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Malt question: Horlick's vs. malt extract vs. Carnation

I love chocolate malts, and I always have to ask for EXTRA EXTRA malt in order to get enough of the delicious malt flavor I am looking for. Unfortunately, most places us Carnation Malted Milk powder, which I believe contains at least as much powdered milk as malt. It always seemed a little redundant to me to add milk powder to a milk shake.

I am on a quest to find the strongest pure malt flavor that I can without having to use a "malted milk" product. I found some online homebrew/beer stores that offer powdered malt extract, and I have seen a lot of recommendations for a product called Horlick's. I am wondering if anybody has any experience with or advice about what I should try? Is liquid malt extract more powerfully flavored than powdered? Is malt extract actually what I am looking for? Is Horlick's going to provide the strong flavor I am craving? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!


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  1. Horlicks is similar to Carnation. The ingredients list starts:
    wheat flour, malted barley, sugar, dried skimmed milk, etc.
    My jar was made in Jamaica under license from the UK company.

    Another malt flavor source is a malt sugar powder from the bulk section of health food store. Ive seen ones with something like 65% maltose sugar.

    1. Horlicks is much much maltier tasting than Carnation. You'll find it in any Asian or Indian market. Try to get the original, unflavored Horlicks. Be aware, too, that it doesn't dissolve easily.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff

        I'm off to the Asian market tomorrow in search of Horlick's. I'm wondering about that "malt extract" from the home brew shop, though. Does anybody have any experience with it? Is it actually malty tasting, or is it just a sugar used for the fermentation? Researching it online, it seems that it's just an air dried version of the liquid malt, which I've never come across. I did see one post where somebody said that the liquid malt doesn't provide as much malt flavor as the powders, which seems almost counter-intuitive. I'd think that liquid malt extract would be at least somewhat concentrated.

        1. re: angusb

          I am guessing at bit here: the main malt flavor comes from maltose, a sugar composed to two glucose simple sugars (regular sugar is sucrose, a fructose and a glucose). A major source is sprouted grain, especially barley.

          As kid we would sprout wheat berries (grains), then dry and toast them slightly. The result had a mild malt flavor.

          I suppose variables include how long you let the grains sprout, and how long you roast them. Beer makers are aware of those variations. I don't know if malt flavoring makers play with these things or not.

          I've seen some malt flavored sodas from the Caribbean, but I don't recall what they taste like.

          1. re: paulj

            That's what I'm wondering about. Is the flavor of malt really just the flavor of maltose? If so, it seems that the purest malt flavor would be achieved by simply adding maltose. My totally unsupported hunch, though, is that the flavor I think of as "malt" actually involves more than just maltose--the by-products of malting, barley solids, etc. I'm heading out this morning to try to find some Horlick's, so hopefully that will be the answer for me.

          2. re: angusb

            malt extract at home brew shops is indeed powerfully malty. Bear in mind that there are different grades of the stuff, though. It actually might be a bit much. The Horlicks may be all you need. But if you do want to dive more deeply into the world of malt, for sure, go talk to some homebrewers. In fact, you may want to post a "heads up" to our beer message board, inviting people over there to come join this discussion.

            one more thing: do a web search for "malteasers". Very malty malt balls from britain, easily available mail order (if you have any british or irish specialty shops where you are, you can surely find them there, too)

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Thanks for the tip. I actually just got back from the Homebrew shop and the Indian grocery. I got some Horlick's and several types of malt extract. I found that the malt extract provided an excellent malty flavor, and it also mixed in much more easily than the Horlick's (the Horlick's was not quite as malty, and it lent a distinct grittiness to the chocolate malted). I tried dark, amber, and extra light malt extract, and I was surprised that the maltiest tasting of the lot was the "extra light."

              1. re: angusb

                that's because it's the least roasted, i.e. the least processed. That's the only difference: more roasting means darker color.

                something to look for: maris otter malt. It's the maltiest malt. You can taste it most easily, if you're on the east coast, in brooklyn brewery's pennant ale. but a really good homebrew shop (or mail order) should be able to get you some.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Thanks! I just ordered some of the maris otter. I look forward to trying it.

