Also known as brown rice syrup, brown rice malt and rice malt, this ingredient of Chinese origin is made by enzymic action on brown rice and, after further treatment to reduce its consistency, it is used as a sweetener.

It might be considered healthier than many sweeteners because its major components are forms of glucose rather than fructose; the over-consumption of which is believed to be a primary cause of ill health (this is not true of fructose found naturally in fresh fruit however due to the added nutritional and fibre content).

The small amount of mineral content in rice syrup is next to negligible, although some sources think the arsenic content of all rice products also makes overuse of this concentrated syrup somewhat suspect.

On balance, rice syrup is a product recommended by health experts as useful only in the absence of alternative sweeteners. The high glycaemic index is a major reason to consider its use carefully: it has almost twice the calories of an equivalent amount of white sugar.


Chinese supermarkets, some health shops and online.

Choose the best

Check the label to ensure there are no additives.

Store it

Rice syrup has a very long life.

Cook it

Use to your taste like any other liquid sweetener, but keeping in mind the very high calorie content compared with white sugar. (In contrast as an example, maple syrup has more flavour and only slightly more calories than sugar.)