Stevia – What it Is and How to Use It

What is Stevia? Find out about Stevia and How to use this low carb sweetener.

Stevia is quite the “sweetener in the news” these days.

It used to be something most hadn’t heard about, but now it’s showing up all over the place–in bottled drinks, in the sweetener section of your grocery store, and on blogs (such as mine :).)

But what is stevia, what are the different forms it’s available in, and how can you use it?

I get loads of questions about stevia from readers.  Mostly it’s about how to use it, how to measure it, etc. So–in the hopes of having a helpful “go to” resource for all of you, here is more about this amazingly sweet plant and how you can use it.

What is Stevia?

Stevia Rebaudiana is a plant in the stevia group of plants that grows wild in Paraguay and Brazil. The glucosides in the leaves are the extremely sweet part of the plant.


– is super sweet (the leaves are about 10-15 times as sweet as sugar while the extract is about 300 times as sweet as sugar)

– has no calories,

doesn’t feed candida (read What is Candida-The Beginning of My Sugar-Free Life),

– has a glycemic index of zero (meaning it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels), making it a sweetener of choice for those who suffer from candida, or who have sugar metabolism issues, like diabetes.

Mercola even thinks it’s a great sweetener, and if you are familiar with him, you know how picky he can be about things.  (Source)

There are some who have questions about stevia’s safety.  I have done quite a bit of research into this and I feel very comfortable using it. More of that in a future post. For now, let’s focus on what the various forms of stevia are and how you can use them.

NOTE: Product links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase after clicking on them I might make a commission.  I so appreciate your support of my blog.

Different Forms of Stevia

The plant – plain and simple

The stevia leaves can be dried, crushed, and used as a sweetener. They are sweeter than sugar, but the “licorice-y” aftertaste is stronger than that of the pure white powder extract.  You can also buy stevia in this powdered form.

I have never used this form. I hope to grow stevia myself soon and get more experience with this and also make stevia extract with it!

Green Stevia Drops

This is a liquid form of stevia, but it is not refined.  Approximately 1 Tablespoon of this is the equivalent of 1 cup of sugar.  It has a stronger aftertaste than the refined powder with a more “licorice-y” taste.

I personally haven’t used this form either but hope to try it soon.

Stevia Blends

NuNaturals Packets

These typically come in convenient packets that make it easy to take with you and add to your favorite beverages while on the run. They also come in baking blends so you can easily use them 1:1 for baking.

I never buy these, for several reasons.

a.  Most of them have fillers that are not what I want in my body (natural flavors, etc.).

b.  They are a expensive compared to using the pure extract powder.

Remember, I am cheap – er – frugal.  I would rather carry around my little container of stevia extract powder in my purse with a little stainless steel scoop and use that.  See below for scoop info.

c.  The packets are just more garbage to add to landfills.  As much as we can, we try to be a “no throw away” family. If everyone does their part we can clean up this world little by little.

Liquid Stevia Drops

Root Beer Drops

These drops have become really popular over the past several years. They come in many varieties–both plain and flavored.

You can get mint, lemon, orange, chocolate, and even fancy flavors such as English ToffeeRoot Beer, Hazelnut and Vanilla Cream!  We love these drops and get them occasionally.  My kids love having a treat of flavored water.  The root beer and chocolate drops are their current favorites.

If you are trying to get your family off of soft drinks, these drops are a great thing to bring into your household. You could buy sparkling water and add these to it.  And if you’re advanced in your fermentation skills, you could add these to your “fizzed” water kefirs or kombuchas.

I have a recipe for Homemade Liquid Stevia Drops that is a super frugal way to make your own stevia drops for use in recipes, beverages, or hot cereals.

Pure Stevia Extract Powder

NuStevia 1 oz Spice Jar w Cap

This is the form of stevia that I most often use.

It is a super sweet powdery substance that comes in containers from 1 oz up to 1 lb.  I currently buy the 1 lb size to save money (I buy almost everything in bulk). Stevia’s shelf-life is long and that container lasts us about 1 year or more.  And we use stevia a lot.

I use NuNaturals because I like the taste of it the best (some of the stevia powders out there have a stronger aftertaste), plus it is extracted without chemicals.  There are a few other companies out there that extract with just water like NuNaturals, but this one is my choice for taste, strength, and purity.  Other brands I have tried are not as strong so you end up using more which costs more in the long run.

How to Use Stevia

There are tons of recipes using stevia on the internet (and on my blog :).)

You can use stevia to sweeten drinks (like my Sugar-Free Lemonade), or my Rich and Nutritious Coffee Substitute.

