The Best and Healthiest Ways to Use Liquid Sweeteners
Updated on September 9, 2022
“Sweet” comes in many forms – even liquid! Reasons why you would use a sweetener other than table sugar depends on everything from its function in a recipe to your personal health goals for your life. So, which one do you choose and why? And which liquid sweeteners are the healthiest for daily use? Let’s take a journey through liquid sweeteners, and explore what each has to offer.
Types of Liquid Sweeteners
Liquid sweeteners vary in viscosity (thickness), flavor, nutritional value, and glycemic index (GI). GI is a tool that measures how quickly a food causes your blood sugar to rise. It’s ranked on a scale from zero to 100. The higher the number, the faster the rise in blood sugar. While GI does not account for the portion size of a food and what else you’re eating with it (these things will change how a food affects your blood sugar), overall it can be helpful for finding a liquid sweetener that is better for your blood sugar.
Honey is a thick liquid sweetener from our favorite worker, bees.
- Honey tastes slightly sweeter than table sugar. Raw honey especially can have more of a complex flavor profile, even carrying over flavors from the florals which the bees pollinated to make the honey (for example, lavender honey, orange honey, or the most common, clover honey).
- When replacing sugar in a recipe with honey, use a little less honey, and decrease the liquid in the recipe as well.
- Raw honey is touted for some of its health benefits—it contains antioxidants, enzymes, and some vitamins and minerals. Keep in mind that to get a meaningful amount of the nutrients in honey, you would have to eat a lot of it, which means a lot of extra calories.
- One tablespoon of honey is about 64 calories.
- Honey’s glycemic index (58) is slightly lower than table sugar (65). However, honey will still raise blood sugar.
Molasses is a dark, syrupy sweetener that can be thicker than honey and is a byproduct of refining sugarcane.
- Molasses is not as sweet as table sugar. It has an intense but also bitter flavor.
- Blackstrap molasses is a concentrated version and actually contains more vitamins and minerals than other sweeteners, such as vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium. However, as with honey, you would have to eat a significant amount of it to get a meaningful benefit.
- One tablespoon of molasses is 58 calories.
- Molasses has a lower glycemic index (55) than table sugar.
#3: Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a rich sap of maple trees and is less thick than honey or molasses.
- Maple syrup has a distinct, robust flavor which can vary based on maple grades (golden, amber, dark, or very dark).
- Because of its flavor, this sweetener pairs excellent in recipes that have the feeling of comfort, and especially in the season of fall. It’s also an excellent sweetener to use in sauces and dressings.
- One tablespoon of maple syrup has about 52 calories.
- The glycemic index of pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup) is 54.
#4: Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is the extracted sap of the agave plant, a succulent native to Mexico.
- Agave nectar’s flavor is sweeter than sugar, so less is needed when making a swap.
- Agave nectar is often used in drinks, because it dissolves so easily.
- One tablespoon of agave nectar is 60 calories, about the same as table sugar.
- Agave nectar has a glycemic index of around 30, depending on its methods of processing. While it can still raise blood sugar, it does so the least out of the other sweeteners mentioned thus far.
Honey, molasses, maple syrup, and agave nectar are called nutritive sweeteners because they provide calories and carbs, which raise blood sugar. Non-nutritive liquid sweeteners, which contain zero calories, can be of even bigger benefit because they don’t affect blood sugar levels.
#5: Splenda Liquid Sweetener
Splenda Liquid Sweetener contains sucralose, which is made from sugar (sucrose) and tastes like sugar, but it’s not sugar.
- Pure sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar, so much less is needed. Half a squeeze of Splenda Liquid Sweetener is equal to the sweetness of 1 teaspoon of sugar, so start off small, and then add more to taste.
- This sweetener is easy to use in recipes that don’t involve baking: Hot or cold drinks, dips, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, smoothies, cocoas, popsicles, and puddings.
- The sweetener bottle makes it easy to take with you on-the-go to sweeten beverages at restaurants.
- Splenda Liquid Sweetener contains no calories or carbs.
- The glycemic index of pure sucralose is zero, so it does not affect blood sugar.
#6: Stevia Liquid Sweetener
Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener contains stevia extract, which comes from the leaf of the stevia plant.
- Pure stevia extract is 200-350 times sweeter than table sugar. Half a squeeze of Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener is equal to the sweetness of 1 teaspoon of sugar. So, when using it in a recipe or coffee, start off with a small amount, and sweeten to taste.
- Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener uses one of the sweetest leaf extracts, Reb D, to unlock the sweetness of the stevia without the bitter aftertaste.
- Like Splenda Liquid Sweetener, this sweetener is easy to use in recipes that don’t involve baking. And the bottle makes it easy to take with you on-the-go to sweeten beverages at restaurants.
