Maltose is one of the most widely used sweeteners. Additionally, the ever-popular invert sugar sweetener is a key ingredient in many savory and sweet dishes.
However, maltose, a long-chain sugar, has low utilization rate and does not taste as sweet as white sucrose, leading to excessive consumption . The risk of overconsumption leads many people to seek out maltose alternatives. If your recipe calls for maltose and you don't have maltose on hand or prefer to eat something different, the following alternatives also work as a substitute for maltose.
What exactly is maltose?
Before we list all the available alternatives to maltose, let’s take a closer look at what maltose is.
Once added to a liquid, maltose has a consistency somewhere between a syrupy liquid and crystallized sugar. It is usually sold as a viscous liquid that is slightly less sweet than sugar or a white powder.
Cooking with maltose leaves a sugar coating on sweet and sour barbecue foods. Many Chinese recipes, such as barbecued pork, desserts, grilled pork ribs, and roasted pork, call for the sheen of maltose.
Best Maltose Substitute
Honey - the closest and most convenient substitute for maltose
In most cases, when your recipe calls for maltose or maltose syrup to impart a shine, honey gets the job done.
It's equally thick and sweet enough to make honey the closest substitute for maltose. Honey is also readily available and can be found in most grocery stores.
Unsweetened, all-natural honey is ideal, so be sure to buy a quality product. You'll find that honey is much sweeter than maltose, which ultimately affects the flavor of your recipe.
Maltose is more neutral, so keep in mind the impact of honey's fruity and floral flavors before using a substitute. Additionally, if paired incorrectly, it can ruin the flavor of your meal.
Barley maltose syrup - an effective alternative to maltose
Barley maltose syrup contains 65% maltose and is an excellent substitute. The rich, thick, sticky brown syrup is extracted from malted malt.
The malt flavor is strong, but the barley malt syrup is less sweet. It is not nearly as sweet as honey, so baking uses are limited.
While barley maltose syrup is a valuable maltose substitute, it will significantly change the flavor of your recipe.
Many people choose to add extra sweetener to the syrup to make it sweet enough when baking or using it to form a glaze. This high-protein sugar adds a nice sheen to grilled dishes without making them overly sweet.
Brown Rice Syrup – a slightly sweet, reliable maltose substitute
Brown rice syrup is a great substitute for maltose. Also known as rice malt, this syrup is derived from rice starch.
It's about half as sweet as refined white sugar, often all-natural and organic, and contains zero fructose and gluten. Vegans often prefer brown rice syrup to other sweeteners because, unlike white sugar, no animal bone char is used in the processing.
While less sweet, you can substitute it 1:1 in most recipes that call for sweetness, and brown rice syrup works equally well in a barbecue glaze. The mild flavor makes it one of the most versatile recommendations on this list.
Corn syrup – a neutral substitute for maltose
Corn syrup is cheap, moderately sweet, and an excellent thickener. It makes a great glaze for grilled and baked goods, and you can add a little to thicken the consistency of anything that needs sweetness.
Maple Syrup – a sweet substitute for maltose
Maple syrup is an excellent maltose substitute and is slightly healthier than regular refined sugar. It contains no less than 24 antioxidants and is a healthy choice, albeit much sweeter than other syrups suggested as maltose substitutes.
This delicious extract from the sugar maple tree comes in a variety of grades. The darker the maple syrup, the stronger the maple flavor. Therefore, when substituting maple syrup for maltose, we recommend that you choose a light or medium amber syrup rather than a dark syrup.
The sweet taste of maple syrup makes it perfect for a variety of dishes, including baked goods, roasted vegetables like tomatoes, and can even be added to salad dressings or whipped cream in desserts. Adjust slightly depending on the sweetness of the syrup, otherwise the result may be a little too rich.
Golden Syrup – an affordable, sweet alternative to maltose
If you're looking for a sweet taste similar to maple syrup, but without the overt flavor, try golden syrup.
Many people find that they prefer the basic sweetness of golden syrup to maple syrup, and it comes down to personal preference. A key advantage of golden syrup is that it is less expensive than most other maltose alternatives.
Golden syrup is basically just concentrated corn syrup, making it very sweet, so be careful with how much you use. The thick viscosity makes it ideal for glazes and is harder to spread, which is rarely a problem for most people.
Cane Syrup – a sweet, reliable alternative to maltose
Cane syrup is a sweet, versatile maltose substitute available in a variety of qualities and strengths. Dark cane syrup is a better substitute for maltose, but either will work in a pinch.
The caramel sweetness is strong, but this maltose substitute lacks the bittersweet quality that many people are looking for, so keep that in mind. Still, it's an ideal sweetener to add to sweet dishes.
Creative cooks can create this sweet, thick liquid by boiling sugar cane juice. It's much sweeter than molasses, making it a popular maltose substitute for sweet dishes like pancakes and waffles.
But, of course, you'll need to use less when baking if you want to avoid it being too sweet.
Sorghum syrup – a maltose substitute that closely matches color and texture
Sorghum syrup, also known as sorghum molasses, is a thicker, more valuable alternative to maltose that is favored by Southerners.
It's very sweet, similar in color to maltose, and leaves an aftertaste that will make you believe you just drank maltose. Its consistency makes it particularly suitable for glazes.
Although sorghum is a natural sweetener that is higher in calories than molasses, maple syrup, white sugar, and honey, it provides small amounts of protein and calcium.
Therefore, you can replace maltose with equal proportions of sorghum syrup in most recipes while keeping the taste and texture the same.
Agave Nectar/Syrup – a high-end alternative to maltose
Agave syrup is a liquid sweetener extracted, harvested, and processed into tequila from the blue agave plant.
Agave nectar is sweet and thick, with the ideal consistency for barbecue glazes, but it's more expensive and harder to find than other options. Agave also has its own unique subtle flavor that shouldn't be missed.
You'll find that agave syrup is about two-thirds as sweet as refined white sugar. Use agave nectar/syrup just like you would honey. The baked goods have a slightly denser texture, but that's the only difference.
There are many types of agave to choose from – we recommend choosing the lighter agave syrup for baked goods and the darker agave nectar for savory dishes like barbecue glazes and for sauces Adds sweetness to sauces and stews.
Maltose substitutes for every recipe
You can use these maltose substitutes in any recipe that calls for maltose, but specific substitutions will suit certain types of flavors better. The best maltose substitute depends on how sweet you want your liquid sweetener to be and how thick you want your syrup to be.