Have you ever reached for barley malt syrup while baking, only to find you've run out? The struggle is real. When a recipe calls for this sweet, thick syrup and you don't have any, you need a solid barley malt syrup substitute to save the day. But what ingredients can adequately mimic barley malt's distinctive flavor and texture?
This article will walk you through the best substitutes for barley malt syrup so you can adapt any recipe at the drop of a hat. Your baked goods, bread, and other barley malt-based dishes will shine with the right swap. Let's dive in!
What is Barley Malt Syrup?
This product is made from sprouted barley grains that are dried and cooked to create a dark, viscous liquid. It has a rich, nutty, and slightly earthy flavor profile. This natural sweetener contains maltose, a sugar molecule that contributes a more complex sweetness than table sugar.
The thick consistency and deep color of barley malt syrup add moisture and a lovely golden or amber shade to recipes. It's commonly used in baked goods like bagels, breads, pancakes, and desserts. Barley malt brings its signature flavor, sweetness, moisture, and color.
The Best Barley Malt Syrup Substitutes
When choosing an alternative to barley malt, consider the substitution's flavor profile, consistency, sweetness, and purpose in the recipe. Here are the best options:
Why it works: Molasses mimics the texture and bittersweet flavor of barley malt nicely. It contains no gluten.
Example dishes: Baked goods, breads, glazes
Measurement guidance: Replace 1 cup barley malt syrup with 1 cup molasses. Reduce other liquids slightly.
Why it works: Honey provides a similar consistency to barley malt and a mildly floral flavor. It's an accessible substitution and a natural sweetener.
Example dishes: Baked goods, sauces, dressings
Measurement guidance: Replace with an equal amount of honey and reduce other liquids slightly.
3. Maple syrup
Why it works: It offers rich sweetness and is thinner than barley malt. It's vegan.
Example dishes: Pancakes, baked oats, breads
Measurement guidance: Use 3/4 cup of maple syrup for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
4. Golden syrup
Why it works: Golden syrup mimics barley malt's thick, dense texture nicely. It has a milder flavor.
Example dishes: Bagels, baked goods
Measurement guidance: Use a 1:1 ratio.
5. Agave syrup
Why it works: Agave syrup is gluten-free and dissolves well in liquids as a substitution.
Example dishes: Pancakes, bread, cocktails
Measurement guidance: Use 2/3 cup agave for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
6. Dark brown sugar
Example dishes: Cookies, baked goods
7. Blackstrap molasses
Why it works: Blackstrap molasses provides intense flavor and color similar to barley malt.
Example dishes: Breads, baked beans
Measurement guidance: Use just 2/3 cup for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
8. Corn syrup
Why it works: Corn syrup mimics barley malt well with a thick texture and neutral flavor. It's inexpensive and common.
Example dishes: Any recipe not needing pronounced flavor
Measurement guidance: Replace 1 cup with 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
9. Date syrup
Why it works: Date syrup provides comparable viscosity and sweetness to barley malt. It adds a faint caramel flavor.
Example dishes: Baked goods, marinades
Measurement guidance: Use 3/4 cup of date syrup for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
10. Brown rice syrup
Why it works: Brown rice syrup mimics barley malt's mild sweetness. It's gluten-free.
Example dishes: Baking, breads, dressings
Measurement guidance: Swap equal amounts when substituting.
11. Coconut syrup
Why it works: Coconut syrup provides a caramel-like flavor. It's lower glycemic than barley malt.
Example dishes: Pancakes, baked goods
Measurement guidance: Replace 1 cup barley malt syrup with 3/4 to 1 cup coconut syrup.
12. Sugar beet syrup
Why it works: Sugar beet syrup mimics barley malt's thick consistency. It has an earthy flavor.
Example dishes: Small amounts for viscosity
Measurement guidance: Use 1/4 cup sugar beet syrup for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
13. Sorghum syrup
Why it works: Sorghum syrup is a gluten-free choice with comparable thickness and sweetness.
Example dishes: Bread, baked beans, barbecue
Measurement guidance: Use 3/4 cup sorghum syrup for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
14. Barley malt extract
Why it works: The concentrated barley malt extract provides authentic barley malt flavor without the thickness.
Example dishes: Any recipe needing pronounced barley malt taste
Measurement guidance: Use about 1/4 cup barley malt extract for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
15. Korean rice syrup
Why it works: Korean rice syrup made from rice provides a thick, sweet consistency similar to barley malt. It adds a subtle rice flavor.
Example dishes: Asian recipes, cocktails
Measurement guidance: Use a ratio of 1:1 when substituting barley malt syrup with Korean rice syrup.
16. Barley malt powder
Why it works: The powder provides concentrated, authentic barley malt flavor without altering texture.
Example dishes: Any recipe needing a boost of malted barley taste
Measurement guidance: Use 1-2 tablespoons of barley malt powder to replace 1 cup of barley malt syrup.
17. Sugar beet juice
Why it works: The juice from sugar beets provides earthy, botanical sweetness reminiscent of barley malt.
Example dishes: Small amounts in place of barley malt's sweetness
Measurement guidance: You can substitute barley malt syrup with 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar beet juice for every 1 cup.
