Idea Alley

IDEA ALLEY: Light, dark corn syrup differ in flavor

Light and dark corn syrup can be used interchangeably -- but which one makes the best pecan pie?
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo
Light and dark corn syrup can be used interchangeably -- but which one makes the best pecan pie? Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo

Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

As of deadline, I've only heard from a couple of readers regarding last week's plea for recipes and questions. I'm sure more will arrive any time now. However, the Head Kat is going on vacation so there will not be a column Nov. 6.

"What is the difference between light and dark [Karo syrup] for pecan pie?"

-- Jeff Everett of Tumbling Shoals

Karo is a popular brand of corn syrup and is used in many recipes.

Most often when a recipe specifies light or dark corn syrup it is simply the preference of the recipe creator. Light corn syrup has a mild, sweet flavor and is absolutely colorless. Dark corn syrup gets its brown color from the inclusion of molasses, which also adds a richer flavor.

Light and dark corn syrup can be used interchangeably in almost every instance, with slight flavor variances.

In a pecan pie, for example, light corn syrup will contribute sweetness and a hint of vanilla, but that's about it. Dark corn syrup, in addition to sweetness, will add color and a more robust, toasty flavor.

Some people prefer to use light corn syrup feeling that it lets the true flavor of the pecans shine, while others believe the caramely burnt notes of dark corn syrup complement the flavor of the pecans.

The following recipes are from the Idea Alley archives.

Jenny Ann Boyer's Pecan Pie

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust, Pillsbury recommended

3 eggs

¾ cup sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup butter-flavor pancake syrup ( Boyer uses Walmart store brand)

1 ½ cups pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a glass pie plate with pie crust.

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer.

In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, salt, vanilla and syrups. Gently fold into eggs, then fold in the pecans. Pour filling into the pie crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees, then reduce oven to 325 degrees and bake 10 to 25 minutes more, or until pie is no longer wobbly in the center. Start checking for doneness after the pie has baked for a total of 30 minutes.

Makes 1 pie.

Betty Caton's Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

1 (9-inch) baked pie shell, cooled

¾ cup dark corn syrup

½ cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter OR margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

3 eggs

1 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, salt and eggs until well blended. Gently stir in pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until filling is set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center. Cool on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week.

Variation: Bourbon Pecan Pie, add 2 tablespoons bourbon and ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the egg mixture.


• Pumpkin soup like the one that was served at the now-closed Starving Artist Cafe in North Little Rock for Carole Baxter.

Send recipe contributions, requests and culinary questions to Kelly Brant, Idea Alley, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203; email:

Please include a daytime phone number.

Food on 10/30/2019