Stevia powder has become a popular natural sweetener for many people looking to reduce their sugar intake.
Derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, stevia powder provides a zero-calorie sweetness that can be used to replace sugar in drinks, baked goods, and more.
Why Substitute Stevia Powder?
There are a few key reasons you may want to use a different sweetener in place of stevia powder:
Availability: Stevia powder isn't as ubiquitous as traditional granulated white sugar. It can be harder to find, especially in stores that don't specialize in natural and organic products. If you don't have a health food store or specialty grocer nearby, stevia powder may not be easy for you to purchase.
Taste: Some people find the taste of stevia powder to be quite bitter or metallic. This is especially true when stevia is used in higher quantities. Even those who enjoy stevia powder moderately may find that too much creates an unwanted aftertaste.
Recipe suitability: While stevia powder can work well in some baked goods, the fact that it doesn't add bulk or moisture like sugar does can throw off the texture. And stevia isn't always ideal for recipes like caramel where sugar is necessary.
Prefer "real" sugar: While sugar substitutes like stevia cut calories, some people simply prefer to use real sugar, even in moderation. A small amount of real sugar may be a better option for those who don't require a calorie-free sweetener.
Cost: Pure stevia powder is more expensive ounce for ounce than granulated white sugar. While a little goes a long way, the cost can still add up compared to more common sweeteners.
Natural Stevia Powder Substitutes
If you're looking to replace stevia powder with another natural, calorie-free option, you have several alternatives:
Monk Fruit (Luo Han Guo)
Overview: Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a small green melon from China. Extracts from the fruit provide a very sweet flavor, sometimes described as mango or caramel-like.
Sweetness: Monk fruit extract is typically about 200 times sweeter than sugar. This means you need to use a very small amount to replicate the sweetness stevia powder provides.
Availability: Monk fruit sweetener comes in both liquid and powdered forms. The powdered version mimics the convenience of stevia powder. Brands like Lakanto and So Nourished sell monk fruit powder that you can find online or in health food stores.
Taste: Monk fruit has a very minimal aftertaste compared to stevia. It is generally perceived as a "cleaner" sweetness.
Uses: Monk fruit powder can be substituted 1:1 for stevia powder in any application. The texture works the same in baked goods. Monk fruit dissolves well in drinks too.
Overview: Date sugar is simply very finely ground, dehydrated dates. It provides the wholesome sweetness of dates in a powdered format.
Sweetness: Date sugar is less sweet than stevia powder, with about half the sweetness of regular sugar. More will need to be used to achieve the same level of sweetness.
Availability: Date sugar can be found in the baking aisle of many mainstream grocers and ordered online. Brands like Bob's Red Mill offer convenient resealable bags.
Taste: Date sugar has a complexity similar to brown sugar. It provides a nutty, caramel, almost maple-like flavor. The taste comes through more than stevia powder.
Uses: Date sugar works well in cookies, bars, muffins, and other baked goods. It adds moisture too. Use about 1 1/4 cups per 1 cup of sugar called for. Avoid beverages as it doesn't dissolve fully.
Overview: Yacon syrup comes from the yacon plant, which is native to South America. The syrup is derived from the roots and provides sweetness along with prebiotics.
Sweetness: Yacon syrup is about 1/3 as sweet as sugar, so more needs to be used compared to stevia powder.
Availability: Yacon syrup can be purchased online and at some health food stores. It's growing in popularity and awareness.
Taste: Yacon syrup tastes similar to molasses or caramel. It has deeper, richer flavors than stevia.
Uses: Use yacon syrup in place of liquid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. It works well in sauces, salad dressings, marinades, and more. For baking, use about 1/3 cup yacon syrup per 1 cup of sugar.
Sugar Substitutes Similar to Stevia Powder
If you still want a zero-calorie sugar substitute but are looking for an alternative to stevia powder, here are some options:
Overview: Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. It offers sweetness like sugar without calories or blood sugar impact.
Sweetness: Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar. More is needed compared to stevia powder to achieve the same sweetness.
Availability: Erythritol is sold on its own and often blended with stevia powder to enhance sweetness. It's available online and at grocery and health food stores.
Taste: Erythritol has a very clean, sugar-like taste. It lacks the aftertaste associated with stevia.
Uses: Measure out erythritol using about 1 1/4 cups for every 1 cup of sugar a recipe calls for. It works well in baked goods.
