Using dextrose (glucose) in cooking and baking

Glucose powder loose (blog)

What is dextrose? Is it the same as glucose? What is it used for in baking? How is it different from regular sugar? How do I substitute dextrose for sugar in a recipe? Is glucose syrup the same as corn syrup? Where do I buy glucose / dextrose? This is your ultimate post on glucose / dextrose, read on to find out the answers to your questions :)

What is dextrose (glucose)?

Dextrose is a form of glucose. Dextrose = D-glucose, hence, the terms dextrose and glucose are used interchangeably. It’s also sometimes called corn sugar, grape sugar, crystaline glucose, wheat sugar, rice sugar or rice syrup.

The full name is dextrose monohydrate and it is a simple sugar generated from the hydrolysis of starch, most commonly corn. The corn starch is treated with naturally occurring enzymes (they same as in our mouths) or acid. There is no way around the fact that this is a processed product, but at least it simulates natural occurrences (when we eat starch, it’s hydrolyzed by enzymes and broken down further by stomach acids to for example dextrose).

Wait, hang on – I thought this was a sugar-free blog? 

I’m glad you asked. There are so many people, blogs, sites and books out there now with a “sugar-free” label. Despite that label, you may often find the following sugars in the recipes: Agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, glucose syrup, dextrose powder. Read about agave nectar here (to be honest, I fail to see this product as being healthy for anyone) and read about honey here (depends if you are overweight, diabetic or neither, but generally avoid it).

When it comes to brown rice syrup (also known as rice malt syrup or rice syrup), glucose syrup (also know as liquid glucose) and dextrose powder, these are all broken down to 100% glucose in our bodies. Glucose can processed by every cell in our body and is the brains main source of energy. So, not all sugar is ‘evil’, we do need some (our brains main source of energy is glucose). You just need to withdraw from your fructose addiction first before starting to swap to glucose. And even then, everything in moderation! Glucose does raise your blood sugar (blood sugar = glucose). The good part is that you will stop craving sugary things and your body will actually be able to tell you when you are hungry for real and how much you should eat. Your body has a well functioning appetite control. Unfortunately it gets over-ridden by our fructose addiction. Check out this great video from Dr. Robert Lustig which explains all the differences:

So, the main bulk of my family’s diet consist of healthy, unprocessed, home-made foods and I only sweeten with fruit such as banana and unsweetened apple sauce. However, when I would like a special treat or have friends coming over, and want to make cakes or muffins, or for physical activity, I do use dextrose (glucose). I am also currently finding out more about and experimenting with the natural (non-blood-sugar-raising) Stevia, Erythritol and Zylitol.

USING DEXTROSE/GLUCOSE IN BAKING:

Generally glucose for baking and cooking uses comes in two forms: Powder and syrup. The powder looks a lot like icing (powdered) sugar but is not quite a fine and it is only 50-75% as sweet as regular sugar. By regular sugar, I mean caster sugar (or brown sugar or raw sugar) = sucrose. These are all made up of glucose and fructose (usually in a 1:1 ratio).

Glucose (powder):

So far (I will keep updating this post when I learn new things), I have found the following (as per David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison): You can substitute sugar straight over for glucose but you need to increase the wet ingredients or decrease the dry ingredients as glucose absorbs more liquids that regular sugar. Furthermore, it seems that if you cook with glucose and it’s not covered (e.g. as in my granola) you need to reduce the temperature to around 160C (320F) as it will otherwise get a burned taste, however, if the glucose is mixed into for example cake mix, I have had no problems or burnt taste from keeping the temperature at 175C (350F). In pretty much ever other regard when it comes to baking, it acts exactly like regular sugar.

Glucose powder 2 pic (blog)

Glucose syrup / liquid glucose:

From my experiments I have so far found that you can swap this for honey in any recipe where the honey is used to make the end product sweeter (obviously honey has a distinct flavour which you don’t get from the syrup). Liquid glucose tastes sweet, but not as much as honey, however, it certainly is as thick and sticky!!!!

