Homemade Golden Syrup Recipe for Mooncake

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Here is an authentic homemade golden syrup recipe! It is super easy to make with simple ingredients you can find at home! A super versatile syrup for keeps!

golden syrup

Golden syrup (轉化糖漿)with its brown golden color in a jar is a versatile ingredient in your kitchen. You can make mooncake with it for sure. And cold beverage, cakes or cookies!

Its sweet, caramelized, tangy flavor is very refreshing in a hot summer day. Mix with ice and some mint leaves, you will get a wonderful drink so easily!

Golden syrup is an essential ingredient in making Hong Kong style mooncake. It gives the skin a brown golden color and sweet caramelized flavor.

It is surprisingly easy to make at home. I give some lemon to add a tangy flavor in this recipe.

Try this golden syrup recipe! It is super easy and keep a jar in your kitchen, your family will be very thankful to you!

What is Golden Syrup?

Golden syrup is inverted sugar syrup that looks like honey. The color is light to dark brown. The syrup is made by inverting sugar in the refining process.

Actually golden syrup is just water, sugar and citric acid combined and slowly cooked to form a thick liquid in baking mooncake.

However, in Chinese culinary world, not all mooncakes use golden syrup in the making. Only Hong Kong style mooncake use golden syrup.

Common Mistakes in Making Golden Syrup

Making your own golden syrup at home is easy but it can be tricky at the same time. Below are some common mistakes to avoid.


Overcooking the syrup can result in a darker color and bitter taste. This of course will affect your mooncake flavor in the end.

To prevent that, use a kitchen timer. Do not leave it unattended. When the syrup starts to simmer, regularly check the color. Take out the lemon slices when the color has turned into golden amber.

If you see it has gotten darker, you can still save it by adding a bit of hot water to lighten the color. But if it has gotten bitter, you might have to start all over again.


Undercooking the syrup will make it too light in color and too runny. This will not give your mooncake the right texture and flavor.

If it is undercooked, you can simply return it to the pan and continue simmering until you reach the right consistency.

Not filtering

It’s important to strain the syrup to ensure a smooth texture.

Incorrect sugar-to-water ratio

This can affect the consistency and flavor of the syrup.

Skipping the acid ingredient and baking soda

Lemon juice and baking soda are crucial for the inversion of sugar and achieving the correct texture. I advise you not to skip these two.

Is there a substitute for golden syrup?

If you don’t have golden syrup in your area and you don’t feel like making it yourself, the best substitute will be raw honey or maple syrup.

You need to make sure the honey and maple syrup are in good condition, not crystallized. Crystallized honey will not give mooncake a good result.

Dark or light corn syrup is also a good substitute. You have to make sure the thickness is just right to have a smooth skin for the mooncake.

Applications in Hong Kong Style Mooncake

Golden syrup is a crucial ingredient in traditional or Hong Kong style mooncake recipes, contributing to both the flavor and texture of the final product.

  • Texture: this syrup helps to create a tender and chewy texture in the mooncake skin, which is a signature characteristic of this Chinese traditional pastry.
  • Flavor: It adds a unique sweetness and depth of flavor that other sweeteners can’t provide.

Homemade Golden Syrup vs Store-Bought Golden Syrup

Store-bought golden syrup offers convenience and consistency in flavor, color, and quality. Especially if you are making mooncakes in big batches.

Homemade golden syrup is better in terms of freshness and you can assure yourself that there is no preservatives or additives added. By making it yourself, you can also control the thickness and sweetness.

Golden Syrup Recipe

  • 600 gr sugar
  • 300 gr water
  • 45 gr lemon juice 
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 60 gr water
  • 1 gr baking soda

