The 7 Best Natural Substitutes for White Sugar
Skip the refined sugar and swap it for these healthy and natural substitutes instead. Follow this handy guide to choose the best Paleo-friendly sweetener for your cooking and baking needs.
With different flavors, textures, and temperaments, each has its own unique quality. The best part is, they won’t have the harmful effects of most processed varieties and will help keep sugar cravings down to a minimum. Unlike their refined counterparts, these natural sugar substitutes won’t spike your blood levels and are healthier alternatives to use when cooking, baking, or blending.
You can find a wide range of these Paleo sugar alternatives at your local health food store or purchase them online for speedy home delivery. To get started, check out the natural sweeteners below and discover the best recipes to use them in!
Coconut sugar is the Paleo sweetener that best mimics the texture and flavor of brown or cane sugar. Despite its name, it’s made from the nectar of coconut blossoms rather than actual coconuts. Although the texture is similar to its refined counterparts, it excludes the bitter aftertaste and is great for all your baking purposes.
- Replacement Ratio: 1 cup coconut sugar: 1 cup cane sugar
- Flavor: brown sugar, molasses, caramel
- What It Does: adds a richer flavor and darker color to recipes
- Use It to Make: brownies, quick-bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, bbq rub
Monk fruit has zero calories but is 200-300 times as sweet as cane sugar. It’s made from a green round melon native to Asia and can be found in liquid, powder, or granule form.
- Replacement Ratio: ⅔ tsp monk fruit: 1 cup cane sugar
- Flavor: similar to cane sugar, mild, fruity
- What It Does: adds a slight cooling sensation on the tongue, making it better in chilled recipes
- Use It to Make: beverages, raw desserts, cheesecakes, jello, pudding
Stevia sweetener is made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It’s a calorie-free sweetener that can be purchased in powder or liquid form. Due to its intense sweetness, a little bit goes a long way to sweeten recipes – one tiny teaspoon of Stevia is equal to a whopping cup of sugar!
- Replacement Ratio: 1 tsp stevia: 1 cup cane sugar
- Flavor: slightly bitter aftertaste, similar flavor to artificial sweeteners
- What It Does: stevia won’t brown or add texture to baked goods the way cane sugar does; combine it with other natural sweeteners to add more texture
- Use It to Make: frosting, brownies, mousse, beverages, pudding
Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup doesn’t contain fillers like high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, or other unnatural flavors. It’s simply made from extracting sap off of trees. As an added bonus, maple syrup contains antioxidants, zinc, and manganese.
- Replacement Ratio: ¾ cup maple syrup: 1 cup cane sugar
- Flavor: roasted, caramel, brown sugar
- What It Does: Adds moisture and richer flavor than cane sugar; decrease other liquids in recipes by ¼ cup
- Use It to Make: candy, pudding, ice cream, marinades, glazes
Since raw honey is not heated or processed, its vitamins, minerals, and enzymes remain completely intact. This pure form of honey contains antioxidants that are great for boosting your immune system. Raw honey can also range in thickness and color from opaque to dark gold. The flavor differs from one variety to the next, depending on the type of flower the bees were exposed to.
Note: Keep in mind that honey bakes faster than cane sugar, so reducing the oven temperature by 25ºF will help prevent premature browning.
- Replacement Ratio: ¾ cup honey: 1 cup cane sugar
- Flavor: distinct, hints of spice and florals
- What It Does: adds depth of flavor to a recipe and increases moisture; decrease other wet ingredients in recipes by ¼ cup
- Use It to Make: glazes, marinades, muffins, quick bread, dressings, icing/frosting
Date paste and syrups are made by soaking dried, pitted dates in warm water to soften. Next, they’re blended into a smooth paste you can use for all your Paleo sweets. Free of refined sugars, this handy condiment can be folded into desserts or used to sweeten sauces.
- Replacement Ratio: ⅔ cup date paste: 1 cup cane sugar
- Flavor: caramel, fig
- What It Does: adds moisture, chewiness, and a richer flavor
- Use It to Make: pancake syrup, snack bars, cookies, brownies, bbq sauce
Ripe mashed banana provides natural sweetness without the use of additional sweetener. Speckled brown bananas have a deep, sweet flavor because their starch has broken down into sugar. Banana purée also brings a distinct flavor, so it’s best added to desserts and sweet recipes as opposed to savory. Use right after peeling and mashing the banana for the best flavor. Reduce the amount of liquid or fat in the recipe when using banana (½ cup mashed banana is equal to ½ cup oil).
- Replacement Ratio: ½ cup mashed banana: 1 cup sugar
- Flavor: distinct, a hint of caramel
- What It Does: adds sweetness and moisture, creates a denser end product
- Use It To Make: brownies, quick bread, cookies, muffins