Wondering if corn syrup is gluten-free? Get the scoop on which varieties are safe to eat, what to watch out for, and more!
I know it gets a lot of flack in the news for not being the healthiest ingredient (and I’m not here to argue that it is!), but corn syrup definitely has its place in the baking world.
Whether you’re mixing up a batch of Sticky Chex Mix, adding a glossy shine to a Luscious Chocolate Frosting, lending a crispy crunch to Caramel Popcorn, or swirling up a batch of Salted Caramel Sauce, corn syrup can be a helpful tool in your baking toolbox!
It’s also a widely used sweetener in lots of processed foods, so whether you’re trying to decode a food label or simply want to bake something at home, you’ll need to know: is corn syrup gluten-free?
Let’s talk about it! From whether brands like Karo syrup are gluten-free, to what exactly IS in corn syrup, to some delicious recipes that call for it, we’ve got everything you need to know about this ingredient…
Short Answer: Is Corn Syrup gluten-Free?
- Yes! Corn syrup is usually labeled gluten-free and contains no gluten ingredients. However, it’s important to check the nutrition label to check for potential allergens in processing.
Is Karo Syrup Gluten-Free?
Yes! All Karo syrup products are gluten-free. Karo syrup’s website states: “All Karo® Syrups are gluten free and are produced in a facility free of gluten.
What To Watch Out For
The biggest thing to watch out for with corn syrup is a potential allergen statement in the ingredient list. While corn syrup may not contain any gluten-containing grains or ingredients, some food manufacturers do not use dedicated processing equipment or facilities, so there is some risk of cross contamination during manufacturing processes.
Many brands in the food industry disclose any of the most common food allergens on their food labels.
One example is Target’s Market Pantry Corn Syrup. While the ingredients list is gluten-free (corn syrup, salt, vanilla extract), the package states “Processed In A Facility That Also Handles Egg, Milk, Soy, Wheat and Fish Ingredients”
Those with Celiac disease, severe allergies, or a high level of gluten intolerance would do best to use only brands that are labeled gluten-free or certified gluten-free. (Such as Karo syrup)
Corn Syrup Vs Karo Syrup
Occasionally, there’s some confusion here, but Karo syrup IS corn syrup! Karo is simply a brand name for corn syrup (kind of like how Kleenex is a name brand of tissue). If a recipe calls for Karo syrup, you can use any brand corn syrup. If a recipe calls for corn syrup, Karo brand syrup will work great!
Corn Syrup Ingredients List
Corn syrup is different than high fructose corn syrup. While both are considered gluten-free, today, we’re talking about corn syrup brands, like Karo syrup, that you’ll find in the grocery store baking aisle. So, let’s take a look at the list of ingredients for light corn syrup:
- Corn Syrup
- Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Beans, Water, Ethyl Alcohol.)
If you’re using dark corn syrup, you’ll be looking at ingredients like Corn Syrup, Molasses, Salt, and Sodium Benzoate (a preservative).
All of these ingredients are considered gluten-free. Many brands (such as Karo Syrup) are labeled gluten-free as well, which makes shopping for gluten-free corn syrup easy!
Which Kinds Of Corn Syrup Are Gluten-Free?
The following brands of corn syrup are made without gluten-containing ingredients and do not contain an allergen warning on their label at the time of this writing:
- Karo Syrup – Karo Light Corn Syrup & Karo Dark Corn Syrup (Labeled Gluten-Free)
- Wholesome Sweet – Organic Light Corn Syrup (Labeled Gluten-Free)
- Kroger – Light Corn Syrup
- Great Value (Walmart) – Light Corn Syrup
- Griffin’s – Light Corn Syrup
- Blackburn’s – Light Corn Syrup
- Golden Barrel – Light Corn Syrup
- Food Club – Light Corn Syrup
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For Using Corn Syrup
What Is Corn Syrup?
Corn syrup is a gently sweet syrup made from corn starch (the starch in corn, not powdered cornstarch!).
While it’s not a natural sweetener, corn syrup’s chemical structure and long shelf life lend itself very well to baking. It helps prevent sugar crystallization in caramel sauce and candy, prevents the formation of ice crystals in ice cream, adds a shiny, glossy effect to buttercream, caramel popcorn and ganache, adds moisture and chewiness to a cookie recipe, and helps provide structure in recipes like Chex Mix, delicious pecan pies, or Scotcheroos.
Is Corn Syrup The Same As High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Not quite! High fructose corn syrup takes regular corn syrup and processes it further, treating it with enzymes to help break it down into fructose and glucose, with a higher ratio of fructose to glucose (hence the high fructose name). High-fructose corn syrup is a common ingredient in soft drinks, candies, pancake syrup/imitation maple syrup, salad dressings, sauces, and more.
What’s The Difference Between Light Corn Syrup & Dark Corn Syrup?
The two main types of corn syrup are light corn syrup and dark corn syrup. Light corn syrup usually has a clear appearance and slight vanilla flavor, while dark corn syrup has a deep brown color and molasses flavor. In most recipes, it’s best NOT to substitute one for the other, since the different types of corn syrup won’t have the same flavor or color in a recipe. (Dark corn syrup will add a bold molasses flavor that you may not want in your recipe.)
Is There A Good Substitute For Corn Syrup?
The best corn syrup substitute will very much depend on the recipe you’re using it in. If it’s for glossiness in a frosting recipe, for instance, you can swap in glucose syrup or honey for a similar effect. If it’s in something like sticky Chex mix for structure, it’s best NOT to substitute.
The Bottom Line:
Corn syrup is usually gluten-free and made without gluten ingredients or wheat products. If you follow a gluten-free diet, double-check ingredient labels to check for cross contamination (i.e. “may contain wheat” or “made in a facility that also processes wheat”). For best results, stick with certified gluten-free and labeled gluten-free brands like Karo corn syrup to avoid adverse reactions or an immune response.