Think of this as your ultimate sugar-free sweetener guide, where you’ll find the best low carb and keto sweeteners (all natural of course!); for any and all keto kitchen adventures! Starting with your morning coffee, to crisp cookies, ultra-scoopable ice cream, and overall baked goods!
It’s widely acknowledged that taste perceptions when it comes to keto sweeteners vary widely, but they have come a long way from the suuuper odd aftertastes of only a few years back. So I’m confident you’ll find a favorite one within this list!
As you may’ve noticed, getting the sweetener right in keto baking is often as important as the flours. Each one behaves differently as they have different melting points etc, so use the following list as a guide.
Oh, and note that gnom-gnom is in no way sponsored. I’ve simply tried and tested our way through dozens of products, and are happy to recommend. Now, do tell and share! Which one’s your favorite?
The Best Low Carb & Keto Sweeteners
1. Stevia 🍃🏆
I’m still awarding stevia the top price as it’s the one I use the most for daily (non-baking!) tasks, particularly in the form of drops. They’re awesome in chia puddings, tea, coffee etc… and they’re a great way to keep your consumption of sugar alcohols limited to baked goods.
Just be sure to steer clear of any chocolate when stevia is around, as most peeps get a bitter and rather horrid aftertaste (particularly if warm). So no hot chocolate, and definitely no keto brownies for this one!
Now, stevia drops were one of the first stevia products in the market, but they’ve since come a long way. I like SweetLeaf’s range best, from the plain to the vanilla (my favorite!), chocolate, hazelnut, and even English toffee-infused.
Oh, and with stevia drops you definitely get more bang for your buck. About 3 drops equal 1 teaspoon of regular sugar.
2. Monkfruit 🗻
Monk fruit gets its name as it was literally cultivated by Buddhist monks over a thousand years ago, and it’s also a zero glycemic sweetener like stevia. I use it sparingly just like stevia in non-baked goods, as I’ve yet to bake successfully with the pure sweetener.
Still, if you’re not a fan of stevia this one really is worth a shot. I find its aftertaste to be quite pleasant (can’t explain it, you gotta try it!). And note that when blended with erythritol, however, it works great for baking (see below).
3. Tied Up Top: Erythritol Blends ☝🏿
Erythritol blends are growing in market popularity as they lessen the cooling effects of erythritol for most peeps. Plus, they lower the amount of sugar alcohols you consume; which is always a plus in my book.
Frequent blends are either stevia-erythritol (think Pyure’s organic all purpose blend ), which measure 2:1 to regular sugar. Or monk fruit-erythritol (such as Lakanto’s solid products), which can be either 2:1 or 1:1.
The 2:1 blends work great in anything from muffins to cakes. They might rise a little less, but in all honesty I use Pyure for all the muffin recipes on the site. But keep in mind that, because baking is pretty geeky stuff, you sometimes need it to be 1-to-1 to sugar as you need the bulk (think cookies, brownies, etc).
And you can make your own blends! I’m currently experimenting on sharing a recipe for my favorite blend (best taste, lowest GI possible, and best performance in baked goods). But you can also experiment by mixing stevia and monk fruit with erythritol and/or xylitol.
Oh, and if you’re in need of powdered sugar, simply grind it in your (very dry) blender or Nutribullet.
p.s.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).
4. The Purist: Erythritol 💁🏿
Erythritol is probably the most popular sugar alcohol in the market today, with a GI of just 1. It’s also the sweetener that behaves most like sugar for crisp baked goods (think cinnamon toast crunch or our bakery-style chocolate chip cookies). It still, however, takes a few hours to crunch up. So expect your cookies to be much crunchier the day after!
Also, in terms of its cooking and baking properties, do note that erythritol can freeze with crystals so it’s not your ideal choice for ice creams. Or you’ll just have to thaw them out for quite a bit to get them scoopable again.
Top tip: if you’re finding your erythritol baked goods to have a minty sweetener crunch after baking you may want to powder it in a (very dry!) blender or bullet before use. I’m honestly not sure why this happens to some peeps, but powdering it seems to solve the problem!
In terms of taste, do note that it has a cooling effect for post peeps (how slight or prevalent varies from palate to palate). And keep in mind that you can use its minty-ness in your favor for things such as our shamrock Tshake or thin mints cookies!
And in terms of brands, based on all your comments (thank you, I honestly cherish them all!), the most popular choices are either Lakanto or Swerve. And it really seems that you guys love one and hate the other !
If on a budget, do note that Swerve products are on average twice as expensive as sweeteners such 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…! 💸
But you can always grab a more off-brand product such as NOW Foods 100% erythritol sweetener.
5. The Sugar Taste-Alike: Xylitol 💁🏿
Xylitol is another naturally occurring sugar alcohol with a low GI of just 13 (still very low when you think sugar is 100!). Some peeps subtract its sugar alcohol carb count completely (like with erythritol), and others do half. I personally subtract it in full, as I find it doesn’t affect my levels a significant amount.
You’ll also find that it’s a great alternative for those who have tried everything already and are still not quite satisfied. It’s definitely the most similar sweetener to sugar out of the lot, particularly in terms of taste.
Once melted, however, it can take up to a day (or two!) to crisp back up– which renders it useless for crisp goods. Having said that, this same property makes it the best sweetener for ice cream (ever!). It behaves similar to inverted sugars, keeping your ice cream ultra scoop-able (even if not churned!). And because of it’s lovely melting properties, it’s awesome in lending chewiness to things such as our keto brownies.
And if using xylitol, make sure to be careful if you have a pup, cat (or any animal?!) around the house, as it’s highly toxic to the little guys! It’s like chocolate (or garlic!), our little furry friends simply can’t digest it. So please do be mindful! 🐕
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. 💩
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, it’s a very popular choice with you guys for our bakery-style chocolate chip cookies.
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. I personally avoid it, as I can’t risk it with Celiac disease.
My hack? A touch of blackstrap molasses! It’s obviously not a keto sweetener (in large amounts!). But you’ll often fin I use tiny sneaky amounts (roughly 1/16th tsp per serving) to several recipes for a brown sugar touch. I find it diminishes the cooling effects of erythritol and improves browning. Plus, it’s a nutritional powerhouse rich in vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. And I honestly get a bigger sugar response from eating a strawberry, than a touch of molasses in a baked good (I’ve measured). But of course, everyone’s different so choose accordingly.
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.
Got a sweetener hack or note? Do drop it in the comments below! Your comments are invaluable when I create recipes, as they give me a great feel of what’s working (and not!) for you guys.