Or, you can mix some into warm cereals, or put on top of cold cereals (we don’t eat these much at all, but I do like Erewhon for a healthy option.)  One of our favorites in this Cream of Brown Rice.

Baking with stevia is a little tricky.  Here are some tips that I think will help.

Mix It Up

I find that it’s better to use a mixture of alternative sweeteners to get a smoother “more like sugar” taste.  Plus, stevia on its own has no bulking agents so you will have to add something to your recipe to get it to work something like the original if you are only using stevia.

What I typically do is cut the sweetener in a recipe in half and use one half of a no glycemic index, candida-diet-friendly sweetener (like xylitol in my case.  You of course, can use a sweetener that is appropriate for your health needs) and then use stevia powdered extract for the other half.   See the next section for measuring stevia.

Measuring Stevia

Since the stevia extract powder is about 300 times as sweet as sugar, a little goes a looooong way.  That’s why a 1 lb container lasts a long time.

But it can be pretty tricky measuring something so strong.

When I first started using stevia, I was working on a candida protocol via Whole Approach.  The ladies there were all talking about a “scoop” of stevia.

“Well, what on earth does a scoop of stevia look like?”, I wondered.

I soon found out when I bought my first container of stevia extract–it came with a teeny plastic scoop in the container (it was kind of hidden in the white powder) and it served its purpose well for a long time. However, it eventually broke and I found that few stevia extracts come with such a scoop. I ended up finding the same scoops at soap making companies, but they broke quickly so I had to find a better alternative.

These mini stainless measuring scoops fit the bill perfectly. I only needed one of the scoops, but they are pretty reasonable so I was willing to buy the set.

Norpro Mini Measuring Spoons

The 2nd smallest scoop is 1/32 of a teaspoon (the standard “stevia scoop” size) and it fits nicely in my small stevia container.

I purchased one of the smaller stevia containers (about a 3 oz size) and then refill it with stevia from the 1 pound size. Alternatively, you can of course find some other small container to hold your stevia.  This is the first brand of stevia I bought and it happened to be the right size for everyday use.  (If you choose to buy it, I hope the container is still the same size as it was years ago:).)

Converting for Stevia Use in Recipes

1 scoop of stevia extract (1/32 tsp) = 2 Tbsp sugar

Typically I assume 1 scoop of stevia equals 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

But that will depend on the type of stevia you use. I have found that the strengths really vary from brand to brand.

Same goes for the liquid drops.  I’ve found it hard to find a “one size fits all” chart to depend on so I recommend you use stevia “to taste” in your recipes and then keep track of what you like. I use NuNaturals all the time in my recipes so if you are using recipes from my blog, you will know that that brand will work.

Perhaps I can figure something out to share in the future, but for now this is how I am using stevia in recipes that don’t call for it.

So–what do you think?

I hope that helps you figure out how to use this super sweet, all natural alternative sweetener and that it makes it easier for you to use it in your family should you need and/or choose to do so.

Do you use stevia? If so, what kind?

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. HELP!!!! I have used NuNaturals pure stevia in that 1 pound container for over a year, went to order more and found that they have changed the formula (and raised the price.) I have started trying other brands. Nothing tastes like the old nunaturals. I used it to sweeten my tea, my smoothies, desserts (when I have them.) EVERYTHING. I am devastated! All the other stevias I’ve tried taste awful. Can anyone please recommend something that tastes like the old nunaturals?! I would pay twice the price to find the good stuff. I’ve already contacted the company and they said they changed the formula due to their supplier changing (or some such thing.) They need to change back! Any suggestions? I’d even use a different sweetner. Anyone know anything about monk fruit (Lo han)? Or erythritol? Thanks in advance!

    • I started using the new formula and now I like it but you need to use more. I am trying other stevias and found one that I think I like. I was hoping to do a post on it. It’s not readily available and I’m not sure I like the powder but I liked their liquids. But the liquids are pricey. The lo han doesn’t work that great. Eryth is OK – about 70% as sweet as sugar. I use xylitol as well. Hard to know – I mix it up.

  2. I have a question… I’m reading reviews for the NuNaturals Pure Extract 16oz powder on Amazon and starting late 2013 everyone started complaining that the product was suddenly different. They’d all used it for years and all said the exact same thing – that it was no longer sweet even if you use 10x the required amount plus it leaves a bad aftertaste. Since you are (or were) a faithful user, can you shed any light on this? Have you purchased any in the past 6 months? If so, is it the same and from where do you get yours?


