When you look for a sugar-free sweetener, you'll probably hear all about the erythritol sweetener. This sugar substitute guide is everything you need to know before you start using it!
It has a funny name that doesn't even sound like real food, but it is completely safe. In fact, erythritol is a really popular sweetener for people on a low-carb ketogenic diet. It's super easy to find and even easier to use!
In this guide, I'll share everything you've ever wondered about this sugar-free sweetener - including my favorite recipes to make with it.
I will also answer as many questions as I can about it.
Erythritol: Everything You Need To Know
One of my favorite keto-friendly sweeteners is erythritol - it's just so versatile. Let's look closer at this sugar-free sweetener. That way, you can decide if it is right for you and learn how to use it.
What Is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has zero calories. In fact, this sugar alcohol occurs naturally in grapes, mushrooms, and even watermelon.
The kind we use is made through fermentation from dextrose - a simple sugar derived from corn. Even though it's made from corn, after it goes through the fermentation process, it has no calories.
I want to make one clear distinction: sugar alcohols (like erythritol) are not artificial sweeteners. Even though they go through a fermentation process, they are still found naturally in fruits and vegetables. So, they are natural sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are chemicals added to food to make them taste sweet. They are synthetic, so you won't find them naturally in fruits or vegetables. Examples of artificial sweeteners are aspartame and sucralose.
One of the biggest benefits of erythritol is that it doesn't spike blood sugar or insulin. This is fantastic news for anyone with diabetes!
Unlike sugar or honey, erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream and then excreted through urine. It doesn't change blood sugar or insulin levels at all.
Studies also show that it can improve blood vessel damage that is caused by high blood sugar levels. And, it can reduce the risk of heart disease.
There are also mixed studies about the effects of erythritol on dental cavities. Some show that it actually suppresses the growth of mouth bacteria that causes plaque and cavities.
One thing is for sure - when you decrease how much sugar you eat, it's good for your body and teeth. Using erythritol decreases how much sugar we eat, which in turn leads to a bunch of secondary benefits!
Is Erythritol Safe To Use On A Low-Carb Keto Diet?
Yes, erythritol is safe to use on a low-carb ketogenic diet!
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the safety of erythritol in 1999 and again in 2001. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recognized erythritol as safe.
Erythritol Side Effects
The good news is that studies show no serious side effects of erythritol - even after consuming large amounts of it.
But, that doesn't mean you can eat as much of it as you want.
This sugar alcohol has a unique chemical structure that your body cannot digest. That is why it is so low in calories - your body passes it right on out!
This means that if you eat lots of food sweetened with erythritol, you might experience gas, bloating, and digestive upset.
It's a good idea to limit the sweets you eat, even if they are sweetened with erythritol and low carb.
Erythritol vs. Stevia
Stevia is another plant-based low-calorie sweetener. The word stevia refers to sweeteners sourced from the stevia plant.
Both erythritol and stevia are excellent ways to sweeten low-carb desserts without raising your blood sugar.
Some types of stevia tend to taste sweeter than erythritol. In fact, most stevia sweeteners are 200-400 times sweeter than sugar!
How To Use Erythritol
When you bake or cook with erythritol, keep these tips in mind:
- It doesn't dissolve as well as sugar. It will dissolve; you just have to stir it a little more. If a recipe requires a smooth texture, use a powdered (or confectioner's) version.
- It does have an aftertaste. If you use a large amount of it in a recipe, it has a cool aftertaste, kind of like mint. That's why I prefer to use it in minty recipes.
- Too much can crystallize. When there isn't enough liquid or heat, the granular crystals can reform even after dissolved.
- It does not caramelize. If I need a sweetener to caramelize, I use other options like allulose or BochaSweet.
The Best Brands For Erythritol Sweetener
There are a lot of fantastic sweeteners out there that contain erythritol! These are my favorite ones:
My favorite one on this list is Swerve. It has the closest taste to table sugar with the least amount of aftertaste. They do this by adding natural flavors to balance it out.
I also love that this brand dissolves the easiest in liquids. It's my top pick!
Next, Pyure is a popular one because it also has barely any aftertaste. It's certified as organic, too - which is very important.
NOW Foods Erythritol
NOW Foods is easy to find at most grocery stores and comes at a reasonable price. I like how accessible this brand is and that it comes in a large 40-ounce bag.
Whole Earth Sweetener Company
This is another brand that is easy to find on grocery store shelves. You'll find it in bulk on Amazon at an astounding 4 pounds!
The Best Recipes That Use Erythritol Sweetener
Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar, so you would technically need more erythritol than sugar when you convert recipes. I usually use a 1:1 substitute and don't notice the end result as any less sweet.
The best recipes that use erythritol sugar-free sweeteners are low-carb desserts. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
- Sugar-Free White Chocolate Pudding tastes just like the snack you remember in your childhood lunch.
- Keto Maple Syrup tastes amazing on top of chaffles or grain-free protein pancakes.
- Low Carb Carrot Cake has a cream cheese frosting that you can use on other low-carb desserts.
- Keto White Chocolate Fat Bombs melt in your mouth and keep you full in between meals.
- Coconut Key Lime Pie With Coconut Milk is creamy and rich without any aftertaste.