- This sweetener contains no calories or carbs.
- The glycemic index of pure stevia extract is zero, so it does not affect blood sugar.
#7: Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener
Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener contains monk fruit extract, which comes from the monk fruit, a small, round fruit native to Southern Asia.
- Pure monk fruit extract is 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar. Half a squeeze of Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener is equal to the sweetness of 1 teaspoon of sugar. So, when replacing sugar with this sweetener in recipes like drinks, smoothies, dips, and marinades, use significantly less. Same as with other Splenda Liquid Sweeteners, you’ll want to use a small amount at a time until you get the desired level of sweetness.
- Like other Splenda Liquid Sweeteners, this sweetener is easy to use in recipes that don’t involve baking. And the bottle makes it easy to take with you on-the-go to sweeten beverages at restaurants.
- Monk fruit has a flavor profile is similar to sugar.
- Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener contains no calories or carbs.
- The glycemic index of pure monk fruit extract is zero, so it does not affect blood sugar.
Ways to Use Liquid Sweeteners
For baking, different types of liquid sweeteners are often used, but adjustments need to be made to compensate for functions that are different from sugar. For example, some liquid sweeteners can cause the recipe to brown faster than sugar would. Also, when using a liquid sweetener in a pie, increase the thickener used (for example, cornstarch) because a liquid sweetener would thin out the consistency a bit. Remember that when you use a liquid sweetener in baking, you will typically have a softer, moister final product.
Beverages benefit from liquid sweeteners because they automatically dissolve without any graininess in the beverage. Simple syrups are most commonly used, but a healthier alternative is a zero calorie liquid sweetener. They blend like a dream and have a flavor similar to sugar. Because they are several times sweeter than sugar, a couple of squirts of a Splenda Liquid Sweetener is an easy swap for sugar in almost any beverage.
Some favorites are:
- Coconut & Almond Latte – A warm, creamy latte that will transport you to an island with the essence of coconut. A squirt of Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener keeps gives the sweet touch, without raising blood sugar.
- Pineapple Coconut Slushie – A refreshing drink with a hint of lime and sweet touches from Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener.
- Iced Oolong Tea – An easy and delicious iced tea, using Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener.
#3: Sauces, Dips and Marinades
Honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar are natural liquid sweeteners that work as a flavor-packed glue that will give a crispy coating when cooked or grilled. Cut calories and carbs by using a Splenda Liquid Sweetener.
Some delicious sweet dips using Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener:
- Sugar Cookie Dip – A keto-friendly dip that is a sugar cookie in dip form. So delicious!
- Cannoli Dessert Dip – Smooth, light, and creamy dip that tastes like cannoli filling.
- Brownie Batter Dip – A chocolaty, rich dip that is perfect for monk fruit-sweetened cookies or fruit. This one is loved even by the spoonful!
Try these refreshing smoothie recipes made with Splenda Liquid Sweeteners:
- Pineapple Matcha Smoothie – A tropical smoothie with a twist. Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener keeps the calories and carbs under control, and a scoop of avocado adds healthy fats.
- Blackberry Banana Smoothie – A creamy berry smoothie with the health benefits of fruit, and a kiss of sweet from Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener.
- Chocolate Banana Smoothie – A frozen chocolaty treat using Splenda Liquid Sweetener.
So, what is the healthiest liquid sweetener?
In my opinion as a registered dietitian, what I would consider one of the unhealthiest foods, especially for kids, are sweetened beverages. As a young dietitian, I had elevated ideals of never having my kids drink sugar-sweetened beverages…EVER. Funny, right? Now I look back on that and laugh. Syrupy drinks – and lots of them – are so common in our culture, so it can be challenging as a parent trying to even attempt a balanced approach. For that reason, I personally love Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener and Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener. Those are good go-to sweeteners to make homemade lemonades, sweet tea, and a variety of fun cafe drinks. We also use them for frozen popsicles and sweetened dips. What’s even better – from a parent perspective – is how easy they are to keep on hand and use in a pinch.
If you are wanting to enjoy healthier drinks, smoothies, dips, and sauces, but don’t know where to start, try cutting back half of the liquid sweetener in those recipes (for example, recipes using honey, maple syrup, agave, or a simple syrup), and then add a couple of squirts of either Splenda Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener or Splenda Stevia Liquid Sweetener. Remember they are several times sweeter than sugar, so start small, and then you can always add more to achieve the desired sweetness level.
Happy cooking, baking, and creating!
Written by Annessa Chumbley, RD, is a mom, dietitian, TV anchor, recipe creator, and spokesperson, who cares deeply about encouraging and inspiring people to live their healthiest, happiest lives.