Healthy Replacements for Corn Syrup and Shortening

This post may contain affiliate links.

Corn Syrup Substitute

The holidays are upon us! I’m in the kitchen almost every day working on some baked good or another. Today it will be homemade crackers, but later in the week I’ll be making some things that will require me to substitute real food ingredients for baking conveniences that aren’t good for my family.

Healthy Replacements for Corn Syrup and Shortening

If you’d like to make better-for-you treats, here are some things you can substitute in your kitchen:

Corn Syrup Substitute

Golden Syrup

Golden Syrup is a good corn syrup substitute because it’s made with pure cane sugar instead of corn. While it isn’t organic, it’s a much better choice for your holiday baking than corn syrup. The slight downside is that golden syrup tends to crystallize in your candy recipes. Try to keep your sugar to syrup ratio at 1:1 to prevent this from happening.

Organic Corn Syrup

Organic Corn Syrup is another good corn syrup substitute, because not all corn syrups are created equal. There are some corn syrups that are GMO-free and don’t contain Hight Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Plain corn syrup isn’t nutritious or beneficial for you, but of course neither is most holiday baking. Therefore, this is an option that can make the best of the situation.

Be sure to check your labels. While the most popular brand of corn syrup has removed HFCS from their standard practice, you may still find some brands add it in the ingredient list. Don’t assume because the label says “corn syrup” that that’s the only ingredient. It is near impossible to avoid GMOs in a conventional bottle of corn syrup as well. So if you’d like your pecan pie to be better for you, use a healthier corn syrup substitute.

Hydrogenated Shortening Substitute

Palm Oil Shortening OR Palm/Coconut Oil Shortening Blend

Palm oil shortening (sustainably sourced) or palm oil/coconut shortening are good because they are made from oils that remain solid at room temperature. They are healthier to eat because there is no need to alter them. Of course, moderation is still a good idea.

While the other two alternatives above make great cookies, I simply wouldn’t bother making a pie crust without lard. I render my own after buying a half a hog from the butcher. I ask for all the fat and then spend the winter melting down the chunks in my crock pot. Lard makes a golden, flaky pie crust that actually adds to your health rather than taking it away!

As a child my mother always had a blue can of the big “C” shortening in the cupboard. It was critical for making soft sugar cookies and pie crusts. At the time, my family believed what we had been told about the dangers of lard and butter. Shortening was so much better for us, it seemed. I still remember greasing pizza pans with the thick, unnatural smelling white gunk.

These days I don’t buy anything with hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. The process to make them alters the natural structure of liquid vegetable fats to make them solid. It involves metals, dyes, bleaching and heat. The resulting product is not safe in the body and is the true culprit in America’s cardiovascular issues.

Substitute for Baking with Honey

Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup can withstand high heat and is good for you in moderation. In baked goods, it adds a rich mineral content and deeper flavor.

Don’t bake with honey!! We all know pasteurized honey is bad for us. Don’t spend a lot of money on raw honey only to take it home and pasteurize it in your baked goods. It isn’t good for you – go for an alternative that can take high heat if you’d like to avoid cane sugar.

What real food baking alternatives do you like using? Please share below!


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our website activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.

DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. Dawn Combs says

    I’m so sorry, I’ve written a response at least twice now and they keep disappearing. I’ll try again:

    I’m sorry for those of you who think I’m perpetuating “BS”. My statements are based in both ancient medicine systems and current science. Most of the major world traditional healing systems (Ayurveda and TCM to name two) concur that heating honey not only kills off living enzymes but actually creates a toxin. I just finished the manuscript for my next book that will present the science that supports these traditions and sadly I can’t share too much with you right now. Suffice to say that when you heat the fructose within honey there is a chemical compound that increases in genotoxicity the more heat that is added. If you begin to look for the research there are many studies that have been done in both humans and bees that demonstrates the danger… and again, I am not able to share what I have gathered together just yet. There are many, many resources available to read about the benefits of raw honey, I do apologize in thinking that this was general knowledge. Raw honey is a healthy supplement (when eaten in moderation). I am speaking ONLY of heated honey above when I suggested a replacement for the baking of honey, which is not healthy.

    • Jeanette says

      Thank you so much for clarifying! I will have to figure out what to replace the honey in my bread with now. Glad to know it! ????

      • Dawn Combs says

        We used to make a family bread recipe and used honey in it almost 10 years ago now. When my research uncovered the folkloric history about heating honey we had to substitute…. we went back to sugar, but instead of conventional and highly processed we use organic evaporated cane juice. I’ll have almost 100 recipes for using raw honey and avoiding the problems in my next book, sadly no bread recipes. =)
        Good luck!!

        • Jeanette says

          Did you ever try your bread recipe w maple syrup? Just wondering how that would change the flavor. Or if it would work! That may be the first thing I try.

  2. Patricia Shipley says

    I’ve just read your article on a substitute for honey. This is the first time I have ever heard of honey being bad for the health. I would love to read up on this. Would you please offer some references, so that I can educate myself. Thank you.

  3. Jeanette says

    I, too, would like to know more information about why baking with honey is wrong. I have been baking my bread with honey for years, and never read or heard anything about it being harmful. Please give references, since NOT “all (of) us know pasteurized honey is bad for us.” Thanks! 🙂

    • Carol L says

      To all of you up in arms regarding her pasteurized honey comment: it isn’t bad for you, but heating honey over about 90* kills all of the beneficial enzymes that make honey actually HEALTHY for you! When you cook with honey, it is just like adding sugar …no benefits! So, don’t cook with it: use it in cold recipes only. I do add it to tea, however, I prefer my tea lukewarm, so I still get all of the benefits from it. Pasteurized honey in the store also has all of the benefits removed via heating, so….unhealthy!

  4. K Mraz says

    Since when is honey not good for us? That is ridiculous! Honey has a low glycemic index and my family has used raw honey in pies for generations. Honey, maple syrup, agave etc. should all be used in moderation. Please don’t perpetuate BS.

    • Susan Bolton says

      How can honey be “raw” when it is cooked. I do believe honey is the healthiest alternative, but I no longer cook with any sweetener. I do use honey in my herbal tea but am even concerned about that.

  5. ava O. says

    Why is pasteurized honey bad for us? processed maybe? Frist time I’ve heard that. I always thought honey was good. I do know it has a lot of sugar. I have to watch my sugar intake ,which breaks down and raises my blood pressure.

    • Dawn Combs says

      Sorry Bobbie,
      I responded quickly to your note but the internet ate it… YES, I love molasses! It is a sugar that can take high heat and comes with nutritional benefits. I use it in some of amy baking recipes. It has its place though… I think it might be too strong in something like a pecan pie, but perfect in a heavily spiced cookie.