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How to Use Stevia as a Healthy Sugar Substitute

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 in tea

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:

stevia sugar substitute hot chocolate
sweetening with stevia in lemonade
sweetening with stevia in smoothies

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:

stevia sweetened homemade crackers
  • 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
Smart Sweets

The goal of Smart Sweets: 30 Desserts to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth is to give you options that are way better for you than you’ll find in the grocery store, usually better for you than another homemade version, and sometimes downright good for you.

You’ll find less sugar, healthier sweeteners, whole grains, soaked and sprouted grains, no grains, probiotics, and even some vegetables in these dessert recipes.

If you always feel guilty when you give into sweet things, this book is definitely for you.

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.

sweetening with stevia in iced tea

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.

Frosting

  • 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.

stevia as a sweetener in frosting

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.

Have you used stevia in recipes? In what sort of recipe would you like to try it?
stevia as a sweetener

Want more help and inspiration to reduce sugar? Check these out:

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

45 thoughts on “How to Use Stevia as a Healthy Sugar Substitute”

  1. Beth @ Turn2theSimple

    I bake almost exclusively with pure stevia powder. I use to the Trim Healthy Mama brand, it is organically grown and water processed (there is a video on YouTube showing their farm and processing facility). I successfully use the pure stevia extract in all my THM baked goods ( I rarely use the THM baking blend, just make recipes that don’t require it). I’ve used stevia in cheesecake, pancakes, baked oatmeal, oatmeal cake, “bean” cake. All the Trim Healthy Mama recipes have adjusted for the fact that stevia doesn’t give the “bulk” of sugar, so even if the recipe calls for a stevia-blend sweetener, pure stevia can easily be substituted. The THM website has a helpful chart to use when subbing stevia for sugar or other THM Stevia blend sweeteners. I use this chart to know how much stevia to use!

  2. Several on here have recommended KAL, but when I checked the label, KAL contains maltodextrin. Unless you buy the organic, which some say has more of an aftertaste than the non-organic.

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  5. I had just bought a bag of the new “Stevia in the Raw” which measures like sugar. It is bound to maltodextrin. How is that for a filler? I saw one of the sources is corn (which I try to avoid since the majority is GMO). Your thoughts?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Shauna,
      Maltodextrin is almost certainly corn, and Stevia in the Raw is one of those “wool over your eyes” things if you ask me. It’s going to be 90% maltodextrin and a big of stevia. So…..I think I have a box taking up space in my cupboards, too, but I’d rather not. 🙂 Katie

  6. Liquid stevia makes the best pumpkin pie! We don’t even miss the sugar. My husband is a pumpkin pie snob, and he is pleased with the result. Of course, i’ve begun using whipping cream (organic) in place of the evaporated milk, too. The result is wonderful. I use 1/2 tsp per pie.

      1. My preferred brand is KAL. I think it has the best flavor. I’ve tried others i don’t care for (in tea or for other sweet-intense uses), however, any brand seems to do fine in pumpkin pie. I’m using up the ones i bought but don’t like in the pies.

  7. Leon @ Organically Thought

    This is a great post. Back in 2008 I was in need of some extreme nutrition as medicine. As part of this I had no simple carbs or sugars for 6 months (with the exception of an apple once and a while). In this time I found stevia! I used it in my mint and chamomile tea. My favorite thing to do with it was make a creamy dessert with organic raw heavy cream stevia and carob powder (I was avoiding caffeine too). There was much more to my regimen but I will report that I brought my cholesterol down from 240 to 140 in 2 months with no medication. My blog was on vacation for the last week getting a make over. I was very stubborn and insisted on writing my own WordPress theme. I was getting traffic from blogging but no one was commenting. I have employed a professionally designed theme that let me make the changes I wanted and now I would love anyone that has a minute to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

  8. I’ve used the liquid stevia mixed with coconut sugar and experienced lots of success…My favorite stevia treat is is sparkling limeade: in a quart jar mix juice of 1-2 limes 5-10 drops of stevia (totaste) and fill up with Pellegrino. DELISH!

  9. I tend to use Stevia in lemonade or iced tea. I’m so afraid of using too much when I bake.

    Thanks for sharing with Tuesdays At The Table; its GREAT info!

  10. I use stevia in baking but always in combination with honey or maple syrup. My favourite use for it is in pies and other fruit desserts, because I find the fruit covers up the aftertaste completely and you don’t need the bulk of sugar in those.

  11. Some great advice! I do bake with stevia. These days, I usually combine it with something else, but when I first started the anti-candida diet, I used it on its own in muffins, pancakes, and pretty much anything else that I wanted sweet. I did have some success with the muffins, bread, and a giant baked apple pancake (and I still make those recipes even though I no longer need to use stevia-only as a sweetener).

  12. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)

    Thanks for the brand recommendations! I recently tried the Trader Joe’s version, but haven’t been a big fan of the taste and after taste. Have you heard of Kal? My sister-in-law uses stevia a lot and recommended that brand to me.

    1. Steph,
      You’re not the first to recommend Kal. I am hoping to get some to try sometime soon… 🙂 Katie

    2. I’ve tried most of the brands and KAL is the only one i like. It doesn’t seem to have the aftertaste that so many others have. I respect the Sweetleaf brand and all that Katie has written about it, but i like the taste (and general lack of aftertaste) of KAL. I have shared it with others who have had a negative response to stevia, and most of them like it too.

      I love their vanilla flavored stevia, tho it contains maltodextrin, so i have some reservations about it. I use several of the KAL brand supplements, too.

