How to Substitute Sweeteners

How to Substitute Sweeteners. From Baking with Honey to Substituting Maple Syrup for Sugar, all of the tips you need are right here.

One of the ways that our family started moving towards more whole foods was to move away from white sugar and start baking with honey, sucanat, and other sweeteners. Now, instead of making my Homemade Jello, Homemade Chocolate Chips, and Gluten Free Cupcakes with granulated sugar, I needed to move to other, more wholesome sweeteners.

If you’ve been wondering about baking with honey or baking with maple syrup,  or what to do about substituting sugar in your baked goods or other sweet (or not-so-sweet) dishes, then this post should help.

One of my pet peeves (and probably yours too) is running out of something when you are in the middle of the recipe.

And one of my best time and money-saving cooking and baking tips is learning how to substitute.

You know how it goes – you’re making a dessert that calls for honey and all you have is a granulated sweetener, or vice versa (remember to make healthy choices, as much as possible for your sweeteners, just like everything else, OK?  Not too much pressure, just making the best choices you can will make a difference in the long run).

Well, one of the easiest things to substitute in recipes is sweeteners.

Now, I am a reforming sugar-aholic.  I used to eat sugar all. the. time.

I once even worked in an ice cream parlor.

Bad idea.  Ahem.

Anyway, I don’t bake quite as much these days since we are focusing on vegetables and animal proteins more and more in our quest to deal with adrenal fatigue, but I still enjoy making whole grain (or non grain) treats (like Chocolate Chia Pudding or Berry Mousse) that require some sweetening.

And I know that a lot of my readers are using traditional sweeteners (hopefully the healthier options of honey, maple syrup, sucanat, and the like) and that these substitution and baking tips would be useful for you.

So when you need to substitute a liquid for a granulated sweetener, how do you do that quickly and easily?

It’s fairly simple, actually.

Mainly, you just need to make up for, or take away from, the liquid part of the liquid sweetener, when adding it to a recipe.

Now of course, if the recipe we are talking about is a dish with very little sweetener (like my Focaccia Flax Bread), then it really doesn’t matter.  Just substitute one sweetener for another and don’t worry about it.  However, when you are dealing with a sweet baked good, then here is what you need to do:

Pretty simple, isn’t it?

I use these tips whenever I have run out of the sweetener I need (which isn’t often, since I purchase my sweeteners in bulk – like everything else :-)), but more often when I am trying out a new recipe and want to use the least expensive sweetener that I have.  Then if the recipe isn’t a winner, I’ve spent less money on it than I would have otherwise.

With some non-baking recipes, especially ones without a lot of sweetener like:

you can use whatever sweetener you wish (liquid or granulated).  The result won’t differ that much regardless of which sweetener you use.  I love forgiving recipes, don’t you :-)?

Soon I’ll go into more details of my thoughts about sugar, some more detailed information on sweeteners (including nutritional information and alternative sweeteners as well).  Stay tuned!

How about you?  Do you have a time or money saving baking tip to share?

{Photo Credit}

 

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  1. Charlotte Moore says:

    THANK YOU for this information.

  2. Thank you, Adrienne. With my candida diet, what I have the most difficulty with is substituting stevia for actual sweeteners. Do you have recommendations for this? I’d be most grateful. Also, I haven’t used xylitol – do you have a brand you recommend and can you explain how to substitute xylitol for normal sweeteners?

    Eagerly awaiting your guidance,
    Pamela

    • Hello Pamela. Yes, I am on the candida diet as well. I just follow some of these same rules as I muddle my way through my new way of baking and thought it would be helpful to some to write a post on this (honey & maple syrup). I really want to serve those on sugar restricted diets but I also want to be available to help / guide those who are not there. Anyway, to answer your question, I will be posting on stevia. It is something that I have been thinking about so I will be doing so. Ask me whatever you like and I can put it together in a post. It is a toughy though. As far as xylitol is concerned, I just think it is important to stay away from those made in China. Xylosweet is from there, as far as I know. NOW Foods is a great brand. I purchase mine in bulk from Global Sweet. So far, I have just substituted 1:1 when baking, but I tend to mix w/ other sweeteners for several reasons and it doesn’t always behave like other sweeteners. For most things, it works just fine, but there are certain things that it hasn’t worked for and I haven’t sorted out why yet, but it seems to have something to do with how it combines with other foods and its lack of caramelizing properties.