Common Culinary Uses
Let's explore some of the most popular dishes that traditionally rely on this ingredient and the best swaps in each application:
It lends signature flavor, moisture, and sweetness to bagel dough. It helps create that soft, chewy texture.
This ingredient adds subtle sweetness and moisture to pretzel dough without overpowering the flavor.
This product contributes moisture, mild sweetness, and richness to various bread recipes and doughs.
The thick consistency and sweetness of barley malt syrup help create fluffy, moist pancake batter.
Substitutes: Maple syrup, agave syrup, honey
Barley malt syrup subtly sweetness homemade granola and helps bind the mixture.
Substitutes: Honey, brown
It contributes moisture, richness, and signature flavor to baked bean dishes.
The texture and sweetness of barley malt syrup help create chewy, soft cookies.
Substitutes: Brown sugar mixed with water
This product lends a sweet flavor, and sheen as a finishing glaze.
Substitutes: Honey, maple syrup, agave
The thick, sticky consistency of barley malt syrup helps bind together energy bar dough.
Substitutes: Brown rice, maple syrup
This ingredient provides a subtle, sweet, sticky coating on homemade granola and cereal.
Substitutes: Brown rice syrup substitutes
Barley malt syrup lends balanced sweetness and thickness to salad dressings and marinades.
Substitutes: Maple syrup, agave syrup
The texture and sweetness of barley malt syrup help create shiny, flavorful marinades.
Malt Syrup Substitute: Brown sugar syrup
Barley malt syrup contributes a subtle sweet flavor and sheen to baked fruit desserts.
Substitutes: Honey, agave syrup
It provides subtle moisture and sweetness to baked oatmeal recipes.
Barley Malt Substitute: Applesauce
The sticky consistency of barley malt syrup helps bind granola bar dough.
Barley Malt Substitute: Brown rice syrup
It creates a subtly sweet, glossy glaze on roasted sweet potatoes.
Barley Malt Syrup Substitute: Maple syrup
Barley malt syrup adds balanced sweetness and flavor to coffee-based drinks.
Malt Syrup Substitutes: Agave nectar
Painted onto meat before roasting, barley malt syrup provides a shiny glaze and rich flavor.
Malt Syrup Substitutes: Dark molasses creates a nice sheen and bold flavor on meat glazes as a substitute for barley malt syrup.
This ingredient lends subtle sweetness, moisture, and sheen to homemade baked bean recipes.
Barley Malt Syrup Substitutes: A touch of maple syrup can provide sweetness and glossiness to baked beans instead of barley malt syrup.
The subtle sweetness and moisture of barley malt syrup enhance the flavor of meatloaf.
Barley malt syrup substitutes: Applesauce adds moisture and delicate sweetness to meatloaf as a substitute for barley malt syrup.
Helpful Tips for Substituting Ingredients
Okay, culinary fans, here are some golden nuggets you won't find elsewhere:
- Preparation suggestions: Some syrups, like molasses, are thicker. Warming them up slightly can help with consistency.
- Seasoning adjustments: Remember, some syrups are sweeter than others. Adjust accordingly!
- Additional ingredients for richness: Adding a pinch of salt can enhance the flavor of certain syrups.
- Testing tips: Always taste-test before finalizing a dish.
- Storage recommendations: Store syrups in a cool, dry place.
What is a substitute for barley malt syrup in pretzels?
Brown rice syrup or agave nectar substitutes barley malt syrup in pretzels, providing subtle sweetness without overpowering the flavor. Reduce any other liquids slightly to account for the syrup.
Can I replace barley malt syrup with molasses?
Yes, molasses makes an excellent substitute for barley malt syrup. Use an equal amount of molasses in place of the barley malt syrup called for in the recipe. Mild molasses offers the closest flavor match.
What is the difference between barley malt syrup and molasses?
Barley malt syrup has a more pronounced malty, nutty flavor from the barley grain, while molasses has a richer, bittersweet taste. Barley malt syrup tends to be lighter in color compared to blackstrap molasses. Both are thick, viscous syrups used in baking.
Is barley malt syrup the same as barley malt extract?
No, barley malt syrup and barley malt extract are different. Barley malt syrup is made from cooked down-sprouted barley grain and is a thick, dark syrup. Barley malt extract is a concentrated, syrupy liquid with a strong barley malt flavor.
Can you make bagels without barley malt syrup?
Yes, barley malt syrup is not a required ingredient for making bagels. You can leave it out entirely or replace it with molasses, honey, or maple syrup to provide moisture, sweetness, and flavor to the dough.
What does malt syrup do for bagels?
Barley malt syrup helps provide sweetness, moisture, color, and that signature malty flavor in bagel dough. It also contributes to the bagel's chewy texture. However, barley malt syrup can be replaced with molasses or honey.
Is barley malt syrup the same as malt syrup?
Barley malt syrup is a type of malt syrup explicitly made from barley. There are other grain-based malt syrups like rice or corn malt syrup. So, while barley malt syrup is malt syrup, not all malt syrups contain barley malt.