Diabetes Forecast

Baking With Sugar Substitutes: Tips and Recipes

To indulge your occasional taste for a treat, Food Editor Robyn Webb offers some recipes that will help you bake with fewer calories and carbohydrate grams.

Swapping non-nutritive sweeteners (think brands such as Equal, Splenda, Sugar Twin, Truvia, and more) for added sugars in foods can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and can aid in blood glucose control, according to a recent joint statement by the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. The trick is, don't overeat later, wiping out the calorie and carbohydrate savings.

Such sweeteners also don't act quite like sugar in cooking, so there are a few things to know before you bake with them, says Food Editor Robyn Webb.

Height, Color, and Texture

"Your baked recipes will not rise as high," she says. Baked goods made without added sugar also tend to be pale and lack a tender crust. The golden-brown color that tells us cakes and cookies are baked to perfection is a result of sugar caramelizing when exposed to heat.

Sugar also acts as a preservative and helps retain moisture. So a baked good made with a non-nutritive sweetener will grow stale more quickly, especially when there's less fat in the recipe. For storage, Webb suggests freezing baked goods you don't plan to eat within 24 hours.

Sweetener Comparisons, per 1/4 cup


Cal. 260, Carb. 70 g

Agave Nectar:

Cal. 240, Carb. 64 g

Granulated Sugar:

Cal. 195, Carb. 50 g

Sugar Blend:

Cal. 190, Carb. 48 g

Domino Light
Sugar Blend:

Cal. 165, Carb. 41 g


Cal. 20, Carb. 5 g

Sweet Savings: Sugar blends have about the same calories and carbohydrate by volume as sugar, but you use only half the amount in recipes. Honey and agave nectar have more calories by volume than sugar, but you'll probably need to use less of these sweeteners, too, yielding some calorie savings.
*Average of aspartame (Equal Classic Spoonful), saccharin (Sugar Twin Granulated White), stevia (Stevia in the Raw), and sucralose (Splenda Granulated)

Baking Tips

Sugar blends—made with granulated sugar, non-nutritive sweeteners, and ingredients that add bulk—tend to give better baked results, but your cakes, cookies, and muffins "still won't look or taste 100 percent like those made with sugar," Webb says. Although the calories and carbohydrate grams are similar cup for cup between sugar and a blend, you'll need only about half the amount of blend, thus cutting calories and carbohydrate grams.

Liquid Sweeteners

Webb enjoys baking with liquid sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. "Although you may not save very many calories, you'll probably be able to use slightly less and these sweeteners give a wonderful, caramely taste," she says. When baking with liquid sweeteners, Webb recommends cutting any other liquid in the recipe by about 25 percent. "You'll have to experiment," she says. Or not—just pick one of Webb's recipes on the following pages.

Agave Cinnamon
Mini Scones
Stevia Apple Cake


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