      Are you thinking about maybe baking with the xylitol or how do you wish to use it? And are you planning on pure stevia extract or a blend?

      • Adrienne, were you ever able to make a post on this? If so, where can I find it? Thank you!

        • Do you mean a post with more details? Thanks!

          • I’m sorry, let me clarify :) If I wanted to use stevia drops as my sweetener, do you have a ratio for that? For example, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of honey, have you figured out (if possible) how many drops of stevia can be used instead? Sorry for the confusion!

            • It will depend on the recipe and which liquid stevia you are using. Could you tell me which one? I’m not a whiz w/ these liquids but I’ll take a stab at it :-).

          • I have Sweet Leaf. It’s just so difficult… because a little too much makes it so bitter!

          • It’s just the plain Liquid stevia, no flavor. Is there a better way we could communicate? I could message you through FB or email? And really, no need to go out of your way for this, I was just wondering if this was something you have experimented with! :)

            • No worries. From what I can gather, 1/3 tsp for 1/4 cup honey. You may need to add liquid to the recipe to compensate for the missing liquid, but I would go easy on this and try 1/2 the amount at first since honey is thicker than water, milk, or a milk alternative. For best results, mix your alternative sweeteners and you’ll get a cleaner taste.

              • Sandi in MN says:

                I would love to jump in to this conversation because I have NuNaturals NuStevia Pure White Stevia Extact and would love to us it in baking but wondering how the subtraction of the sugar mass in a recipe would affect the recipe. Have you used powdered stevia in any baked goods? I have the conversion sheet from Sweet Leaf for using powdered extract, hope it’s similar for using Nunaturals extract. The conversion is for 1 cup sugar use 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. stevia extact. That’s a huge difference. I love this extract in my teas and hot cereals but have never attempted it in baked goods because I wasn’t sure how to deal with the mass loss.

                • How funny! I was just working on a stevia post. It is not going to be done ’til next week or the week after…. you can use another “OK” sweetener or apple sauce, egg, egg white, yogurt, fruit juice, fruit puree, egg whites, or water to make up some of the bulk. Hope that helps!

          • Great! Thank you so much!

  3. What a great post Adrienne. Those are the same rules I use since we are trying to do away with sugar all together. I do find using honey or maple challenging because they do caramelize so much faster than honey. Any tips for making cookies using only honey as a sweetener?

    • Hi France! Have you tried for honey only the 25 degree lower temperature that I mentioned? Or have you tried that and it still doesn’t work?

      • I have tried and I haven’t had a ton of success. As for cookies I haven’t even tried a recipe substituting honey for sugar, since I just assumed it wouldn’t work, since I’ve had minimal success with cakes. But I guess there’s no harm in trying.

        • Hmmm…did you try it using these guidelines? I know cakes tend to be a lot more finicky than cookies. I try to bake vegan, gluten free cakes and it is hard. I can have eggs, but one of my sons can’t. Let me know how it goes! I don’t bake w/ honey now due to my issues with sugar, but I used to do it quite frequently.

  4. Thank you for, this will save me time and money experimenting. I bought palm sugar at the bulk store recently, can I use it for baking or only on my porridge?

    • My understanding is that you can use palm sugar on a 1 for 1 substitution basis for regular white sugar. I have never tried it myself. Let me know how it goes :-)!

  5. What about using just Stevia? How would the other ingredients need to change? I only use stevia now as our sweetner due to candida issues.

    • Hi Areta. I will be doing a post on stevia – hopefully soon. It can be a bit tricky as well (as you have probably found out :-). Have you tried any of the other alternatives?