                  1. re: angusb

                    Thanks for doing so much "research" on my favorite flavor...will you please follow up when you receive the Maris Otter Malt? I'm extremely interested in your results...thanks again!

        2. Another route to take can be found in the Latin section of your grocery store. Look for Malta in the soda section, yep...malt flavored soda.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chilihead

            This "tip" has been lying in wait for me to pick up on it for 5+ years! I make Egg Creams with Mug brand cream soda, when I can find any in Florida- I may have to try an Egg Cream with Malta! Thanks! By the way, we all know that standard Egg Creams use seltzer, not Mug cream soda. And I follow a standard Jim Leff recipe (with the seltzer...) I downloaded in July of 2000.

          2. this was interesting. I think malt shakes are quite an American thing, but somehow it never occurred that I could make them here. Three things:
            I think Horlicks has a lot of milk powder in it, which kind of puts me off it.
            Maltesers are great, but i should add that they're covered in (good) milk chocolate, and they're like fake honeycomb or something.
            How do you go about making a chocolate/vanilla malt shake? Is it as simple as adding milk to icecream, then malt to taste?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Soop

              While malt shakes are American, many other uses of malt flavoring have died out here. Even in shakes, other flavors have come to dominate. It seems to be much more popular in various corners of the (ex)British empire, as shown by the manufacture and sale of Horlicks.

              1. re: Soop

                Soop, yes, exactly. A malt is a milkshake with some type of malt flavor added. I blend up chocolate ice cream with just a little bit of milk until it gets to the right (thick) consistency, then add the malt and blend quickly again. You can do the same with vanilla ice cream, of course, and many people start with vanilla as a base and then add whatever flavor they want as a syrup or sauce (chocolate) or pieces of fruit (strawberry, peaches, etc.).

                1. re: Soop

                  "Maltesers are great, but i should add that they're covered in (good) milk chocolate, and they're like fake honeycomb or something." Malted milk balls, is the US equivalent, though I don't think you'd call the chocolate coating "good", really. And they are nicely malty, as I recall; it HAS been about forty years since my last one!

                2. I just found at a healthfood store
                  Aunt Pattys (.com) Barley Malt Syrup, 12oz for about $3.
                  It's thick like honey, mildly sweet (maltose is supposed to be 35% as sweet as sucrose), with a slight acid background taste.

                  1. How about sorghum molasses? Compare malt syrup side-by-side with sorghum some time; you might like it.

                    Makes delicious "malted" milkshakes, in my humble opinion.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vtnewbie

                      I still haven't had a chance to try malt syrup, but the malt I'm talking about tastes nothing like sorghum. Well, maybe there are some similarities, but I could eat malt every day, and I only get a hankering for sorghum every couple of years. I do appreciate the flavor of sorghum in certain types of cookies and baked goods, just as I appreciate the flavor of malt in some items. After tasting the Horlick's powder mixed with milk, I realized that malt is one of the main flavor components of Grape-Nuts. I actually appreciated the Horlick's more prepared that way than when it was blended into a chocolate malt.

                      1. re: angusb

                        I'd certainly agree that sorghum molasses tastes nothing like malted milk powder.

                    2. I just read in a Chinese cookbook (Barbara Tropp 1982) that China has long used maltose. She says this version is pale gold in color, sticky and hard. She mentions 2 brands that come in crocks - Tungoon Genuine Maltose, Butterfly Brand Maltose.

                      Since the book's a bit dated current availablity may be different, but I'll have to keep an eye out for it next time I shop at 99 Ranch (or the new H Mart).

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: paulj

                        This is just maltose syrup and has no malt flavor as such. It also would not dissolve very readily - it's hard to sink a spoon in it, a very resistant thick syrup. Strange and rather wonderful texture for a food product. I've only used it to coat duck for "Peking" duck.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          I just tasted some. As you say, a very resistant liquid. The taste is mild, almost buttery, more butterscotch or Golden Syrup like.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Was going to compare it to Tate & Lyle's but wasn't sure if it would be a well enough known referent.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Liquid malt extract can be found at many health food shops and it is, as you might expect, extremely malty. Delicious! It's also very sticky and viscuous so it's easier to stir it into warm milk than cold. Whip it up till it's got a frothy head. Add a linch of cinammon or nutmeg on top. And a tot of rum! Amazing!

