Need a tasty faux sugar.
August 8, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a low/no carb sugar substitute that doesn't taste artificial and have a bitter aftertaste? I've been using Spenda and I kind of hate it - I know some people think it's great, but to me it tastes too sweet and chemical-y. I'm specifically looking for something that I can bake with (like a low carb cheesecake, for example).
posted by missuswayne to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard good things about Stevia.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:20 PM on August 8, 2008

I've grown Stevia in my herb garden, it tastes like sugar coated aluminum foil...
posted by foodgeek at 12:23 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really like Stevia, I use it most of the time in cooked custard-style homemade ice cream (you have to mitigate the lack of sugar or the ice cream is rock hard, but there are tricks). I can do 3 quarts of custard with less than two tablespoons of Stevia, but here's not a lot of tablespoons in the smaller dropper-bottles you find in most places.

I've had mixed results with Erythritol in baked goods, it doesn't taste chemical-y but there is some sort of sugar punch that is lacking in things that need the body, like brownies. I expect it would be well suited to LC cheesecake, though, or anything that sets rather than puffs.

The trick, I've been taught, is to mix your sweeteners. Use two different ones instead of just one, so try erythritol and splenda, or stevia and erythritol.

Agave nectar is low-glycemic, but not particularly low carb.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:28 PM on August 8, 2008

Note: the Stevia I'm referring to is processed liquid Stevia off the shelf. I'm told it's trickier if you want to start from the leaves.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:29 PM on August 8, 2008

Lyn - Do you use an ice cream machine to make your ice cream? And is it low carb? Just curious.

And I never thought about combining sweeteners - I could experiment with that.
posted by missuswayne at 12:57 PM on August 8, 2008

Have you actually made the cheesecake? I find Splenda on its own to be pretty ick, but in a LC cheesecake it's not bad. I make this one every year at Thanksgiving, topped with Splenda-sweetened cranberries, and it's always a hit, even with the non-LC people.
posted by chez shoes at 1:01 PM on August 8, 2008

Have you considered liquid sucralose? Powdered splenda is cut with other things like maltodextrin, which leaves that bitter taste for some people. I get mine at (they let me order even though I'm not a bodybuilder).

It comes in a bottle with an eyedropper. One drop equals about one tsp. of sugar. It's my new fave.
posted by answergrape at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2008

Chez, yes, I made one the other night. I used about 2/3 the amount that the recipe called for, and it was still too artificial-tasting and sweet for me. Maybe I'm a supertaster?
posted by missuswayne at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2008

Several companies are coming up with modified Stevia that isn't bitter. There's Truvia and Purevia but they aren't available yet.
posted by euphorb at 1:22 PM on August 8, 2008

How long have you been using splenda? In my experience, non-sugar sweeteners are pretty much an acquired taste. When I was diagnosed with diabetes a couple years back, it called for me to immediately stop drinking sugared sodas(or sugared anything, really). I love the fizzy mouthfeel of sodas, so I switched to diet. At first, I really had problems drinking them, because of the artificial sweeteners. Still, I continued to drink them for the overall experience, and eventually I grew used to the different sweetness and aftertaste of diet drinks. I can still taste the difference, and there is definitely still an aftertaste, but it's no longer something that makes me gag or immediately want to flush my mouth out with water.

In all fairness, I do occasionally come across an artifically sweetened product that just doesn't work, regardless of how accustomed I am to the artificial sweet taste.

Unfortunately, there are people who just can't get used to the taste, no matter how long they try. If you are among that group, there may not be much hope.
posted by owtytrof at 1:49 PM on August 8, 2008

This is a job for SYNERGY. The best way to sweeten things sugar-free is to use small amounts of several different types of sweetener. They multiply each other so you have to use less in total. I like this because it results in a smaller chance of aftertaste and a lower dosage of whichever one they figure out will kill you.

There's a smart guy called Scott123 who used to post a lot at If you do a search for posts by him you can learn a lot about sweetening technology. But for now here's one formula, from this fascinating thread:

For 1 cup sugar, use:
1/3 C. splenda equivalent
1/3 C. erythritol
1 packet Sweet One ace K (2 t. equivalent)
2/3 C. polydextrose

I can vouch for this recipe. It replaces the sweetness and bulking/gooey properites of sugar. If you only need the sweetness (like for cheesecake, I think) then just skip the polydextrose.

(Also, search for Beachgirl's cheesecake recipe-- that one is PERFECT.)

You can get the erythritol and polydextrose at Honeyville Grain, and the Ace K can be ordered online from a place in Brooklyn--Google "Sweet One" to find that.
posted by bink at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, and for ice cream, you NEED Polydextrose. Just subbing the sweetness and not the bulking will give you a rock hard brick of inedible ice cream.
posted by bink at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2008

The health food store near me just started stocking Yacon syrup. Not sure if it's any good or not, but it might be worth a try! A cursory Google search shows that people are using it for baking with good results. It's a little pricey, though.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:06 PM on August 8, 2008

Oops, messed up my link there, sorry. Also forgot to mention erythritol, which has the benefit of being non-caloric, and not causing intestinal problems like other sugar alcohols do. Might even be better than Yacon syrup, but I haven't tried it!
posted by greatgefilte at 6:11 PM on August 8, 2008

Agave Nectar
posted by mikeand1 at 6:52 PM on August 8, 2008

I find stevia to have a licorice flavor--I enjoy it, but not everyone does.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:21 PM on August 8, 2008

I'm surprised no one's mentioned xylitol.
posted by keith0718 at 4:26 AM on August 9, 2008

Consumer food product companies are supposed to be releasing new products on the market made from Stevia; Cargill (with Coca-Cola) has branded their product, "made from rebiana, the best-tasting part of the stevia leaf" Truvia" . Another product, launched by Pepsi, PureVia, is also made from stevia but "not yet approved in the United States".
posted by schoenbc at 7:42 AM on August 11, 2008

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