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It’s here: the ultimate guide to keto sweeteners! I get a lot of questions from people asking, “what is erythritol sweetener?” (or “what can I use as an erythritol substitute?”), “what is monk fruit?”, and “is stevia natural?” Some people say they want to avoid some or all of these, because they think they are artificial, or want to use different natural and/or low carb keto sweeteners that they have for my recipes. Others just want to know what the best keto sweetener is, or how to find a keto sugar substitute! I also frequently see confusion about what keto sweetener to use and where to find a sweetener conversion chart.
I’ll answer all these questions and more – this is the ONLY keto sweetener guide you will ever need! I’ll help you understand the differences between them, their effects on blood sugar (often called glycemic index or GI), benefits and possible side effects, how to use them in baking, ways to swap them (everything from stevia to erythritol substitute options), and more.
If you’re overwhelmed and undecided about which keto sweetener to try first, I highly recommend starting with Besti Monk Fruit Sweetener With Allulose! It tastes and bakes just like sugar, but unlike other brands of monk fruit, it also dissolves and browns like sugar as well.
Most importantly, we also have a low carb sweetener conversion chart AND a sweetener conversion calculator to convert for you! (You can use the buttons below to jump right to these.)
Keto Sweeteners Table Of Contents
Use these links to jump to what you’re interested in:
Types of Keto Sweeteners:
- Sugar Alcohol Sweeteners – Erythritol and Xylitol
- Plant-based Keto Sweeteners – Monk Fruit, Stevia and Chicory Root
- The New Sweetener – Allulose
- Sweeteners To Avoid On Keto
How To Use Keto Sugar Substitutes:
Sweetener Conversion Chart & Calculator:
Types Of Keto Sweeteners
Which sugar-free sweetener to use is largely a matter of preference. I like monk fruit, erythritol and allulose, or blends of them, the best, but they all have pros and cons. There are 3 main categories of keto friendly sweeteners:
- Sugar Alcohols – Including erythritol and xylitol.
- Plant-Based Sweeteners – Including monk fruit, stevia, and chicory root.
- Allulose – A new natural keto sweetener that’s in a category by itself. (I’ll explain why below!)
You can also see a comparison chart of the best keto sweeteners here – it includes monk fruit, allulose and erythritol.
Sugar Alcohol Sweeteners – Erythritol & Xylitol
Sugar alcohols can occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, or be produced by fermenting plant sugars. Because they are not well absorbed or metabolized by the body, they contain fewer calories (some of them effectively close to none) and have a smaller effect on blood glucose levels.
For the same reason, they can cause stomach upset if used excessively. This is particularly true for ones that are not absorbed. Their impact on blood sugar and potential for side effects varies depending on the type of sugar alcohol.
Contrary to what some people may believe, sugar alcohols are not artificial sweeteners. There is some processing involved to achieve the granulated sweeteners you can purchase for home use, but this is no less natural than the processing needed for coconut sugar, maple syrup, or white table sugar. You can also choose to buy ones that are guaranteed non-GMO and/or organic.
What Is Erythritol?
Erythritol is my favorite sugar alcohol, and one of my favorite low carb sweeteners in general. I use it for most recipes on this blog.
Erythritol sweetener has practically no aftertaste at all, aside from an occasional cooling sensation that can be present if used in large quantities. It occurs naturally in some fruit, but the granulated kind you buy is made by fermenting glucose.
Erythritol has a glycemic index of 0, meaning it does not spike insulin. In comparison, xylitol has a glycemic index of 13, maltitol has a glycemic index of 35, and sucrose (table sugar) has a glycemic index of 65. The higher the number, the worse it is.
How Is Erythritol Made?
Erythritol is naturally occurring in many fruits. But how is erythritol made for commercial purposes? It’s simply a process of fermentation. Erythritol sweetener comes from fermenting corn or birch. Just to be clear, it is not corn or birch itself, it’s the byproduct of the fermentation process. Therefore, erythritol is keto, low carb and has zero net carbs.
If you prefer to avoid corn, erythritol made with birch is a good option, but is more expensive. For my purposes, I buy erythritol made by fermenting non-GMO corn, knowing that the part I am consuming does not actually have any corn in it. There are also options for organic erythritol – see below.
Is Erythritol Keto and Low Carb?
Yes, absolutely! Because it is not metabolized, erythritol is keto and suitable for low carb diets. It has 0 grams net carbs.