In contrast to glucose powder which absorbs moisture (and therefore needing extra liquids added to a recipe), glucose syrup keeps the baking moist and soft (and keeps it from going hard) as long as you don’t use too much, then it goes sticky. It is also often used in icing and ice cream to keep it from going too hard and give it that smooth texture.

NOTE: Glucose syrup is commonly derived from corn or wheat but can also be made from potatoes, rice and cassava. If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy you can safely eat glucose syrup (see more here).

Glucose syrup runny 2 pic (blog)

What’s the deal with corn syrup? Is it the same as glucose syrup / liquid glucose?

Yes and no. Well that was helpful right? The thing is, it depends on who defines it, the retailer and the country. In the US, glucose syrup is often called corn syrup because, in the States, it’s most frequently produced from corn. Makes sense, right? So, glucose syrup can be corn syrup but corn syrup isn’t necessarily glucose syrup. The difference is that corn syrup often has fructose added and the water content is slightly higher. So, if a recipe calls for corn syrup and you can’t get a hold of it, because it’s too expensive where you live or because you are avoiding fructose like me, just use glucose syrup instead and add a little extra water to the recipe (like a teaspoon or two).

In conclusion:

I find it easiest to remember that glucose swaps for regular sugar and glucose syrup swaps for honey. However, keep in mind that glucose is less sweet. I have tried quite a few recipes doing this straight swap and ‘sugarholics’ liked them all the same. Myself, now that is a different matter. I actually don’t feel much like sweet things (wow, it feels nice to be able to say this), so when I fancy an occasional treat, I will make a recipe with only 1/4 of the sugar that you would put in a traditional recipe. I now find the amount I used to crave sickly sweet.

Most of the recipes I have on my blog are a happy medium – sweet enough to bring along to visit friends (who will like it) and not too sweet for myself :) So, if you are a fellow ex-sugarholic, you may be happy with the recipes as they are or possible cut down on the glucose (don’t forget to leave out a bit of liquids if using the powder version). In the opposite end, you could be a massive sugar fan and want to add in more (and then needing to add some liquid ingredients if using the powder version).

Where can I buy dextrose / glucose?

Where you can buy dextrose depends on which country you live in, but in most places you may find it at super markets, speciality stores and home brew shops (it’s used in beer and cider brewing too).

New Zealand: The powder in the top main photo I got from my local bulk shop in Auckland (Bulk Food Savings, by far the cheapest I have found at NZ $3.50 per kilo – it’s at 217 Dominion Rd but you access it from Walters Road where the Wendy’s car park is). You can also find it in home-brew shops and sections, but mainly I have seen it in the local supermarkets in smaller containers (Examples above: King Glucose – NZ$8.73 per kilo and Queen Glucose syrup – NZ$4.80 per 500 gram tub at New World). **prices updated March 20th 2015**

USA: If you have a home brew shop near you, this is probably always the cheapest option to buy dextrose powder, if not, this is the best deal I’ve found if you just want to get it shipped to your house via Amazon: Dextrose Corn Sugar 21 oz (600 gm)* (US$5.84 including shipping – US$2.4 per pound) or if you want a larger amount and cheaper by the pound: Corn Sugar 4lb* (US$14.61 including shipping – US$3.7 per pound). If you need glucose syrup (liquid glucose) please be aware that this is a minefield if you care about fructose content – on the description it sometimes says glucose and then it arrives and it’s really corn syrup (with fructose in)). I would suggest this one: Caullet Glucose Syrup – 2.2 lb* (prices updated March 20th 2015)

UK: Coming soon!

Australia: Coming soon!

Need some recipes using dextrose / glucose?

I can recommend trying the recipes in the book Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie – I have been using some of his tips and tried a few recipes. The only thing is that, for me, the recipes take some adaptation to be gluten and dairy free too (but hey-ho, I’m practically an expert in that now).