  3. Paul Ohlstein says:

    I use NOW liquid stevia extract. 6 drops stevia extract + 2 tsp cocoa powder + 3/8 tsp vanilla extract + 9 oz water + 1 oz skim milk yield one mug of cocoa.

    1 TBSP of tart cherry concentrate + 5 drops liquid stevia extract + 10 oz water yields 1 mug of cherry tea.

    8 oz water + 3/8 cup old fashioned oats + 6 drops liquid stevia extract + 1 TBSP bulgur wheat + 1 TBSP ground flax seeds + 1 tsp molasses + 3 TBSP milk makes my breakfast porridge.

  4. Simone Lewis says:

    I always have digestive issues with foods and I’m trying to be as healthy as I can. I am just super sensitive. I gave up my Diet Coke habit and switched to Vitamin Water Zero. It has Stevia, but I don’t think it agrees with me. I haven’t noticed any problems when I’ve used Stevia before. Have you ever heard of anyone having issues with Stevia? I’ve quit the Vitamin Water, and I’m drinking tea….I know, I need to drink water…I’ll eventually get there. Thank you!

    • I think the Vitamin water has erythritol too. I sometimes have problems with that. I would think that might be your issue but of course I can’t advise.

    • Informative1 says:

      Simone, I have digestive issues with Stevia. Xylitol is worse but Stevia affects me as well 🙁

  5. Alison (Perth WA) says:

    I have Nirvana Stevia Liquid concentrate with a use by date of July 2014. Could you advise if I can still use it and if so for how long considering its already nearly 6 months past the date?
    Many thanks


    • Hi there. I am sorry but I can’t make shelf life claims. I would guess it most likely isn’t spoiled – you can call the company and ask them. Thanks for reading!

  6. Hi ladies!
    I use sweet Leaf stevia, Ive tried many other stevia brands and this is my favorite. It also has inulin which is fiber, a little help for me.
    My question is, if a recipe calls for 1 tbs or 1 cup of sugar, any amount, how do I know the amount on liquid stevia? I don’t use powder stevia that often, so Id really appreciate if someone knows or has tried the convert ions before and could share it with me.

  7. Is there a form of Stevia without the after taste? What is it called and where is it sold?
    Regarding Eryithitol. Since it is not brown, the original color of sugar cane, has it been processed?
    If so, how?

    • I am currently trying a bunch of stevias to find one I really like. This one is pretty good. (affiliate link)

      As far as erythritol is concerned, this is from the internet:

      Sugar is mixed with water and then fermented with a natural culture into erythritol. It is then filtered, allowed to crystallize, and then dried. The finished product is white granules or powder that resembles sugar.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Just had to say Thanks, I Wuv u! LOL! Really needed these carob chips!

  9. Hello! I have some recipes on hand that call for Steviva Blend, but I do not have this on hand, and this is the first time I have heard of it, actually. I do have the NuNaturals pure white stevia extract (haven’t used yet) and the sweet leaf drops (use all the time!). Do you know how much pure stevia extract would be equivalent to the Steviva Blend ? If it is just a baking blend, then I gather from your above blog that I should get xylitol or erythritol and do half and half with the pure stevia extract, and this should work instead of any baking blend? I don’t know much about baking and I want to make sure that I am understanding correctly! Thank you!

    • I am pretty sure they have a chart on their site w/ equivalents. I tend to use the xylitol plus stevia instead of any baking blend. I think it’s simpler and costs a lot less too!

  10. I also wanted to ask if there are any other bulking agents that you recommend to use with the stevia extract. I am concerned about using the xylitol since it is poisonous for dogs and my dog has no shame in trying to get my food, but I’m not sold on the erythritol either. Thanks again!

  11. Kelly Adrian says:

    What is the measuring size of a ‘scoop’? 1/8 tsp? 1/4 tsp? I have a recipe that calls for Stevia but when putting in to analyze it the only measurements for Stevia are in scoops.

    • Hi there. I thought I had that explained but typically it’s 1/32 tsp. However, different stevias are stronger or weaker (most are weaker) so you may need to adjust. Thanks!

  12. TigerTye says:

    I use a combination of SweetLeaf and saccharin for my baking. We love it. Unfortunately my new cookbook is all honey and I am allergic. Any advice on how to translate honey into a sugar based equivalent? I am quite used to translating sugar into my preferred sweetener blend.

  13. My question is will non-alcoholic liquid stevia extract blend with coconut oil? I just made my first attempt at making coconut oil chocolate with the powdered stevia extract (just to be clear, the kind that looks just like regular white sugar) and learned the hard way that it does not dissolve in oil! I was so bummed it didn’t work! All the stevia sank to the bottom of the bowl that I melted all the ingredients into, it didn’t matter how much I stirred. But now I’m concerned that non-alcoholic liquid stevia extract won’t blend with the oil because it’s water-based (right?) and water and oil don’t mix. Please help! I’ve gotta have my chocolate if I’m going to stay sugar free!

