Corn Syrup · GF (1 quart)

In Kentucky and some parts of the south, many thrifty cooks make corn cob jelly to squeeze every last drop of value from their corn. The jelly has a mild, honey-like flavor. While enjoying some with butter and biscuits, I thought how lovely the flavor would taste with vanilla, and further thought how nice it would taste in a soda. (I’ve been obsessed with soda lately). To that end, I made some corn flavored syrup and along the way discovered it can be used like “corn syrup” in many recipes.

Not that a giant jar of sugar syrup is a health food, exactly, but for those with a fear of commercial corn syrup or a desire to reduce the amount of factory foods in their life, this is a great alternative.

homemade corn syrup

Don’t let the corn throw you off, it just lends a faint, cereal-like flavor no more “corny” than a bowl of Kix. If you’d like to simply make a corn syrup substitute and don’t have or want to bother with the corn, omit the cobs, use 21 ounces of water instead, and skip straight to the second step.

14 ounces corn cobs (from about 4 ears), sliced into 1” thick rounds
42 ounces water, preferably filtered
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and scraped
36 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a medium pot, combine the sliced corn cobs and water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until the water has reduced by half; about thirty minutes.

Use a pair of tongs to fish out the corn cob pieces; discard. Add the vanilla bean and seed scrapings, sugar, and salt. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for twenty minutes, or until the mixture has taken on a thick, syrupy consistency.

Cool. Store indefinitely in the fridge along with the vanilla bean. Use in any recipe that calls for corn syrup.

The syrup does have a tendency to recrystallize over time, so use with caution in candy making. If you notice the syrup has begun to recrystallize, you can either microwave it or rewarm on the stove with a few tablespoons of water to bring the solution back into balance.


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Any questions?

Sep 02, 2011 ·  1:01 PM

This is really neat. I can see using it as a sweetener and definitely in sodas! You wouldn’t be able to use it as a subsitute for corn syrup in candies though, right? Glucose vs. sucrose?

 · Vicki @ WITK ·

Sep 02, 2011 · 10:01 PM

I could prepare this out of our backyard corn.

 · Tres Delicious ·

Sep 03, 2011 ·  9:34 AM

This is amazing! I have never even thought to make my own corn syrup.

 · Beth Michelle ·

Sep 03, 2011 · 10:05 AM

@Vicki, I’ve successfully used it in marshmallows and peanut brittle, but that’s generally been right after I’ve made it. After it’s sat in the fridge and recrystallized it will cause a grainy texture in candies (not in baking though) if you do not take care to melt the crystals out first.

@Tres Delicious, lucky! Wish we had such a wonderful thing in our backyard, all we have are racoons.

@Beth Michelle, I’ve had to make it before a couple of times in a pinch, but now that I’ve figured this ratio out to my satisfaction, I always have a quart in the fridge at work. So much nicer than the industrial stuff! It lends a lovely, intriguing flavor to vanilla ice cream…


Sep 04, 2011 ·  1:37 AM

How creative! Congrats on TOP 9!

 · Edible Potential ·

Sep 04, 2011 ·  9:49 AM

Found you through Foodbuzz and I’m so glad I did. Your posts are beautiful and incredibly helpful. I just want to make sure I’ve got this right though. You take the corn off the cob and then just use the cob for the corn syrup? I would love being able to make sure of all of the corn like that if that’s the case. Genius. Many thanks for passing the recipe along!

 · The Mom Chef: Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time ·

Sep 04, 2011 ·  1:12 PM

@Edible Potential, thanks so much; that was quite a surprise!

@Mom Chef, yes, quite right. It’s made from the naked corn cobs; such a thrifty recipe!


Sep 04, 2011 ·  7:03 PM

Ingenious, congratulations on Top 9!

 · sandraleegarth ·

Sep 05, 2011 ·  4:05 AM

I love recipes for making homemade stuff like this- like sauces, etc. The only problem is that there isn’t much space in the fridge to store a lot of things

 · Sumaiyyah ·

Sep 05, 2011 ·  8:35 PM

@Sandra Lee, it’s kinda funny. It’s not real corn syrup, but it’s a corn flavored syrup you can use like corn syrup. Mysterious!

