Rice malt syrup, otherwise known as brown rice malt is a thick and viscous fluid primarily used as a sweetener in the culinary arts. Rice malt syrup is, much like its namesake, produced by the cooking of rice starch before subsequent processing so as to distill the remaining sugars found therein.
Rice malt syrup has a variety of uses, whether for the purposes of baking or in cases of cooking wherein it may be used as a topping or replacement for certain types of sweetening agents.
The best all purpose rice malt syrup substitutes are powdered brown sugar, glucose syrup, and Japanese Kuromitsu syrup. The best baking substitutes for rice malt syrup are molasses and corn syrup. The best topping substitutes for rice malt syrup are maple syrup and agave syrup. Healthy alternatives for rice malt syrup include artificial sweeteners, honey, and barley malt extract.
Is Rice Malt Syrup Difficult to Find?
Though rice malt syrup has undergone research and development focus in order to create production lines capable of producing the sweetener in large volumes, it may still be difficult to find in certain grocery stores located in specific geographical areas.
This may be due to the fact that the product could be relatively unpopular with consumers of that area, a lack of available ingredients of which to make the rice malt syrup from, or simply a lack of stocks from overdemand by consumers.
Fortunately, a large variety of alternative food products and ingredients may act as substitutes for rice malt syrup, whether the primary reason for doing so is indeed due to a lack of availability or for any other reason that may necessitate a specific characteristic be found in a potential substitute.
Should Rice Malt Syrup be Replaced for Health Reasons?
Considering the fact that brown rice malt or rice malt syrup is the tri- and mono- saccharides primarily making up the starches of cooked rice, it is by no stretch of imagination that rice malt syrup is mostly composed of pure sugar.
This makes rice malt syrup a somewhat unhealthy ingredient to use for individuals with poor blood sugar control or other dietary intake requirements that necessitate a lower level of sugar be consumed in their daily diet.
In terms of nutritional and mineral requirements, rice malt syrup imparts very little benefit in the way of supplementation or intake, being practically entirely devoid of nutrition and minerals as these compounds are filtered and cooked out during the syrup making process.
Are there Organic Substitutes to Rice Malt Syrup?
A benefit to the use of rice malt syrup in a meal or recipe is the fact that it is nearly entirely organically sourced, only occasionally incorporating such artificial ingredients like flavoring compounds or preservatives in order to improve their function as a sweetening agent.
However, in instances where a substitution must be found, certain individuals may desire to retain this particular characteristic of rice malt syrup, whether for ethical or health reasons.
Certain substitutions of rice malt syrup are indeed partially or entirely produced from organic products, some of which are entirely composed of organic and natural chemical compounds, perhaps being considered even more organic than rice malt syrup itself.
All Purpose Substitutes for Rice Malt Syrup
Rice malt syrup is considered an extremely versatile sweetener with a variety of purposes not only constrained to that of baking, with other uses for rice malt syrup being such things like its addition to drinks, as a crystallizing sugar in desserts or even as a thickening agent.
Several of the listed rice malt syrup substitutes below are capable of recreating this versatile effect, all of which are capable of functioning in much the same way as the brown rice malt syrup.
Powdered Brown Sugar
The simplest and most easily found ingredient meant to act as a substitute to rice malt syrup, powdered brown sugar can be used in practically any way that rice malt syrup could be, with the only drawback being its solid and powdery physical form.
This may be remedied by simply incorporating the brown sugar into a fluid of some sort – of which may be facilitated through the addition of physical agitation and heat, allowing the sugar crystals to melt into the fluid it is immersed in.
Oftentimes sourced directly from organic ingredients such as maize or potato, glucose syrup is a sugary and viscous fluid produced in much the same way rice malt syrup itself is produced, with the starches and various sugar compounds in a vegetable or fruit being extracted through physical or chemical means.
Glucose syrup is extremely versatile, being able to recreate any use normally performed by rice malt syrup itself, occasionally doing so even better in certain cases.
A benefit to substituting rice malt syrup with glucose syrup is the widespread availability, both of the syrup and any information relating to its use, as glucose syrup is extremely commonly used in large scale food production and manufacturing.
Japanese Kuromitsu Syrup
Occasionally compared to molasses, Japanese kuromitsu syrup is primarily produced from muscovado sugar wherein water content is removed via the process of evaporation until the desired viscosity and thickness is achieved.
Though not often used in baking or cooking, kuromitsu is commonly added to a plethora of desserts as a syrup or topping so as to add a distinctly smoky and mild sweetness to its flavor profile, making it an excellent substitute to rice malt syrup in this capacity, especially if a milder flavor is required.
Baking Substitutes for Rice Malt Syrup
A primary use for rice malt syrup is that of baking, wherein the viscous rice starch product may act as a thickening agent, a humectant or even simply as a sweetening agent.
In instances where the substitution of rice malt syrup in a baking recipe is required, several other types of sweeteners may replicate some of these functions, occasionally even being more suitable, depending on the particular circumstances.
More intense and stickier than rice malt syrup, molasses makes an excellent substitution in situations that require the syrup to ordinarily undergo direct heating in some way or form.
