Hi Bold Bakers!
As Bigger Bolder Baking‘s resident alternative baker, I love creating recipes that challenge the traditional ways of baking. From experimenting with wheat-free flours to baking and cooking with non-dairy milk, there are tons of ways to update your favorite sweet treats and improve the value of their overall nutrition without losing out on any of the flavors.
One of the most common questions we’re asked here at Bigger Bolder Baking is how to cut down on the sugar, and which sugar substitutes to use. Well, baking without sugar is my specialty, and I would say it’s a great place to start when adjusting your style of cooking and baking. That’s right, I suggest cutting the sugar first, instead of going gluten-free or even skipping dairy (unless you have allergies and medical sensitivities).
Why? Because the sugar substitutes I have come to love to work with can be swapped 1:1 for sugar. That means with no adjustment to all of your favorite recipes, you can be baking sugar-free! And these healthy sugar substitutes or also the best sugar substitute
Below is my list of alternative sweeteners that are just as sweet as sugar and a bit about them, and I highly encourage you all to give them a go next time you decide to whip up something sweet!
How To Bake With Lakanto Sugar Substitutes
Lakanto Sugar/Sweetener is derived from monkfruit, which looks like a small green gourd. The monkfruit is picked and dried, then the sweetness is extracted from the dried fruit. This means Lakanto is 100% naturally derived, vegan, and no-GMO.
While Lakanto brand monkfruit sweetener provides a lovely sweetness, it’s zero glycemic — in other words, it’s a zero-calorie alternative sugar making it great to use if you are diabetic or looking to regulate your sugar intake. Lakanto makes brown sugar, white sugar, and even powdered sugar that can be used 1:1 for sugar. I love the ease of baking and cooking with this as it works like a charm and has no bitter aftertaste like Stevia.
In addition to 3 different kinds of powder sweetener, Lakanto also makes a Maple Syrup alternative that I also love to cook with, bake with, and add to raw desserts. The only downfall of this sugar replacement is that after being heated, then cooled, the sugar can crystallize and have a slightly gritty texture. To avoid this, I suggest desserts that are baked with Lakanto that are then cooled should be reheated before enjoying to ensure they have the correct texture!
How To Bake With Swerve
Swerve is a somewhat natural sweetener that measures cup-for-cup just like sugar. Swerve, similar to Lakanto, is made from ingredients found in select fruits and starchy root vegetables, and it contains no preservatives or flavors and is also a zero-calorie option — so this is also great for those who are medically avoiding sugar.
That said, the Swerve sugar substitute is made of a combination of erythritol, oligosaccharides, and natural flavors. While this bakes very similarly to sugar, it CAN have an aftertaste to some people because of erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol. That’s why it’s my second favorite sugar substitute. You will see that I do use this, but not quite as often as monkfruit-based sweeteners.
How To Bake With Stevia
If used in the right recipe, liquid Stevia can be the best substitute for the job — the trick is to know what kinds of recipes.
The Stevia plant is part of the Asteraceae family, related to the daisy and ragweed. Stevia has no calories and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. In other words, Stevia really should be used sparingly. In my early days of alternative baking, I would bake an entire pan of brownies with just 5 drops of Stevia!
While this did add sweetness, I could always tell the recipe was missing the “oomph” it had when baked with sugar, though. I really do like to use liquid Stevia when making raw or liquid desserts. This is great for sweetening up drinks, smoothies, puddings, mousse, raw food, nut butter… The list goes on, but what all these things have in common is that they are all cold — not baked — desserts.
Baking With Coconut Sugar (My Favorite Naturally Occurring Sugar)
Coconut sugar, also called coconut palm sugar, is a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap, which is the sugary fluid of the coconut plant. Think of it as the maple syrup of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar substitutes perfectly for sugar perfectly too.
Regular table sugar, and other processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup, don’t contain any vital nutrients and therefore supply “empty” calories. The reason I like to bake with coconut sugar is it is lower glycemic and does retain quite a bit of the nutrient found in the coconut palm. If I do not want to use a sugar substitute, I always reach for this before regular processed sugar.
Coconut sugar has a malty brown sugar-like flavor naturally and can be used in place for sugar 1:1 like the other substitutes. So if you’re asking yourself, “What can I substitute for brown sugar?” coconut sugar is a great option for a brown sugar substitute.
Baking with Date Sugar and Dates
Dates are one of my most favorite dried fruits. For those who don’t know, dates are the dried fruits that hang off of the date palm trees. Whole dates have become a very popular way to sweeten both raw and baked desserts because they’re naturally sticky, moist, full of fiber, and most importantly, they are a “whole food” — in other words, they have undergone no manipulation or processing.
Dates and date sugar are versatile and easy to use, as they’re often used in place of coconut sugar or used in their whole dried form.
Baking with Barley and Rice Malt Syrup
Barley malt syrup and rice syrup are great to use in place of liquid sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, or Lakanto maple syrup. Both are completely unrefined liquid sweeteners made from soaked, sprouted barley and rice. They differ slightly in flavor but both have a consistency that is similar to molasses and golden syrup, but are tasty substitutes for honey.
These can be used 1:1 for other liquid sweeteners.
Baking With Xylitol or Erythritol
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol used as a low-calorie sweetener. Erythritol is part of a class of compounds called sugar alcohols. This includes xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. Most of them function as low-calorie sweeteners in sugar-free or low-sugar products.
Most sugar alcohols are found in small amounts in nature, especially in fruits and vegetables. The way these molecules are structured gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue without actually containing any refined sugar.
Erythritol is the most natural of all the other sugar alcohols, and in small amounts, I do like to use this with things that are not going to be baked, such as no-bake or “raw” desserts. When baked, I find this has a bit of an aftertaste and unusual feel in your mouth, which is why I prefer to use one of the above sweeteners when baking.
Tips And Tricks For Sugar Substitutes
Store them at room temperature. Seeing as the constitution of these granulated sugar substitutes is very different than refined white or brown sugar, they can become drier and harder over time. I suggest storing all powder sugar substitutes in an extra airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place.
Break up the lumps. If not used within around 6 months, these confectioners’ sugar substitutes can age and harden or become stale in texture. If this happens, they can be broken up and used as normal in your recipe. In other words, don’t be alarmed if you see any lumps in your sugar subs.
FAQs For Sugar Substitutes
What is the closest sugar substitute in terms of consistency? Monkfruit sugar, also known as Lakanto sugar, is the closest alternative to sugar in this respect.
If your sugar substitutes yield a gritty texture, what can you do? Basically, you want to make your sugar substitute is in powder form.
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