The main benefits of erythritol sweetener have more to do with what it does not have or do, than what it does. Since it has no calories, no carbs, no sugar, does not raise blood glucose levels, and tastes great, that makes it an almost perfect low carb sugar substitute. As a bonus, it can reduce absorption of fructose, which is not good for us. Erythritol also has anti-oxidant properties and can remove free radicals in the bloodstream. [*]
Erythritol Side Effects
Although it’s in the sugar alcohol family, erythritol does not raise blood glucose or cause gastrointestinal distress [*]. This differentiates it from most polyols, so keep that in mind before you go looking for an erythritol substitute. [*]
Why is erythritol safe and different from others? Most of it gets absorbed in the small intestine, but is poorly metabolized [*]. It is later excreted unchanged into the urine.
All other sugar alcohols reach the large intestine instead, which is why they are more likely to cause stomach upset. Since the small intestine absorbs erythritol, it never gets to the part where it can cause distress. This is true for most people, but for best results start slowly with it.
Baking With Erythritol
Technically erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar, so the correct conversion would indicate to use a little more compared to sugar (about 1.3 times more). However, many people use it as a 1:1 replacement for sugar without noticing a difference.
In most situations, baking with erythritol is similar to baking with sugar. You can mix it with dry ingredients or cream butter with it.
However, there are several main differences when baking with erythritol instead of sugar:
- Erythritol sweetener does not dissolve quite as well as sugar. It’s still possible, just a little more difficult. For any uses where a smooth texture is important, use a powdered (or confectioners) version instead for a good end result.
- Erythritol can cause a cooling sensation, similar to mint. This is the only type of aftertaste that it might have, and is more prevalent when using large quantities. Usually it’s not a problem unless you try to make something extremely sweet with it.
- Erythritol does not caramelize. Depending on what you are trying to make, you would need to find an alternate way to achieve the same result.
- Erythritol may crystallize. Again, this only tends to happen when using a lot of it. It might also happen over time if you store leftovers of something, especially in sauces, frostings, etc. Using the powdered form can help reduce this phenomenon.
Swerve vs Erythritol vs Other Blends
I try not to single out a specific brand here, because this is really intended to be an unbiased guide. But, because this particular question comes up a lot, I wanted to address.
What is the difference between Swerve and erythritol? Swerve is mostly erythritol, but also has oligosaccharides added. What are those? They are simply prebiotic plant fiber.
The addition of these helps make Swerve the same level of sweetness as sugar, whereas pure erythritol is 70% as sweet as sugar.
And what about other brands of erythritol? Swerve is a great option but definitely not the only one.
I have several other brands I use and love. I actually use pure erythritol sweetener a lot. See my recommendations below!
Where To Buy Erythritol Sweetener
The best place to buy xylitol is online. Here are some of my favorite erythritol sweetener brands:
- Wholesome Yum Besti Erythritol – my own brand of erythritol – tested for the best quality and non-GMO!
- Sukrin Granulated – pure erythritol
- Swerve – blend of erythritol and oligosaccharides
- Wholesome Yum Besti Powdered Erythritol – my own brand of pure powdered erythritol – tested for the best quality and non-GMO!
- Swerve Confectioner’s – powdered blend of erythritol and oligosaccharides
- Sukrin Icing (Melis) – powdered blend of erythritol and oligosaccharides
- You can also make powdered erythritol from granulated erythritol by using a coffee grinder or powerful food processor.
What Is Xylitol? How Is Xylitol Made?
Xylitol is another popular natural sugar alcohol. It is made by fermenting corn or birch, just like erythritol.
Xylitol with birch is a little more accessible than erythritol with birch.
Is Xylitol Keto and Low Carb?
Yes! Because it is (mostly) not absorbed, xylitol is great for keto and low carb diets. It has 0 grams net carbs. In some people a very small amount gets absorbed, but not much.
One of the biggest advantages of xylitol is that it measures 1:1 like sugar in terms of sweetness. It has no aftertaste and tastes like sugar.
Toothpaste often contains xylitol, because it can actually promote tooth remineralization [*].
Xylitol usually has minimal effects on blood sugar, but does have a slightly larger effect than erythritol sweetener would.
Xylitol Side Effects
The main possible side effect of xylitol is stomach upset. Unlike erythritol, xylitol does not get absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, it proceeds to the large intestine, and the reaction between the natural bacteria there and the xylitol is what can cause distress. How much varies from person to person.
That being said, the gastrointestinal effects of xylitol are not as pronounced as other sugar alcohols like maltitol or sorbitol. I recommend avoiding the latter two completely. Xylitol is fine in moderation.