The particular intensity and higher viscosity of molasses means that, in order to create an equal level of sweetness and thickening, the cook must substitute approximately half the required volume of rice malt syrup with molasses, with every cup of rice malt syrup being equal to one half of a cup of molasses.
Molasses shines as a rice malt syrup substitute in bread-like baked goods in particular, wherein incorporating it into the dough prior to baking will allow it to both retain some level of moisture in the baked goods as well as add a distinct sweetness quite similar to rice malt syrup itself.
Most often used in large scale sweets and beverage manufacturing, corn syrup is the distilled and processed sugar compounds from certain species of maize, primarily used to create a thickening and sweetening effect in a variety of different types of food.
As a rice malt syrup substitute, corn syrup may act as a direct one to one substitute, possessing much the same sugar content and flavoring intensity as the rice malt syrup itself.
The primary drawback to utilizing corn syrup as a rice malt syrup substitute, apart from the obvious visual differences, is the difference in viscosity, with certain types or brands of corn syrup being slightly more or less viscous and oftentimes incorporating various other preservatives or additive compounds that may alter its taste or function.
Topping Substitutes for Rice Malt Syrup
Another commonly seen utilization of rice malt syrup, its use as a topping in a variety of foods is one of the primary reasons behind its popularity, allowing it to act as a sweet and sticky additive to such food products like hotcakes and toast.
However, certain other types of syrup can also be used in much the same way, occasionally being even more popular than rice malt syrup itself, depending on the geographical location.
These alternative syrups can, in most cases, function perfectly as potential substitutes in the vein of use as a topping.
The exact topping syrup that comes to mind in the majority of the population, maple syrup is practically interchangeable with rice malt syrup as far as its addition to hotcakes and other baked goods go.
With an extremely similar appearance and texture, the primary drawback to substituting rice malt syrup with maple syrup is the minor difference in flavor, with maple syrup said to have a slightly more flowery aftertaste and somewhat more mild body of flavor in comparison to rice malt syrup.
A primary benefit to the usage of maple syrup instead of rice malt syrup is the fact that the former is much more available in practically every store throughout the world, as well as somewhat cheaper owing to the ease at which it is harvested and processed.
Agave syrup is a type of sweetener primarily produced from the agave plant, of which is primarily found in the Americas.
Used in beverages and several other baked goods as a flavoring topping, agave syrup could act as a potential replacement for rice malt syrup in instances where its slightly weaker sweetness is an acceptable factor.
A benefit to using agave syrup in place of rice malt syrup is the similarity between their appearance and viscosity, though the relatively finer notes of flavor normally presented by agave syrup may be somewhat distinct from that of rice malt syrup.
Healthy Substitutes for Rice Malt Syrup
Whether the potential substitute for rice malt syrup should be organic or impart some level of health benefits to the consumer, there is no doubt one or two candidates that may fulfill this particular necessity, the vast majority of which may even be more available in stores and groceries than rice malt syrup itself.
Occasionally produced synthetically in a chemical manufacturing facility or extracted from certain organic sources like leaves and roots, artificial sweeteners are the solution to individuals who desire a sweetening agent in their food and beverages with none of the usual health drawbacks like insulin responses or gastric issues.
The wide-ranging nature of artificial sweeteners and their popularity in most modern foods may make tracking one single type down to use as a rice malt syrup substitute difficult.
However, among the most popular artificial sweeteners are those of sucralose, aspartame and saccharin, of which are all approved as healthy and suitable substitute sweetening agents in nearly any purpose.
Though not exactly “healthy” in the sense that they may provide any sort of nutritional or holistic effects to the consumer, their relatively inert nature means that they will also cause little to no harm in most instances of their use.
Entirely organic and occasionally purported for its health benefits, honey may act as a healthy substitute to rice malt syrup in individuals that wish to track and control their artificial preservatives and similar compounds intake, with quite a few brands of honey being nearly 100% pure and possessing few additives.
However, honey, much like rice malt syrup, is in large part composed of sugar molecules or is otherwise converted into glucose within the human body, making it an unsuitable alternative for individuals with issues relating to their blood sugar, such as diabetic patients or individuals with pancreatic disorders.
Barley Malt Extract
A far healthier alternative in baking than rice malt syrup, barley malt syrup or barley malt extract is a dark and rich syrup produced from barley grains for use as a sweetener, thickening agent and humectant.
In its purer form, barley malt extract contains more complex forms of sugar referred to as polysaccharides, of which are considered somewhat healthier for the human body owing to the difficulty in which they may be digested, as well as the fact that most types of barley malt syrup possess some level of nutritional and mineral content, unlike rice malt syrup.
1. Affairs, Office of Regulatory. “Compliance Policy Guides – CPG Sec. 515.200 Malt Extract; Malt Syrup; Malted Cereal Syrup; Liquid Malt; Dried Malt”. wayback.archive-it.org
2. The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. 2015-04-01. p. 419. ISBN 978-0-19-931361-7.
3. Kris Gunnars, BSc. (January 28 2019) “Brown Rice Syrup: Good or Bad?” healthline Nutrition healthline.com