You can of course check out my recipes too (and to see more posts like this, follow my blog by email, see top right, or like it on Facebook or Twitter). Here are some recipes (using glucose) from my blog (click on the pictures to see the recipes/blog post):

_DSC0122   13   P1080053 - Copy

P1070772   P1080135   P1070648x

P1070660   P1070640 - Copy   IMG_3777

P1080396   cake   ctp_5217

*Please note that these are affiliate links. I only recommend products that I think is a good deal (because, why would anyone want to pay more than you have to if it’s the same product and quality, I have a family to feed too and always trying to save money) and are the soundest choices I have found (no dubious, unhealthy product for me thanks!). If you do decide to buy via these links you will support this page and help me keep going and bringing new great articles and recipes to you :) 

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for the helpful info! Have you come across rice malt syrup, or used it for anything? I’ve not had too much information on it, but apparently it is another good alternative sweetener with no fructose. I don’t think that David Gillespie talks about it in his books, but it’s been a little while since I’ve checked …

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    • David most certainly does mention rice malt syrup and it’s required a lot in his sweet poison quit plan recipe book (which is amazing). Rice malt syrup tastes very sweet to me now that I’m almost 2 months without sugar but my boyfriend tried it and told me its not sweet at all. It reminds me of how I remember golden syrup tasting and maybe that’s why his Anzac biscuits with dextrose and rice malt syrup are so delicious! I’ve also started putting it on my toast and crumpets instead of honey (which isn’t sugarless at all and should be replaced by glucose syrup or rice malt syrup if you want to remove sugar from your life) and While i need to use a bit more to get a similar taste to honey, it’s a damn fine alternative if u want to be sugar free. :) But seriously, buy his cookbook, my boyfriend and work colleagues don’t even know what I’m baking is sugar free it tastes that good!

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      • Hi Nici – Still puzzled as to why I can’t find it mentioned in the book but looking forward to trying out the Anzac biscuits recipe (I think I saw it posted on his Facebook at some stage?). Awesome that others can’t tell the difference – I have found the same :) Let me know if you have some awesome recipes to share!

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    • Hi Kate – as you can see from Deb and Nici’s comments this is a good substitute for sugar (fructose free). I can not even find it mentioned once in my version of the Sweet Poison Quit plan though – I wonder if he has updated it since then, mine’s from 2010. I just did a Google search though, and it seems that it is all okay to use. I actually just got the book I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson – she uses rice malt syrup (made from fermented rice) which is in a lot of her recipes (and dextrose). I also had a look at by local bulk foods store, they told me to buy one particular kind as they others had mixed in fructose. So, I am planning on experimenting with that over the next couple of weeks (and do some more research into it) – watch out for future blog posts :)

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      • Thanks for the comments – I’ve got Sarah Wilson’s book also, so was careful to buy the rice malt syrup that is free of fructose. I know that David Gillespie has just released another book – perhaps that’s the one that uses the RM syrup?

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      • I think you might be right about another book (does anyone else know??). Have you tried any recipes from Sarah Wilson’s yet? I am looking forward to giving it a whirl this coming weekend :)

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  2. Yes Rice malt syrup is an excellent alternative for honey or golden syrup. Also another publication to look at is called Hungry Tums, and I think can be found on Facebook.
    Happy convert.

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  3. Hey there, Ive been baking with Dextrose for a while now as I have a three year and hubby I don’t want them to go with out there “sweet treats”. I just do a straight swap with fructose to dextrose and all turns out ok. I buy my dextrose from our Bin Inn $2.90 for 1 kg bag. Here in the Waikato they have a Bin Inn in nearly every town, not too sure about other regions, there was definitely one in New Brighton Christchurch when I was visiting. I also get it from the Brewery place in Hamilton to.

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    • Hi Tina – thanks for sharing and well done for staying away from the fructose filled treats :) I hadn’t looked for it there yet (still getting to know NZ shops), sounds great. I just went to their website (for anyone in NZ): http://www.bininn.co.nz. It looks like they are all over the country – there isn’t one in central Auckland (but there is Bulk Food Savings), however, they are in Pakuranga Heights and Browns Bay for any Aucklanders.

