Dextrose Substitute: 4 Ingredients You Can Use Instead

Dextrose monohydrate, also known as glucose powder, is actually made from corn starch.

It serves as a sweetener that helps produce beneficial bacteria during the fermenting process of sausages. Dextrose is a valuable ingredient in meat fermentation since it’s a healthier alternative to sugar; it’s 70% less sweet than ordinary sugar.

If you can’t find dextrose, or if you simply want to go with another ingredient, there are plenty of dextrose substitutes you can use for your sausages. Some of the best dextrose substitutes are maltose, lactose, sucrose, and fermento.

This guide will go through each dextrose substitute and explain why each alternative can replace dextrose monohydrate.

dextrose in measuring cup on top of small pile of dextrose

What Makes for a Good Dextrose Substitute?

Most people assume that all the ingredients that go into sausage produce salty and sour flavors in one way or another.

While the general goal of sausage fermentation is to get the traditional tangy taste, it’s equally important to add sugar into the mix.

Before you ask, the answer is no; adding sugar to sausages will not make them any less piquant and salty. Quite the contrary, the right amount of sugar is necessary for sausage production to maintain the overall pH levels, which helps minimize unhealthy bacterial growth.

While only dextrose monohydrate can cause the instant fermentation of lactic acid inside the meat, dextrose substitutes need more time to break down to do the same thing.

Therefore, a dextrose substitute needs to lay the ground for fermentation. At the same time, these alternatives should maintain the correct water levels within the sausages as well.

Dextrose Alternatives to Try

If you’re looking to replace dextrose in the process of sausage production and fermentation, these are some alternatives you can try:

  • Maltose (malt sugar)
  • Lactose (milk sugar)
  • Sucrose (ordinary sugar)
  • Fermento


Maltose, otherwise known as malt sugar, can be found in different foods, like cereal, particular fruit, sweet potatoes, etc.

Because maltose is less sweet than ordinary sugar, it’s commonly used in the production of candy.

It’s also a convenient and helpful ingredient because it has tolerance for both cold and warm temperatures.

You can use maltose as a dextrose substitute since it helps reduce PH levels in sausages and therefore reduces the development of harmful bacteria.

It’s also a good alternative for lowering water levels inside of meat products.

It’s important to note that maltose is a healthier option than table sugar and can therefore be less damaging to your health. However, it still has the same amount of calories as other types of sugar.

Apart from sausages, you can use maltose to produce other types of food, such as cereal, candy, beverages, sauces, dressing, and baked goods.


Lactose is sugar that is extracted from milk and other dairy products.

In fact, it usually makes up 2-8% of milk. Since lactose isn’t generally receptive to yeast fermentation, it isn’t usually added to food directly. Instead, it can be used to sweeten the flavor.

It’s traditionally used for bread, cereal, salad dressings, baked goods, and sausages.

Lactose is also less sweet than dextrose and even less than table sugar. That’s why it’s sometimes used in combination with other types of sugar in curing and fermenting sausages.


Otherwise known as table sugar, sucrose is the sweetest alternative to dextrose. That’s precisely why you should use it in lesser amounts in sausage production.

Apart from sugar cane and sugar beets, you can find sucrose in fruit, honey, sugar maple, and many other food sources.

Due to its high levels of sweetness, sucrose is best used with medium-fermented sausages. It’s also advisable to use sucrose with sausages that go through a longer fermentation process.

Sucrose keeps the pH levels of sausages to a minimum at a slower rate. Sucrose also gives sausages a better curing color and improved flavor.

Sucrose is also the easiest dextrose substitute to come by. You can find it in any supermarket, and it’s also the most affordable option.


Last but not least, you can use fermento as a dextrose substitute.

Fermento is a starter culture that’s necessary for the fermentation process of semi-dried, cured sausages. Not only does fermento give sausages the tangy flavor and smell, but it also provides the required sugar levels to enhance the taste.

Fermento is so popular because it speeds up the curing process, which otherwise can take up to a couple of months. So when you use fermento, you can start drying and smoking your sausages almost immediately.

Fermento makes for a great dextrose substitute because it produces lactic acid in the meat, which is something that only glucose can do among all types of sugar.

Fermento also helps minimize the growth of harmful bacteria while boosting the production of beneficial bacteria necessary for the fermentation process of sausages.

In Summary

Dextrose monohydrate is a valuable ingredient in the process of producing and fermenting sausages. It’s a healthier alternative to sugar, it maintains the correct pH levels, and it produces lactic acid.

However, there are other ingredients you can use instead of dextrose. Some of the best dextrose substitutes are maltose, lactose, sucrose, and fermento.

Maltose and lactose contain an even lower level of sweetness, so they are usually combined with other types of sugar to enhance the flavor. Sucrose, or table sugar, is the sweetest and strongest type of sugar, and it’s also the easiest type to come by. Fermento is a healthy option that will help grow helpful bacteria and minimize the growth of harmful ones.

Whichever dextrose substitute you end up choosing, rest assured that you can’t go wrong with any of these options.

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