December 7


20 Healthy Sugar Substitute in Baking | Sweeteners for Baking

By Sonia Gupta

December 7, 2017

Baking Basics

Our altered lifestyle demands to alter the way we have been eating food. It demands us to reduce the number of calories and sugar we are eating in our food. This calls for finding the substitute for sugar. Today we shall talk about 20 healthy sugar substitute in baking.

In baking, sugar does a lot more than just adding sweetness to baked goodies. Sugar is the food for yeast and I have written more on this in taming the yeast. Sugar is also used in caramelization which is a type of non-enzymatic browning reaction.

What are sugar substitute in baking

Brown Sugar

Use cup for a cup of sugar

Brown sugar is sugar that is not refined completely. The amount of calories remains same in white and brown sugar, however, the presence of molasses make is nutritionally significant.

Turbinado or Raw Sugar

Use cup for a cup of sugar

You have seen this sugar in Starbucks shop, this sugar gets its name because it is processed in tribunes. Raw sugar is a misleading name here, call it less refined to make it more appropriate. Sugar is sugar, hence it should be used in moderation. However, that little extra nutritional benefit is what makes people consider Turbinado sugar as a substitute for sugar. Also, turbinado sugar is vegan and can be included in vegan recipes.

Muscovado Sugar

Use cup for a cup of sugar

It is produced from cane sugar without removing molasses from it. So in brown sugar, molasses is added back, however, in Muscovado, the molasses were never removed. Muscovado will be slightly sticky sugar to hold. Practically there is no difference in using table sugar or Muscovado sugar because they both are nutritionally comparable to each other.

Coconut Sugar

Use cup for a cup of sugar

Coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar has gained a lot of popularity. The claim of its higher nutritional value and lower glycemic index than sugar has no scientific evidence as of today. However, coconut sugar is a trending substitute for sugar.

Date Sugar

Use 2/3 cup for a cup of sugar

Check my carrot date muffin recipe to know the health benefits of Dates. Dates are a natural sweetener and can be added to give sweetness to your baked items. I recently did Sugarfree Quinoa Brownies using Date syrup and trust me, a brownie could not be healthier than this. In the recipe, you will also find the details of how to make date syrup.


Use 1 + 1/3 cup for a cup of sugar

An unrefined version of brown sugar that is less sweet than sugar, Jaggery is a traditional Indian sweetener. Jaggery retains all mineral salts in it and hence is healthier than sugar. Again, the amount of calories in Jaggery and Sugar remains the same as they both are derived from Sugarcane. There are numerous benefits of Jaggery over sugar and has beautifully captured them. Jaggery is my choice of substitute for sugar in baking.


Use ¾ cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Honey

I have mentioned the benefits of honey in my honey buttermilk bread and honey glazed almonds recipes. Honey is sweeter than sugar and hence you will use less honey than sugar. Though the number of calories in honey are slightly higher than sugar its health benefits makes it a great substitute for sugar.

Cane Syrup

Use ¾ cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Cane Syrup

Sugar cane is the source of table sugar as well as cane syrup. Sugarcane juice is simmered until it becomes a thick syrup just like molasses. However, unlike molasses, cane syrup does not contain sulfur.

Sorghum Syrup

Use ¾ cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Sorghum Syrup

This syrup comes from a plant called sweet sorghum while other varieties of sorghum plants are grown for grain. The process of making Sorghum syrup is similar to the making of cane syrup. Sugar is all empty calories whereas sorghum syrup, a natural sweetener has some nutritional value to offer that includes calcium, protein, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and much more.

The taste of sorghum syrup is not as sweet as honey or sugar and it carries the molasses-ish taste, but not too prominent.

Maple Syrup

Use ¾ cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Maple Syrup

A natural sweetener with antioxidant properties, despite high sucrose levels, is considered to be safe for Type 2 Diabetes. Maple syrup is also considered to be good to enhance the immune system. With a lower glycemic index of 54, it is a great replacement for sugar in baking items. Grade A maple syrup is light in color and have less molasses-ish taste whereas Grade B syrups are darker and have strong maple flavor. Americans have been using maple syrup as a substitute for sugar in their pancakes for years now.

Agave Syrup

Use 2/3 cup for a cup of sugar

This natural sweetener is derived from the same plant that is used in making tequila. The syrup is high in calories and might not suit people on weight loss. The low glycemic index value of 27 makes it suitable for people who are watching their blood sugar levels. Agave is about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and hence you need less quantity of agave sugar in your baking.

