Such as:

  • Splenda
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Sugar "In the Raw"
  • Honey
  • Stevia
  • Molasses

Can they be used interchangeably in recipes or do they have to be used at different proportions?Aside from nutritional differences, can I expect drastically different flavors?

  • 1
    Sugar in the raw is just sugar. Splenda is an artificial sweetener. I think you need to rephrase your question...
    – Harlan
    Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:03
  • 1
    where is honey? Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:08
  • OK, I can add honey. Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:13
  • @Harlan - yes, and so is brown sugar and confectioner's sugar, but they are still somewhat different and I assume not interchangeable without consequence. Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:14
  • Also molasses can be used!
    – txwikinger
    Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:30

9 Answers 9


Splenda, besides giving you the runs, is very hard to bake with. My wife had gestational diabetes so we tried baking with splenda and nothing turned out right. Splenda has no nutritional value.

Raw sugar is great, but it has a slightly different taste than processed sugar, similiar to brown sugar.

Artificial sweetners would probalby have similar issues to splenda, but I've never tried them outside of sweetening tea.

  • For those who get Cook's Illustrated, they have an article about this but don't ask me where.
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 23:29

I can tell you a few things about artificial sweeteners!

Alot of artificial sweeteners look nothing like sugar (in terms of their chemical makeup) and have very different properties. Most are also sweeter than sugar (sometimes by a factor of hundreds) so in the packets, you will find that they come along with alot of other, inert ingredients.

I found this link for you that lists various artificial sweeteners and their properties. Since most of them are nothing like sugar, you can't do certain things to them: such as heating to high temperatures or for example caramelizing.

The link I gave you mentions which artificial sweeteners are safe for eg. baking and includes some natural subsitutes as well.

I'm not really familiar with their health aspects, but I found this link that discusses health issues with artificial sweeteners.

Hope this is useful to you!


For baking I try to use honey instead of sugar where ever I can. However, honey is expensive so I use for recipes that needs lots of sugar rather brown or raw sugar.

For cooking honey works very well too. It often even enhances the overall flavour when a good honey is used.

I personally do not use artificial sweetener. I don't like the taste, and I am not sure if it is shown that they do not have unintended side-effects. Especially, aspartame is very controversial in this sense.

  • 3
    Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you need to use about 75 to 80% of the sugar amount. You also need to count it towards the moisture added, as honey is about 20% water.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:48
  • @Joe - Yes. this is true.
    – txwikinger
    Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 23:02

The various artificial sweeteners and stevia can in general not be used to feed yeast or produce caramel. Most are much sweeter than sugar. They are controversial in regards to health effects, but then so is sugar.

The various "raw" sugars can have very different flavor profiles, as an example dark muscovado sugar often imparts a licorice note.

Agave syrup is somewhat "in" because of relatively low GI and should be added to the list.


There's a lot of variety, mainly depending on whether you want something else that's sweet or something that's sweet and has no calories.

Honey, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar, and (per above) date syrup are all sweet and caloric. Honey, molasses, maple syrup and date syrup are more viscous (goopy). Brown sugar is just regular sugar mixed with molasses. Raw sugar is like granulated sugar but not bleached.

As for non-caloric sweeteners, you have splenda, xylitol, reb-a (Truvia), erythritol, stevia, and aspartame. Splenda is made from sugar and the most similar functionally, although it's not identical. Xylitol is natural but has a cooling aftertaste that doesn't work well in many dishes. Rebiana is chemically similar to stevia's active compound and sounds good but doesn't work as well as it says; it's also mixed with fillers and erythritol. Erythritol is a form of fermented glucose. Stevia is a plant extract that has great sweetness but a lingering aftertaste; some preparations add bulk, but the liquid itself is much sweeter by volume than sugar. Aspartame (nutrasweet) is chemical death, and I recommend you cut it out of your diet.

  • Xylitol and Erythritol belong to the group of "sugar alcohols" which are similar (but slightly different) to "regular" sugars such as glucose. They certainly have a calorific content! Xylitol is often found in chewing gum - aside from the cooling effect mentioned above, it also helps heal dental caries. Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 10:17

Artificial sweeteners - particularly those that are "zero-calorie" - are mostly fillers such as dextrose anyway. Depending which particular filler they use, it may cause unexpected results in your recipe.

Under the Splenda brand they offer a bulk product that (they claim) can be used interchangeably for sugar in cooking and baking. We typically use it half-and-half with real sugar.


Use glucose sugar for confectionary making as it does not cause crystalisation as you will find occurs if you use normal cane sugar

  • Do you have any more detail or explanation? Also, can you buy plain old glucose for cooking/baking?
    – lemontwist
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 13:21

Don't make a drink that is supposed to have sugar without sugar. Unless you're diabetic.

  • 1
    Hmm, yes, I do remember making some Kool-Aid as a kid and being very surprised it needed more than just Kool-Aid and water. Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 22:12

The 'zero-calory' sweetners have more than zero calories. There is a loophole in the product labeling regulations that allows manufacturers to claim zero calories if the package contains less than 1 gram of product. The sweeteners I have checked are all 0.8 grams.

The 'inert' fillers are used to bulk up the volume. Because the sweetners are so much sweeter than sugar, they couldn't sell a packet that contained for example 1/600 of a teaspoon. All of the sweetners I checked list dextrose as the main ingredient. Dextrose is also known as glucose and is a simple sugar. The largest ingredient in sugar substitutes is sugar.

Most refined white sugar available in Canada and I suspect in the U.S. is made from sugar beets and not cane sugar. Cane sugar is sweeter. Most of what is sold as brown sugar is refined white sugar with molasses added back in.

We use coconut sugar for cooking because it is very low on the glycemic index.

Note that most non-chemical substitutes are not as white as refined sugar, so they add colour to baking or cooking. What started as pure white cream cheese and white chocolate icing has become pale brown. It's a different aesthetic, but I think worthwhile.

  • AT least in the US, the labelling regulations actually say if it is less than 1 calorie per serving, it an be labelled as zero to the best of my knowledge. Beet sugar and cane sugar are both sucrose, and exactly identical in sweetness. Can you back up the assertion that coconut sugar is lower on the glycemic index? It is still mostly sucrose. What is a non-chemical substitute--all sugar is chemicals. Table sugar, for example, is sucrose, C12H22O11. Dextrose is C6H12O6.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 23:09
  • Actual US FDA standard, regarding using the phrase "calorie free" or "0 calories": ' "Less than 5 cal per RACC and per labeled serving (b)(1)" See: fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/…
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 23:10
  • @SAJ14SAJ The link you gave to the FDA seems to be a dead link. Dunno if there's a suitable replacement link or not.
    – Grace Note
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 0:18

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