How To: Replace Sugar in Baking

A lot of people seem to think that baking is this super strict science that leaves very little room for alteration or error. As a pro giving advice to the home or novice baker, I try to reassure these folks that this is not the case. I explain that like in many fields when it comes to baking,  you just have to know what the rules are if you want to break them.

As a highly informed society in regards to health and nutrition, there is a big demand today for making healthier versions of our favourite desserts to replace the white refined sugar or any sugar of any kind.

Thankfully today there are lots of alternative sweeteners that are both natural and not chemical, and that actually taste good including coconut sugar, monk fruit and stevia which are both Keto friendly, and of course the old faithful options of honey, maple syrup and fruit purées.

While sugar plays multiple roles and affects several aspects of a given recipe including taste, texture and moisture, it is not impossible to replace it with any of the aforementioned healthier options. Again you just have to know the rules.

The biggest thing to be mindful of when looking to replace your sugar is moisture. Moisture affects texture, and in baking texture is every thing.

Too little moisture and your cake, dough or what-have-you will be a dry crumbly brick. Too much moisture and you can end up with a big glutinous goopy mess, and that’s because gluten is activated by moisture. The more moisture in a batter, the more glutenous it will be.

Having said that, some sugar replacements will require further alterations to your recipe because they will affect the moisture content.

For example, if you want to use a syrup type sweetener or fruit puree in a cake recipe, you wI’ll have to remove the excess moisture from somewhere else since both these alternatives have more moisture than sugar.
Therefore, when adding a liquid type sweetener, it is crucial that you reduce the amount of other liquid in the recipe.

Here’s all you need to know about replacing the sugar in baking recipes:

Coconut sugar or other granulated alternatives:

In most cases, you could replace your sugar with other granulated sweeteners on a 1:1 ratio so basically just swap them outright. If you’re using a Stevia or Monk Fruit based sweetener, just check the label for specific replacement ratios.

Honey, maple syrup or other natural syrups:
Use 3/4 cup Of syrup for every cup of sugar.

Reduce the liquid by 3 tablespoons (45ml).

In terms of adding into the recipe, you can simply substitute it and add the honey when you would normally add the sugar.

Applesauce, and other fruit purees:

For cookies, brownies and muffins:
Use 2/3 of the amount of your sugar.

For cakes:

You can only replace half the amount of sugar, plus 1/3 more.

Example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you would use 1/2 cup sugar, and then 3/4 cup of puree.

* You will also need to reduce your liquid by 1/4 cup for every cup of puree you use.

In terms of when to add your puree:

Add it to your eggs. For oil based cakes, add it to your wet ingredients (oil, eggs, milk).


This is my Strawberry Brunette Cupcake, which uses strawberry purée in place of sugar. The end result is a very chocolately cake that bears the beautiful aroma of strawberry.

If you’re like me, and you love dessert but are not the biggest fan of anything uber sweet, try replacing the sugar in your recipe for something more natural. It’s easy and with a little know-how and creativity can yield some tasty results.

2 thoughts on “How To: Replace Sugar in Baking

  1. Pingback: Honey is Pretty Sweet | Gâteaux Maliniak

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