Before diving into the alternatives, let’s first understand what malt powder is. Malt powder, typically derived from barley, is a key ingredient in baking, brewing, and cooking. It’s known for its distinctive sweet, nutty flavor that adds depth to various dishes. In baking, malt powder enhances the browning of bread and contributes a slightly chewy texture. For brewing, it’s often the backbone of beer, supplying the sugars necessary for fermentation.

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Snapshot of Substitutes For Malt Powder

  • Barley Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Non-Diastatic Malt Powder
  • Corn Syrup
  • Honey

Best Substitutes For Malt Powder

Whether you’re crafting a complex artisanal bread or brewing an experimental beer, choosing the right substitute for malt powder can make all the difference. Each of the substitutes we present brings a unique twist to your creations, compensating for the absence of malt powder in a fascinating way. Let’s take a closer look at these alternatives.

Barley Syrup

Barley syrup, derived from sprouted barley, bears a close resemblance to malt powder. It captures the sweet, slightly nutty flavor of malt powder, making it an excellent substitute. Though its texture is different—more liquid than powder—it can easily be used in a 1:1 ratio in most recipes.

Firstly, barley syrup preserves the essence of malt, contributing the characteristic flavor that makes your breads and pastries distinctive. It has a similar nutritional profile to malt powder, and it brings the added benefit of moisture to baked goods. This can result in a soft, tender crumb that is a joy to bite into.

Secondly, the way barley syrup interacts with yeast is akin to malt powder, helping dough rise effectively and contributing to a well-textured final product. It may darken your baked goods a bit more than malt powder, so adjust baking times accordingly.

Finally, in brewing, barley syrup can provide the necessary sugars for fermentation. It may lead to a slightly different beer profile, potentially adding intriguing depth to your home brews.

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is another viable substitute. Its sweetness is subtler than malt powder, but it brings a similarly complex flavor to dishes. It’s a particularly good choice for those with gluten sensitivities as it’s derived from brown rice, making it naturally gluten-free.

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Firstly, using brown rice syrup in baking can result in a deliciously moist, slightly less sweet product. Its lower sweetness level can allow other flavors in your recipe to shine, possibly creating a new favorite variation of your go-to baked goods.

Secondly, the interaction of brown rice syrup with yeast is similar to malt powder, promoting a good rise in dough. However, be aware that it can make your baked goods browner than malt powder would.

Finally, in brewing, brown rice syrup can be used as a fermentable sugar. However, it may lead to a lighter and less malty beer, which might be a pleasant variation for your taste buds.

Non-Diastatic Malt Powder

Non-diastatic malt powder is essentially malt powder without the active enzymes, which can be a good option for specific applications. Its flavor profile is nearly identical to diastatic malt powder, but it does not contribute to the fermentation process in the same way.

When used in baking, non-diastatic malt powder adds flavor and color, resulting in a beautifully browned crust and a slight sweetness in your bread. However, because it lacks the active enzymes found in diastatic malt powder, it won’t aid in the rise of your dough.

In brewing, non-diastatic malt powder isn’t usually the first choice as it lacks the necessary enzymes for fermentation. However, it can still contribute to the flavor profile of your beer, resulting in a brew that is less bitter and slightly sweeter.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup, while not as complex in flavor as malt powder, can still function as a decent substitute. It’s especially useful if you’re primarily using malt powder for its sweetness and less so for its distinctive flavor.

In baking, corn syrup can add sweetness and moisture, resulting in soft, sweet baked goods. However, be aware that it doesn’t have the same interaction with yeast as malt powder, so your dough may not rise as effectively.

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In brewing, corn syrup can act as a fermentable sugar, but it will contribute a lighter, less malty flavor to your beer. For those who prefer a sweeter, less bitter beer, this might be a welcome change.


Honey, a versatile sweetener, can also serve as a substitute for malt powder. While it doesn’t mimic the nutty flavor of malt powder, honey imparts a floral sweetness that can complement various recipes.

When used in baking, honey can add moisture and a unique sweetness to your baked goods. However, like corn syrup, it doesn’t interact with yeast in the same way as malt powder, so it may impact the rise of your dough.

In brewing, honey can contribute fermentable sugars. However, the resulting beer will be less malty and possess a distinct honey character. For adventurous brewers, this could be an exciting variation to explore.

Substitutes for Malt Powder: Nutritional Profile

SubstitutesGlutenCalories (per ¼ cup)Fat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Barley SyrupYes24006000
Brown Rice SyrupNo25506300
Non-Diastatic Malt PowderYes11002602
Corn SyrupNo24006000

Please note that the nutritional values mentioned above can slightly vary depending on the brand and the exact measurement.

Culinary Innovations: Final Thoughts on Malt Powder Substitutes

Exploring substitutes for malt powder can lead you down a path of exciting culinary innovation. Whether you’re experimenting with barley syrup in your artisan bread, using brown rice syrup in your gluten-free recipes, or trying honey in your home-brewed beer, the possibilities are endless. Understanding the properties of each substitute allows you to make informed choices and tailor your creations to specific tastes, dietary needs, and ingredient availability. So, don’t be afraid to try something new—you might stumble upon a delightful twist to your favorite recipe. Happy experimenting!

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