Xylitol is Dangerous for Dogs
People with dogs in the house may want to avoid keeping xylitol around, because even a small accidentally ingested amount can be lethal for a dog. [*]
Where To Buy Xylitol Sweetener
The best place to buy xylitol is online. Here are some of my favorite xylitol sweetener brands:
3. Other Sugar Alcohols
There are many other sugar alcohols, but they have less desirable qualities. Maltitol, sorbitol, and isomalt are the most common ones used in commercially packaged “low carb” products.
Unfortunately, these can actually have a substantial effect on blood sugar and they cause stomach upset more than erythritol and xylitol do. I recommend avoiding them.
Plant-based Keto Sweeteners – Monk Fruit & Stevia
Plant-based natural sweeteners are derived from plants like monk fruit, stevia, and chicory root. Their sweetness comes from extracts or prebiotic fibers.
Monk Fruit Sweetener
What Is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a round green melon native to central Asia. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least hundreds of years, with applications including treatment of diabetes and respiratory illnesses. [*]
For our purposes, monk fruit makes a wonderful low carb sweetener.
Different brands of monk fruit extract come with different levels of Mogroside V (the highest being 50%), which affects how sweet they are and whether they have any aftertaste.
How Is Monk Fruit Sweetener Made?
Monk fruit sweetener is collected from the monk fruit itself. After removing the skin and seeds, the fruit is crushed and the juice inside is collected. The end result is very concentrated. From here it can be suspended in liquid, dried into a pure powder, or blended with other low carb sweeteners.
Is monk fruit an artificial sweetener? No! Being derived from fruit, it is natural and safe to use. It’s suitable for keto and low carb diets.
Monk Fruit vs Stevia
Like stevia extract, monk fruit extract is very concentrated – about 150 to 300 times sweeter than sugar – and does not raise blood glucose levels. Also like stevia, monk fruit based products tend to be mixed with other sweeteners or bulking agents. This is probably in part because pure monk fruit extract is hard to come by and expensive.
In contrast to stevia, monk fruit extract does not have an aftertaste. This makes it a good choice for people sensitive to the aftertaste of stevia.
Monk Fruit Side Effects
There are no reported side effects of monk fruit sweetener. Although it was only approved by the FDA in 2010, it has been used in Eastern cultures for hundreds of years.
Monk Fruit in Baking
Monk fruit by itself is very concentrated, but presenting many of the same challenges in baking that stevia does. See the section on baking with stevia above for more details.
When possible, it’s easiest to use a monk fruit blend that contains another sweetener, like erythritol. This has a huge advantage that there is no aftertaste and the level of sweetness is identical to sugar, so you can replace sugar 1:1 with it in recipes.
Where To Buy Monk Fruit Sweetener
The best place to buy monk fruit sweetener is online. Here are some of my favorite monk fruit sweetener brands:
- Wholesome Yum Besti Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – My own brand of monk fruit sweetener, the only one on the market blended with allulose. It’s superior to other brands because it uses the highest grade of monk fruit extract, with 50% Mogroside V, for better taste. It also contains NO sugar alcohols and makes the most SOFT, moist baked goods. Buy Besti Monk Fruit Sweetener on my website OR buy Besti Monk Fruit Sweetener On Amazon.
- Wholesome Yum Besti Monk Fruit Erythritol Blend – My own brand of monk fruit sweetener, this one is blended with erythritol. Also with 50% Mogroside V.
- Wholesome Yum Besti Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – Powdered – Same as the monk fruit allulose blend above, but in powdered form to use as a keto powdered sugar replacement.
- It also contains NO sugar alcohols and dissolves effortlessly, unlike other brands of monk fruit. Buy Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Sweetener on my website OR buy Besti Monk Fruit Sweetener On Amazon.
- Wholesome Yum Besti Monk Fruit Erythritol Blend – Powdered – Same as the monk fruit erythritol blend above, but in powdered form to use as a keto powdered sugar replacement.
- Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener Golden – blend of erythritol and monk fruit extract with a brown sugar flavor
- Lakanto Pure Monk Fruit Powder – concentrated pure monk fruit extract powder
- Lakanto Liquid Monk Fruit Sweetener – concentrated pure monk fruit extract in liquid form (with water)
- Swanson Purelo Lo Han Sweetener – blend of monk fruit concentrate, inulin, and silica
- MonkSweet Plus – blend of erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit extract
What Is Stevia? Is Stevia an Artificial Sweetener?
