Using Sugar Substitutes in the Kitchen
If you decide to use sugar substitutes when baking or cooking, there are a few important things to know:
- Baked products may be lighter in color because real sugar has a caramelizing/browning effect and artificial sweeteners do not.
- Volume may be lower in cakes, muffins and quick breads because artificial sweeteners do not have the same bulking ability as sugar.
- Texture may be altered in some baked products, especially cookies.
- Taste may be slightly altered if you are sensitive to the sweetener’s aftertaste.
- Cooking time of your baked goods may be slightly different when using artificial sweeteners.
- Sugar naturally holds in moisture and increases keeping quality so baked products with the sugar removed will not keep as long.
Packets vs. Bulk
Most companies sell their sweeteners in individual packets and also in bulk quantities for baking purposes.
Sometimes there are several versions of the bulk quantities as well (there are brown sugar substitutes, plain granular versions, or pre-made blends of sugar and low-calorie sweetener). Pay attention to the type you are buying, as their use in the kitchen may vary.
Aspartame is not a heat-stable sweetener so it may not be the best choice when baking and cooking. When exposed to heat for a long period of time, it loses its sweet taste.
Saccharin and sucralose are heat stable and are easiest to use baking and cooking. However, to keep the desirable taste, volume, color, and/or texture of a baked product, you usually will not substitute all of the sugar in a recipe for artificial sweetener.
Read the package carefully for specific instructions on the best way to substitute the low-calorie sweetener for sugar in your recipes. The company’s website can also be a helpful resource for baking tips.
Part Sugar, Part Sweetener
Some brands offer pre-made blends of sugar and low-calorie sweeteners. These blends are meant to be used in baking. They are half sugar and half low-calorie sweetener, so they have half the calories and carbohydrate as sugar.
As with all low-calorie sweeteners, you will want to read the instructions for substituting these blends for sugar. For example, when replacing regular sugar with Splenda’s Sugar Blend (half-granular Splenda, half-sugar), they suggest using half as much:
1/2 cup Splenda Sugar Blend = 387 calories + 97 grams of carbohydrate
1 cup sugar = 774 calories + 200 grams of carbohydrate
Remember that baking blends still have a significant amount of calories and carbohydrate that need to be considered when meal planning because they are half sugar.
For more detailed information on cooking and baking with different sugar substitutes, visit the manufacturer’s website. They will also usually provide additional recipes that use their products.