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11 Substitutes for Barley Malt Syrup in Bagels

Barley malt syrup is a key ingredient in authentic bagel recipes.

So, if you’re looking for a suitable substitute for barley malt syrup in your bagels, but can’t find it at the store, fret not!

We’ve done the research for you and found some great substitutes that are sure to give your bagels that authentic taste we all know and love.

substitute for barley malt syrup in bagels

So, what’s the absolute best substitute for barley malt syrup in bagels?

Barley malt syrup is a key ingredient in bagels, but it can be hard to find in stores. However, you can use malt extract, brown rice syrup, or honey as substitutes for barley malt syrup in your bagels.

Keep reading for more alternatives!

11 Substitutes for Barley Malt Syrup in Bagels

In order to replace barley malt syrup in bagels, you must first know what it is.

Barley malt syrup is a sweetener that comes from the malted barley plant. It’s made by germinating barley, which has been pre-soaked before being dried.

When the barley is dried and ground, it then undergoes a fermentation process where enzymes convert the starch molecules into sugars.

The resulting syrup is light brown in color and can be used as a food coloring or flavoring agent.

When determining what substitute to use, there are 11 main choices:

1. Honey


Honey is a good substitute for barley malt syrup because it’s nearly as sweet and has a similar amount of sugar, which helps the yeast in the dough rise.

It’s not as thick, so you may have to use more than the amount of barley malt syrup you would normally use to achieve the same consistency.

2. Corn syrup

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a good substitute for barley malt syrup because, like honey, it’s similarly sweet and has similar amounts of sugar, which helps the yeast in the dough rise.

It’s also similar in thickness to barley malt syrup, meaning you’ll probably be able to use it as a one-to-one substitute without issues.

3. Brown rice syrup

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is slightly less sweet than barley malt syrup, but its consistency makes up for that—it’s thicker than either corn or honey syrups, so using it will result in a dough that’s similarly sticky and therefore easier to work with.

4. Light honey

Light honey

If you’re looking for a substitute for barley malt syrup, light honey is the way to go.

The main benefit of light honey is that it provides the same balance of sweetness and earthiness as barley malt syrup, so it won’t compromise your flavor profile.

However, if you’re looking to save money or if you’re trying to make your recipe vegan-friendly, light honey may not be the best choice.

How should I use it?

Use it as a 1:1 substitute for barley malt syrup when making bagels.

Simply exchange the same amount of barley malt syrup with light honey.

Be sure to adjust the amount of salt you use to make up for the saltiness of the barley malt syrup.

If you want more sweetness, you can add more honey, but don’t add more than a tablespoon at a time.

5. Molasses


Molasses has a deep, dark color and complex flavor that makes it a great substitute for barley malt syrup in bagels.

It also performs well in baking, so it won’t compromise the structure of your dough if you choose to use it.

6. Black treacle

Black treacle is a type of molasses that is darker, thicker, and more flavorful than other types of molasses.

This can be an advantage when using it as a substitute for barley malt syrup because it ensures that your bagels will still have the same depth and complexity in flavor without compromising their structure during the baking process.

7. Agave nectar

Agave Nectar

This substitute is better suited for people who like sweet bagels because agave nectar has a very sweet taste.

It also has a smooth consistency like syrup which makes it perfect for spreading on your favorite bagel.

8. Brown sugar

Brown Sugar

Barley malt syrup is made from sprouted barley, which has high levels of enzymes that convert starches into sugars.

Brown sugar contains molasses, which is similar in taste to the flavor of barley malt syrup.

You’ll need to use about 1/3 cup of brown sugar for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup, and you’ll want to add a little water to create a runny texture.

9. Maple syrup

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is another great substitute for barley malt syrup because it is also a liquid sweetener that can be used as an ingredient in baking, and it has similar flavor notes to barley malt.

10. Date syrup

Date syrup

Date syrup is made by boiling dates in water and straining the liquid through a screen.

While this is a lower-carbohydrate option than barley malt syrup, it can be more difficult to find in grocery stores, since it’s not as popular as substitutes like agave nectar or honey.

11. Malted milk powder

Malted milk powder

Barley malt syrup is a common ingredient in bagels, and it serves a similar function to the dairy-based malted milk powder: it provides flavor, color, and a bit of sweetness.

If you’re looking for a substitution for barley malt syrup, malted milk powder is a good bet—and it’s pretty easy to find in your local grocery store.

Just use 1 tablespoon for every 2 tablespoons of barley malt syrup called for in your recipe.

How to Pick a Substitute for Barley Malt Syrup in Bagels

Barley Malt Syrup

Wondering what to use when you run out of barley malt syrup and the bagels are calling your name?

Here are 6 things to consider when you pick a substitute:

  1. What properties do I want for my bagels? If you like a softer texture, you may want to choose a substitute that gives your bagels a fluffy, airy texture. If, however, you prefer a chewier consistency and a darker color, you’ll want something that replicates those characteristics.
  2. Consider the other ingredients you’re using: If you’re using a sweetener like agave or honey in your bagel recipe, pick a more neutral-flavored barley malt syrup substitute. If you’re not using any other sweeteners, pick a substitute that will give your bagels a little extra sweetness.
  3. Pick a liquid substitute if you’re making traditional bagels with yeast: Since liquid substitutes will have more water than a solid substitute, it will help activate your yeast and make your dough nice and airy.
  4. If you’re looking for more fiber in your diet, use a solid substitute like flaxseed meal. Flaxseed meal is made by grinding up flaxseeds, so it will have all the same fiber as eating whole flaxseeds—and it will add nutritional value to your bagels!
  5. Consistency: Think about whether you want a thick, liquid syrup or one that is more like a spreadable paste. For example, molasses is a viscous syrup, while honey is more of a paste-like substance.
  6. Ask yourself what kind of flavors you’re looking for: Many people like the rich caramel flavor that barley malt syrup brings out in bagels, but you might prefer something with a smoky quality—that’s where molasses would come in handy!

11 Substitutes for Barley Malt Syrup in Bagels

Bagels are one of the most popular American-style breads, and they're enjoyed by millions of people across the country.
While some people like their bagels plain, others love to top them with everything from cream cheese to jam.
But because barley malt syrup is so popular in bagels, it's important to know what a good substitute for barley malt syrup in bagels would be.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 165 kcal


  • Honey
  • Corn syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Light honey
  • Molasses
  • Black treacle
  • Agave nectar
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Date syrup
  • Malted milk powder


  • Pick any of the substitutes on this list.
  • Prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  • Be ready to munch on your bagels in no time!
Keyword substitute for barley malt syrup in bagels