Stevia – What it Is and How to Use It

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Stevia Extract, Liquid Stevia, and Stevia Blends

What is stevia anyways?

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 :).)

So today I’m sharing some facts about stevia, what kinds of stevia there are, and how to use stevia.

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.

However, I also get comments now and then (or see them in other places) about stevia being artificial. So I think it’s important to answer the question, “What is stevia” and then talk about how to use this low-carb sweetener.

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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.

Stevia 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)

Stevia has no calories,

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

Stevia 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.

There are some who are wondering, “is stevia safe?” I have done quite a bit of research into this and I feel very comfortable using it. You can read the post linked to in the previous sentence to find out how I reached that conclusion.

Different Forms of Stevia

Before we get into the different kinds of stevia, I think what is most important to point out is that the answer to the question, “What is stevia?” is that it is a plant that is made into a variety of different sweetening forms. Here they are:

Stevia Plant

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

There used to be a liquid form of whole leaf stevia, but it’s been discontinued.  Approximately 1 Tablespoon of this was equal to 1 cup of sugar.  It had a stronger aftertaste than the refined powder with a more “licorice-y” taste.

I’m guessing that it wasn’t that popular, so not holding my breath that it will come back on the market.

Stevia Blends

SweetLeaf Better Than Sugar Organic Stevia Granular Sweetener

SweetLeaf Better Than Sugar Organic Stevia Granular Sweetener

This stevia blend is great for using as a 1:1 substitute in beverages and baking and is made with organic erythritol and organic stevia extract.

 

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 expensive compared to using 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

This liquid stevia is a great choice for liquid stevia since it’s a large bottle at a great price with great flavor

They have a lot of other flavors too. Those are more expensive but super yummy. There’s Chai Spice, French Vanilla, and more!

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 Recommend
Better Stevia- Zero-Calorie Liquid Sweetener

Better Stevia- Zero-Calorie Liquid Sweetener

This liquid stevia is a great value with over 1800 servings. It's great in hot or cold beverages, and is packaged by a family owned business in the USA.

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

Pure Stevia Extract Powder

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

I Recommend
Better Stevia Certified Organic Extract Powder

Better Stevia Certified Organic Extract Powder

NOW Stevia is Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, tastes great, and is a fantastic value.

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.

stevia extract powder and liquid stevia drops with a spoon for a post about "What Is Stevia" and how to use stevia

How to Use Stevia

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is stevia,” let’s move on to how to use this amazing sweetener.

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. One of our favorite warm cereals is this Cream of Brown Rice.

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

Use With Other Sweeteners

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.

How to Measure 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 not all stevia extracts come with such a scoop. I ended up finding the same scoops at soap making companies, but they broke quickly so I wanted 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.

I Recommend
5 Pcs Mini Measuring Spoons Set, Stainless Steel

5 Pcs Mini Measuring Spoons Set, Stainless Steel

These spoons are a must for using concentrated sweeteners like stevia extract and monk fruit, and are great for making soap, cosmetics, and cheese making, too. 

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:).)

How to Use Stevia in Recipes

Since stevia is so sweet and concentrated, using it in recipes can be a little tricky.

1 scoop of stevia extract (1/32 teaspoon) = 2 tablespoon sugar

Typically you can assume that 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.

NOTE: If you’re using powdered green stevia, substitute 1 T ground green stevia for every 1 cup sugar.

I hope that helped you to answer the question “what is stevia” as well as to learn how to use stevia, and that this made it easier for you to use it for your family should you need and/or choose to do so.

Were you wondering “what is stevia” and if so, did you learn what you’d hoped to?

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220 Comments

  1. Hello I recently bought a cookbook and the Lemon Blueberry Muffin recipe calls for “1/2 cup granulated sweetener”– could that mean Stevia? Wouldn’t that be an awful lot of Stevia? Maybe they mean another type of sweetener. This is so confusing. Any ideas you have would be great! Thank you! Laura

    1. Hi there – sorry for the late response – I missed your comment. No, it can’t mean stevia extract. It would mean sugar or coconut sugar, etc. Hope that helps!

  2. Just FYI, the second name of the Latin binomial is never capitalized so the correct name is Stevia rebaudiana. Other than that I enjoyed your article.

    1. Edited–thanks! Sorry for the delay. I hope it didn’t cause you too much concern :). Thanks for the kind words. Oh and sorry for the delay – I have been inundated here and comments get buried sometimes and it takes awhile to go back and address them.

