what is Golden Syrup?


I’ve been wondering what Golden Syrup is for years?  I know its liquid sugar, but how does it differ from Treacle, from Corn Syrup, Maple Syrup, or Glucose…..what is this stuff we cook with in Australia, and in the UK?  More importantly too, what can we substitute for it when we can’t find it where we are in the world.

So I got my recipe books out, my google on, and here is a few answers which I thought you might find useful.

Golden Syrup

Treacle, molasses and golden syrup are all from the same family.  They all come from sugar cane as a by-product of refining the sugar.  Technically golden syrup is treacle by definition, but by flavour, colour and intensity, it is a lighter version of the same syrup.    Molasses is the term given to the actual by- product of extracting sugar from sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets.  From sugar this is then refined to produce treacle/golden syrup.

Golden syrup is probably the most palate friendly of the three when it comes to baking, the darker the syrup, the more bitter and malty the flavor.   Molasses tends to be more commonly used in the production of beer than food.  It’s a significant part of darker ales like stout.

I find treacle is quite malty in flavour, and a little bit aniseed, quite like liquorice.  Its sweet, but slightly bitter at the same time from the roasted malt tones.  Treacle definitely adds another dimension of flavour to your baking.  Golden syrup seems to live up to its name of being quite golden in flavour.  A lot of the malty flavour of treacle has been removed so that there is a sweetness I think closer resembles maple syrup, but with a thicker viscosity.

And so, what are good substitutes for these syrups when you are baking and can’t get the real thing?

Golden Syrup: try honey, maple syrup or light corn syrup.  Golden syrup is a good alternative for honey for vegans as it’s a similar consistency.  Honey does have a more delicate, but also distinct flavor, depending on which variety you purchase.   The flavors can be attributed to the flower nectar used by the bees in the making of the honey.  Hence most honey’s are named after flowers. eg. Red Clover.

Treacle: Dark corn syrup, dark brown sugar and then I would add a tablespoon of dried malt powder to try to emulate the distinct flavor.

And for some idea’s of what to make with these yummy flavours… try making one of these delicious recipes.

Great Grandma Bower’s Gingerbread Cake
Anzac Biscuits

The resources I used to get this information for us:


CSR sugar website: http://www.sugaraustralia.com.au/ViewNewsItem.aspx?id=7

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee revised ed. 2004 publisher:  Scribner

Hope this helps for anyone out there trying recipes with an ingredient that doesn’t make sense 🙂

Happy Cooking, and happy eating, Leah

3 Comments Add yours

  1. mamagwen says:

    I’d be wondering about that recently, so thanks for your post 🙂 There’s no Golden Syrup in France so I was a bit puzzled when I first came accross it here in Australia. We have something similar in taste though, that we call liquid caramel. In case you have some French readers who have been wondering what to replace it with 🙂


    1. Leah says:

      ah, awesome, glad I could clear up your questions, and I love learning about food, so thank you for adding another alternative to Golden Syrup for me 🙂


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