                              1. re: paddydubai

                                Thanks..that sounds delicious...a new way to use malt! I can't wait to find some and try the liguid version!

                      2. I've tried Carnation, Horlicks and Eden Organic Barley malt (purchased to add to dough for making a real bagel flavor).

                        HORLICKS is wonderful....exactly the super flavor from my yut (youth). Excellent malty flovor, smooth and tasty with or without ice cream added. Carnation is some kind of wierd thin, flavor. Strange, because I recall Carnation malteds as being very good many years ago. Perhaps it's gone down the same sad path as Ovaltine which was origninally, supposedly a healthy blend put together for TB patients who needed intense nourishment in a tasty mix.

                        I tired adding sugar and Splenda and ice cream to Carnation...but nothing did it. The sticky liquid had malt flavor but not as I recall it. It is dark color, so I've got to go find light color.

                        The ONLY problem with Horlicks is that it is EXPENSIVE. The only place I found it was shipped in from England in fairly small containers. (But ohhh now delicious once it was opened and mixed.)

                        I wonder what the places that still serve "malts" use.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: albertkarel

                          Horlicks is commonly available in Asian stores at a good price.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            ...especially in the big jars. All decent Far Eastern markets or Indian markets have it!

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Cost plus world market also often has it

                          2. Hello, I used to work at Horlicks. in the70's we made mated milk for Carnation.
                            Using there resapie.
                            Horlicks was the strongest . I have never had liquid malt extract
                            If you can find a bottle of Horlicks .and it is not all stuck together buy it.
                            I have found some bottles of the original tablets here at a pharmacy
                            They had them in the basement, and they are sure good.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: daddy719

                              Wow, so great to have you here! Does it feel strange to know that your product's now considered "Asian", and is hardly known at all here? I've been in obscure little Chinese coffee shops, ordered a Horlicks, and had the clerk look at me wide-eyed and ask if I'm part Chinese!

                              The tablets are still available: http://bit.ly/emjUjc

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                HEllo Beechem.bought Horlicks in the 70's and closed it for a tax write off,
                                Horlicks was next to impossible to find.
                                then they started making it untie U.K. and as far as I know they
                                Still are.

                                1. re: daddy719

                                  The last jar of Horlicks that I bought was made in Jamaica. Judging from where I've see it, malt seems to have remained most popular in former British colonies.

                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                  Horlicks is very well known here in Racine Wisconsin the home of Horlicks mated milk.Went to Horlicks high,Played football st Horlick filed.There is HOrlick Drive and there use to be a Horlick park.The Horlick manchen still stands doMain street and
                                  is decorated every Christmas and they have tours of the house.
                                  The Horlick family ownen most Racine and at the time was one of if not the largest employer here.
                                  There was the dam on root river here was called Horlick dam. And the airport was Horlick airport.
                                  I know this more than anyone wants to know ,but Horlicks was very important here .
                                  It is truly missed by everyone here.most of all the people that worked there.

                                  1. re: daddy719

                                    Totally not more than we want to know. I'm loving every word.

                                    I wish I was born twenty years earlier. As-is, I'm an oddball for being so dedicated to this now-obscure product!

                                    Did Horlicks ever make malt balls? I love malt balls!

                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                        Horlicks did sell 200# drums of powered maltedmilk to Brouchs.

                                        1. re: daddy719

                                          Had to chime in...I have read every word of your fascinating connection with Horlicks... a family favourite, indeed. I had no idea there was a Horlicks-US connection, and such an interesting one!

                                          Coincidentally, long ago, I worked on the last ad campaign for Ovaltine ever seen in Canada-though I noticed the product in back on the shelves these days, it is not the same.

                                          We get our Horlicks fix from www.britsuperstore.com.

                                          If you go to that link and search "Horlicks", you will find a 2kg. catering size tin of the "original' for less than 12 pounds (sorry, I don't know how to do that symbol on this keyboard!). That is quite inexpensive even with shipping. The site features a number of other Horlicks products in smaller sizes.

                                          Thanks for this reminder that my family are not the only folks who still love malt beverages!