  3. Hi, I was looking at buying the NuNaturals stevia extract, but some reviews are saying that they changed the formula to something less strong and with a more bitter aftertaste. Is this true? Have you noticed any difference in their stevia over the years?

    1. Hi there. They did get a new one and then my understanding is that they went to Reb99 which I am using now and love. So maybe they were using the interim one?

  4. Hi! Thanks for your insightful post about stevia. I had hoped to find out how to substitute fresh or dried leaves for the commercial varieties, and, although not addressed directly in your article, indirectly, I’ve discovered some helpful tips in this regard. “To taste”. LOL 😉

  5. Really great rundown of this stuff that I knew a bit about but I wanted to known more about. This is going towards my brand new business of vegan drinks, and foods. It will be in my brand new home in the Philippines, where it will be me leaving America for the first time. Thanks a bunch!¡!¡ I got most of it figured out of costs, earnings, equipment. ;3 ???

  6. Hi Adrienne, I just discovered your blog today and looked up your NuNaturals stevia powder recommendation on the NuNaturals site. It looks like they have redone their packaging. The only type of stevia powder that allows you to purchase a 1 lb package is the NuStevia Reb 99 Pure Stevia Rebaudioside-A Extract. Ingredients says stevia extract (Stevia Rebaudiana). I am completely new to stevia. Is this product the same as yours? Does stevia need to be purchased ORGANIC or is there no organic in this product? Every other stevia powder they offered came in packets. Thank you for your help. ?

    1. The Reb 99 is a very good product. I use it all the time. It is possible to get organic stevia but I don’t always buy it. Stevia powders in packets are mixed with other things so they are essentially diluted so you need more of it. Hope that helps and hope stevia works well for you.

  7. I WANT TO START USING STEVIA INSTEAD OF GRANULATED SUGAR IN MY HOME COOKING.

    CAN SOMEONE HELP ME WITH THE EQUIVALENTS TO USE STEVIA?

  8. Any suggestions for those of us that have adverse effects when using Stevia like sudden brain fog or headaches?
    I am hoping that certain brands that have other components in the Stevia is what I am having such reaction to.

      1. Sorry I should add more to my response. If you really think that stevia is an issue then try other low carb sweeteners like xylitol, erythritol, monk fruit or vegetable glycerin, etc. I hope that helps.

  9. FOR OVER 2 1/2 HRS I’ve asked the same question, my recipe calls for 1/2 grade A or B maple syrup, but my doctor said to use liquid stevia. SO, HOW MUCH LIQUID STEVIA DO I USE INSTEAD OF 1/2 CUP OF MAPLE SYRUP???
    WHY WON’T SOMEONE TELL ME OR REFER ME TO A CHART THAT DOESN’T TELL ME THE HISTORY OF SUGAR/SWEETENER INDUSTRY, OR USE POWDERED OR GRANULATED SUGARS AS PART OF THE CONVERSION PROCESS?
    IT IS PAST MIDNIGHT, SINCE 9:30 I”VE ASKED ONE QUESTION ” 1/2 CUP LIQUID MAPLE SYRUP IS EQUAL TO HOW MUCH LIQUID STEVIA??? ”
    I AM IN TEARS NOW, IT’S TOO LATE TO MAKE THE DISH, WHERE DO I GET THE ANSWER? THIS IS NEW TO ME. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE TERMS OR SUBTLE REFERENCES THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH ALL THESE SUGAR SUBSTITUTES BANTER AROUND……. I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHERE TO GET THIS ANSWER…………………..AND WHILE I’M AT IT, CAN GROUND FLAXSEED BE USED INSTEAD OR TO SUPPLEMENT MY CURRENTLY LIMITED AMOUNT OF ALMOND FLOUR? pLEASE, SOMEONE HELP ME.! EVERY RECIPE INCLUDES ONLY MAPLE SYRUP, MY DOCTOR SAID “no’ USE STEVIA OR LIQUID XYLITOL BIUT I KNOW THE STEVIA AT LEAST IS MUCH SWEETER THAN THE SYRUP……. SO HOW DO I MEASURE IT?
    SORRY I’M GROUCHY BUT NOW 3 1/2 HOURS TO FIND THE ANSWER IS TOO MUCH WORK FOR A NEOPHYTE LIKE ME.. THANKS, SO MUCH “NOITALLE” OR RATHER –

    1. Hello there. Sorry that your comment didn’t get addressed until now. It got buried under others and it required some research in order to answer it and also as to the details of your questions not getting answered.