      • I have not tried any other sweetners. I have just picked up a stevia cookbook so maybe that will have some great helps. Thanks for your response and I look forward to your stevia post.

        • You’re welcome! I haven’t ever used a stevia cookbook. I’d be interested in knowing what you think about the one you tried. Most of them had pretty mixed reviews on Amazon, so I never “bit the bullet” :-).

  6. Thanks!! Printed it off. :)

  7. What about agave nectar? Would you use the same rules as for honey? I often combine xylitol and agave, but have mixed results.

    • I have not used agave in baking, but from what I understand you need to follow the same information that I shared. I don’t know about the baking soda part, however. The 25 degree rule will be important as well as either decreasing the liquid or possibly adding more solids. What have your results been? What have you been baking? I can maybe help more if I know that. I have heard mixed things about agave’s healthfulness. Have you as well?

  8. Great tips. Thanks for your research.

  9. Thanks so much for this info! I’ve wondered about these substitutions for a while now.

  10. Thanks for sharing! I’ve used honey in oatmeal and yogurt instead of sugar, but it sounds good for baking too!
    Come see me at http://www.willcookforsmiles.com/

  11. I love to use applesauce in recipes, while I love using butter, there are times I run out and applesauce is a great stand in.

  12. That’s a really helpful chart. Thank you!

  13. Thanks for this, not having this info has kept me from substituting for a while now. Now, no longer! Do you stay away from xylitol from China on general principals or because you have learned of a specific problem with it?

    • Karen, I don’t believe I ever heard anything specific about it. I think it’s just that I can get “non-China” xylitol for the same price so I do. It’s sad – I really have a heart for China and my husband lived there for 2 years. I dislike feeling that I can’t trust their products. And on the other hand, I am not thrilled with the lack of trustworthiness of our own governmental agencies here either. That being said, at least for xylitol, I am sticking with the brands that I mentioned.

  14. Thanks! I’m printing these rules and putting them on my fridge.

  15. What fantastic information. I have often wondered about substitutions and whether it was just equal parts or not. It has kept me from substituting more frequently but now I know! Thank you! I’d love for you to share with my readers if you get a chance. http://www.momontimeout.com/2011/11/taking-timeout-thursday-link-party-no-3.html

  16. Great info. While using Agave in a recipe last night I started thinking about how to substitute the different sweeteners I have for what is in different recipes. Now I don’t have to google it!

  17. what great tips! thx for sharing!!

  18. Adrienne,
    I am so excited to have the Print Out for the Substitutes, this is great information! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and come back soon.
    Miz Helen

  19. Great info! You’re being featured this weekend. Thanks for linking up at A Little Nosh this week!

  20. Thank you for this info and thank you for making this so easy to print! I’m going to hang the info on the inside of one of my cupboards.

  21. Thats for this great info, I have pinned it. This will really come in handy! I found you from Rook No. 17.

  22. Thanks for the tip! I never seem to get the substitution quite right. Thanks for sharing!

  23. My dad has bees so we have honey all the time!! Thanks for sharing on 2 Maids a Baking!!

  24. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/11/fat-tuesday-november-8-2011/

    • You’re welcome, Jill. We tried the salmon cakes, by the way, and I modified them a bit, but they were a bit hit! My kids asked for them again today :-).

  25. Thanks for this post! I came over from Day2Day Joys with Rachel. I have been searching for some good plain to understand substitution charts! :o) Do you have any others for other foods? :)

    • Do you mean other substitutions? What are you interested in? I have been making notes for a future post or page on substitutions so I’d be glad to hear your requests. I am thinking about eggs, maybe flours, and spices and seasonings and maybe some fat substitutions, but typically I just keep the fat in these days because it is a necessary and good thing to eat, contrary to what I used to think.

  26. I buy a bucket of raw honey and use it in all of my baking. I wonder how my neighbor would feel if they asked for a cup of sugar and I gave them 3/4 a cup of honey? I haven’t had white sugar in my house for 4 years!

