Baking With Sugar Substitutes

I am not a big fan of the use of sugar substitutes although I do like my sugar free lemonade in the summertime.  With carbohydrate counting even diabetics can learn how to work sweet treats into their meal plan without having to use sugar substitutes.  While portion control always will remain a concern, learning to bake with sugar substitutes, also known as artificial sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners, can help you enjoy your favorite baked goods, without using up all of the carbohydrates allowed for the entire meal with dessert.


Seven sugar substitutes are on the market, all with different names and packaging. Which one you choose may depend on cost, availability, your level of baking savvy, and personal taste preference. All of these sweeteners are deemed safe for consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration or you would not find them on store shelves! You can purchase these products in stores or online.


Each has its own Web site, which provides recipes, tips, and other useful information about the products. Here are a few:
Sweet’N Low®:
Sweet One®:


The oldest of the sugar substitutes is Sweet’N Low, commonly known as “the pink packet.” Composed primarily of saccharin, each individual packet of granular sweetener is equivalent in sweetness to 2 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar. Sweet’N Low also is sold in a liquid form, which is measured in drops. SugarTwin is a similar brand of saccharin sweetener.


Sweet One and Sunett are made from acesulfame-K (Ace-K). These and the saccharin sweeteners do not lose their sweetness when heated and are therefore well suited for use in cooking and baking. All of the sweeteners previously mentioned are ultrasweet and are used in very small quantities in recipes. Even though their levels of sweetness are not the same, you generally can interchange any of the saccharin or ace-K sweeteners in your recipes without altering the taste to a noticeable degree; this is because such small amounts are used in home recipes.


NutraSweet, Equal, and NatraTaste all are made from aspartame. They are good substitutes for sugar in some recipes, but may lose their sweetness with prolonged heating. If you are making recipes that require long cooking times or high temperatures, stick with one of the previously mentioned sweeteners. Equal is known as “the blue packet.”


Splenda, which is made from sucralose, is relatively new to the market. Splenda is heat stable. It is sold in packets, as well as in a granular packaged form. The contents of the packets vs granular packaged form are not the same—the packets are just sucralose, while the bulk packages have larger granules that measure “spoon for spoon,” the same as real sugar.


Truvia, which is made from the stevia plant, is the newest non-nutritive sweetener to the market. One packet of Truvia is equal to the sweetness of 2 tsp of sugar. It is good for baking.


Both Equal and Splenda now have “baking blends,” which are measured cup for cup like sugar in your recipes. Read the Nutrition Facts panels carefully to make sure you are not getting more carbohydrate than you think and to make sure you are purchasing the correct product. If you are not very confident in the kitchen, you may want to start out using one of these products. They make it easier to achieve good results, but your goodies may contain more carbohydrates.


Sugar provides several qualities to baked goods in addition to sweet taste, such as volume and texture. Therefore, it often is difficult to completely replace the sugar in any given recipe. It is generally recommended that you replace half of the sugar in a recipe with an artificial sweetener, but sometimes you can substitute more than that, depending on your recipe (how the sugar functions in the recipe) and your personal taste preferences. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup (C) of sugar, first try using ½ C of sugar and 12 packets of sweetener.

Sweetener Substitution Chart





¼ C granulated sugar

6 packets

2 tsp

1½ tsp

⅓ C granulated sugar

8 packets

2½ tsp

2 tsp

½ C granulated sugar

12 packets

4 tsp

1 Tbsp

1 C granulated sugar

24 packets

8 tsp

2 Tbsp

C=cup, Tbsp=tablespoon, teaspoon

To improve texture and volume of low-sugar baked goods, experiment with the following tips:

  • Decrease dry ingredients by 25% (for example, if a recipe calls for 1 C flour, use ¾ C instead)
  • Bake in a slightly smaller pan
  • Reduce baking time slightly
  • Add an extra egg or two egg whites
  • Increase some of the liquid ingredients, such as water, milk, or juice

For a powdered sugar substitute, combine ¾ C Splenda Granular with 2 Tbsp cornstarch in a blender jar. Cover and blend until Splenda is a very fine powder (1 Tbsp is ½ carb exchange).

Perhaps the best advice is to follow the instructions and recipes found on each product’s Web site, because these recipes are tested by professionals using the sweeteners. Baking with sugar substitutes sometimes is challenging, but with experimentation and patience you can achieve good results.


Snack Ideas With 100 Calories
(all items listed are approximately 100 calories, ±20 calories)

Notice the portion sizes – yes you can have tortilla chips or cookies if you can limit yourself to a small portion.  Like I always say, EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

  • Almonds (3 tablespoons [Tbsp])
  • Apple, raw (1 medium)