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  4. Hi Caroline, have you looked at http://spoonfulofsugarfree.com? Alex is sugar, dairy and gluten free and her recipes are amazing! She’s studying nutrition, and has been eating this way for quite a few years. It’s an American site so some things may be hard to source, but most things can be found here in NZ.

    Great post by the way :-)

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    • Hi Angela – No I hadn’t found that before (I must have searched Google a gazillion times to see if there were anyone else out there going both sugar, gluten adnd dairy free to no avail) – thanks so much for sharing, I will check it out right away :)

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  5. for Sydneysiders and Australia generally,
    Dave’s Home Brew, 283A Miller St North Sydney NSW 2060
    (02) 9460 0526
    http://www.daveshomebrew.com.au/‎ has dextrose and will post.
    I have been fructose free for over 2 years now and follow both David Gillespie and Sarah Wilson.
    my all time favourite is David’s (& Lizzie’s) Carrot Cake….simply superb!

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  6. Thanks so much for this post. I am very new to the Sweet Poison bandwagon,but have found it really hard to actually find dextrose or glucose in the supermarket. Any idea which aisle I should be able to find it on??

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  7. kendallK says:

    I have found the powdered dextrose in woolies, in the home brew section (not in coles)

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    • Awesome – thanks for sharing! I have just found 1kg liquid glucose in the brewing section of New World too and for much cheaper than the small containers in the baking isle (although, I wasn’t sure what part of a supermarket was a brew section haha – it turns out that in this one it’s the isle which has soda, non-refrigerated juices, rice milk, dry milk etc).

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  8. We are new to being sugar free, having just completed our first month. I have Sarah Wilson’s book and am busy trying out her recipes. I have been able to buy rice syrup at Bin-in and at other specialist food shops. I like the taste of rice syrup, finding it not overly sweet. My taste buds are very busy adjusting themselves and I find some things now too sweet. I also use the website ‘NZ Sugar Free’ for data, recipes and ideas to keep me motivated.

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    • Well done on taking the plunge! And trust me, if you are finding it hard, don’t worry, it will be a whole lot easier soon :) Let me know hoe you get on with her recipes, I have been trying them out too and with rice syrup. I am not sure what I think of the actual taste just yet, it has a lot more flavor than glucose but perhaps it grows on me lol. Thanks for sharing and the website!

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  9. This is such an informative post, thank you! Have you experimented with coconut sugar? It contains about 70% sucrose but it comes from coconut and is loaded with minerals like zinc iron and potassium as well as some fibre (inulin) so it has a lower glycemic index, affecting your blood sugar levels a bit less and is way less processed! Another option is also the stevia plant which is a sugar alcohol and has no fructose whatsoever! While I’m open to alternative sugars, I am so weary about the effects of GMO anything, especially corn… however are you from New Zealand or Australia? Maybe that’s not an issue over there! Kasia

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    • Thanks! No I haven’t tried coconut sugar at all as I on my journey so far have stayed away from anything with fructose in it (unless it’s naturally occurring in it’s original packages such as fruit, veg, nuts etc). So far that has done amazing things for my health and energy, but you never know, I might find new things along the way. I am definitely all for products which affects my blood sugar levels less. What has your experience with coconut sugar been so far?

      Yes I live in New Zealand – it is actually a good question with GMO – I only moved here 2 years ago so I am not sure what the rules are here – but I will certainly find out. I know that in any other countries corn is often genetically modified!

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  10. Hi there, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

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  11. Good day! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for
    the great info youve got here on this post. I might be
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    Like

  12. Abbey Reeve says:

    info@activebio-tech.co.nz Anthony Green sells Dextrose here in West Auckland but also delivers. Just bought my 25kg bag for only $50 including postage within Auckland so only $2 a kg! the smaller the amount the more it costs of course. 2kg $7, 6kg $18 but he said he’d do pretty much any size you want.

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  13. Jenn Maguire says:

    I found dextrose in the home brew section of our local Coles supermarket in Queensland Australia.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] ← Using dextrose (glucose) in cooking and baking […]

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