Let’s start off by saying that we’re lucky to live in a time when great low carb natural sweeteners are aplenty. Long gone is Splenda’s rule, as stevia and erythritol sweeteners in several forms have taken over the market.
And, while it’s widely acknowledged that taste perceptions when it comes to low carb natural sweeteners vary widely, stevia and erythritol sweeteners have come a long way from the suuuper bitter aftertaste of only a few years back. So we’re confident you’ll find a favorite one within this list.
Oh, and note that we are in no way sponsored. We have simply tried and tested our way through dozens of products, and are happy to recommend. So here are our 10 favorite natural low carb sweeteners.
The 10 Best Low Carb Sweetener Alternatives
1. The Best All-Around 🏆
We find Pyure’s organic all purpose blend be the first stevia-based sweetener in the market to leave no bitter aftertaste. This erythritol and stevia blend is a fantastic alternative for cooking, baking and overall sweetening.
Their claim? That not all stevia leaves are created equal. And so by using the best and youngest in their product (combined with erythritol), they’ve created the holy grail of low carb natural sweeteners.
Though do note that while manufacturers claim it to be just half as sweet as sugar, we find it to be a bit sweeter. We suggest subing 1/3 teaspoon of Pure for every 1 of sugar. You can always add more.
Oh, and if you’re in need of powdered sugar, simply grind it in your (very dry) blender or Nutribullet.
2. Tied Up Top ☝🏿
Before Pyure came out in the market, Swerve granular sweetener was our only top choice. An erythritol and oligosaccharides (sweet, non-digestible carbohydrates sourced from select fruits and starchy root vegetables) blend, it really is another great choice. Particularly for those who cannot stomach the taste of stevia.
In fact, it’s really our top choice when stevia-based mixes leave an aftertaste. Think chocolate treats and warm puddings and desserts.
Swerve is marketed as a 1-to-1 replacement to sugar. Though we suggest you start with 3/4 teaspoon of Swerve for every 1 of sugar, increasing if needed.
Oh, and do note that while the package states 5g=5g carbs, there are zero grams of actual sugar. The carbs from the oligosaccharides will pass through your system undigested. i.e. zero net carbs.
Oh, and Swerve has their own confectioners sugar (i.e. powdered sugar) for your baking delights.
Though do note that Swerve products are on average twice as expensive as Pyure. And given that they are 1-to-1 with sugar (rather than 2-to-1 like Pyure), that actually makes them 4 times as expensive…! 💸
3. The Purist 💁🏿
Given the exorbitant price of Swerve and other erythritol-based sweeteners, it is no surprise that several other great products have arisen. With NOW Foods 100% erythritol sweetener being our top choice (and that of countless others).
Just note that when substituting, erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar. So you actually need to use a bit more. Think roughly 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of erythritol to 1 of sugar.
4. The Near-Perfect Substitute (update!)
Update: We have recently been experimenting quite a bit with xylitol, and have found that it is the absolute best sugar substitute in savory cooking. We’re talking about sweetening up your BBQ sauce or teriyaki. Tastes just like sugar. For real.
Xylitol is another naturally occurring sugar alcohol with a low GI of just 13. Another sugar alcohol, it is a great alternative for those who have tried everything already and are still not quite satisfied.
Most people find it mimics the taste of sugar quite well, leaving behind a slightly minty aftertaste. And NOW Foods xylitol is by far our top choice. Though do note that 1 teaspoon (4g) has 4g of carbs of sugar alcohol. And just like erythritol, given that most of it passes undigested through most people’s digestive tracts, it’s generally subtracted from total carbs.
Fun fact: xylitol is known to help keep the bacteria in your mouth at bay (i.e. to improve dental health). So it’s very frequently found as an ingredient in chewing gum.
Though do note that if consumed in large amounts, xylitol may cause diarrhea. Which is why chewing gum is considered by many to be laxative in large quantities. 💩
And warning: xylitol is known to be extremely toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. So if you’ve got a pup in the house, be extra careful here. 🐕
5. The Stevia Drops 💧
Stevia drops were one of the first stevia products in the market, but they’ve since come a long way. We like SweetLeaf’s range best, from the plain to the vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, and even English toffee-infused. Use a couple to sweeten up your coffee and drinks.
