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Dextrin vs. Maltodextrin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 9, 2023
Dextrin is a group of low-molecular-weight carbohydrates, while maltodextrin is a carbohydrate powder used to thicken food products.

Key Differences

Dextrin and maltodextrin, although chemically related, serve different purposes in various applications. Dextrin can be used in adhesives and glues, while maltodextrin often finds its way into food as a thickener or filler, illustrating their versatile usage in various industries. Both carbohydrates, their functions oscillate between technical applications and culinary use.
In a culinary context, dextrin and maltodextrin act to modify texture and mouthfeel of food products. Dextrin may be employed to provide crispiness to baked goods, whereas maltodextrin, being a polysaccharide, is used to provide body and thickness to sauces and soups without adding a significant flavor. These variations in their functionality exemplify how the derivatives of starch can be applied differently depending on their structural characteristics.
From a health and nutrition perspective, dextrin and maltodextrin have distinctive impacts. Dextrin may be somewhat easier on the digestive system, while maltodextrin can potentially spike blood sugar levels due to its high glycemic index. Both are carbohydrates, yet their interaction with our metabolic system reveals disparities in how our bodies process them.
In the brewing industry, dextrin and maltodextrin are recognized for their specific impacts on the final beverage. Dextrin can add body and mouthfeel to beers without significantly affecting the flavor. Maltodextrin, on the other hand, can increase the body of the beer and slightly sweeten it, providing a maltier character to the beverage. Thus, despite their similarity, they influence the end product in unique ways.
In pharmaceuticals, dextrin and maltodextrin serve as essential excipients, enhancing tablet formation and stability. While dextrin often aids in creating a stable, solid form for tablets, maltodextrin might be used as a binding agent or to help with the dissolution of the tablet in the digestive tract. Both, while starch derivatives, showcase unique characteristics that render them beneficial in specific applications within pharmaceutical formulations.

Comparison Chart

Basic Definition

Low-molecular-weight carbs
Easily digestible carb

Common Usage

Adhesives, glues
Food thickener, filler

Impact on Blood Sugar

Less significant
Can spike blood sugar

Usage in Brewing

Adds body, not much flavor
Adds body and slight sweet

Digestive Characteristics

Somewhat easy to digest
Can be quickly digested

Dextrin and Maltodextrin Definitions


Dextrin is utilized in adhesives due to its bonding properties.
Dextrin is often a key ingredient in the envelope adhesive.


Maltodextrin is known to have a high glycemic index, impacting blood sugar levels.
Diabetics are often advised to monitor their maltodextrin intake due to its effect on glucose levels.


Dextrin is a hydrolyzed starch derived from various grains.
The cracker’s crispiness was enhanced using dextrin.


Maltodextrin is a white powder often used in processed foods as a thickener or filler.
Maltodextrin was added to the soup to enhance its viscosity without altering the flavor.


Dextrin can be used to create a sugar substitute in various food products.
The sugar-free cookies utilized dextrin as a sweetening agent.


Maltodextrin is derived from starch, providing a source of energy in nutritional supplements.
The protein shake contains maltodextrin to quickly replenish glycogen stores post-workout.


Dextrin is a carbohydrate that can be utilized as a fiber supplement.
To manage his digestive health, John incorporated a dextrin supplement into his diet.


Maltodextrin is used in brewing to enhance mouthfeel and sweetness without adding flavor complexity.
The brewer added maltodextrin to the ale to provide a fuller body and a slight residual sweetness.


Dextrin can be employed in the textile industry to create a stiffer fabric.
The dextrin was applied to give the cotton material a firmer structure.


Maltodextrin can be utilized as a binding agent in pharmaceuticals.
Maltodextrin ensured the tablet components remained tightly bound during production.


Any of various soluble polysaccharides obtained from starch by the application of heat or acids and used mainly as adhesives and thickening agents.


(carbohydrate) A type of dextrin commonly used as a food additive


(carbohydrate) Any of a range of oligomers of glucose, intermediate in complexity between maltose and starch, produced by the enzymatic hydrolysis of starch; used commercially as adhesives.


A translucent, gummy, amorphous substance, nearly tasteless and odorless, used as a substitute for gum, for sizing, etc., and obtained from starch by the action of heat, acids, or diastase. It is of somewhat variable composition, containing several carbohydrates which change easily to their respective varieties of sugar. It is so named from its rotating the plane of polarization to the right; - called also British gum, Alsace gum, gommelin, leiocome, etc. See Achroödextrin, and Erythrodextrin.


What is dextrin?

Dextrin is a low-molecular-weight carbohydrate derived from the hydrolysis of starch.

Can maltodextrin affect blood sugar?

Yes, maltodextrin has a high glycemic index and can rapidly spike blood sugar levels.

Is dextrin gluten-free?

Dextrin can be gluten-free if derived from gluten-free sources like corn or potato, but may contain gluten if derived from wheat.

How is maltodextrin produced?

Maltodextrin is produced by partially hydrolyzing starch, usually from corn, potato, or rice.

Is maltodextrin safe to consume?

Yes, maltodextrin is generally considered safe to consume, though it can affect blood sugar levels.

Can dextrin be used as a dietary fiber?

Yes, certain types of dextrin can act as soluble dietary fibers.

Why is maltodextrin added to sports drinks?

Maltodextrin is added to sports drinks to provide a quick energy source during physical activities.

What are the potential side effects of maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin can potentially cause spikes in blood sugar and may have digestive side effects in some individuals.

Is dextrin used in pharmaceutical applications?

Yes, dextrin is used in pharmaceuticals as a binder, filler, and to improve stability.

Does maltodextrin contain gluten?

Maltodextrin derived from wheat may contain gluten, while those from corn, potato, or rice are gluten-free.

Is maltodextrin a carbohydrate?

Yes, maltodextrin is a carbohydrate derived from plant-based starch.

Can dextrin be used in baking?

Yes, dextrin is often used in baking to provide texture and crispiness to products.

Why is maltodextrin used in processed foods?

Maltodextrin is used in processed foods as a thickener, filler, and preservative.

Where is dextrin commonly used?

Dextrin is commonly used in food, textiles, and as an adhesive in paper products.

Are dextrin and maltodextrin considered sugars?

Both are carbohydrates, but maltodextrin can be considered a sugar, whereas dextrin is not typically classified as such.

Can dextrin be used to produce crisps and snacks?

Yes, dextrin can be used in snacks like crisps to enhance their texture and crunchiness.

Can people with diabetes consume maltodextrin?

It is advisable for people with diabetes to limit maltodextrin intake due to its high glycemic index.

Are dextrin and maltodextrin naturally occurring substances?

No, both dextrin and maltodextrin are produced through the partial hydrolysis of starches.

Is dextrin vegan?

Yes, dextrin is typically plant-based and considered vegan.

Can maltodextrin be used in home brewing?

Yes, maltodextrin is often used in home brewing to enhance body and mouthfeel.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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