7 Best Substitutes for Rice Syrup

Rice Syrup Substitute

Rice syrup is a liquid sweetener derived from the enzymatic breakdown of starches in cooked rice. Celebrated for its subtle, buttery sweetness and its role as a binding agent, rice syrup is often considered a healthier alternative to high-fructose corn syrup due to its lower glycemic index. It’s not just a sweetening agent but an ingredient that complements and enhances the texture and flavor profile of a wide range of dishes, from baked goods to sauces. While it may seem irreplaceable, there are times when you may need or want to find an alternative.

Our guide offers an exhaustive list of the best substitutes for rice syrup, each evaluated for their culinary adaptability, flavor nuances, and nutritional profile. Whether you’ve run out of rice syrup in the middle of a recipe, are seeking a more specialized dietary option, or simply wish to experiment, these substitutes are not just second choices; they are viable culinary assets in their own right. In this article, we’ll provide you with in-depth descriptions, practical tips, and nutritional insights to guide you in making the perfect substitute choice.

What is Rice Syrup?

Rice syrup, also known as rice malt syrup, is a liquid sweetener made from fermented cooked rice. It has a subtle, buttery sweetness and is often used as a binding agent in recipes. Apart from its role in the culinary arts, rice syrup is considered a healthier alternative to high-fructose corn syrup. This is partly due to its lower glycemic index, which leads to a slower rise in blood sugar levels. However, it’s crucial to remember that rice syrup is still a form of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

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Quick View of Substitutes For Rice Syrup

  • Agave Nectar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Corn Syrup
  • Honey
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Molasses

Best Substitutes For Rice Syrup

Wondering which substitute to opt for? Each alternative has its own set of advantages and drawbacks, making it essential to match them to your specific culinary needs. Let’s dive in.

Agave Nectar

Ah, the sweet allure of agave nectar! Originating from the sap of the agave plant, this alternative is nothing short of a culinary darling in vegan circles.

Firstly, it has a fairly neutral flavor profile, yet it adds a gentle touch of earthiness to your dishes. This makes agave nectar highly versatile, allowing it to slide seamlessly into recipes that call for rice syrup.

Secondly, let’s discuss the texture. Agave is a tad more liquid than rice syrup. This might warrant slight modifications in your recipe, particularly when it’s crucial to maintain a specific consistency. However, a straightforward 1:1 substitution usually works just fine for most culinary applications.

Lastly, a word of caution. Despite its “natural” tag, agave nectar ranks high in fructose content, often higher than high-fructose corn syrup. If you’re watching your sugar intake or have dietary constraints, it’s advisable to use it sparingly.

Maple Syrup

The aromatic, woodsy undertones of maple syrup almost make you forget that it’s essentially liquid sugar. However, as a substitute for rice syrup, it does a phenomenal job.

From a flavor standpoint, maple syrup infuses a distinct character into your recipes, which could be either a blessing or a curse depending on what you’re whipping up. If you don’t mind the additional layers of complexity it brings, go right ahead!

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In terms of texture, it’s thinner than rice syrup, which may necessitate adjustments to the recipe to accommodate the change in viscosity. You could consider reducing other liquid ingredients a tad to maintain consistency.

Healthwise, maple syrup does offer small amounts of minerals and antioxidants, although it’s important to remember that it’s still a sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup might be shunned for its uber-processed reputation, but it’s one of the closest substitutes for rice syrup, especially in terms of consistency.

First off, the flavor profile is quite neutral, making it an easy swap in most recipes. However, be cautious about using high-fructose corn syrup as it’s quite different from regular corn syrup in terms of nutritional values.

In the texture department, corn syrup shares a similar viscosity with rice syrup, which means you can substitute it in a 1:1 ratio without losing the texture in your culinary creations.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that if you are on a health-conscious journey, this might not be the substitute for you due to its high fructose content and artificial processing.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar isn’t a syrup but it can be an effective substitute for rice syrup if you’re willing to make some modifications to your recipes.

Flavor-wise, it adds a bit of a tropical twist, which can be either captivating or conflicting depending on your recipe.

You’ll have to consider its granulated form when substituting. Melt it down and add a liquid like water or a dairy substitute to achieve the syrupy consistency needed to replace rice syrup.

Nutritionally speaking, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to traditional sugar but it’s still not a “healthy” sweetener. It’s merely a marginally better alternative.

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Barley Malt Syrup

Barley malt syrup has a robust, malty flavor that makes it an interesting substitute for rice syrup.

It offers a complex sweetness that can enrich baked goods and sauces with a depth of flavor that rice syrup can’t quite mimic. However, this complexity may not suit every recipe.

In terms of texture, it’s quite similar to rice syrup but a tad stickier, meaning you might need to adjust quantities when substituting.

On the nutritional front, barley malt syrup is rich in maltose and glucose but lacks fructose, making it a slightly better option for those looking to avoid fructose.


Molasses, the byproduct of sugar production, is a powerhouse of flavor. Its rich, almost smoky sweetness brings a distinct personality to the dishes it graces.

Texture-wise, it’s thicker than rice syrup, so you may need to thin it down with a bit of water to match the consistency.

It’s nutritionally richer than many other sweeteners, offering minerals like iron and calcium. However, it’s also high in sugar and calories, so use it judiciously.

Substitutes for Rice Syrup: Nutritional Profile

Agave NectarNo600g16g0g0g
Maple SyrupNo520g13g0g0g
Corn SyrupNo620g17g0g0g
Coconut SugarNo450g12g0g0g
Barley Malt SyrupYes600g14g0g0g


Substituting rice syrup doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Depending on your culinary needs and nutritional preferences, a plethora of substitutes await to fill in for this versatile sweetener. From the vegan-friendly agave nectar to the full-bodied, robust barley malt syrup, the world is your oyster. So the next time your jar of rice syrup runs dry, consider it an opportunity to explore and perhaps even discover a new favorite! Happy cooking!

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