      I don’t know why you are saying that you have been asking this question for 2.5 hours. I don’t see any other questions from you on this blog. Perhaps you made an error trying to comment?

      There isn’t a conversion chart anywhere that I have found for maple syrup to liquid stevia.

      You would use about 1 tsp liquid stevia in this case but that might be a bit too sweet.

      Flax and almond meal are different but depending on your recipe it might work. Better in things that are savory perhaps.

      I hope this works.

  10. Hi Adrienne- first let me say that I just discovered you today while searching Pinterest for a recipe I couldn’t find. So a batch of your Grain-Free No-Bake Protein Bars are now in my fridge- thank you!! Second- I am utterly amazed at the things you have figured out how to make. It is quite inspirational!! I had kicked most sugar out of my life but slowly let it creep back in. Your site has convinced me there is no need for all that stuff! So again- thank you! Now my question- I actually did grow stevia in my garden last year. It was pretty easy. But no one in the house liked the extract (including even me). You mentioned that you were planning to try this. Have you tried it yet? And what have you learned??

  11. I just bought a small green bottle of liquid Stevia Extract from Walmart. The Great Value brand. Other than one squirt (0.3ml) to 8 oz. of your favorite beverage, I have no idea how to use this.
    Can this be used in baking? How much would I substitute for 1/4 cup Splenda? Does the missing volume affect the recipe?
    I’ve been using Erithrytol, but don’t like the after taste. Would like to try something different.

    1. Hi there. There are conversion charts online for liquid stevia. There are some variations of course from brand to brand. You’ll have to convert to sugar and the to erythritol which is 30% less sweet than sugar. Volume may or may not matter. I think I touch on that in the post? Thanks!

  12. Hello. I used to use the drops but have found that the leaves ground up into a powder (use a nut grinder) does the trick. Since I do not bake I don’t know the comparison amounts, I just use a dash here and add more if needed. No waste at all. I found the dried whole plant in the bulk dept at the local coop but have grown it also. It is really satisfying to grow….

  13. I use EZ sweets debittered stevia drops, I also cut mine with Swerve–powdered Erythritol but occasionally I use Xylitol too. I have a powdered stevia that I like too, Now Foods Better Stevia, I’ve just tried it once in chocolate mouse with only coconut milk, stevia, cocoa powder and a drop of peppermint essential oil. It tasted really smooth.

  14. Hi Adrienne. Could you please clarify which one is correct, in your experience.
    On this page you said, quote: “1 scoop of stevia extract (1/32 tsp) = 2 Tbsp sugar”.
    However, on another article you wrote (titled “How to Substitute Sweeteners”), it says, quote:
    “Stevia is super sweet. In general, 1/32 of a tsp is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of sugar. ”
    So does 1 scoop stevia (1/32 tsp) = 2 Tbsp sugar or 1 tsp of sugar?

    In addition, do you still feel the same about the safety of Stevia? There are a number of articles I’ve come across which are against Stevia. Many thanks.

      1. In the reply, it would be helpful to state the correction there, so that a person does not have to search through articles to locate the corrected information. Just in case it happens that the article is not corrected properly.
        Thanks

        1. Hi there. Thanks for the suggestion. I could, of course have an error in the comments as well so having the information in one place is more reliable in my opinion. Thanks again.

  15. I’ve been using the green packaged “Stevia in the raw” for quite a while and I feel like it is good for me. But a friend suggested I look it up and so I’m reading about Stevia tonight..but I haven’t yet found anything on Stevia In The Raw.

    1. It depends which product you are talking about – which one do you have use? The packets have maltodextrin in them which I avoid unless it is from Cassava, as typically it would be from GMO corn.

      1. My 8 year old daughter makes and sells lipbalm. We usually buy suspended coconut oil sweetener online… But realized how easy it could be to make

          1. I I tried liquid stevia- nope- it separates.

            The powder was a guess but I couldn’t get it to suspend it sinks to the bottom

  16. Just bought NuNaturals NuStevia which tastes great. It’s liquid. So I’m wonderingabout equivalence to sugar for that. If no guidelines, there’s nowhere to start with cooking substitution. Any input for this?

    1. Hi there. There are charts for converting liquid stevia to sugar – it’s not an easy science but you can easily find them online. Just look up liquid stevia conversion.

  17. I’m about to make your coconut macaroons,using Stevia for the first time! I will let you know how I get on!