How do you practically use an herb that’s 30-300 times sweeter than sugar to substitute for sugar in recipes? Stevia is a great option as an alternative sweetener, but sweetening with stevia isn’t easy to use in all situations. I prefer the liquid version of stevia extract.
I’ve explained the safety of stevia, including an interview with Jim May, the “father of stevia,” that details the importance of knowing how your stevia is processed.
Now for the “how to.”
Sweetening with Stevia
Because the problem with stevia is that is has no bulk, you can easily use it in applications where you’re just adding a little sweetness, not depending on mass, and perhaps able to taste test as you go. We use stevia in:
- hot drinks: tea (rooibos tea), coffee, hot chocolate
- right now, I’m loving mushroom coffee by FourSigmatic
- cold drinks: water kefir or lemonade
- Sweetleaf brand stevia has flavored versions that apparently mimic soda when mixed with carbonated water
- homemade yogurt – mixed in with plain yogurt and fresh fruit
- soaked oatmeal
- green smoothies – sometimes they need a little boost if I don’t use enough frozen bananas or dates
Stevia as a Sugar Substitute
Can you bake with stevia? I mentioned my experience with NuNaturals stevia baking blend (awful) in Is Stevia Dangerous? so unless and until a brand comes out with a baking blend that has a safe carrier that doesn’t add carbs, aftertaste, or digestive issues to the ingredients, most baking recipes are not going to work with stevia.
However, there are a few things you might make homemade where stevia would be a good calorie-free substitute for sugar, such as:
- homemade pudding
- homemade ice cream (Mare has an ice cream ebook if you’re not a frozen treat expert yet)
- homemade crackers (the sweetener is such a small part that stevia should work great)
- a sweet soy sauce for stir fry
- frosting with yogurt cheese – perfect on my healthy fruit pizza.
- I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet stevia would work in fruit desserts, like apple pie or a cobbler, and probably popsicles
- I successfully used stevia (about 3/4 tsp. in place of 1/4 cup sugar) in my creamy coconut pie which is in my Smart Sweets cookbook
Sweet Stevia Leaf
Although my brown thumb and I don’t personally have experience growing the stevia plant, some readers have discussed how to use the leaves in the comments of this post about the benefits of stevia.
Mostly, it sounds like tea and lemonade are popular choices.
I found another source on how to use green stevia powder, which is basically what you could make by drying the leaves and pulverizing them in the blender. This is where I recommend buying green stevia powder for less.
Stevia Sugar Substitute Recipes
I haven’t tried these recipes, but I thought it might be helpful for you to see some of the amounts that can be used for frosting or drinks. These stevia sugar substitutes come from the Sweetleaf company’s press release.
Again, I prefer the liquid extract for reasons of processing and taste. I think that to sub the extract, you could depend on about 5-10 drops per teaspoon sugar, or 10-20 drops per packet of Sweetleaf powder since one packet sweetens approximately as well as 2 teaspoons sugar.
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 lb. butter
- 2 lb. cream cheese (or yogurt cheese)
- 1 teaspoon (3 packets) SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener
Mix all together until light and fluffy.
SweetLeaf® Home-Style Lemonade
- 6 lemons
- 12 packets SweetLeaf Stevia®
- 6 cups cold water
Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. To make your labor easier, FIRMLY roll the lemons between your hand and countertop before cutting in half and juicing. In a gallon pitcher, combine 1 cup lemon juice, SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener and 6 cups cold water; stir. Adjust water and SweetLeaf Stevia® to taste. Chill and serve over ice.
Southern-Style Sweet Tea
- Black tea
- 2 quarts water
- 10 packets SweetLeaf Stevia®
Bring two quarts water to a boil; remove from burner immediately. Add black tea and steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea and cool. Pour into a glass pitcher and stir in 10 packets SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener. Stir until sweetener has dissolved. Let cool. Sweetened tea is more perishable than unsweetened – store it well-sealed in a glass (not plastic) container in the refrigerator.