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What can I use to substitute corn syrup in a recipe for boiled icing?

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It would help if you mentioned why you need to avoid corn syrup, e.g. corn allergy, sugar reduction, etc. It would probably also help to post the recipe you're using, because boiled icing is a fairly generic term. – Aaronut Jan 29 '12 at 23:28
Boiled icing is a pretty specific thing. Boil sugar water (with some stablization) and then whip it into egg whites. – rfusca Jan 30 '12 at 19:23

When heating sugar up in boiled icing or in making candy, the problem is sugar crystallization. This happens because the solution becomes supersaturated and any movement can cause it to shift back into a crystal state.

The corn syrup is there to prevent this from happening by providing glucose to 'get in the way'. You can get just 'glucose' at the drugstore to replace the corn syrup. Any other sugary thing that's high in fructose or glucose should work.

Another option is an acid. Some acid (like lemon juice) should make some of the sucrose break apart into simpler sugars and prevent crystallization.

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The simple sugars that sucrose breaks down to are glucose and fructose, right? So breaking it down should do exactly the same thing as adding glucose/fructose. – Jefromi Jan 31 '12 at 6:03
@jefromi - Yup, exact same thing. – rfusca Jan 31 '12 at 6:22
Thank you for the acid hint! I did not know that bit until now, it may help me with sugar-related problems :) – Layna Oct 20 '14 at 10:48

Boiled icing is essentially an Italian meringue which I never use corn syrup in. But anyway, corn syrup is basically fructose syrup which is used in the recipe to preven the sugar crystallizing, there are other substances (all fairly similar in chemical structure) that can prevent this: glucose syrup, golden syrup if you live in the UK and even honey will do this although this will of course give you a honey flavored icing.

If all else fails and you can't find any of the ingredients listed above you could always substitute it for a simple syrup (use equal amounts of sugar and water in place of the amount of corn syrup) and just be very carefull not to let it crystalise.

You can stop this by making sure the sugar has dissolved before you boil it, brush away any sugar grains with a pastry brush before boiling and most importantly don't stir it, just give it a swirl or it will crystalise.

Hope this helps!

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There's no reason to use a simple syrup if you can't find something else. – rfusca Jan 30 '12 at 20:35
What I was trying to say was how if all else fails then a simple syrup will do. – Sebiddychef Jan 30 '12 at 20:40


That's actually the traditional ingredient, rather than corn syrup.

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Corn syrup is usually an addition to sugar, not a substitute for it. In most cases it's used as a sort of emulsifier/thickener. Google "boiled icing recipe" and you'll see almost all of the results have a small amount of corn syrup in addition to a large amount of sugar. That's why I asked the reason for substitution; there's really not that much of it to begin with. – Aaronut Jan 30 '12 at 13:49
Got it. I've never made it with corn syrup, actually; I didn't realize it was common. – FuzzyChef Jan 31 '12 at 6:24

If you are simply wanting to replace corn syrup, and sugar (white cane granulated) will do fine, you can make a "Simple Syrup" (1 cup sugar to 1 cup boiling water, stir till all is dissolved... pretty 'simple'...). You might want to experiment with the quantity but this will give you both the sweet and liquid elements of corn syrup.

If you are looking eschew 'sugars' altogether then you can substitute Splenda (or any competitive sucralose product) for the sugar and make a sugar free simple syrup.

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