@Sumaiyyah, so true! Fridge space is precious indeed, and the list of things I’d like to make is looooong.


Oct 16, 2011 ·  4:33 AM

Actually, to prevent crystallization, all you need to do is add a pinch or two of cream of tarter or citric acid before boiling it!

It inverts the sugar so it’s more stable and resists recrystallization. I do this all the time to home make my own corn syrup, though I’ve never thought to use corn cobs before! Awesome idea!

By the way, for those pastry geeks out there(like me!), the specific temperature you’ll want to cook the syrup to is 235 degrees Fahrenheit, aka Soft ball stage.

 · kazb0t · 

Oct 16, 2011 · 11:18 AM

@kazb0t, thanks for the extra info.


Nov 01, 2011 ·  3:28 PM

Can this be done with vanilla extract or only a whole bean?

Does the alcohol get in the way?

Thank you so much for putting information on taking the corn out.

@kazb0t That’s so helpful, I wanted to thank you too.


 · Silvius  · 

Nov 01, 2011 ·  8:40 PM

Love this, found you through tracking around FoodGawker. I posted this on my FB page, too ( Can’t wait to try it THX!

 · cathy/showfoodchef ·

Nov 05, 2011 · 10:53 PM

@Silvius, you can absolutely substitute extract. I like the vanilla flecks from the beans, but with my work in the restaurant, it’s always easier for me to use beans so that’s why my recipes lean that way. Use what works for you, good luck!

@cathy, glad you enjoyed! Thanks for sharing too. Cheers.


Nov 08, 2011 · 11:39 AM


One more question: for this recipe, how much extract would I use?

Thank you so much.

 · Silvius  · 

Nov 10, 2011 ·  7:53 PM

@Silvius, I’d say about a tablespoon; you want it to have a light vanilla taste, but nothing potent. Add it at the end, after you’ve done all the cooking. Cheers!


Nov 12, 2011 · 11:22 AM

Thank you very much, Stella!

I can’t wait to make this.

Caramel here I come.

 · Silvius  · 

Nov 12, 2011 ·  9:11 PM

@Silvius, good luck!!


Nov 13, 2011 ·  1:46 PM

(I don’t want to spam your pretty page, but)

Aw, thank you!

Reading your reply made my day.

 · Silvius  · 

Nov 14, 2011 · 10:53 AM

@Silvius, hey, it looks like it’s just you and me at this party, so why not? I haven’t used the corn syrup in caramel, so I’m eager to hear how yours turns out! Keep me posted.


Mar 09, 2012 ·  1:37 PM

can this be made using freeze-dried corn (ala Milk Bar)? Don’t know how often I’ll have ears of corn available

 · dave · 

Mar 09, 2012 ·  8:20 PM

@dave, I’m sure there is a way, but having never done it I wouldn’t know what conversion to recommend. Try whisking in the powder a little at time until the (already finished and still hot) syrup has a distinctive yet not overpowering corn flavor. I hope that helps.


Mar 19, 2012 ·  4:38 PM

Thanks Stella. I’ll give some freeze-dried corn a try and let you know how it turns out.

 · dave · 

Mar 20, 2012 ·  6:43 PM

@dave, awesome! Keep me posted.


Apr 19, 2012 ·  5:13 PM

My Mother made this all the time but added Maple Flavouring to enjoy on our pancakes and waffles.
Just found your sites….Love It!

 · GramaG ·

Apr 22, 2012 · 12:36 PM

@GramaG, your mom sounds like my kinda lady. How thrifty! Thanks for stopping by.


Jul 18, 2012 ·  5:25 PM

Pretty sure you can’t use this in candy making, where corn syrup is used as insurance against crystals because of the different sugar molecules.

 · O · 

Jul 19, 2012 ·  9:36 AM

@O, quite right, it is not a true corn syrup and can’t be used in candy making applications that call on corn syrup to inhibit crystal formation.