                                          1. re: LJS

                                            It is interesting that Horlicks was started in the USA by a British brothers, and became international when one of them moved back to England. For a while there were separate American and UK companies (20s-40s). Their presence in India dates to the 30s.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              So Horlick's is the California roll of malted milk drinks, cool :-). I knew about it because the SO was born in England and drank it daily, retaining a love for it upon moving to Canada. I must ask him where they got it in Manitoba in the mid-70s.

                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                As far as I know Horlicks was only made here In Racine Wisconsin.
                                                as I ststed before Horlicks owned most of the city.

                                                1. re: daddy719

                                                  I am from Milwaukee and used to get a double malted chocolate shake from the ice cream stand across from the airport. They were fabulous! This was back in the late 70's and early 80's. I remember they would put in 2 scoops of a powdered malt. I wonder if it was Horlick's. With all the breweries around, I wasn't sure what they used. I will have to check this out. Thanks!

                                  2. re: daddy719

                                    One of my fondest memories was my grandfather taking me to the drugstore that carried the Horlick's tablets. Does anyone still make the tablets?

                                  3. If you're looking for a chocolate malt, try "Milo."

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Smorgasbord

                                      I think Milo was South African originally, but about 20 years ago it appeared on British grocery shelves. It's ok but I prefer Ovaltine. I like the slight burning sensation on the back of my throat!

                                    2. I've been preparing a chocolate malt on a pretty much weekly basis for a few months now. I've been using Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate ice cream ($3.99/pint), a little milk, Horlicks malt powder in a blender.

                                      I ran out of Horlicks last week, ordered some off Amazon.com, it's imported from the UK. Honestly, my memory from many years ago is that malted milk powder had a much stronger malt taste than what I'm getting in Horlicks now. I used to buy Carnation, haven't seen it lately. If I can believe the posts in this thread, Horlicks has a stronger malted taste than Carnation these days, so maybe I'll forgo ordering Carnation malted milk powder. I could get a 13 ounce jar from Walmart for $3.54 and tag it along with an order of non fat dry milk powder that I get there periodically and see for myself.

                                      I suppose I'll just have to add a LOT of malt powder these days to get that strong malt taste I prefer!!!

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: dMuse

                                        I'm wondering if aging taste buds is part of the difference. Kids seem to be more sensitive to bitter flavors. I don't think of malt as being bitter, but it does have the same sort of complex roasted flavors that one associates with coffee, chocolate, and beer. So the malt flavor may not stand out as much to you now.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          I still love the tast of malted milk, I think I always will.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            My rule of thumb is that whenever someone suspects their taste memory is deceiving them, or that time or age is having an effect on their flavor acuity....it's not.

                                            Food manufacturers change recipes, cut corners, and degrade quality. They count on consumers doubting their memories and their palates.

                                            If slice pizza was this bad in NYC 30-40 years ago, it'd have never caught on. We're all patronizing those places out of sheer momentum, extrapolation and vague self-doubt.

                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                              That explains why I no longer like Velvetta, CheeseWhiz and canned condensed soups. They really were superior products when I was a kid. :)

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I'm talking about perception, not preference.

                                          2. re: dMuse

                                            When I worked at Horlicks here in Racine WI. We made some of the Carnation malted powder for them, abd it was weaker then the Horlicks, that's the way they wanted it.

                                            1. re: daddy719


                                              Great to have your thoughts. I'm a big fan.

                                              Any other tales from your time there? Or thoughts on why the stuff fell from flavor here but grew absolutely HUGE in East Asia and South Asia?

                                              In Chinese coffee shops, a gringo ordering Horlicks can make faces light up in delighted surprise...and garner praise for your hip insider knowledge of Chinese food.

                                          3. Has anyone tried this?

                                            I don't recall where it was docussed, And I haven't bought it myself yet.

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. re: mcsheridan

                                                Comments in the product pages seem promising

                                              2. I have a bottle of Fox's ubet Malt syrup.


                                                Besides making an ice cream chocolate malt, what else can I use it in?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                  Why on earth would they need to artificially flavor a malt syrup? JUst make it from malt syrup and that should be enough.

                                                  I guess you could use it to make Malted Egg Creams.