Top 3 Sugar Substitutes for Baking

There are a number of reasons you may be searching for sugar substitutes for baking. Of those reasons, some major considerations may come from concern over diabetes or other health conditions, or in relation to a mission to consume healthier substances and limit the amount of chemicals supplied to the body. No matter which sugar substitutes are considered, all have pros and cons.

Regular sugar has been used in a large number of recipes over the years because of its ability to not only provide just the right amount of sweetness, but because it liquefies when it bakes, caramelizes at high temperatures, increases the shelf life of many baked goods and often provides the moistness, structure, texture and volume necessary for a fantastic finished product. It’s because of this that no sugar substitute will give you all those same benefits plus perfect health, and an opportunity for weight loss. You can, however, find your preference of these benefits when baking.

Here are the top 3 sugar substitutes for baking:

1. Erythritol

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol derived from fruits and fermented foods, like sugar cane or cornstarch. Available in liquid or powder form, this sweetener has a clean taste, has almost no calories and is absorbed by the body possibly bypassing problems with gastric side effects, unless it’s consumed in excess. Studies show that this sugar substitute doesn’t affect blood sugar and doesn’t cause tooth decay. Unlike some sugar substitutes, erythritol stands up under extreme heat. You can use this in place of sugar in your recipes, but you’ll have to make up for some of the sweetness. This substance is only about 70% as sweet as table sugar.

2. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a syrup that comes from the agave, a succulent plant that resides in the desert. Agave nectar is not low-calorie, but is more natural and sweeter than sugar, meaning you can use less of it when baking. When using as a sugar substitute for your favorite recipe, you’ll always want to take into account the fact that you are substituting a liquid. To make up for this, some experimentation may be required. It’s recommended to take about 25 degrees off the suggested recipe temperature, and also to decrease other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup for every cup of agave nectar added. This substance does appear to have little to no effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, but is high in fructose which may still be detrimental to diabetics. Fructose also disturbs the appetite hormones, meaning you might want to eat more of the end result than you should.

3. Sucralose

Sucralose is made from sugar by combining it with chlorine, and chemically altering in a way that metabolizes differently from regular sugar. This sugar substitute is sold under the Splenda brand name and can be substituted cup for cup of regular sugar. Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar and tends to bake faster, so baking times should be reduced. Studies have revealed no effect on blood glucose control or insulin secretion and this product has about 1/8th the calories of regular sugar. 


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Posts By Sequoia
  • Benjamin Ballinger

    Thanks a lot for this article… although I would probably disagree that agave nectar doesn’t raise insulin… it’s a form of sugar just like honey/maple syrup, etc so it still has an insulinary effect. The other two are great substitutes though.. as is xylitol in certain situations.

  • hazeleyes

    I don’t miss sugar in baking (I don’t bake much), but I do miss certain sugar characteristics when using substitutes. For me sugar has an upfront, immediate kick “I’m sweet”, even if I use just one teaspoon in a recipe. Sucralose doesn’t provide this to my taste buds, but simply gives a very bland sweetness disassociated from sugariness, if that makes sense. Sucralose sort of lurks there but doesn’t satisfy…no chemical reaction with other ingredients. That may because of sugar’s browning reaction, and also of course Suctralose doesn’t contribute structure, moistness, or volume, so recipes made with it are not like old-time cakes and cookies.
    Gradually I’m learning to add a little white sugar; in some dishes even a pinch changes, melds, smoothes everything.
    Love your website!