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What is Rice Syrup?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Rice syrup is a natural sweetener which is made from cooked rice which is treated with enzymes to turn the starches in the rice into sugars. Along with other alternatives to sugar, this syrup can usually be found in natural foods stores and in some large markets. It can be used like honey, molasses, and other liquid sweeteners, and with some planning it can also replace granulated sugar. Since it does cause an elevation in blood sugar, it is not suitable for diabetics.

The base of rice syrup is cooked rice. Typically, whole brown rice is used, since it is intended to be a health food. The rice is inoculated with enzymes which will convert the starches, and the mixture is allowed to sit. After a set time, a liquid is skimmed from the top and boiled down into a dense dark brown mixture, which is packaged and sold.

Individuals with gluten intolerance should read rice syrup labels carefully. Many producers culture the enzymes needed to make syrup on grains which contain gluten. Unless the label clearly specifies that the product is gluten free, it should be assumed that the food contains gluten. Although it may only be present in trace amounts, it can be enough to upset a delicate stomach.

When using rice syrup to replace other liquid sugars, it can be used as a cup for cup replacement. The sweetener tends to be less sweet than many other sugars, and it has a faintly nutty flavor which is not always appropriate for all foods. Cooks should taste it before using it extensively, and they may want to experiment with small batches before committing. Since rice syrup is less sweet, the end dish will obviously be less sweet as well.

When rice syrup is used to replace granulated sugar and other dry sweeteners, it should be done with care. Since it is a liquid, it can cause a liquid imbalance in the recipe, which can be disastrous for baked goods. Generally, around one and one quarter cups of syrup should be used for every cup of sugar, and a quarter cup of some other liquid in the recipe should be removed to compensate for the additional moisture in the food. The substitution of sugar with rice syrup may take some experimentation to perfect, so small batches and patience are the key.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon331541 — On Apr 23, 2013

Why would you want to give a sweetener to a child or infant anyway? They do not know what they do not know. Don't give them a habit they do not need to get used to. They will not know what they are missing.

By fify — On Sep 15, 2012

@SarahGen-- I've had rice syrup a couple of times at my daughter's house. That's the only sweetener she uses because she has Celiac's disease. I personally think that rice syrup tastes like butterscotch.

By SarahGen — On Sep 14, 2012

Is rice syrup anything like agave nectar?

I'm trying to find a natural sweetener and I tried agave nectar recently and hated it. It has a very distinct flavor and it changes the flavor of drinks and foods. I don't like that. I want a liquid sweetener that doesn't affect other flavors and blends in well with everything.

Rice syrup sounds like it wouldn't have a very strong flavor. Am I right?

By bluedolphin — On Sep 13, 2012

@anon156308-- I was wondering the same thing because we've replaced honey with organic rice syrup at home since my hubby and I recently became vegan. We have a toddler and I've been uncertain about giving foods with rice syrup to her.

I would not give a baby rice syrup since it will be a choking hazard like honey is for babies. If the child is old enough to eat foods baked with rice syrup, then it might be okay.

The other thing I'm wondering about is if there is arsenic in rice syrup? I believe there is arsenic in rice and rice products. It's not that big of a deal for adults, but it might be more dangerous for babies and small children.

I'm not going to give my daughter rice syrup until I get these things cleared up first.

By anon156308 — On Feb 26, 2011

will it upset a young baby's tummy?

By anon31589 — On May 07, 2009

Is it possible to make brown rice syrup at home?

By anon3751 — On Sep 15, 2007

can rice syrup work as sugar syrup for providing structure to product as PETHA or JAM?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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