5 Natural & Safe Sugar Alternatives for Baking

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

natural sugar alternatives20 month old Baby and I love baking together. I used to avoid baking because I thought it just meant creating sugary, less-than-healthy treats for our family, but now I love using these natural sugar alternatives to create healthy baked goods that we all enjoy.

Here are the top 5 ways that I naturally sweeten our baking recipes and avoid using sugar or artificial sweeteners:

1. Honey

The benefits:
- Honey has vitamins: B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids.

- Honey has minerals: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.

- Honey contains antioxidants and is cholesterol and fat-free.

- Honey’s sugars are gradually absorbed into the bloodstream which results in better digestion.

2. Unsweetened Applesauce

The benefits:
- Applesauce contains dietary fiber which keeps your digestive system moving regularly.

- Applesauce can contain as much as 80% of your daily vitamin C needs.

- Applesauce lightens the caloric density of baked goods.

3. Cinnamon

The benefits:
- Cinnamon lowers cholesterol.

- Cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels.

- Cinnamon protects against heart disease.

4. Vanilla Extract

The benefits:
- Vanilla helps to prevent memory loss.

- Vanilla balances the secretion or hormones.

- It reduces inflammation and hyperactivity in the major body systems.

5. Coconut Oil

The benefits:
- Coconut oil increases immunity.

- Coconut oil speeds up your metabolism.

- Coconut oil is antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial.

For examples of recipes containing these natural sugar alternatives, please see:
An Easy, Healthy, Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

A Veggie Muffin Recipe for Toddlers

Baby’s 1st Birthday Party Recap: Ideas, Recipes & Pictures


For more information on healthy baking alternatives, visit Healthy Child, Healthy World.

This post is linked up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up, Natural Living Monday, and the Living Well Blog Hop.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rachael February 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

Thank you, Cherise! I read Mark Bittman’s op-ed on regulating sugar in the NY Times yesterday, and it got me wondering about sugar alternatives. When baking muffins and bread, I generally use honey (usually) or real maple syrup (sometimes). When making cookies and waffles, though, I do use sugar. Cookies are a rare treat — once per month, if even that often. Waffles, on the other hand, I do make most Saturday mornings. I use Bittman’s recipe (I live by his How to Cook Everything cookbooks), which calls for only 2 tablespoons of sugar — much, much less than I’ve seen in any other recipe for waffles, and it’s plenty, especially because I also use vanilla (yum!) and cinnamon (yum!).
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2 Queentob February 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Great ideas, we also use organic agave nectar, prune preserves (organic and prunes only), pumpkin (even in desserts, you’d never know!) ;) happy baking!

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3 Melissa February 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

These are great ideas for alternatives, Charise, and I love that you point out the health benefits of each one as well. They’re not just less bad for you, they’re pretty good for you! We use loads of coconut oil, but Annabelle has always had a skin reaction to cinnamon, which is really a bummer! We also love blackstrap molasses (high in iron) and, like Queentob, pumpkin.
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4 Julie February 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Such a nice and useful text, I haven’t heard about the most alternatives for sugar you’ve posted. I’ve been a green mom since decades, and I used to bake with honey if it’s possible. But I think I’m going to give the coconut oil a try soon, thanks for the inspiration!

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5 Grassfed beef February 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Thank you for sharing this, good health is very important to all. As a mother you must know what to provide a right food for you son or daughter. It is to make sure that these foods has a complete vitamin that the body needs.

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6 Emily February 29, 2012 at 4:40 am

Oh, that was really nice to read! As a matter of fact, we are addicted to honey in my house, we use it in all kind of food and drinks. We even put it in our coffee, which usually freaks out our guests at first, but once they have tasted it, they like it. I have heard that linden honey is very good against heartburn and reflux.
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7 LuccyT05 February 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

Excellent ideas.. I will definitely follow this alternatives.. My mom will be so happy that I found out some great alternatives of sugar.. :)
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8 Lori Popkewitz Alper March 1, 2012 at 11:35 am

Applesauce is one of my all-time favorite sweeteners. I use it in pancakes! I’m a new coconut oil convert. Do you use it as a sugar substitute? I’ve been using it for cooking, but not baking. Thanks for the great list!
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9 Nicole Rivera March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

This is such a great resource Charise. Not only have you gathered some yummy alternatives (I LOVE vanilla!) but you gave me so many healthy reason to reach for them! Thank you!!
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10 Chrissy @ The Outlaw Mom Blog March 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Great alternative sugar ideas! Will definitely keep these in mind. The kids love baking, but we end up getting totally sugared out :-)
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11 Danyelle Franciosa March 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Oh, he is growing good. Anyway, choosing an alternative way in baking is one of the best to do. It is more healthier than sugar. Thanks for sharing this alternative ways in baking.
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12 Jo's Health Corner March 10, 2012 at 12:01 am

Hi there,
Thanks for linking up to the Living Well Blog Hop! I picked this post as one of my favorites this week.
http://joshealthcorner.blogspot.com/2012/03/living-well-blog-hop-32.html
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13 Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network March 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

Thanks Charise for sharing this with us, I had no idea coconut oli was a metabolism booster!
I am really looking forward to hosting the Seasonal Celebration Linky Party #7 going live tomorrow and hope you’ll pop over sometime-you’re always welcome!
http://naturalmothersnetwork.com/category/seasonal-celebration-sunday/ Have a great weekend!
Rebecca x
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14 Reeta@grassfed beef March 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm

I’ve never known the benefits of those natural sweeteners until I’ve read it in here. Thanks Charise for this very useful post. Your blog had been always awesome.

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15 carly March 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I make cookies for my little nieces all the time and have started to worry about using sugar. Honey and unsweetened applesauce seem like yummy substitutes. :)

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16 Bianca January 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm

We consistently substitute oil with applesauce – but I didn’t think about these alternatives to sugar! Pinned! Thank you! :)
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17 Jonathan (EcoDad) July 2, 2013 at 10:20 am

We’ve used honey and apple sauce before. The apple sauce can also be used as an egg substitute.

Do you have any guidance on how much of each to substitute for a cup of sugar?

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18 Tiffany (NatureMom) July 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

I love honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar for cooking/baking!
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19 Shary July 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm

We use honey and applesauce on a regular basis. And man I love me some coconut oil!
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20 Amanda @Natural Living Mamma July 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm

We use honey and apple sauce a lot! I love applesauce because we don’t eat eggs, so it adds some good texture where it was otherwise lacking.
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21 Andrea July 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

This looks like a great list! I have used applesauce and honey, and found those to be very tasty substitutes. I like that you outlined all of the health benefits of these.

Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

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