  27. Great info! Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  28. This post will be featured at Sunday Snippets this week! Please come over and check it out! I’ll be at the conference this weekend so I can’t send the link.

    www. RealFoodForager.com

  29. I like this article, always use honey in baking. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with Hearth and soul blog hop.

  30. great post love your blog

    my dad is recently put on a very very low salt diet. congestive heart failure is stalking him now. do you have any great ideas for Thanksgiving or anytime for a no salt meal/ meals or salt substitutes ?

    – KAT -

    • Hi Kat. I am not a doctor, but I would seriously recommend that you look at real salt alternatives and not traditional table salt. Table salt has things like sugar and non-clumping additives in it that, from what I have read, make it a real problem. I am working with Theresa Vernon on detoxing and mineral rebalancing. The regular physicians just couldn’t help me and I honestly felt like I was dying. She might be able to help your father in ways that will balance out the rest of his care. It might sound strange, but I would really look at her site and consider giving her a call. Here is a link to her site: Theresa Vernon. Minerals that are out of balance and heavy metals can wreak havoc on our bodies and mainstream medicine doesn’t know what to do with this.

      On another point, boosting things like herbs and vinegars can help when one can’t eat salt, but I think the other things that I have mentioned are really worth looking into. Here is the type of salt that I use: Real Salt

    • I just edited my comment to you since the links didn’t work. Hope they are working for you now.

  31. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Great tips!

    Check back tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  32. cheeryshirley says:

    Hi! I just found you at the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop on Penniless Parenting’s site! I very much appreciate the substitutions list…I also appreciate your concern for other’s welfare and responding so readily to commenters! Thanks so much for this informative post! Cheeryshirley

  33. Such a perfect guide for sugar substitutions. I’m sharing a link on my FB page today!

    With all the blog parties out there, and at one of the busiest times of the year, it means an awful lot that you take the time to share your talent on “A Little Birdie Told Me…” Tuesdays at Rook No. 17!

    Jenn

  34. Adrienne! I loved this post so much I shared it on my fb page:) This post is so informative and I think my subscribers would really enjoy reading this. I would love for you to come share it at Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on Frugally Sustainable this Wednesday. And, I really hope that you will put Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on your list of carnivals to visit and link to each Wednesday!

    Warmly,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
    Here’s the link: http://www.frugallysustainable.com I hope to see you Wednesday:)

    • Hello Andrea,

      I will try to hop over tomorrow. Thanks for the compliment! I am backing off some carnivals but we will hopefully try yours! By the way, I saw your blog address is still at blogspot — did I get the right one?

  35. thanks for sharing your tips. I have been substituting agave nectar for honey in recipes without any difficulty. (the book I used had the recipes already made for honey so that helped)

  36. Angela Joyce says:

    Adrienne,
    I have not read all your blogs but know how important it is to stop all forms of sugar for autism and it’s sequella, diabetes of course, and just to give your immune system a break. I see you use Xylitol- as I have for 10 yrs and Global Sweet guarantees only organic xylitol from the bark of the birch tree. It used to be hard to find- I once ordered from Finland where they perfected it during WW2 when sugar was unavailable. Now it is everywhere- NOW does make it but probably from GMO corn as most companies do because it’s cheaper than from birch. I would not ingest anything from China- they scoff at health laws , especially for export. The price keeps going up but I recently bought 55# from Global Sweet for $200. ($3.64 per #- organic)I split it with my two of my daughters. It is really not a ‘sugar’ but categorized as an alcohol- not distilled like liquor, actually good for you and can be used in baking.There is also a xylitol nose spray that keeps bacteria from adhering to sinus’-and the gum is good for teeth- retards plaque. I admire your passion to recover health in a climate now so difficult to know what is in our food. Stick to anything that does not have a label : ) Good luck, Angela RN, CHC

    • Thanks for commenting, Angela. I do think that NOW Foods’ xylitol is birch, but I’m not sure. I order from Global Sweet as well. My practitioner said something that surprised me, however. She said that organic xylitol is important due to the chemical process that other companies use. She said that regular xylitol can cause digestive upset but the organically produced one will not. I could not really pin down the details on that. I know that if I eat too much of the GS xylitol that I get an upset stomach. Do you have any knowledge about this? I thought she purchased xylitol from Netrition, but all I find there is GS and NOW. Thanks! And we are completely of sugar. I really am concerned about it.

