Cooking with Intense Sweeteners

With their sugarlike flavor, intense sweeteners can be used in many recipes you already enjoy, perhaps to reduce calories. For example, sweetening an apple cobbler with saccharin rather than brown sugar might save 67 calories per serving (if a recipe to serve four calls for 1⁄2 cup of brown sugar).

If you use intense sweeteners, be prepared to adjust your recipe or food preparation technique. And remember, their unique cooking qualities differ from sugar. And they have limitations in baked goods.

  • Check the food label on sweetener packages for usage. You’ll see the sugar equivalents. Since some intense sweeteners have ingredients added to give them bulk, the substitution equivalents may vary.
  • Know that recipes prepared with an intense sweetener may not turn out exactly like the same recipe made with sugar, especially if they don’t have a bulking agent added. That’s especially true of baked foods. Sugar has many functions other than sweetness. Check label directions for advice on using specific intense sweeteners.
  • If intense sweeteners are new to you, experiment a little. Add just a little sweetener until you get the sweetness level you want. Adding too much can ruin the flavor.
  • Use any intense sweetener in recipes that don’t require heat, such as cold beverages, salads, chilled soups, frozen desserts, or fruit sauces. Be aware that intense sweeteners don’t add bulk, or volume, as sugar does.

For cooked or baked foods, use saccharin, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose-based sweeteners according to package directions. They retain their sweetness when heated.

  • Add aspartame based sweeteners close to the end of the cooking or baking process. Prolonged and high heat breaks down aspartame, causing a loss of sweetness. But don’t worry if it does get heated. Although you may lose flavor, aspartame still is safe to consume.
  • Expect a lower volume when cooking and baking with intense sweeteners instead of sugar. Sugar adds bulk as well as sweetness. Intense sweeteners with a bulking agent help bring up the volume. Or go “50–50” by substituting saccharin- or acesulfame potassium-based sweeteners for half the sugar, according to package directions. However, the volume still won’t be as high as with 100 percent sugar.

Need more guidance? Contact the manufacturers of intense sweeteners. Usually they’ll provide tips and recipes for using their products to sweeten your palate.


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