Stevia leaves have been used as a natural sweetener in some cultures for over a thousand years. Steviol glycosides are the active compounds derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant, and can be up to 150 times as sweet as sugar.
Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. The sweetness comes from the leaves of the stevia plant and is completely natural.
How Is Stevia Made?
Stevia sweetener is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. The leaves are dried, then steeped in hot water, like tea. Then, there is a filtering process to achieve concentration and purity. From there, stevia extract can be dried into a powder or suspended in liquid form.
In addition to being natural and supporting a healthy diet free of refined sugar, studies have shown that stevia has numerous other benefits. These include properties that are anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, and anti-diabetic. [*, *]
Stevia Side Effects
Stevia does not raise blood glucose levels or have side effects. In fact, more recent studies have shown that it has anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties. Of all the low carb sweeteners, stevia is one of the oldest to be used by humans.
All of that being said, in some people stevia can cause headaches. The reason is that stevia is in the ragweed family. So, people with some level of allergy to ragweed can be allergic to stevia as well, leading to headaches. It’s not dangerous, but unpleasant, so if this affects you, you can try other low carb sweeteners.
Stevia Carbs: Does Stevia Raise Blood Sugar?
Pure stevia has zero carbs and does not raise blood sugar in most people. That being said, there are a few things to watch out for.
Because pure stevia extract is so concentrated, it is often either suspended in liquid or blended with a granular bulking agent. Sometimes these bulking agents can be sugars like maltodextrin or dextrose, which may also be GMO and almost certainly raise blood sugar. These do have carbs, and I recommend avoiding them.
Instead, either use stevia in its pure form (powder or liquid), or find one where the bulking agent is a sugar alcohol like erythritol or xylitol. These sugar alcohols don’t usually raise blood sugar, so a stevia blend with them is a much better choice.
The Best Tasting Stevia
The main issue with stevia is that it can have a bitter aftertaste, which is worse when using larger quantities. Blending it with other sweeteners, like erythritol, can help. I much prefer stevia blends over stevia alone.
Many people also find that they prefer one brand of stevia over another, so it’s worth experimenting to find one that you like.
Why are there differences if stevia is natural, coming from a plant? The reason is that the age of stevia leaves plays a role. Younger leaves have less bitterness, so how and when they are harvested will impact the aftertaste that results.
Stevia in Baking
If you use pure stevia powder or drops, know that their concentration can make it difficult to use them recipes when converting from sugar. Even then, the exact conversion amount can vary by brand, so check the product label for conversions if available.
Stevia extract also comes in the form of drops, in which the active compounds are suspended in liquid. The conversion for these varies even more greatly than it does for the powder, so again you’d need to check the label to accurately determine how much you’d need.
Finally, stevia in baking does not work well with foods that are already naturally bitter. An example of this is dark chocolate, which can sometimes amplify any aftertaste. However, in many other applications it works great. There are always exceptions, and my favorite sugar-free chocolate is actually made with stevia.
Where To Buy Stevia Sweetener
The best place to buy stevia is online. Here are some of my favorite stevia sweetener brands:
Pure Concentrated Stevia Sweetener
- Now Foods Organic Stevia Powder – concentrated stevia extract powder
- NuNaturals NuStevia Stevia Extract – concentrated stevia extract powder
- NuNaturals NuStevia Liquid Stevia – concentrated stevia extract in liquid form
- SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Liquid Stevia – concentrated stevia extract in liquid form
Stevia Sweetener Blends
- Sukrin :1 – blend of erythritol and stevia
- Sukrin Gold – blend of erythritol, tagatose, glycerol, malt extract and stevia (brown sugar substitute)
- THM Gentle Sweet Blend – blend of xylitol, erythritol, and stevia
- THM Super Sweet Blend – blend of erythritol and stevia
- Truvia Spoonable – blend of erythritol and stevia
- Pyure All-Purpose Blend – blend of erythritol and stevia
- Natural Mate All-Purpose Sweetener – blend of erythritol and stevia
Chicory Root Sweetener
What Is Chicory Root? What Is Inulin?
Chicory root is most commonly known as the root of the Belgian endive plant and has long been used as a coffee substitute. It contains soluble fibers called inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), both of which are responsible for sweetening. [*]
Inulin is a carbohydrate that human digestive enzymes cannot break down. Since we cannot digest it, it is a low carb sweetener and has zero net carbs.
