How to Make Homemade Rice Syrup Using White Rice and Barley Malt Powder

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to make homemade rice syrup using white rice and barley malt powder. Rice syrup, also known as Ssal-jocheong in Korean cuisine, is a beloved traditional sweetener that adds a touch of sweetness to various dishes. By following a simple process, individuals can create their own rice syrup using just two ingredients: short-grain white rice and barley malt powder. After cooking the rice, it is then fermented with the barley malt powder for six hours. The fermented mixture is then strained and boiled, resulting in a thick and delectably sweet syrup with an earthy and nutty flavor. This homemade rice syrup surpasses store-bought versions in taste and can be utilized in a multitude of side dishes, desserts, and dipping sauces. Although the stovetop method takes approximately ten hours, a faster alternative is available by using a rice cooker with a warm function, making it an ideal weekend project for culinary enthusiasts.

Homemade Rice Syrup: A Traditional Korean Sweetener

Rice syrup, also known as Ssal-jocheong in Korean, is a traditional cooking ingredient that has been used in Korean cuisine for thousands of years. This sweet and thick syrup is made from just two simple ingredients: short-grain white rice and barley malt powder. While it may take some time and effort to make at home, the result is a homemade rice syrup that is far superior in flavor to store-bought versions. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of making your own rice syrup, and explore its various uses in Korean cooking.


Before we get started, let’s gather all the ingredients we will need:

Short-grain white rice

Short-grain white rice is the primary ingredient in making rice syrup. It is important to use short-grain rice as it has a higher starch content, which will help create the desired texture for the syrup.

Barley malt powder

Barley malt powder is a key component in the fermentation process of making rice syrup. It provides the necessary enzymes that break down the starches in the rice, converting them into sugars and giving the syrup its characteristic sweetness.


In addition to the ingredients, you will need a few pieces of equipment to successfully make rice syrup at home:

Large pot

A large pot will be used to cook the rice. Make sure it is large enough to hold the volume of rice and water specified in the recipe.


A colander will be used during the straining process to separate the fermented rice from the liquid.

Cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer

To strain the rice mixture effectively, you will need either a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer. This will ensure that no solid particles make their way into the final syrup.

Heat-resistant bowl

You will need a heat-resistant bowl to transfer the cooked rice and mix it with the barley malt powder for fermentation.

Stove or rice cooker with warm function

You can choose to cook the rice on the stovetop or use a rice cooker with a warm function. Both methods are effective, but using a rice cooker may save you some time and effort.

How to Make Homemade Rice Syrup Using White Rice and Barley Malt Powder

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Step 1: Cook the Rice

The first step in making rice syrup is to cook the rice. Follow these simple steps:

Measure the rice

Measure out the appropriate amount of short-grain white rice for the recipe you are using. Typically, a 1:10 ratio of rice to water is recommended.

Add water

Add the measured rice to a large pot and pour in the correct amount of water. The water should fully cover the rice.

Cook the rice

Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow the rice to cook for about 20 minutes, or until it becomes soft and fully cooked.

Step 2: Ferment the Rice

Fermenting the cooked rice with barley malt powder is what transforms it into rice syrup. Follow these steps to successfully ferment the rice:

Transfer cooked rice to a bowl

Using a heat-resistant bowl, transfer the cooked rice from the pot. This will allow the rice to cool down slightly before adding the barley malt powder.

Add barley malt powder

Measure out the appropriate amount of barley malt powder for your recipe and add it to the bowl of cooked rice. The exact amount may vary depending on the desired sweetness of your syrup.

Mix well

Thoroughly mix the barley malt powder with the cooked rice, ensuring that it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. This will help facilitate the fermentation process.

Cover the bowl

Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap to create a warm and dark environment for fermentation. This will prevent the growth of any unwanted bacteria or mold.

Let it ferment for 6 hours

Allow the rice mixture to ferment for approximately 6 hours. During this time, the enzymes in the barley malt powder will break down the complex starches in the rice into simple sugars, resulting in a sweet syrup.

