The effect on cognitive test scores of generating differences in postprandial glycaemia using test foods or beverages has been inconsistent. Methodological issues may account for some of the variable results requiring further investigation using strong study designs into the relationship between glycaemia and cognitive functioning. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of postprandial glycaemia on cognitive function by examining cognition after consumption of foods that differ only by the rate of digestion of available carbohydrate in a population of young adults. In a double-blind, randomised, crossover trial, sixty-five participants received trifle sweetened either with a higher-glycaemic index (GI) sugar (sucrose; GI 65) or a lower-GI sugar (isomaltulose; GI 34). Cognitive tests were completed prior to trifle consumption, and 60 and 120 min after. There was no between-trifle difference at 60 min in performance on free word recall (0·0 (95 % CI –0·6, 0·5)), short delay word recall (0·0 (95 % CI –0·5, 0·5)), long delay word recall (0·0 (95 % CI –0·6, 0·6)), letter–number sequence recall (0·3 (95 % CI − 0·2, 0·7)) and visuo-spatial recall (–0·2 (95 % CI –0·6, 0·2)) tests. At 120 min, no difference was detected in any of these tests. The participants performed 7·7 (95 % CI 0·5,14·9) s faster in Reitan’s trail-making test B 60 min after the higher-GI trifle than the lower-GI trifle (P = 0·037). Our findings of a null effect on memory are generally consistent with other works in which blinding and robust control for confounding have been used.