Inulin and other forms of oligosaccharides are also found in many other plants, but they are most concentrated in chicory root.
Chicory Root Benefits & Chicory Root Side Effects
Oligosaccharides, including inulin, fructooligosaccharides, and isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO) do not cause stomach upset in most people, when used in reasonable amounts. In fact, these prebiotic fibers can promote beneficial flora in the intestines. However, like any fiber, they can cause stomach upset if you consume too much.
Most people find that oligosaccharaides do not raise blood sugar, but it varies from person to person. In some people they can spike insulin, so you may want to try for yourself.
Like stevia, chicory root is in the ragweed family. So, if you are allergic to ragweed, it’s best to steer clear of chicory root. A study also showed that people allergic to birch should avoid chicory root [*].
Baking with Chicory Root Fiber
Chicory root fiber can be used cup-for-cup like sugar. However, it can have an aftertaste for some people, so is best when blended with other sweeteners.
There are also other oligosaccharide low carb sweeteners that come in syrup form. This is incredibly useful for cooking applications that can benefit from a liquid sweetener or even a binder. They make great replacements for honey or maple syrup.
Where To Buy Chicory Root & Oligosaccharides
The best place to buy chicory root is online. Here are some of my favorite chicory root sweetener brands:
- LC Foods Inulin Fiber – pure inulin fiber from chicory root
- Sukrin Fiber Syrup Clear – pure isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO)
- Sukrin Fiber Syrup Gold – blend of isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO), malt extract and steviol glycosides
- Just Like Sugar Table Top – chicory root fiber with trace amounts of calcium and orange peel
- Just Like Sugar Brown – chicory root fiber with trace amounts of calcium, orange peel, and molasses natural flavor (brown sugar substitute)
The New Sweetener – Allulose
Allulose is a relatively new natural sweetener with incredible benefits. Even though it’s plant based, it’s neither a sugar alcohol nor an extract – it’s actually a rare type of sugar that we can’t absorb, which puts it in its own category. Despite being the same family, allulose has a glycemic index of 0 and 0 net carbs, too.
What Is Allulose?
Allulose is a natural sugar that we can’t metabolize [*], which means it tastes and acts like sugar without spiking our blood sugar. Like erythritol, allulose is 70% as sweet as sugar.
Even though using allulose as a packaged keto sweetener is relatively new, it has been around for a long time, because it’s naturally occurring in fruit, maple syrup and other plants.
What Makes Allulose Sugar Unique?
Allulose is unlike other keto sugar replacements, because it’s actually in the sugar family. (That’s why it ends with “ose”, just like glucose, fructose, or lactose do.) But unlike other sugars, we can’t process allulose, which means it has zero calories and zero net carbs, and is perfectly keto friendly.
In April 2019, the FDA ruled that allulose can be excluded from sugar counts on nutrition labels [*].
How Is Allulose Sweetener Made?
Allulose occurs naturally in fruits and other plants, but the amounts are small and difficult to extract. For this reason, allulose for us to consume is made just like erythritol, via a natural fermentation process.
Is allulose an artificial sweetener? No! Being derived from plants using fermentation, it is natural and safe to use. It’s suitable for keto and low carb diets.
Allulose Vs. Erythritol Sweetener
Allulose and erythritol have the same sweetness (70% as sweet as sugar), and both have a pleasant taste, with no bitterness.
However, allulose has these additional benefits over erythritol:
- Allulose creates more moist, soft baked goods. While erythritol is good for a little crunch, allulose locks in moisture beautifully.
- Allulose browns, caramelizes and dissolves like sugar. Other low carb sweeteners don’t do this.
- Allulose doesn’t crystallize. Erythritol can crystallize in certain situations, while allulose does not.
- Allulose has virtually no chance of stomach upset. Since it’s not a sugar alcohol, it doesn’t have the side effects sometimes associated with them.
Allulose Side Effects
There are no reported side effects of allulose sweetener.
Allulose in Baking
Allulose sweetener is an excellent choice for keto baking – you can use it pretty much the same way! It’s particularly great for soft baked goods, such as cookies, muffins, cakes, pancakes, etc.
Allulose is about 70% as sweet as sugar, so the correct conversion would indicate to use a little more compared to sugar (about 1.3 times more). However, just like erythritol, many people use it as a 1:1 replacement for sugar without noticing a difference.
Where To Buy Allulose Sweetener
The best place to buy allulose is online. Here are some of my favorite allulose sweetener brands:
- Wholesome Yum Besti Allulose – my own brand of allulose! Buy Besti Allulose Sweetener on my website OR buy Besti Allulose Sweetener On Amazon.