  14. So 1 scoop in your recipes equals 1/32 teaspoon? Love your site…Just started Paleo recently and many of my searches lead me to your site…Thanks for your hard work. sharing and instructions! I keep thinking I like the way this whole new Mom thinks!

  15. Savannah R says:

    For those of us who accidentally bought licorice-y stevia, can’t bear to throw it away, and don’t enjoy licorice-y flavours in our non-licorice-type sweetened foods, what vegan recipes/foods would you suggest making to use it up? I’m trying in particular to find baked goods recipes that can mask or work with the licorice flavour.

    Greatly looking forward to finishing these up so I can try out NuNatural’s reportedly better product!
    Many thanks.

  16. Syreeta Fields says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m curious to try some of my food pure essential oils as a flavoring to the powder blend. Unfortunately, the Sweet Leaf brand uses “natural Flavoring” in all of their varieties. I do my best to avoid such fillers as well.

  17. Wanda Ball says:

    Do you know what the self life is of the stevia drops once they are opened. I have a bottle and just wondering if it would still be good.

  18. How do I open my stevia drops bottle ? Do I cut or pierce the rubber top ? There are no instructions !!

  19. Your “liquid form of stevia” link is broken. Just thought you might want to know. It says, “Not found, error 404.”

  20. Eric Claeyborn says:

    Nothing will ever be better than the good ole’ sugar that comes from sugar cane…
    You can’t get anymore natural than that. Sugar replacement is a scam, and scams are created to help people get rich, and not necessarily, to help the consumer at all. This is my opinion…

    • Hi Eric,

      Thanks for commenting. I am sorry, however — I disagree. First of all, sugar has been highly processed. Secondly, it has a horrible effect on blood sugar. Third, there are many concerns arising about sugar’s link to cancer. Fourth, it is totally empty calories. I know people who are killing cancer by going low carb. If you have evidence about stevia being a scam, please share, but it has been used in Japan for years, and I am very very pleased with how it has helped my family’s health. Thank you.

      • Eric Claeyborn says:

        Your empty words are not evidence for anything… making it, merely your opinion. Also, everything is processed in one way or another before it reaches the store, and stevia is highly processed. There are lots of blogs and/or on-line articles that show that sugar isn’t so bad for you… as long as you don’t over-do it… and that is true with just about anything you eat. Just GOOGLE “sugar isn’t so bad” (without the quotation marks) and read till your heart’s content, or in your case… till you feel like puking. NOW… GOOGLE “stevia is bad”, and read the articles that show that stevia isn’t that good for you. In fact, one site ( has an article that says, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to stevia, and so the person (I believe, Lauren is the person’s name) quit using it. The article also gives its sources and references. It’s still my opinion, but the only people that are really getting any benefit from stevia are the companies that produce it and those people that have stock in it when it’s selling well, because I don’t see any worthy benefit of stevia over sugar. Someone can say,”Stevia is the best thing for you when done right”… and someone else can say the say thing about sugar. It’s ALL opinion.

        Just recently, I drank a pineapple soda with high fructose corn syrup in it, and a different pineapple soda with real sugar in it instead of high fructose corn syrup, and to my surprise, the pineapple soda with the real sugar in it was by far the best tasting pineapple soda I’ve ever had… but then again, that is my opinion.

        • Hi Eric. Which of my words do you think are “empty” and I will address them. One quick search about sugar and diabetes or sugar and cancer and you will have a ton of evidence despite the sugar lobby.

          If you prefer not to have stevia that is processed then buy the green kind, or grow your own. As I said, I buy stevia extract that is only extracted with water.

          I have a whole article on stevia safety and it is heavily research based. It also addresses some of Lauren’s claims. I like Lauren and she is a talented blogger, but I think some of her points in her post are not well made.

          I spent hours and hours on that.

          What do you think about Lauren’s claim that we should avoid stevia b/c it is often mixed with undesirable things? Do you avoid meat b/c sometimes it is made into hot dogs or has MSG added to it in some applications?

          On another note, I am sure your pineapple soda tasted great, but I would prefer it to be with stevia to avoid the potential move towards diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

          Again, if you want to make claims, please do. You are saying that Lauren has sources and references, but then you say it is all opinion. My article on stevia safety is not all opinion by any means. Let me know what you think.

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