Powdered Dextrose Substitute: 4 Ingredients You Can Use Instead

Traditional sausage fermentation calls for the right amount of dextrose. Dextrose is made from corn starch, and it’s a very popular food additive that serves as a sugar replacement.

Not only is it used for sausages, but also for other food types. Due to its health benefits, dextrose helps produce beneficial bacteria and lactic acid inside the meat.

Powdered dextrose is a granulated form of dextrose. It’s formed by purifying and crystalizing dextrose anhydrous, dextrose monohydrate, or sometimes even a combination of both; it’s otherwise known as icing dextrose.

If you want to use a powdered dextrose substitute, or if you just can’t find powdered dextrose, there are other options. Some of the best alternatives to powdered dextrose are sucrose, maltose, lactose, and fermento.

This guide will go through each of these alternatives and explain why they are great powdered dextrose substitutes.

powdered dextrose in measuring spoon on top of pile of powdered dextrose

What Makes for a Good Powdered Dextrose Substitute?

Using powdered dextrose in curing sausages is not a step you should skip.

Powdered dextrose enhances the flavor of sausages while providing beneficial nutrients that help fermentation. It can even have an impact on the salty taste and aroma.

The overall goal of using powdered dextrose is to lower the pH levels of meat with its sweet flavor. This reduces any harmful bacterial growth while maintaining sufficient levels of water within the sausages.

Powdered dextrose works by forcing itself into the cells of sausages, considering that it’s heavier than the meat itself. Sometimes, anti-caking ingredients are added to powdered dextrose (for example, starch, magnesium, calcium, and similar) to obtain even better results.

The amount by which powdered dextrose can lower the water levels within the meat depends on whether it was made from dextrose anhydrous or dextrose monohydrate.

Dextrose anhydrous doesn’t contain any water in the substance, while dextrose monohydrate contains approximately one water molecule.

The right powdered dextrose substitute should replicate all these beneficial properties of powdered dextrose without changing the tangy flavor of the sausages.

Powdered Dextrose Alternatives to Try

There are many powdered dextrose alternatives you can try to make sausages.

The best options are:

Let’s go over each alternative and explain why they are efficient in replacing powdered dextrose.


Sucrose is basically regular table sugar you would find in your pantry. It’s by far the most obtainable option since you can purchase it in any supermarket, and it is the most affordable alternative.

Sucrose is extracted from sugar beets or sugar cane, fruit, honey, and many other sources.

Furthermore, instead of dextrose with a less sweet flavor, sucrose is the sweetest powdered dextrose substitute.

The right amount of sucrose can make the difference in your sausages. If you add too much, you could ruin the flavor, but you still need to use enough to support the acidic-producing process.

Therefore, it’s generally advised to use one to two grams of sugar per 1 kg of meat.

Sucrose also helps brighten the color of sausages.


Maltose is even less sweet than powdered dextrose. Otherwise known as malt sugar, it’s usually found in cereal, certain types of fruit, sweet potatoes, and other food sources.

Due to its low sweetness levels, maltose is less likely to ruin the flavor of sausages, as adding too much sugar can make the meat taste sour.

Adding maltose to your sausage recipe will keep the pH levels to a minimum, which will help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. It will also reduce water levels within the meat.

Maltose is also a healthier alternative to powdered dextrose.


Lactose, or milk sugar, is extracted from milk and dairy products.

Like maltose, it’s much less sweet than sucrose and dextrose, and it presents a healthier option.

Due to its light flavor, it’s generally used to add sweetness to various types of food, and sausages are no exception.

Since you shouldn’t taste sugar in your sausages, using a small amount of lactose in the production process is essential.

Fermented sausages require much less sugar than medium-fermented sausages, so keep in mind that your recipe should only contain about 1% sugar.

Since maltose and lactose are generally less sweet than other types of sugar, they are usually combined with other sweeteners to enhance the flavor.


Unlike the first three alternatives, which are basically types of sugar, fermento is a starter culture that helps produce the tangy flavor in semi-dried cured sausages.

Even though fermento produces salty and smoky flavors, it adds a small amount of sweetness as well.

Fermento serves as an excellent powdered dextrose substitute because it produces lactic acid in the meat, which the other three alternatives can’t do until they gradually break down.

Fermento also helps minimize the growth of harmful bacteria while promoting valuable nutrients that help fasten the curing process of sausages.

As for how much fermento you should use in the meat preparation process, it’s generally recommended that you use one ounce of fermento for every 2 lbs. of meat or 28 grams for every 0.90 kg of meat.

By using fermento, you will speed up the fermentation process significantly. Once you use it in your mixture, you can start drying and smoking your sausages right away.

In Summary

Powdered dextrose is a valuable ingredient that helps give sausages the tangy flavor they are known for. However, in cases where you can’t use powdered dextrose, there are other options to consider.

Sucrose is best used for medium-fermented sausages, and it’s the most affordable option. Lactose and maltose are very light-flavored, but they can make a significant difference in sausage production. Fermento is a healthy alternative that will help produce lactic acid and other beneficial bacteria in the meat.

No matter which powdered dextrose substitute you go with, you can’t go wrong with a replacement on this list.

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