- Wholesome Yum Besti Allulose – Powdered – same as above, but for use as a powdered sugar replacement. Buy Besti Powdered Allulose Sweetener on my website OR buy Besti Powdered Allulose Sweetener On Amazon.
- Wholesome Yum Besti Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – My own brand of monk fruit sweetener blended with allulose (the only blend like this on the market!). Makes a great 1:1 low carb sugar substitute.
- Wholesome Yum Besti Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – Powdered – Same as the monk fruit allulose blend above, but in powdered form to use as a keto powdered sugar replacement.
Sweeteners To Avoid On Keto
Sweeteners to avoid on a keto diet fall into 2 categories – natural sugars and artificial sweeteners. Both are explained below.
Natural Sugar Sweeteners
Natural sweeteners in this category are not sugar-free, even though they are sometimes used in recipes that are promoted as such. These include:
- Granulated sweeteners like coconut sugar and date sugar
- Syrups such as maple syrup, honey, rice syrup, agave syrup, and blackstrap molasses
From a chemical standpoint, all of these sweeteners are still simple sugars. The main differences are variances in their ratios between glucose and fructose. Some of them also have other nutritive qualities.
I recommend using them sparingly or not at all, because they raise blood sugar in the same way (or almost the same way) as table sugar. I avoid them for this reason, but many paleo followers use coconut sugar, maple syrup, and honey as their sweeteners of choice.
If you do choose to use natural sugar-based sweeteners, granulated ones like coconut sugar or date sugar work best for converting recipes. These can replace table sugar cup-for-cup. On the other hand, using syrups would require modifying other aspects of a recipe, because they affect the ratio of wet-to-dry ingredients.
I intentionally did not include a detailed breakdown of artificial sweeteners in my chart and guide, as I cannot advocate using them. These include:
Unlike the other sweeteners above, artificial sweeteners are produced synthetically in a lab. The main problem with this is that the amount of time that we’ve had to observe their effects on humans is much smaller than the time that people have been exposed to natural sweeteners found in plants. We have only had decades, instead of centuries or potentially millenia, to find out how they impact us in the long term.
Even in such a short time, there have been conflicting studies about whether the common artificial sweeteners are safe or not. There are better options, so they are not worth the risk.
Best And Worst Sweeteners For A Keto Diet:
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How To Choose Low Carb Sweeteners
Now that we’ve covered all the different types of low carb natural sweeteners, how do you choose? Whether you need a keto sugar substitute, something to sweeten a moderate or low carb diet, or simply want to reduce your sugar intake, natural low carb sweeteners are the way to go.
Erythritol vs Stevia vs Monk Fruit vs Xylitol
Although there are other low carb sweeteners, I primarily use erythritol, stevia, monk fruit and xylitol. I covered each separately above, but want to do some comparison here.
There are several factors in choosing the best low carb sweetener for your purposes.
The Best Keto Sweeteners for Taste
To some degree, the best tasting low carb sweetener is a matter of preference. All our taste buds are a little different.
That being said, most people find that a blend of sweeteners is a great way to avoid any aftertaste or downsides of using one alone. These include blends like:
- Monk fruit + allulose – my absolute favorite!
- Monk fruit + erythritol – my close 2nd choice!
- Erythritol + stevia
- Erythritol + xylitol
- Erythritol + xylitol + stevia
- Erythritol + oligosaccharides
You may have noticed that most of these contain erythritol.
And this is one of the reasons why it’s my favorite low carb sweetener. It has no aftertaste and makes a fantastic bulking agent to mellow other sweeteners. In fact, I most often use plain erythritol alone.
While my personal preference is erythritol, monk fruit and allulose are close seconds. Blends of monk fruit sweetener with erythritol or allulose together taste great and make excellent 1:1 keto sugar substitutes.
Erythritol Substitute Options
If you want an erythritol substitute, consider one of the blends above. Sometimes they are easier to find than pure erythritol.
That being said, if you want to avoid erythritol altogether, here are my favorite erythritol substitutes in order:
- Allulose – The best erythritol substitute in my opinion! In fact, sometimes I think it’s even better.
- Xylitol – This won’t solve the issue if you can’t tolerate sugar alcohols, but works if you just ran out of erythritol.
- Monk fruit and stevia can be used, but without erythritol as a bulking agent, they are very concentrated.
