Love sweets and want to try low-sugar baking? Follow our guide for success!

  • 3 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Want to make a "sweet" treat, but low-sugar baking has you baffled? Our dietitian helps you sort out the numerous low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners available to improve your game for healthier desserts.

Low-sugar baking

Why consider low-sugar baking?

We are born with a preference for sweet taste; enjoying the smell and taste of freshly baked cookies and muffins is a sign of being human. However, if you are trying to limit the extra calories and carbs from added sugar, you might consider reducing the amount of sugar in your baking. So where do you start?

Take a walk through the baking aisle, and you will be amazed at how many reduced-calorie sweeteners exist. What is the best choice? It comes down to your taste preferences and the type of baking you are doing.

General tips for low-calorie sweetener baking success:

Bake with less sugar using these options without sacrificing taste

Sugar does more than add a sweet taste to your favorite treat. It helps baked goods turn golden brown on top and provides texture and volume. Sugar also helps keep treats from drying out as quickly. No low-calorie sweetener truly mimics these properties, but by learning about available options, you can get the best results in your low-sugar baking.

1. Use less sugar

Let's start with the obvious. You can usually cut out about a third of the sugar in a recipe without a big sacrifice in taste, texture, or volume. Add vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or diced dried fruit to compensate for flavor loss.

Recipe to try: MyNetDiary's Apple Crisp (made with a small amount of brown sugar with cinnamon for extra flavor).

2. Natural sugars

You may choose to bake with less-processed sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup as an alternative to refined sugars. However, they are still considered "added sugars." Use 2/3 cup of these liquid sweeteners to replace one cup of white sugar.

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree and has a slightly lower glycemic index than white sugar. You can replace white sugar with an equal volume of coconut sugar.

Date sugar is made from finely ground dates, thus isn't considered an added sugars for food labeling purposes. Use 2/3 cup of date sugar to replace one cup of white sugar.

Although they are "natural," these alternatives can be equally as high in carbs and calories as white sugar. They may have slightly more nutrients than white sugar, but you don't (and wouldn't want to) consume large amounts to influence your nutrient intake.

Recipe to try: MyNetDiary's Low-Carb Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (made with a small amount of maple syrup)

3. Stevia (Pure Via, Truvia, Stevia in the Raw)

Stevia is a refined sweetener made from the stevia plant. It is often mixed with another sweetener such as erythritol (Truvia) or dextrose (PureVia) to provide extra volume.


Recipe to try: Carrot Muffins from Pure Via

4. Monk fruit

Monk fruit, also known as lou han guo, is a natural sweetener derived from an Asian gourd.


Recipe to try: Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie From Lakanto

5. Sugar alcohols (erythritol, xylitol)

Sugar alcohols are found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Sugar alcohols digest poorly, so they have only a small effect on blood sugar and are lower in calories than sugar. Erythritol and xylitol are the most common sugar alcohols used in low-sugar baking.


Recipe to try: MyNetDiary's Meringue Cookies (uses xylitol)

6. Sucralose (Splenda)

Made from sugar altered by a chemical process, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar!


Recipe to try: Oat-Date Bars from Splenda

7. Allulose

Allulose (also known as psicose) is a relatively new low-calorie sweetener that occurs naturally in only a few foods, such as figs and dates.


Recipe to try: Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from Splenda (made with Splenda Allulose Sweetener)

To keep on track and still enjoy treats, remember the saying "all things in moderation," which includes treats you make from low-sugar baking.

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Nov 10, 2021

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