Dec 19, 2012 ·  6:43 PM

Hi I’ve had a go at making a batch of this today! It smells and tastes gorgeous!
The only thing is, I left it to cool and it really crystalised up and has gone quite solid…It looks nothing like your lovely bottle of corn syrup at the top of the page.
Could I have maybe left it on the hob for too long in the last stage and burnt it? and would this effect its use in other recipes? Thank you so much for sharing!

 · Ema · 

Dec 20, 2012 · 10:26 AM

Hi Ema! A little crystallization around the top is totally normal, but going solid is obviously no good! It sounds like at some point the mixture just lost too much water. Severe crystallization can happen if the mixture boils for too long (and loses too much liquid) or if too much liquid evaporates out while it cools (like if you cooled it, uncovered, overnight). Another possibility would be if you converted the recipe to volume, you may have added too much sugar (as sugar does not weigh 8 ounces per cup).

It’s hard to say just how much water you’d need to add to replace what you’ve lost (since we don’t know), but I’d start by adding about 4 ounces of water and simmering until the crystals dissolve. I hope that extra info helps and that you can get your syrup to turn back into a syrup!


Dec 21, 2012 ·  3:00 PM

Thank you so much for this Stella! I really appreciate your help I don’t have much experience with making syrups and things and I know they can be tricky if you don’t know what you are doing…

I think I must have left it to boil too long as it didn’t look syrupy enough to me! I will try your suggestion and fingers crossed!

Love your blog, you have some great recipes and ideas! Thanks again

 · Ema · 

Dec 22, 2012 · 11:52 AM

Ema, hope that fixes things! It doesn’t look extremely syrupy while it’s hot, but will thicken up as it cools.


Jan 14, 2013 ·  8:07 PM

Hello, Thank you for your reply on the orange water. Sorry..I have another question….Can i use frozen corn?

Thank you

 · aish ·

Jan 15, 2013 ·  7:47 AM

Hi aish! It really just depends on how much of a corn flavor you’d like it to have. The cobs (no kernels attached) give it a mild flavor that’s not too corny, but if you used frozen corn (kernels, I assume) you’d have a much, much stronger corn flavor. If you’re talking about frozen corn cobs, though, you’re fine to use those!


Aug 04, 2013 ·  3:57 AM

Came across your marshmallow recipe at 11pm and simply HAD to start it immediately! I didn’t have any corn at home so I decided to try boiling raw popcorn kernels and it actually gave me that “corn” flavour, certainly wasn’t expecting that Love your blog by the way, you are soooooo inventive!!

 · Mary · 

Aug 07, 2013 ·  1:13 PM

Hi Mary! Wow, I would have never guessed that would work; I would have thought the flavor would have been starchy or different somehow. Thanks for sharing your alternative!


Sep 15, 2013 ·  4:38 AM

If 8 oz isn’t a cup of sugar what is 8 oz?

 · His0833 · 

Sep 15, 2013 ·  5:18 PM

Hi His0833! Believe it or not, a cup of sugar weighs about 7 1/4 ounces. The confusion is because cups are sized to “8 fluid ounces” and fluid-ounces are a measure volume not weight.

Since every ingredient has a different density, 8 fluid ounces _weigh_ something different for each. For example, 8 fluid-ounces of honey weighs 12 ounces and 8 fluid-ounces of flour weighs 4 1/2. This is why I like to bake with a scale, rather than with volume measurements! If you’d like to read more about it, I wrote a post on Ounces vs Fluid Ounces.


Mar 09, 2017 ·  5:42 PM

Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant idea, post is good,
thats why i have read it fully

 · ig ·

Mar 15, 2017 · 11:58 AM

When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added
I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

Thank you!

 · Augusto de Arruda Botelho ·

Sep 07, 2017 ·  8:37 AM

Used the recipe doubled the corn and it really tasted like corn pops… my husband the sweettooth in the house loved it…ps. __DO NOT USE A NONSTICK SCANPAN!!! it boils over at a lower temperature and left a massive sugary mess on my stove and counter…salvaged about half but it is amazing!!!after THE BOIL OVER took what was left into a stainless steel pan and no problem bringing up to correct temperature

 · kat · 


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