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. I have been making hot chocalate with liquid stevia. With Hershey’s cocoa and the stevia( I use stevia glycerine, now brand. I find in drinks and baked items stevia and the cocoa taste so bitter. But with things not choc. Stevia is great. What do you do to sweeten chocalate recipes and it not taste bitter. Thanks

  2. I have read that “Stevia leaf” is better/healthier than a sweetener marked just plain “Stevia.”

    Do you know anything about this, or is it some form of urban legend propagating on the web?

    1. It depends on the company that makes it – the white powder is refined. You can contact companies and get one that is refined only using water. The leaf is not as sweet b/c it’s more than just the extract.

  3. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and I don’t want to take any chances what would be the alternative and how would you mix it with stevia to get a baking blend? Thanks love your reciepes and blog.

    1. There are a lot of baking blends – you could use erythritol as an alternative. I haven’t perfected anything but you could try 1 cup erythritol and add in 1/4 – 1/2 tsp stevia and see how that works.

  4. THANKS FOR INFO – I HAVE BEEN USING STEVIA FOR A FEW YEARS IN LIQUID FORM AND JUST RECENTLY STARTED USING THE POWER – REALLY LIKE THE EXTRACT- ALSO USE IT TO MAKE FRUIT FLAVORED KEFIR CHEESE- LIKE YOGURT-I AM GOING TO TRY THE FLAVORED DROPS IN MY KOMBUCHA -ANYWAY THANKS AND GOD BLESS

    MIKE & GEORGIA

  5. Hi there,

    I have powdered stevia leaf (green), do you know of any conversion charts, I’m on a Keto diet but the recipes I have call for liquid stevia mainly or powdered extract(white) , I’m trying to avoid the processed stevia, I have google searched conversion tables for the green powdered stevia leaf, the result I get are for extracted stevia powders (white) and the liquids.

    Much appreciated,

    Ric

  6. I recently had a problem with my container of stevia powder hardening (like brown sugar might harden — only harder) and I could not figure out how to soften it up again. It was like a rock and I had to throw it away. Could you tell me why this happened and how to prevent it?
    Thanks!

      1. Thank you for responding. the filler is Inulin Soluble Fiber. That probably absorbs moisture from the air? This is SweetLeaf brand.
        Keeping the container wrapped in plastic might help? In the Fridge? yes or no?

        1. Sure! Yes, inulin does get clumpy. I would think putting a dessicant in there would help — did it not come with one? I would see if others had complains in reviews perhaps.

  7. I went on Amazon to find the pure NuNaturals Stevia that you speak so very highly of, and the reviews are terrible. Most state that the company admits to ‘having to change the formula ‘ a few years ago. What are you recommending now? Almost to a man, they say that it is NOT sweet in normal quantities, and, to get it sweet, one must use many times the amount, which then leaves a horrible aftertaste. What should I do? Tia!

    1. Hi there. Can you tell me which product you are looking at? I recall awhile ago that they did change it and I didn’t like it but it seems to be better now to me. I use it daily. I do think that there are other good ones on the market, however. Let me know! I hope to pull some other recommendations together soon!

  8. PmpHello, your information is wonderful. Here is my question… I have follicular lymphoma and and going through treatment at this time. I’m on the way to being healed? Everything I read states cancer feeds on sugar . I need to know if the stevia you are talking about is a sugar at all once in the body. I am not to eat any sugar or products containing corn syrup etc. I am beginning my organic lifestyle and need to know if I will be able to use the stevia you are advertising .

    Thank you so much for you knowledge and sharing it with the world.
    Kathryn

  9. Really liked the lesson on stevia..I was not sure what it was and how to use it to bake cookies and muffins..Thank you for all that help and are look8ng forward to seeing some of your recipes…Barbara from Mi

  10. Hi Adrienne ,
    This is Fauzia I make Almond , Mint & Rose & Lime Summer drinks. I want to use Stevia for my diabitic patients in there Sherbets.
    Kindly please let me know which brand will be good and it will not have after taste.
    Regards
    Fauzia

    1. Hi there. I have some good brands linked to in my posts, including in this one. Hope that helps.

    1. Hi Amber. It’s Adrienne here (the owner of the blog). Did you need anything else? And it looks like you are subscribed to the blog. Have you not been getting updates?

    2. Hi Adrienne’s son here. I’m very sorry about this, but I accidentally replied to my Mom’s reply to your comment instead of to your actual comment, so I’m not sure if you received my reply. Here it is incase you didn’t get it:

      The stevia linked to in the post (the 1 oz one) has no maltodextrin (the only ingredient is stevia). It also says no bitterness. Can you tell please me what you need help with? Thanks!

  11. I looked on Amazon for the Stevia. They do not the container your picture shows. It has maltodextrin (sp) in it. That is the one that says not bitter. There is 1lb pig but different looking label. I’ll look again.

    1. I’m sorry about this. I am going to have my son work on this–he helps w/ my blog. Thanks for your patience. I might have him come and ask you questions.

  12. Thank you. This was very informative and helpful. I was looking to make something to replace maple syrup. You said I would need to use stevia and xylitol. I’ve never used xylitol. I am still learning a lot.
    Could I join your email if you have one. Thank you

    1. You are so welcome. Xylitol works 1:1 substituted for sugar. You can for sure sign up. You can go to this link: https://wholenewmom.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-essential-oils-before-you-buy/ . Look forward to having you. I’m starting a new group on Facebook too that should be up and running by Sunday (that’s in addition to my page on Facebook which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/WholeNewMom/ . I’ll be announcing the new group there for sure.

  13. The jar of Stevia you recommend is not available on amazon at this time. Only the packets are available. Any other place to buy it?

      1. Thanks so much for getting back to me, however, I just now (4/14/18, 10:19pm) went on Amazon and it still says “currently unavailable”. They have the packets but not the jar as shown in your blog.

  14. I’m a newly diagnosed diabetic and am switching out how I cook and bake. I’ve found several recipes calling for liquid Stevia extract.
    Is this the same as just liquid Stevia?
    Can the powdered extract be subbed for the liquid extract? And if so, what’s the ratio?

    1. Hi there. Sorry for the delay in responding–had a bunch of stuff going on and illnesses here too. Liquid stevia extract would be the same as liquid stevia. You can sub it but there are different conversion charts out there. Typically 1/4 tsp of the powder would be 6-9 drops of the liquid but not sure that’s always accurate. Hope that helps!

  15. I purchased a resealable bag of organic Stevia leaf powder. How can I use it to substitute in a recipe for cookies that requires 1/4 cup Stevia?

    1. I’m assuming you have green powder? I don’t know what kind of stevia the recipe is calling for b/c 1/4 cup of extract is a TON and they would taste terrible. Let me know what kind of stevia they are talking about and then maybe we can figure it out. I would think using an online chart should help – thanks!

  16. I have started an anti candida diet, and I use the Nunaturals brand of stevia. My question is: Is stevia considered to be a sugar?