28 Easy Corn Substitutions

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Need quick corn substitutions for a recipe or food allergy? Here are 28 grocery store swaps that you can use to easily replace corn in cooking and baking. 

Corn is found in so many things, from snacks like popcorn to tortillas to a thickener in gravies and even frosting. 

But if you are allergic to corn, or avoiding it for other dietary reasons, you can still have delicious tasting recipes that are corn free! These easy corn substitutions cover everything from corn syrup to popcorn, helping you make delicious and adaptable recipes.

multiple ears of corn with a few leaves still on them on a dark wood table

Fresh corn substitute 

Try: Other vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower, barley, buckwheat 

Fresh corn, frozen corn, and canned corn can all be interchanged with each other in a recipe. Many times, if it is in things like a chili, the corn can be omitted with no real change to the recipe.

Baking Powder substitute

Mix: 2 parts baking soda to 1 part cream of tartar. 

Many baking powders use cornstarch to help with coating of the ingredients. It is so easy to make your own! Cream of tartar is made as a leftover of the wine making process. If you are okay to eat grapes, you are okay to use cream of tartar! 

Powdered Sugar substitute

PurchaseWholesome Sweetener’s Powdered Sugar

Many powdered sugars, also known as confectioner’s sugar or 10x sugar, contain cornstarch to help keep the sugar light and fluffy. Wholesome uses tapioca starch in place of cornstarch. This is an easy switch! 

Some people say you can make your own powdered sugar in a coffee grinder or high powered blender, however, I find that they never turn out as fine as what you can purchase in store. Also, the risk of ruining the motor of the grinder or blender is too great a chance. 

Corn Oil 

Try: canola oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. 

Corn oil is often a part of vegetable oil blends. Thankfully, it is one of the easiest things to substitute in that any neutral flavored oil or other oil will work. Use caution when eating at restaurants as many times the fryers can be a mix of oils, including corn oil. 

Corn Syrups substitute

Brown Rice Syrup – This is perfect for candy making as brown rice syrup does not crystallize at high temperatures. The consistency is almost identical to corn syrup, however, you will get a slight nutty taste from the brown rice. Use as a 1:1 replacement for corn syrup. 

Honey – Perfect for baked goods, honey provides a sweet and mild flavor that can replace corn syrup. Choose a light-colored honey for the closest match in taste. This will crystallize at high temperatures so I don’t recommend using honey for candy making. Use honey as a 1:1 replacement for corn syrup. 

Agave Syrup – This is the closest in flavor and texture to corn syrup. It makes for an excellent substitution for your baking needs. It is neutral in flavor and is liquid at room temperature. Agave works well in baked goods, chocolate, and sauces, however, it doesn’t work well for candy making. Use agave in a 1:1 replacement for corn syrup.

Simple Syrup – Simple sugar syrup is the best for replacing corn syrup with it’s sweet and mild flavor. It works well for candy making that does not heat over 325F. Higher temperatures will cause the sugar to crystallize. 

To make simple syrup: Bring ¼ cup of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of white sugar and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. The mixture will look clear like water. Let this cool and use in place of corn syrup in a 1:1 replacement. 

Cornstarch substitute

Arrowroot Powder – This is super useful in baking recipes as arrowroot powder can be used to replace cornstarch up to 1 tablespoon worth. Anymore and it could overpower the recipe. It does not need to boil to thicken and works well with fruits, both acidic and non-acidic. It makes for good gravies and sauces, but can struggle with reheating (I’ve had issues with clumping of the sauce). Use 2 teaspoons to replace 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. 

Wheat Flour – A super easy way to thicken sauces. Use a 3:1 ratio for cornstarch. This takes longer to cook than cornstarch, and make sure that you cook this all the way through to remove the raw flour taste. Don’t use it if you are allergic to wheat or gluten. 

Tapioca Flour – This is a go-to ingredient for replacing cornstarch in recipes. It works really well in baking and sauces as long as it is not boiled. Tapioca can turn into boiled strings if boiled. It works perfectly in pie fillings and other fillings that need to be frozen. Use 2 teaspoons to replace 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. 

Instant Mashed Potatoes – Kind of strange but works so well ! Use 2 teaspoons of instant mashed potatoes to replace 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use this in your sauces and baked goods. No, it won’t taste like mashed potatoes. 

Vanilla Extract substitute

Purchase: Singing Dog Vanilla Extract 

Many vanilla extracts use corn alcohol in the manufacturing process. This company states they don’t use corn on their site, making this an easy switch! 

You can also make your own vanilla extract by placing 2-4 vanilla beans into a small bottle of potato vodka and letting it rest for 2 months. Remove the beans and you have a homemade vanilla extract. 

You can also make vanilla sugar in this same manner. Place a few vanilla beans in a big container of white sugar. Mix them together and after a few weeks, you will have vanilla infused sugar to use in your baking! 

Popcorn substitute

A movie night essential for so many people, there are quite a few different options for a popcorn substitute! Some are a crunchy snack and some are a healthy great alternative to popcorn.

  • Other popped whole grains including: Sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, or quinoa 
  • Kale Chips
  • Cauliflower popcorn
  • Pork Rinds 
  • Potato chips 
  • Lentil chips 
  • Trail Mix 
  • Rice cakes

It’s easy to make different popped whole grains. Begin with preheating a pan with a lid over medium heat on the stove. Add the grain of your choice and cover with a lid. When ⅔ of the grains have popped, remove the pan from the heat. Add your seasonings and enjoy! 

Hominey substitute 

Try: barley, buckwheat grits, or small potatoes. 

Hominey (HAHM – uh – knee) is a Southern American dish of hulled corn kernels, boiled and served as a side dish.

White Vinegar substitute 

Try: Apple cider vinegar 

Many times, white vinegar is made using corn. For a quick and easy substitution, use apple cider vinegar in place of white vinegar. This can be used in cooking, baking, and cleaning. 

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