Though do note that palates here vary quite a bit. As while some people swear by stevia drops, to others they are simply just too bitter.
We neither love them nor hate them, but if we had to choose the vanilla drops from SweetLeaf would be our top choice. They are the most versatile (aside from the plain of course), and we actually like them quite a bit to sweeten up our keto pumpkin spice latte. 🎃
On that note, we hear that they recently released a pumpkin-spice stevia version, though we can’t say we’ve tried it yet (anyone?).
Oh, and with stevia drops you definitely get more bang for your buck. About 3 drops equal 1 teaspoon of regular sugar.
6. The Brown Sugar One 🍪
Sukrin Gold’s brown sugar alternative is the most widely used brown sugar substitute for low carb baking (think cookies!). Another mixture of erythritol and stevia, manufacturers claim a 1-to-1 conversion ratio. Having said that, we do find it to be slightly sweeter than regular brown sugar, so we suggest using a little less (think 3/4 teaspoon for every 1 teaspoon of sugar).
Though do note that if gluten is a concern, Sukrin Gold does contain malt extract (which is not allowed in gluten free products in the US). Having said that the company states that they are significantly below the threshold for gluten free products (close to 1 ppm). And so it is considered legally gluten free in the EU.
7. The Syrup 🥞
Because pancakes. Perhaps the most popular choice is Lakanto’s maple flavored sugar-free syrup. Gluten free and non-gmo, this syrup is erythritol and monkfruit based.
Oh, and note that Lakanto also has powdered monkfruit sweeteners and without a doubt we favor their golden monkfruit sweetener over the classic version. But we also favor brown sugar over refined sugar, so it may just be a taste preference.
Fun fact: monkfruit gets its name as it was literally cultivated by Buddhist monks over a thousand years ago. Though do note that monk fruit is a known cooling-agent, and so it doesn’t agree with everyones digestive systems (particularly when used in larger quantities such as baked goods).
So use sparingly.
8. The Syrup 2.0 🍯
A second popular syrup choice around is Sukrin fiber syrup. Most people love the taste on anything from pancakes to pecan pie.
Though do note that this fiber syrup has been known to be digested differently from person to person. For the vast majority, the syrup simply passes through the body like regular fiber. Though for some, it has been known to cause a spike in blood sugar (though of course smaller than one caused by regular sugar or syrup).
9. The Inulin Based
Inulin is a starchy substance (i.e. a polysaccharide) found in a wide range of fruits, veggies and herbs.
And unlike sugar alcohols such as monk fruit and erythritol, inulin are not cooling. In fact, they’re widely used in alternative medicine to aid probiotic absorption.
Chicory root inulin is perhaps the most popular and available of the lot. And the most popular version is Just Like Sugar. Though while some people swear by it, we’re not completely sold to be honest.
And we most definitely don’t find it yields the best results in baking. As inulin does not act anything like sugar in baked goods, so recipes must be created around it (and that’s simply just not practical).
10. If All Else Fails
Maltitol, another sugar alcohol, is probably the closest thing to sugar out there, both in terms of taste and cooking-properties (aside from browning). You’re probably asking why is it not at the top of the list then. Because literature varies widely on the subject, with it impacting the blood sugar levels of quite a few people. We therefore do not consider it to be completely carb free, with a GI of 36 and about half of the nutritional values of sugar.
So best to avoid while on keto, and consume in moderation if low carb.
Which brings us to the note that maltitol is very frequently used in products labeled as sugar-free. So if keto, always read the ingredients to avoid hidden surprises.
Though do note that several people swear by Joseph’s maltitol sweeter syrup, which incidentally has zero net carbs. Though others do find that despite it’s great taste, that they end up passing quite a bit of gas. 🙊💨
Oh and note that Joseph also makes a sugar free maple syrup loved by many, but this one does have 9g net carbs per 1/4 cup. So best avoided if keto.
The Honorable Mention
Truvia is a popular 1-to-1 stevia sweetener around. So if you’ve tried Pyure and Sweetleaf and want to keep looking, you may want to give Truvia a shot. We’re not too crazy about the aftertaste though (though for some people there is none).
Now, which one’s your favorite?