Overview: Sucralose, sold under the brand name Splenda, is an artificial sweetener made from sugar. It offers no calories but extreme sweetness.
Sweetness: Sucralose is around 600 times sweeter than sugar. Only a tiny amount is needed to replicate the sweetness of stevia powder.
Availability: Sucralose can be found under brand names like Splenda both online and in supermarkets in powdered and liquid forms.
Taste: Sucralose has a clean, sugar-like taste when used moderately. In higher quantities it can have a bitter aftertaste.
Uses: Use approximately 1/8 cup of sucralose powder for every 1 cup of sugar called for in recipes. It works in most applications.
Overview: Saccharin, such as Sweet'N Low, was one of the first artificial sweeteners available. It offers no calories and is very potent.
Sweetness: Saccharin is around 300 times sweeter than sugar. A small amount mimics the sweetness of stevia powder.
Availability: Saccharin can be found under brand names like Sweet'N Low in single-serve packets and bulk containers.
Taste: Saccharin tends to have more of a bitter, metallic aftertaste compared to stevia and other substitutes.
Uses: Use about 1/4 cup saccharin for every 1 cup of sugar when substituting in recipes.
Overview: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from birch trees and other natural sources. It looks and tastes much like sugar with fewer calories.
Sweetness: Xylitol has about the same sweetness as regular sugar. The same amount will be needed to replace stevia powder.
Availability: Xylitol is sold on its own and in combination with stevia powder under brand names. Purchase it online and at health food stores.
Taste: Xylitol tastes very similar to regular sugar, though it can have a slight cooling effect. No bitterness.
Uses: Replace stevia powder measure for measure with xylitol. It works well in baking.
Key Takeaway: If you still want a no-calorie sweetener, try erythritol, sucralose, or saccharin. For sweeter options with some calories, xylitol and date sugar are options.
Partial Sugar Replacements
Rather than completely replacing stevia powder with another sweetener, you can use a combination for the best flavor:
- 3/4 cup erythritol + 1/4 cup stevia powder
- 1/2 cup xylitol + 1/2 cup stevia powder
- 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup yacon syrup + 1/4 cup stevia powder
Mixing a small amount of real sugar or other natural sweetener with stevia powder can help balance out any bitter aftertaste from the stevia. Combinations also reduce the need for higher amounts of stevia that create a metallic flavor.
Stevia Powder Substitute Conversions
If a recipe calls for 1 cup of stevia powder, here is how much of each substitute you should use:
|Erythritol||1 1/4 cup|
|Monk fruit powder||1 cup|
|Date sugar||1 1/4 cup|
|Yacon syrup||1/3 cup|
These conversions provide approximately the same level of sweetness as 1 cup of stevia powder. Adjust to your taste preferences as needed.
What's the best 1:1 substitute for stevia powder?
For a direct 1:1 stevia powder replacement, monk fruit powder is the best option. It provides a similar texture and sweetness level.
Which powdered sweetener tastes most like sugar?
Xylitol is nearly identical to sugar in taste. Erythritol also closely mimics the taste and texture of sugar.
How do I adjust recipes when substituting sweeteners?
With bulking agents like erythritol, use about 25% more compared to the stevia powder amount. For liquid sweeteners, use significantly less, around 1/3 cup for every 1 cup of stevia powder called for.
Can I combine stevia powder with other sweeteners?
Yes, combining a small amount of stevia powder with sugar, monk fruit, yacon syrup, or others can help balance sweetness and flavor.
Does stevia powder work when baking?
Stevia powder can work well in some baked goods but may give a bitter aftertaste in large amounts. Combining a small amount with sugar or erythritol improves baking success.
While stevia powder offers an accessible natural sweetness, it isn't the only option. Both natural and artificial sugar substitutes can provide the sweet flavor you want without the negatives of stevia powder. Products like monk fruit, erythritol, xylitol, and sucralose closely mimic the taste and texture of sugar.
No one sugar substitute is necessarily "best" for everyone. Taste preferences and recipe applications differ. Finding the right stevia powder alternative or combination for your needs takes some experimentation. Start with small amounts of a new sweetener to determine ideal quantities and uses.
Regardless of which sweetener you rely on, any of these stevia powder substitutes allow you to enjoy sweetness without the calories and glycemic impact of regular sugar. Using them in moderation to partially replace sugar can aid weight loss, blood sugar control, and overall health.