    • Thanks for commenting, Angela. I do think that NOW Foods’ xylitol is birch, but I’m not sure. I order from Global Sweet as well. My practitioner said something that surprised me, however. She said that organic xylitol is important due to the chemical process that other companies use. She said that regular xylitol can cause digestive upset but the organically produced one will not. I could not really pin down the details on that. I know that if I eat too much of the GS xylitol that I get an upset stomach. Do you have any knowledge about this? I thought she purchased xylitol from Netrition, but all I find there is GS and NOW. Thanks! And we are completely of sugar. I really am concerned about it.

  37. Great information. I’m looking at sweeteners for drinks as I can’t shake the need for them, but hate the health implications.

  38. Gees…I could not appreciate this any more than I do! Thank you so much!

  39. I LOVE baked goods but i am trying to reduce my sugar. So based on you post I can just sub honey for white or brown sugar. In a basic cookie or brownie recipe what liquid would i subtract? Have you tryied it before? If so could you give me the link to a recipe and the sub portions. My extended family is really giving me a hard time about reducing my sugar so i would really like to wow them. Thanks and i love your site is is so helpful.

    • I have tried tons of recipes and have substituted tons of ingredients. Is there a recipe that you are thinking of? Sometimes there isn’t one you can reduce so you just do your best. But if there’s a milk or water, then that is what you reduce. Let me know how it goes! Thanks for the compliment.

  40. I am stopping over from the Homestead Revival. I am pinning this post. Very useful info! Thanks!

  41. Chrissie says:

    Hi! What are your thoughts on the sweetner Swerve? Do you think it is Candida friendly?

    • Hi!

      I honestly hadn’t heard of Swerve until just the other day. I just looked it up and see that it is erythritol and oligosaccharides and natural flavors. I use erythritol myself, though many whole foodists would not think it’s a great idea. I have candida so I don’t have many choices. Oligosaccharides are regularly recommended by those who know about candida issues. The thing about Swerve that I don’t like are the Natural Flavors. A lot of things can hide in there and while they say that it isn’t MSG, there are a lot of things that are flavor enhancers that, while they aren’t MSG, they are like it and I would rather not eat them.

      I think a cheaper and healthier idea would be to purchase erythritol and oligosaccharides or inulin (you can buy inulin in bulk like on Amazon) and mix it yourself. I am thinking 3/4 erythritol and 1/4 inulin would be a good way to start. Let me know what you think!!!

  42. Our naturopath has told us NOTHING but stevia, so I’m really looking forward to baking with stevia tips!!! Thanks!

    • I know….I need to get on it. It’s hard to bake with it though. Why nothing else? I know some folks are really down on xylitol and erythritol, but they’ve been lifesavers for us.

  43. Actually, he said we could combine it with inulin (chicory powder?), but I still have NO clue how to go from there to a nice cookie or ANYthing, for that matter. =(

    • Inulin is a good option but it can lead to a lot of gas and it is very expensive. You can find recipes that use it on Whole Approach.com. I do think that there is room for vegetable glycerine and the other options but you need to decide for yourself. Baking with stevia only is tough.

  44. Missrealness says:

    I would also prefer not to use corn starch. Will it still turn out or is there an alternative?

  45. Hi Adrienne! I’ve been feasting on your site ever since I found it on Saturday and am loving all the helpful tips! Maybe I’ve missed it, but have you found a substitution for corn syrup? I have a fabulous pecan pie recipe that everyone loves. I had success with using coconut nectar, but the taste isn’t quite right. i can’t tolerate honey, maple sugar or agave. Any ideas?

