Difference Between Dextrin and Maltodextrin

Main Difference – Dextrin vs Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin and Dextrin are low-molecular-weight carbohydrates, derived from natural sources. They are also categorized as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food additives by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dextrin and maltodextrin are mainly used for various processed foods to provide desired texture and sweetness. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion over the difference between dextrin and maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a combination of three to seventeen D-glucose units that are primarily linked with α(1→4) glycosidic bonds. Its chemical formula is C6nH(10n+2)O(5n+1). Dextrin equivalent of maltodextrin is 3 and 20. Dextrin is a combination D-glucose units that are primarily linked with α(1→4) or α-(1→6) glycosidic bonds. Its chemical formula is (C6H10O5)n. This is the main difference between dextrin and maltodextrin.

This article describes,

1. What is Dextrin? – Chemical Formula, Structure, Properties and Uses

2. What is Maltodextrin? – Chemical Formula, Structure, Properties and Uses 

3. What is the difference between Dextrin and Maltodextrin

Difference Between Dextrin and Maltodextrin - Dextrin vs Maltodextrin Comparison Summary

What is Dextrin

Dextrin is a short chain carbohydrate, and its monomer unit is D-glucose. To synthesize a dextrin molecule, several molecules of glucose are joined with an α (1→4) or α-(1→6) glycosidic bond as a result of a condensation reaction. Starch is broken down into dextrin in the presence of amylase enzyme. It is produced during oral and gastrointestinal digestion of starchy food, during the malting process and caramelization process. Dextrin is further subdivided into the following three categories;

  • Amylodextrin (it is soluble in 25% alcohol and with iodine gives a blue color)
  • Erythrodextrin (it is soluble in 55% alcohol and with iodine gives a red color)
  • Achrodextrin (it is soluble in 70% alcohol and with iodine gives a no color)

Difference Between Dextrin and Maltodextrin

What is Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin belongs to the polysaccharide group. It is a white hygroscopic spray-dried powder and used as a food ingredient to improve texture and mouthfeel of the food. Thus, it is used for the production of beverages and sweeteners like toffee and candy. It is manufactured by enzymatic hydrolysis from gelled starch and is readily soluble in water. The glycemic index of maltodextrin is extending from 85 to 105.

Main Difference - Dextrin vs Maltodextrin

Difference Between Dextrin and Maltodextrin

Chemical Formula

Dextrin: (C6H10O5)n

Maltodextrin: C6nH(10n+2)O(5n+1)


Dextrin: Dextrin is a combination D-glucose units that are primarily linked with α(1→4) or α-(1→6) glycosidic bonds.

Maltodextrin: Maltodextrin is a combination of three to seventeen D-glucose units that are primarily linked with α(1→4) glycosidic bonds. 


Dextrin: Dextrin is a white or yellow powder.

Maltodextrin: Maltodextrin is a white or yellow powder.

Industrial Uses


  • A thickening and binding agent in food applications and pharmaceuticals and paper coatings
  • A crispness enhancer in foods
  • Used as a thickening agent to thicken food sauces
  • Yellow dextrin is mainly used as a water-soluble glue


  • Used in beer brewing to increase the specific gravity and improves the mouthfeel of alcoholic beverage
  • Used to produce “light” peanut butter in order to maintain the texture
  • Used as a cheaper food additive to thicken food products such as infant formula
  • Used as a filler in sugar substitutes


Dextrin: Dextrin is enzymatically derived from corn, potato, arrowroot, rice or tapioca starch.

Maltodextrin: Maltodextrin is enzymatically derived from corn or potatoes starch in the USA and from wheat or barley starch in Europe.

Health Concerns

Dextrin: Dextrin is an entirely natural non-nutrient product.  Dextrin can cause weight gain and tooth decay.

Maltodextrin: Maltodextrin is derived from wheat source and is not suitable for individuals suffering from gluten-related disorders.

In conclusion, dextrin and maltodextrin are mainly food additives which used as a thickening agent and chemically they are categorized as low-molecular-weight carbohydrates. Although Dextrin and maltodextrin are mostly safe, eating a lot of processed foods with these ingredients may cause weight gain and tooth decay.


Alistair M. Stephen, Glyn O. Phillips, Peter A. Williams (2006), Food polysaccharides and their applications 2nd edition, p 92-99, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN 0-8247-5922-2

White, D.R., Jr; Hudson, P.; Adamson, J.T. Dextrin characterization by high-performance anion exchange chromatography-pulsed amperometric detection and size-exclusion chromatography–multi-angle light scattering-refractive index detection. J. Chromatogr. A 2003, 997, 79-85.

Dokik, P.; Jakovljevic, J.; Dokic-Baucal, L. Molecular characteristics of maltodextrins and rheological behaviour of diluted and concentrated solutions. Colloids Surfaces A 1998, 141, 435-440.

Tester, R.F.; Qi, X.; Karkalas, J. Hydrolysis of native starches with amylases. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 2006, 130, 39-54.

Liu, X.X.; Gu, Z.B.; Hong, Y. Composition and molecular distribution of maltodextrins and its effect on properties. Sci. Technol. Food Ind. 2006, 27, 97-100.

Image Courtesy:

“Maltodextrin” By Edgar181 – Own work (Public Domain) via  

“Poly-(1-4)-alpha-D-Glucose” By NEUROtiker – Own work (Public Domain) via  

About the Author: Geesha

Geesha has a BSc (Hons) degree in Food Science and Technology and Master's degree in Food and Nutrition. She is currently reading for her PhD in Food science and technology. Sharing what she learned is a passion of hers and enjoys writing.

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