Avoiding Side Effects of Sugar-free Sweeteners
The natural low carb sweeteners in this article are all pretty mild when it comes to side effects. But, there can be some.
If you have a sensitive stomach, it’s best to avoid xylitol and prebiotic fiber syrups. Erythritol is usually okay, with a few people being rare exceptions. If this is an issue, sometimes you can get used to erythritol by introducing it slowly.
The keto sweetener with the least side effects is allulose, because it’s chemically most similar to sugar (without the sugar spike, of course!).
Stevia and chicory root may cause headaches for people that are allergic to ragweed, birch, and similar plants. Chicory root may cause other allergic reactions as well.
Again, using a low carb sweetener blend can help reduce side effects because you aren’t getting too much of any one sweetener. If you notice a reaction to a particular type, try another.
Low Carb Sweetener Consistency for Drinks, Sauces, and Frosting
One big difference between low carb sweeteners and sugar is their ability to dissolve. This is particularly true for granulated sugar-free sweeteners, like erythritol, xylitol, and blends of them. Besides, erythritol can crystallize, making the problem worse.
The most noticeable foods where granulated low carb sweeteners can be problematic are things that are supposed to be smooth – drinks, sauces, frostings, and so on.
You have 2 choices when you need a smooth consistency:
- Use allulose. Allulose dissolves just like sugar! Get it in powdered form for optimal dissolving, but even the granulated or crystallized versions dissolve quite well.
- Use powdered or liquid sweeteners, which dissolve better Try powdered erythritol, powdered monk fruit blend, or liquid stevia for these applications.
Sugar Substitutes for Baking Low Carb
Ah, low carb baking! It’s both an art and a science, which is why I love it so much. And, it can certainly take some adjustment to learn to use a sugar replacement in baking recipes. It’s not always straightforward, but I’ll try to include some tips here…
Using Keto Sugar Substitutes For Baking Recipes
The number one question I get in baking recipes is people asking if they can use a different sweetener. How would this turn out if I use erythritol vs stevia? Can I use this or that?
The answer, usually, is it depends.
There are many factors that go into choosing sugar substitutes for baking. Here are the main ones and the potential issues…
Ratio of Wet To Dry Ingredients
People often ask if they can replace a liquid sweetener with a granulated one, or vice versa. Another common question is wanting to replace a granulated sweetener, like erythritol, with a very concentrated one, like pure stevia. The answer is usually no.
The problem with these swaps is that it alters the ratio between wet and dry ingredients. If that ratio changes, the end result won’t have the same texture or consistency. It could fall apart or be too dense. It could be too dry or too wet.
Function as a Bulking Agent
The solution is similar to above. If you are reducing bulk, you will need to replace it with something else, and then balance out the sweetness accordingly. If you increase bulk, add some more wet ingredients to absorb the extra dry sweetener.
Level of Sweetness
This is the easiest one. Different sugar substitutes have different levels of sweetness. So, you can’t just replace one with another in the same quantity. If you do, your end result could be too sweet, not sweet enough, or worse, have an awful aftertaste.
This is where the conversion chart below can help. It doesn’t address differences in wet/dry ingredients or bulk, but it does help you convert sweetness levels as a starting point.
How To Substitute Sweeteners
So what do you do? If you need to replace a sugar-free sweetener, try to replace it with one that has a similar volume and sweetness level, and the same type (liquid, granulated, or powdered). This is the safest way to get a positive end result.
If you can’t, the way to do it will vary depending on the recipe. Here are some general tips:
- To replace a granulated sweetener with a concentrated one, replace that bulk with something else. If you are baking, this would be whatever flour the recipe uses. As long as that flour is not drying (like coconut flour), it should turn out okay. But, you will likely need a little more of the converted amount of concentrated sweetener, to account for the extra (not sweet) flour. If the flour is drying, like coconut flour, you’ll need more liquid as well to compensate.
- To replace a granulated sweetener with a liquid one, add more of the dry ingredients in the recipe to absorb the extra liquid.
- To replace a concentrated sweetener with a granulated one, add more of the wet ingredients in the recipe to balance out the extra bulk from the granulated sweetener.
- Check the section on baking with erythritol for more tips.
Are you seeing the pattern? There are no guarantees when replacing sweeteners of different types. These tips are a guideline, but not guaranteed to work. At least this should give you a general idea.
You want to try to maintain the same consistency of the batter or dough that you are working with, while keeping a similar level of sweetness. It’s not always easy!