  • Applesauce (½ cup [C])
  • Apricots, canned (6 halves)
  • Apricots, dried (10 halves)
  • Apricots, raw (6 medium)
  • Baked potato chips (1 ounce [oz])
  • Baked tortilla chips (½ oz) and hummus (2 Tbsp)
  • Baked tortilla chips (¾ oz) and salsa (¼ C)
  • Baked tortilla chips (1 oz)
  • Banana, raw (1 medium)
  • Bell pepper (1 each) and fat-free ranch dressing (3 Tbsp)
  • Bell pepper (1 each) and hummus (3 Tbsp)
  • Blueberries, raw (1 C)
  • Broccoli and cauliflower, raw (1 C) and fat-free ranch dressing (3 Tbsp)
  • Cantaloupe, raw pieces (2 C)
  • Carrots, baby (6 each) and hummus (3 Tbsp)
  • Carrots, baby (6 each) and lite cream cheese (2 Tbsp)
  • Carrots, baby (6 each) and peanut butter (2 teaspoons [tsp])
  • Carrots, baby (12 each) and fat-free ranch dressing (2 Tbsp)
  • Cashews (2 Tbsp)
  • Celery (1 stalk) and peanut butter (1 Tbsp)
  • Celery (1 stalk), lite cream cheese (2 Tbsp), and raisins (1 Tbsp)
  • Cheese (1 oz)
  • Cherries, canned in juice (¾ C)
  • Cherries, raw (20 each)
  • Chicken noodle soup (1 C)
  • Chocolate, dark (¾ oz)
  • Corn tortilla (1 each), lite shredded cheese (½ oz) and salsa (2 Tbsp)
  • Cottage cheese, low fat (½ C)
  • Crab, imitation (2 oz) and cocktail sauce (2 Tbsp)
  • Cranberries, dried (¼ C)
  • Dates, dried (5 each)
  • Edamame, boiled (⅓ C)
  • Egg, hard boiled (1 large)
  • Flatbread crackers (1 oz)
  • Frozen waffle, toasted (1 each) and apple butter (1 Tbsp)

100 calorie snacks 1

  • Frozen yogurt, lite (½ C)
  • Fruit cocktail, canned in juice (1 C)
  • Graham crackers (3 squares)
  • Graham crackers (2 squares) and peanut butter (1 tsp)
  • Graham crackers (2 squares), lite cream cheese (2 tsp), and strawberry jam (2 tsp)
  • Granola bar, crunchy (1 each)
  • Grapefruit, canned in juice (1 C)
  • Grapefruit, raw (1 medium)
  • Grapes, seedless (2 C)

Grapes on grapevine, close-up.

  • Guava, raw (2 medium)
  • Ham, lean deli slices (2 oz)
  • Hot chocolate milk, low fat (6 fluid ounces [fl oz])
  • Kiwifruit, raw (2 medium)
  • Mandarin oranges, canned in juice (1 C)
  • Mixed berries (1 C) and yogurt, lite (¼ C)

100 calorie snacks 3

  • Nectarine, raw (1½ medium)
  • Orange, raw (1½ medium)
  • Papaya, raw (1 medium)
  • Peach, raw (2 medium)
  • Peach, sliced (1 fresh) and cottage cheese, low fat (¼ C)
  • Peaches, canned in juice (1 C)
  • Peaches or pears, canned in juice (½ C) and cottage cheese, low fat (¼ C)
  • Peanut butter (1 Tbsp)
  • Peanuts (2 Tbsp)
  • Pear, raw (1 medium)

100 calorie snacks 8

  • Pears, canned in juice (1 C)
  • Pecans halves (2 Tbsp)
  • Pineapple, canned in juice (¾ C)
  • Pineapple, raw pieces (1 C)

100 calorie snacks 4

  • Pineapple, raw pieces (½ C) and cottage cheese, low fat (¼ C)
  • Plantain, cooked without fat (½ C)
  • Plum, raw (3 medium)
  • Pomegranate, raw (1 medium)
  • Popcorn, low fat, microwave style (3 C)
  • Popcorn, white cheddar, reduced fat (2 C)
  • Pretzels (1 oz)

100 calorie snacks 7

  • Prunes, dried (5 each)
  • Prunes, stewed (½ C)
  • Pudding, sugar free (½ C)
  • Raisin bread (1 slice) and margarine, lite, trans-fat free (1 tsp)
  • Raisins, dried (¼ C)
  • Raisins (2 Tbsp) and peanuts (1 Tbsp)
  • Raspberries, raw (1½ C)
  • Rice cake (1 each), lite cream cheese (1 Tbsp), and apple butter (1 Tbsp)
  • Sandwich cookies (2 each)
  • Shrimp, boiled (10 large) and cocktail sauce (2 Tbsp)
  • Strawberries, raw (2 C)
  • Sunflower seeds, hulled (2 Tbsp)
  • Sunflower seeds (1 Tbsp) and raisins (2 Tbsp)
  • Three-bean salad, canned (½ C)
  • Turkey breast, deli slices (3 oz)
  • Turkey breast (1 oz) wrapped in corn or flour tortilla (1 oz)
  • Vegetable or tomato juice (1 C) and rice cake (1 each)
  • Vegetable soup (1 C)
  • Veggie “chicken” nuggets (2 each) and ketchup (2 Tbsp)
  • Walnuts (2 Tbsp)
  • Watermelon, raw pieces (2 C)

Slice of Watermelon

  • Wheat crackers (about 1 oz, see label)
  • Wheat crackers (4 each) and soy cheese (1 slice)
  • Yogurt, sugar sweetened, fat free (4 oz/½ C)

Yogurt and berries

  • Yogurt, lite, artificially sweetened, fat free (8 oz/1 C)
  • Yogurt, lite (½ C) and almonds, slivered (2 Tbsp)
  • Yogurt, lite (½ C) and bran cereal (½ C)

Download a copy for use with your clients at: Nutrition 411

Click on Diabetes Center/For Your Patients/Diet & Nutrition