Low-Calorie Sweeteners | Cook's Illustrated
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Low-Calorie Sweeteners

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2012

There are plenty of sugar substitutes on the market, but could any of them actually work as well as ordinary sugar?

We tested six types of sugar substitutes and have yet to find one that's a universal stand-in for the white stuff.

AGAVE SYRUP

Natural sweetener made from the evaporated sap of the Mexican agave plant.

BRAND NAME: Madhava Agave Nectar

PERFORMANCE: About 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. Ideal for sweetening beverages, as it dissolves easily and has a relatively neutral taste. Not good for baking. Cookies were bready, cakes had a chewy layer of agave stuck in the pan.

Erythritol

Crystallized form of the sugar alcohol erythritol.

BRAND NAME: Organic Zero

PERFORMANCE: Terrific in beverages. Baking was another story: Sugar cookies turned out crumbly; cakes and muffins were chewy.

Granulated Sucralose

Sweetener derived from sucrose plus chlorine.

BRAND NAME: Splenda

PERFORMANCE: Perfectly acceptable in drinks, cobbler, and fruit-pie filling. But sugar cookies were overly soft and cakey and lacked sweetness.

Granulated Sucralose Blend

Mix of granulated sucralose and granulated sugar.

BRAND NAME: Splenda

PERFORMANCE: Drinks, cobbler, and fruit-pie filling all tasted fine. Sugar cookies had surprisingly decent texture but exhibited slight “artificial” aftertaste.

”Lite” Corn Syrup

Blend of glucose and sucralose.

BRAND NAME: Karo

PERFORMANCE: Sugar cookies and pecan bars had decent texture but exhibited slight “artificial” aftertaste.

Saccharin

Sweetener derived from petroleum.

BRAND NAME: Sweet ‘N Low

PERFORMANCE: Harsh, metallic aftertaste in drinks and baked goods. Sugar cookies were crumbly, and cakes and muffins were chewy. One upside: the metallic taste was less noticeable in fruit-pie fillings.

Stevia

Natural, calorie-free sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant (a sunflower cousin).

BRAND NAME: Truvia

PERFORMANCE: Mouth-puckering bitterness in beverages as well as in baked goods. Produced sugar cookies that were dry and crumbly rather than soft and chewy.