If you are ever wondering about options for sugar substitutes in one of my recipes, feel free to ask in the comments on that post.
Natural Keto Sweetener Conversion Chart
There are various sources out there for converting among sugar-free sweeteners. The problem is that I have yet to see a chart that lists many or most of them in one place, in a concise way. I put together a chart that you can use as your go-to place for sweetener conversion.
Want a printable version of the sugar-free sweetener conversion chart? Sign up below and I’ll send it to you!
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|Sugar||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Besti Monk Fruit Allulose Blend||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Besti Monk Fruit Erythritol Blend||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Besti Erythritol||1 1/4 tsp||1 Tbsp + 1 tsp||1/3 cup||1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp||2/3 cup||1 1/3 cup|
|Besti Allulose||1 1/4 tsp||1 Tbsp + 1 tsp||1/3 cup||1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp||2/3 cup||1 1/3 cup|
|Erythritol (any brand)||1 1/4 tsp||1 Tbsp + 1 tsp||1/3 cup||1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp||2/3 cup||1 1/3 cup|
|Allulose (any brand)||1 1/4 tsp||1 Tbsp + 1 tsp||1/3 cup||1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp||2/3 cup||1 1/3 cup|
|Xylitol (any brand)||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Just Like Sugar Table Top||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|MonkSweet Plus||1/2 tsp||1 1/2 tsp||2 Tbsp||2 Tbsp + 2 tsp||1/4 cup||1/2 cup|
|-||-||3/16 tsp||1/4 tsp||3/8 tsp||3/4 tsp|
|3/8 tsp||1 1/8 tsp||1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp||2 Tbsp||3 Tbsp||6 Tbsp|
|3/8 tsp||3/8 tsp||1 1/2 tsp||2 tsp||3 tsp||2 Tbsp|
|Pure Monk||-||-||1/6 tsp||1/4 tsp||1/3 tsp||2/3 tsp|
|Pyure All-Purpose Blend||1/2 tsp||1 1/2 tsp||2 Tbsp||2 Tbsp + 2 tsp||1/4 cup||1/2 cup|
|Sukrin:1||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
Lo Han Sweetener
|-||1/4 tsp||3/4 tsp||1 tsp||1/12 tsp||3 tsp|
|-||1/8 tsp||1/2 tsp||2/3 tsp||1 tsp||2 tsp|
|Swerve||1 tsp||1 Tbsp||1/4 cup||1/3 cup||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|-||1/2 tsp||2 tsp||1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp +2 tsp||3 Tbsp|
|1/3 tsp||1 tsp||1 Tbsp + 1 tsp||2 Tbsp||3 Tbsp + 1 tsp||6 Tbsp|
|Truvia Spoonable||1/2 tsp||1 1/4 tsp||1 Tbsp + 2 tsp||2 Tbsp + 1 tsp||3 1/2 Tbsp||1/3 + 1 1/2 Tbsp|
Natural Low Carb Sweeteners Guide & Conversion Chart:
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The following sweeteners are not in the conversion chart, for these reasons:
- Artificial sweeteners – I do not advocate artificial sweeteners, and suggest finding a better low carb natural sweetener option instead
- Natural sweeteners that use sugars as bulking agents – Examples of such bulking agents are dextrose and maltodextrin. These raise blood sugar and are often GMOs.
- Natural sugar sweeteners – Granulated natural sugar-based sweeteners (like coconut sugar) can be used 1:1 like sugar, so they require no conversion. Keep in mind they do still raise blood glucose levels. Most other natural sugar-based sweeteners are syrups, which are also excluded for the reasons below.
- Liquid sweeteners and syrups – These are excluded because they do not easily convert from granulated table sugar. The liquid aspect would require other modifications to be made to a recipe using table sugar. This can sometimes be true for converting among various granulated sweeteners as well, but not as often as when converting between granulated and liquid.
- Confectioner’s and brown sugar replacements – These are obviously specialized for certain uses, so there isn’t a point to convert regular sugar to them.
Keto Sweeteners Conversion Calculator
I also created a calculator that does the work for you, so you don’t have to figure it out from the sweetener conversion chart!
Just bookmark this page to have the keto sweeteners calculator handy anytime you need it…
Keto Low Carb Sweetener Conversion Calculator
Pinterest-friendly Keto Sugar Substitute Conversion Chart
The above natural low carb sweeteners chart can be helpful, and I hope you’ll bookmark this page to refer back to it. Another convenient way to save the conversions is to use this Pinterest-friendly image: