We’ve all been there, it happens to everyone who’s trying to eat less sugar.
You go to add some stevia to your recipe, and before you know it the result is inedible. Such a bummer, even with the best intentions.
That’s what we’re covering today, how to add stevia to your recipes so that you get a perfect substitute for cane sugar. One that blends so well that you’re taste buds can barely tell the difference, if at all.
A Little Background on Stevia
Stevia is actually a real plant. It’s grown here in San Diego (where we live) by a few farmers, and sold by the bunches next to other herbs like mint and sage at the farmers markets. This naturally sweet leaf is approximately 23 times sweeter than traditional sugar!
There are 3 different types you can buy:
- Whole Leaf (from the farmers market)*
*For this article we won’t be talking much about using fresh stevia, although we have dehydrated it and used in other recipes such as Homemade Protein Powder.
Taste & Quality Brand Differences
Stevia products are all over the board, so don’t be surprised if what we suggest here doesn’t work with the product you have. Not only do all of our taste buds and personal preferences vary, but so do the actual products themselves.
- Some are more concentrated than others
- Some powders have maltodextrin for a filler
- Some liquids have alcohol for a filler
- Some have natural & artificial flavors
- And some aren’t very potent, and need to be over-compensated for
Guidelines for Using Stevia in Recipes
#1 – Stevia to Sugar Ratios
1 Tbsp. Sugar : 1/4 tsp. stevia powder
1 Tbsp. Sugar : 2-3 drops liquid stevia (6-9 drops of other liquid, flavored types)
#2 – Use Liquid Stevia for Best Results
The liquid form is preferred for a couple reasons. The first is because the liquids don’t need other fillers like maltodextrin, but can be made with just stevia leaf and water. The second reason is because when using whole leaf or powdered*, you don’t get an even distribution of sweetness throughout your recipe; so you’ll end up with ‘pockets’ or areas of super sweetness and others with none.
*If you only have powdered, you may create your own: mix 1 tsp. of the powder with 3 Tbsp. water in a dropper bottle and keep in the refrigerator.
#3 – Using as a Sugar Replacement in a Recipe
If we want to reduce the sugar content in a recipe, we add stevia and subtract some of the sugar – but not all. We’ve found when taking a recipe that normally has sugar in it (whether it’s coconut sugar, coconut nectar or maple syrup) and reducing the amount of sugar called-for, while adding in stevia works best. Often times when stevia is used to replace 100% of the sugar there’s an over-powering artificial taste which ruins the recipe.
#4 – Focus on ‘Supportive Flavors’ in New Recipes
When replacing sugar entirely with stevia in most recipes, you won’t get the same result. However, if you’re creating a new recipe, or heavily modifying an old one, there are a few things you can add that help round out the flavor.
Trying also incorporating supportive flavors such as salt, vanilla, almond, coconut or citrus. These help balance out the sweetness spike in Stevia’s nature.
#5 – Measure Twice, Cut Once
You only have one shot, add too much and it’s all over. Well not all the time, because sometimes you can add more of all the other ingredients to the recipe and make a double batch!
But seriously, this is the simplest advice we can offer: try a little bit first, taste it, then add more if needed. Some recipes are easy to see if you’ve added enough, such as smoothies. Others are more difficult, like cookies, as you have to wait until they’re done baking.
Recipe Substitutions Examples
We thought it would be useful to provide a couple real-life examples of the substitutions we’ve made. These are two recipes we make all the time, before and after adding stevia to them.
What my green smoothies used to look like, compared to what they’re like now:
What our cookies used to look like, compared to what they’re like now:
As you can see, not only did we add stevia, but also kept some of the sugar and added in other supporting flavors like shredded coconut to help maintain the overall balance of the recipe.
The Type of Stevia We Recommend
We use the Stevia Whole Leaf Concentrate from Sweet Leaf. It works the best in most recipes because it’s a liquid, and we feel really good about the simplicity of the ingredients – just stevia leaf and purified water.
I hope this has been helpful, and encourage you to try your own substitutes and report back to us on your successes and failures.