How to Make Homemade Rice Syrup Using White Rice and Barley Malt Powder

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Step 3: Strain the Mixture

After the fermentation process is complete, it is time to separate the liquid from the solid rice. Follow these steps to strain the rice mixture:

Prepare a colander

Place a colander in the sink or over a large bowl to catch the strained liquid.

Line the colander with cheesecloth

To ensure a thorough straining process, line the colander with either cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer.

Strain the fermented rice mixture

Carefully pour the fermented rice mixture into the colander, allowing the liquid to strain through. The result will be a clear liquid that is the base of your rice syrup.

Step 4: Boil the Syrup

To transform the strained rice mixture into a thick and sweet syrup, follow these steps:

Transfer the strained mixture to a pot

Pour the strained liquid into a pot and place it on the stove over medium heat.

Bring to a boil

Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

Reduce heat and simmer

Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer. This will allow the syrup to thicken gradually.

Stir occasionally

While simmering, it is essential to stir the mixture occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Continue cooking until thick

Cook the syrup until it reaches the desired thickness. This typically takes around 2 to 3 hours, depending on your preference.

How to Make Homemade Rice Syrup Using White Rice and Barley Malt Powder

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Step 5: Cool and Store

The final step in making rice syrup is to cool and store it properly. Follow these steps to ensure freshness and longevity:

Remove the pot from heat

Once the syrup has reached the desired thickness, remove the pot from the heat source.

Let the syrup cool

Allow the syrup to cool completely before transferring it to a storage container. This will prevent condensation and ensure the syrup stays thick and flavorful.

Transfer to a clean, airtight container

Transfer the cooled syrup to a clean and airtight container. This will help maintain its freshness and prevent any contaminants from entering.

Store in the refrigerator

To prolong the shelf life of the rice syrup, store it in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it should last for several weeks.

Tips and Variations

To enhance your homemade rice syrup, here are some tips and variations you can consider:

Choosing the right rice

Experiment with different varieties of short-grain white rice to find the one that suits your taste preferences. Each type of rice may yield slightly different flavors and textures in the final syrup.

Using different ratios of rice and malt powder

Adjust the ratio of rice to barley malt powder to customize the sweetness of your syrup. Adding more malt powder will result in a sweeter syrup, while reducing the amount will yield a milder flavor.

Adding flavorings

Consider adding additional flavorings to your rice syrup for a unique twist. Some popular options include vanilla extract, cinnamon, or citrus zest.

Adjusting the sweetness

If your rice syrup is too sweet, you can always dilute it with a bit of water. Likewise, if you prefer a sweeter syrup, you can add a small amount of sugar or honey.

How to Make Homemade Rice Syrup Using White Rice and Barley Malt Powder

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Using Rice Syrup

Now that you have successfully made your own homemade rice syrup, let’s explore some of its various uses in Korean cooking:

Sweetening desserts

Rice syrup is commonly used as a sweetener in a variety of Korean desserts. It adds a natural, earthy sweetness and enhances the flavors of dishes like rice cakes, pancakes, and traditional sweets.

Making sauces and marinades

Due to its thick and sticky nature, rice syrup is an excellent base for making sauces and marinades. It can be used to create a glaze for meats or a flavorful dipping sauce for dumplings and spring rolls.

Adding to beverages

Rice syrup can also be used to sweeten beverages, such as teas, smoothies, and cocktails. Its subtle sweetness and unique flavor profile can add depth to your favorite drinks.


Homemade rice syrup is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can elevate your Korean cooking to new heights. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can create your own batch of rice syrup that is superior in taste to store-bought alternatives. Whether you use it to sweeten desserts, make sauces, or add to beverages, rice syrup will undoubtedly enhance the flavors of your dishes. So why not embark on this culinary adventure and discover the wonders of homemade rice syrup for yourself?

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