We baked our way through sweeteners to find the best options for cutting carbs, lowering calories, and yielding deliciously sweet results for diabetic desserts.

Jessie Shafer

Pictured recipe: Mini Maple Pecan Pies

Stirring a packet of sweetener into your cup of coffee is one thing. Baking with sugar substitutes is quite another. If you've tried it, you've probably experienced some ups and downs. Sugar substitutes often can't stand up to the prolonged heat of the oven, causing baked goods to lose volume, taste less sweet, show tunneling, or appear crumbly and lighter in color than goods baked with sugar.

On the other hand, sweeteners sometimes offer significant savings in calories and carbs, which can be a welcome option for fitting baked treats into your meal plan. Cutting down on carbohydrates can be especially important if you have diabetes. For many people with diabetes, sugar substitutes-which include artificial and natural sweeteners-provide solutions for cutting out excess calories and carbohydrate while still being able to enjoy sweet treats. Using them is not a requirement to enjoy baked goods, but it helps allow for a little more flexibility.

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Baking to Better Health

With the help of the baking experts and dietitians in the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen, we performed test after test to bring you our best recommendations for achieving great taste and appearance when baking with sugar substitutes. We note the brands that gave us the sweetest results.

Add Vanilla to Recipes

Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for every 1/2 cup of sugar substitute used in a recipe to enhance flavor. For the best quality and flavor, choose pure vanilla extract.

Flatten Cookie Dough

Flatten cookie dough before baking by gently pressing dough rounds with your palm. Sugar substitutes often prevent cookie dough from spreading.

Boost Chocolate Flavors with Coffee

Use cold brewed coffee in place of some of the liquid in chocolate-flavored recipes to enrich the chocolate notes.

Create Volume with Egg Whites

Create volume by using whipped egg whites in place of whole eggs. Use two egg whites for every egg called for in the original recipe.

Tip to Reduce Tunnels

Reduce air tunnels in baked goods by cutting the fat into dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients. Use a pastry blender for best results.

Use 8-Inch Pans

Achieve more height by switching from 9-inch pans to 8-inch round or square pans with 2-inch-tall sides.

Cherry-Almond Cheesecake Bars

Get the best results for these decadent bars with Nevella and Sweet'N Low Brown sugar substitutes.

Test Kitchen Tip: Sugar substitutes tend to absorb moisture faster than real sugar, which can cause the crust layer to crumble. Refrigeration helps the bars stay moist and tender.

Orange-Grapefruit Cobbler

Avoid the metallic aftertaste some sugar substitutes leave behind by choosing citrus flavors. For best sugar substitute results, use Sweet'N Low bulk or packets.

Mini Maple-Pecan Pies

Using sugar substitutes may prevent browning of crusts. Bake the pie shells before filling them with the pecan mixture to achieve the perfect piecrust texture and light brown color. For best results, use Splenda Sugar Blend and agave syrup.