Transforming your recipes into sugar-free desserts and pastries can be challenging. However, with these six sugar substitutes for baking, you’ll surely find it easier to replace sugar with healthier alternatives!
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Why substitute sugar for baking?
Many people choose to cut sugar out of their recipes and replace them with other sweeteners primarily for health and diet reasons. Using sugar alternatives can help people lose weight or lower their carb intake, prevent dental decay, and help provide blood sugar control to people who have diabetes.
6 Sugar Substitutes for Baking
1. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut flower that’s heated until it has evaporated to extract the sugar. While the calorie or carb content of coconut sugar does not differ that much from refined sugar, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index. Coconut sugar is a great alternative in baking because less processed and has more nutrients than white sugar.
Coconut sugar has a light but distinct flavor that’s similar to brown sugar and molasses. The color of the coconut sugar can brown your recipes. You can use coconut sugar the same way you use white or brown sugar. You can try out coconut sugar on your favorite recipes such as brownies, bars, and bread to see if you like the outcome.
Honey is another sugar alternative that’s more natural and unrefined than sugar. Honey is sweeter than sugar so you can use less of it while maintaining the sweetness level that you want to achieve. It also contains more vitamins and minerals than sugar and has a lower glycemic index as well. Honey is a liquid and it can keep your baked goods moist for longer, however, because of this, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your recipe as well.
There are different types of honey and each of them has a distinct taste and flavor profile, so you might need to do your research as to which type of honey suits your recipe best. For example, wildflower honey is light and fruity while being rich in flavor and sweetness. Meanwhile, buckwheat honey is a type of dark honey that’s known for its rich and malty flavor.
General rules for using honey in baking:
Honey is a liquid, so you'll need to reduce the liquid in the recipe a little.
- ¼ cup less liquid for every cup of honey used in the recipe
- Add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used
- Lower oven temperature by 25 F
3. Fruit juice concentrates
If you are looking for a sugar alternative that works great for baked goods, jams, and jellies, you can try using fruit juice concentrates. Fruit juice concentrates are made by heating the juices of the fruit to extract the water. You can either buy fruit juice sweeteners or make your own version. Fruits such as grapes or pears are usually used for this type of sweetener.
4. Maple syrup
Just like honey, maple syrup is another healthy alternative for sugar in baking. Pure maple syrup is a vegan liquid sweetener with a complex sweet and earthy flavor with hints of caramel and vanilla. Maple syrup has a thick consistency and is a good sugar substitute, however, it doesn’t cream into a recipe the way granulated sugar does. You can use it beset for candies, caramels, puddings, and ice creams. Just take note of the flavor it can add to your recipe.
General rules for using maple syrup:
- Decrease liquid 3 to 4 tablespoon per cup of substitution
- If no other liquid in the recipe, add about 1 tablespoon of additional flour for every ¼ cup of maple syrup used
- Use room temperature maple syrup
Stevia is a natural sweetener that’s made with no calories or carbs while adding the right amount of sweetness to your dessert recipes. Since stevia is sweeter than sugar, you’ll need to adjust your measurements is substituting it for sugar.
You might also need to experiment a little bit when using Stevia as a substitute as it might not be able to provide the same texture in baked goods, unlike sugar. For some cases, it might be better to still use ¼ cup of sugar (for every 1 sugar cup needed) in recipes so that your baked good can still cream and brown as it should. You might also need to increase the oven time and lower the temperature for stevia.
Muscovado sugar is a rich brown unrefined cane sugar that consists of natural molasses. It’s a great and healthier substitute for brown sugar because it can give desserts a deeper color and richer flavor. Take note that muscovado has a caramel or toffee-like flavor, so it might alter the taste of your baked good - and even make it taste better! Muscovado has more moisture content and is stickier than brown sugar, however, and might need more work when mixing.
Sugar Substitute Measurements
- 1 cup of sugar is equivalent to
- 1 tablespoon of sugar is equivalent to
- 1 teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to
Desserts Made with Sugar Substitutes
- Healthy Cupcakes (made with coconut sugar)
- Healthy Yogurt Cupcakes (made with coconut sugar)
- Vegan Chocolate Orange Cake (made with coconut sugar)
- Vegan Nanaimo Bar (made with maple syrup)
- Vegan Apple Crisp (made with maple syrup)
- Gluten-free Hazelnut Honey Cookies (made with honey)
- Chocolate Orange Truffles (made with honey)
- Vegan Key Lime Pie (made with agave nectar)