Corn Syrup

Use ¾ cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is high in fructose taste sweeter than processed sugar. Further using corn syrup in baking items increases its shelf life.

Brown Rice Syrup

Use 1/3 cup more for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup provides fiber and RDI of sodium and potassium. However, the brown rice syrup has a higher glycemic index of 98 to sugar 64. This substitute for sugar might not be helpful for people who are diabetic.


Use 1 + 1/3 cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce 2 tablespoons of other liquid for every cup of Molasses

Not as sweet as sugar, Molasses is a by-product of refined sugar production process. Once the sugar is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets the juice is further boiled to concentrate it. The boiling process is divided into three levels. At level 1, termed as Barbados, the product is sweet and light in color. The liquid is further boiled to level 2, termed as dark molasses. At the second level, the product becomes dark, thick and less sweet. The final boil, third level, also known as blackstrap has a mineral-rich flavor.


Use cup for a cup of sugar

Reduce a ¼ cup of other liquid for every cup of applesauce

It comes in wide variety and sweetness level, but if you want preservative free applesauce, making applesauce at home shall be a nice idea. Applesauce makes a great deal when it comes to reducing the number of calories you will eat eating sugar. A cup of sugar has about 775 calories as compared 102 calories in a cup of applesauce. Worth substituting sugar with applesauce if you are on diet.

Monk Fruit Extract

This substitute for sugar is extracted from a fruit known as monk fruit, typically found in southern China and Thailand. For centuries people have been using the medicinal benefits of this fruit to cure a cough, constipation, diabetes etc. Monk fruit is not sweet because of the natural sweetness available in most of the fruits. Mont fruit acquires its sweetness from powerful antioxidants called mogrosides. Monk fruit compounds are up to 300 times sweeter than cane sugar, however, they come with zero calories.

Stevia (Steviol Glycosides)

Use 1 teaspoon for a cup of sugar

This sweetener is extracted from stevia leaves called Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. This natural sweetener taste little different from sugar, zero calories and is almost 200 times sweeter than processed sugar. Stevia is helping in lowering the blood pressure. It is also considered to be beneficial for diabetic patients.

Splenda (Sucralose)

Use cup for a cup of sugar

Splenda, 600 times sweeter than sugar, is an artificial no-calorie sweetener. Do not use this sweetener in recipes where sugar is responsible for structure and texture, for example frosting a cake. Splenda cannot be used for activating the yeast. Baking time with Splenda will reduce by about 15 – 20% in cookies. Although the baked items with Splenda taste equally good, they don’t stay fresh for longer period. If you wish to keep them fresh for longer, you should consider them keeping in the refrigerator. Some studies talk about the detrimental effects of Sucralose and you might like to read them before you think of using Splenda.


1 tab for 1 teaspoon of sugar

It tastes like sugar is significantly low in calories and aids in weight control. It is almost 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Even the diabetic people can enjoy the sweetness of Aspartame without increasing their blood sugar levels. Aspartame is less suitable for baking as it is unstable to heat. Because of this Aspartame has lost its sheen to Sucralose.


One of the earlier artificial sweeteners which is almost 300 times sweeter than sugar. Saccharin is unstable to heat and hence needs to be used in combination with sugar or another sweetener. Saccharin also has an aftertaste and hence should not be used standalone.  The advantage of saccharin is that it does interfere with your triglycerides or glucose levels in the blood. To make the best use of Saccharine and make delicious recipes, consider checking recipes as sweetnlow.

This article is a part a series called Baking Tutorials for Beginners

  1. Why should you bake at home
  2. History of baking
  3. Baking Books for Beginners
  4. Basic Baking Tools
  5. Baking conversion table
  6. Difference between baking powder and baking soda
  7. Different types of sweeteners -> you are here
  8. Coming Soon…

See you in the next post.

Sonia Gupta

About the author

I am a Baking Instructor, Blogger, YouTuber, and Recipe Creator. I love to experiment with my camera tell stories through my pictures.

  • Mam what is raw cane sugar plz suggest the link to purchase. and how to make or get jaggery powder

  • Comment:thank you Sonia, I have been looking for a way to bake with other sweeteners, and you have done well by sharing thank you

  • Hi Sonia, very useful, informative write up!! Thanks for shedding g light on some of the sweeteners we are using blindly without knowing it’s properties!! This info should be archived! All Baker’s should keep this handy!!??

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