How To

  1. Prepare a mason jar for the container. Wash clean and heat in the oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Cut 4 slices of lemon. Set aside.
golden syrup recipe
Cut 4 slices of lemon
  1. Put sugar in a sauce pan. Add water, lemon water, and lemon slices.
Sugar and water in a sauce pan
Add lemon juice
Add lemon slices
  1. Turn on the stove on high heat first. Let it boil then turn on low heat. You can leave this with the timer on while cooking this syrup.
  2. Let it simmer for 35 minutes.
let it boil
Let it boil first
  1. After 35 minutes, test the syrup with a cup of water. Take a teaspoon and drop it in the water. If the sugar doesn’t immerse easily into the water, that means the syrup is almost done.
  2. You can keep cooking for another 10 minutes so the consistency can be a little bit thicker.
  3. Take the lemon slices out, set aside for later use. Do not throw it away! I will let you know its use. Turn off the stove.
Take out the lemon slices and set aside
  1. Now in a small bowl with 60 gr water, put in baking soda. Stir well until the baking soda dissolves.
Baking soda
Stir well
  1. Pour the baking soda solution into the syrup. The syrup will bubble up. Baking soda will help balance the acidity of the sugar.
golden syrup recipe
Pour baking soda water into the syrup
  1. Prepare a bowl to strain and cool the syrup down.
golden syrup recipe
Strain the syrup
  1. Strain the syrup into the bowl and let it cool completely.
  2. When it is cooling down, the bubble will subside by itself and the consistency of the syrup will thicken.
golden syrup recipe
The syrup thickens after cooling down
  1. Pour the sugar into the jar. Keep in the chiller.
golden syrup recipe
Put on the lid
golden syrup recipe
Close tightly

Golden Syrup Drink

  1. Take 1-2 tsp golden syrup and put in a glass.
  2. Add ice cubes and the lemon slices from the pan. Pour some water and stir well.
  3. Enjoy your golden syrup beverage!
golden syrup recipe
Golden Syrup Beverage


This syrup can stay fresh for up to 1 month in the chiller. If you keep it in the freezer, the shelf life becomes 3 months. However, you need to chill it before using.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Can I use honey or corn syrup instead of golden syrup to make mooncake?

A: Yes, you can! However, the flavor will be different from the traditional Hong Kong style mooncake.

Q: How long does homemade golden syrup last?

A: If you keep it in a closed container like a jar (mentioned in the video) in the chiller, it can stay fresh for up to one month.

Q: Can I make golden syrup without lemon juice?

A: Yes, you can. However, you will miss one tangy flavor and the fragrance will not be the same.

Q: Why has my golden syrup crystallized, and how can I fix it?

A: You can fix it by simmering it with a little bit of water. Please keep watching it while simmering. Do not pour too much water to avoid being too runny.

Q: Is it possible to overcook golden syrup, and what are the signs?

A: Yes, overcooking is possible. Overcooked golden syrup is very dark in color and a little bitter. I advise you start over again if the syrup is overcooked.

Q: Can golden syrup be used in other traditional Asian desserts?

A: Yes, you can use golden syrup in many other traditional Asian desserts. You can use golden syrup in Candil Ubi Ungu or Pandan Serabi.

If you decided to try this golden syrup recipe, please tag me on my Instagram! I will surely comment happily!

After making golden syrup, you might want to try applying it in Traditional Mooncake. For now, you can check Strawberry Snowskin Mooncake. For this one, you don’t need golden syrup.

golden syrup for mooncake


Yield: 1 jar
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 600 gr sugar
  • 300 gr water
  • 45 gr lemon juice
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 60 gr water
  • 1 gr baking soda


    1. Cut 4 slices of lemon.
    2. Put sugar in a pot. Add 300 gr of water into it. Pour in 45
      gr lemon juice and add the lemon slices.
    3. Turn on the stove on medium heat.
    4. You don’t need to stir. Just wait until it simmers and all
      the sugar has dissolved.
    5. When it boils, turn the heat to low heat.
    6. Keep cooking for 35 minutes more.
    7. Test the sugar. Take some with a small spoon and drop it in
      a bowl of water. If it takes a little time to dissolve, it is almost done.
    8. The color of the sugar is already brown. Cook for another 10
    9. Take out the lemon slices away.
    10. Turn off the heat.
    11. In a separate bowl put in 60 gr of water and baking soda.
      Stir well.
    12. Put in the baking soda water to the sugar that is still hot
      in the pan.
    13. The sugar syrup will let out small bubbles.
    14. The soda water will help balance the acidity of the sugar.
    15. Sieve into a bowl to cool down.
    16. When it cools down, the sugar will thicken.
    17. Leave it to cool. After 15 minutes, the bubbles start to disappear. And when it is cool, the bubbles are gone and the syrup thickens.
    18. Transfer to a jar. You can keep the golden syrup in the chiller for up to one month.
    19. Use the lemon slices you took out from the pan. Add some golden syrup, water and ice cubes, stir well. It becomes a refreshing drink.
    20. Enjoy!


When the syrup starts to simmer, do not leave it unattended. You have to watch for the color.

Take out the lemon slices when the color has turned to brown. Otherwise, it will get bitter.

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