    • I did see a great corn syrup sub but it calls for sugar. I tried this once and it worked pretty well, but I am thinking the taste might be a bit different. Let me know as I was hoping to post it: 1 cup xylitol, 3/8 cup water, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, pinch salt. Heat it on medium until it boils and simmer for about 3 minutes. Please let me know how it works out and you can be an official recipe tester :).

  46. Sorry! I meant to add that all normal sugar is out, too. Only stevia, xylitol, erythritol, lo han, coconut sweeteners and small amounts of yacon syrup as a sub for molasses.

  47. I am thrilled to have found your site. I am gluten-free, but have recently been told to stay away from all grains, corn, eggs, soy, fruits, sugars, and heavy starches. Some of these items may be temporary, except for my being gluten-free. However, in the meantime, I feel really challenged on coming up with tasty dessert or bread-like alternatives. Breakfast is also a real challenge since I miss my eggs so much. I have found a couple of items on your site and will continue to experiment … even if I have to make slight alterations due to dietary restriction. Thank you so much. And btw – this substitution guideline is very helpful. Now … if you can just tell me how to substitute the SweetLeaf granulated sugar substitute in recipes, that will be great. It can leave a bitter or “off” aftertaste.

  48. Thank you Adrienne. I just read your Truvia post! SweetLeaf is a brand of stevia. I guess the stevia/erythritol is the answer to my quesstion. Thank you again for your blogs!

  49. Hi Adrienne! Thank you for these tips. I wanted to make my favorite zucchini bread using honey instead of sugar. I used your tips and it is in the oven right now. The house is smelling yummy, so that is a good sign! Looking forward to seeing how they come out!

    I’ve been perusing around your site…I have a feeling I’ll be back again : )

    • Here is an update…it came out really good! Just the perfect amount of sweetness. It was also just a tad dry, so I think next time I won’t decrease the liquid and see how that works out. Thanks again!

  50. When substituting honey for granulated sugar in a recipe (ie: pumpkin muffins) that does not have liquid (unless eggs are considered liquid), do I need to do anything special? Do I just cook it longer? Thanks!

  51. Angela miller says:

    Another great honey replacement is rice malt syrup, it has the same texture as honey and no need to adjust recipe measurements. It is also both fructose & gluten free. I use this as a honey substitute in my herbal tea as well.

  52. If a recipe calls for honey and I want to use xylitol and liquid stevia, how would I convert? Thank you! Artis

  53. What great info! Just 2 questions…I have read info regarding stevia and the negative effects it has on adrenal glands. Any info?
    Also, how does someone know if they have candida issues?

    Thanks

  54. Thank you for this info! Used it this morning to sub white sugar with honey in some blueberry muffins I made!

  55. I have a new recipe for Vegan Apple-Cranberry Barley Pudding that includes 4 Tbsp of Coconut Sugar. I don’t have coconut sugar but do have good Canadian Maple Syrup. How much maple syrup would I use?

  56. If recipe calls for honey and I only use liquid sucralose (Splenda) what is the conversion? I am a diabetic and have found that using the liquid sweetener instead of the granulated Splenda really cuts the carbs. Most natural sweeteners like honey etc. are not for diabetics. Neither is Agave. I also don’t want to use other sweeteners that can cause stomach distress. Thank you.

    • I don’t have a bottle in front of me but I would do the sugar to sucralose conversion and then convert to honey – would that work for you? Thanks! Hope it works for you and I know how hard it is :).

  57. I just wanted to thank you so very much! I have Addison disease and extreme fatigue plus progressive MS and Lupus SLE amongst other AI diseases.food allergies etc. I gave been using non grain flours for a while now trying to get rid of inflamation etc. Your recipes your site is awesome! You have been only one I have found, to instruct on subs in recipes.. I know this will make a huge difference in my recipes. Thank you so much for your kindness and your time!
    sincerely Deanna.l

  58. Hello! Great info, thanks for sharing. I would like to know how to substitute in blackstrap molasses in baking recipes, if you are familiar. Thank you :)