      1. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)

        Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll be looking for that one… that is if I ever use up this nasty bottle of stevia!

        1. I saved my “nasty” bottles of stevia for baking. The ones i have that i didn’t care for very much i used for pumpkin pie. When i drink tea, i use the KAL brand because the taste is so apparent. It may take some time before i use up the experimental bottles of Stevia, but it doesn’t seem to go bad, not quickly, anyway.

    3. Pat 11/18/2013

      I use KAL Stevia all the time, but I have never baked with it. I love it. Now I wont be without it.

  13. I would like to use Stevia in an apple crisp recipe. Anyone have any idea of the substitutions necessary to replace the sugar?

    1. Bettie,
      I’ve found that about 3/4 tsp. liquid stevia can equal 1/4 c. white sugar. The great thing about apple crisp is that you might be able to taste test the mixture before baking. If you’re using powder, the packet should tell you – some brands are one packet = 1 tsp. sugar, Sweetleaf is one packet = 2 tsp. sugar. Good luck! 🙂 katie

  14. I remember yrs ago finding a website where a lady made lots of things with stevia. I particularly remember baked goods & sweets. From what I remember, she bought something made for baking & cooking in bulk. Have you done a web search for baking & cooking with stevia? I knew I couldn’t buy in bulk, so didn’t continue to read that blog. I lost the web address long ago.

    1. Goldnrod,
      There are baking blends to bake with stevia, but the fillers they use, at least in the one or two I got to try, taste awful. ??? 🙂 Katie

  15. I’ve mixed up the green stevia powder in a shaker with cinnamon. I’ve used it when making french toast and cinnamon raisin bread and the kids haven’t noticed. I tried it making oatmeal once and it was nasty. Green oatmeal isn’t very appealing to look at either! The green is not as concentrated so you need more.

  16. Heather Ledeboer

    I have a hard time not noticing an unpleasant (to me anyway) aftertaste when I use Stevia in most recipes. I have however used Lemon Drop SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia in green tea and enjoyed it.

    1. Heather,
      I dislike the aftertaste of the powder stuff, too (although sweetleaf had the least/almost none). The liquid doesn’t give me an aftertaste at all. ??? 🙂 Katie

  17. Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land

    Thanks for the links! We were just contemplating how to use the stevia plant we grew this year, aside from just snacking on the leaves while working the garden.

  18. We sell Steviva Blend in our store as well as the plain Steviva. Here is what their advertising says…

    Steviva Blend (1 lb.) is a blend of the highest quality Rebaudioside A (stevia extract) an all natural grain extract, erythritol, a filler which is naturally occurring in a variety of foods and derived from non-GMO fermented grain.

    Have you ever heard of this brand or tried it? I had requests to carry it and it seems to be a hit. I have not used it myself yet, but I don’t do lots of baking anymore.

    1. Marci,
      I haven’t tried that one, but erythritol can be a funky filler – doesn’t agree with everyone. It’s a sweetener that I’m really curious to dive into deeper when I get to it on my list for this series – some love it, some hate it (as usual in the food world, right?). 🙂 Katie

  19. Jen @ Oh no! I really do need to eat my vegetables!

    I use nu-naturals extract powder currently, and found 1/8 tsp replaces 1 c of sugar, generally. I usually add half of what I think I’ll need, taste, and add more. Cakes seem to do just fine with replacing the sweeteners, while brownies and cookies need the “sticky” of sugar to help hold them together (though that hasn’t stopped me from using stevia anyway!)

    I actually went out and got some of those teeny measuring spoons that says “pinch,” “dash” etc – because they correspond to 1/8 tsp, 1/16th, 1/32nd. Very helpful. I make chocolate milk with just cocoa and stevia – but I go by sight – you barely need a dusting of stevia.
    It works well for me because I like less sweet things in the first place. People who are used to very sweet things would probably use more sugar/honey/maple syrup than I do.

      1. Jen @ Eating My Vegetables

        I’ve not made any flour based cakes myself with stevia (though I know others have ) and it hasn’t been an issue. I mostly do flourless egg based cakes, which simply work differently anyway. It’s worth a try.

  20. My kids love the stevia sweetened lemonade I make, usually just by the glass. They tend to go through a lot so I’m glad it’s not sugar sugar sugar going in to them! And I like to add a little of the vanilla creme flavor to my iced tea. I found it interesting on your other post that it said combining stevia with sugar alcohols can cause laxative issues. Maybe we just don’t get those but when I’m baking low sugar I like to use a combo of organic, cane sugar derived erythritol and stevia (and maybe a tiny touch of honey) for the best flavor profile. I make a sugar free key lime cheesecake that everyone so far has loved, even my suspicious-of-healthy-stuff dad. 🙂 Ever since I found out splenda kills intestinal flora, it has been out of my house! I pay too much for probiotics to be killing them off that way. 😉

  21. I use stevia almost every day in my tea or coffee. I’d love to try it in apple pie, since that’s something everyone wants me to make during the holidays and I’m baby-stepping my way away from white sugar.

    1. FYI – I made apple pie using stevia (recipe via the sweetleaf website) last Thanksgiving and no one could tell it was any different than a traditional pie. It tasted great!

    2. I recently made apple pie using liquid stevia, and it was the best apple pie I have ever had. My suggestion though, don’t underestimate it! Stevia is very concentrated, make sure you have a conversion table in from of you when baking with it. Here’s a good one-http://www.stevia.com/Stevia_Sugar_Substitute.aspx
      happy baking!

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