Reducing Sugar in Baking and Cooking

Reducing Sugar in Baking and Cooking

Reducing Sugar in Baking and Cooking

Have you found yourself baking more than usual while staying at home? It’s the perfect hobby to adopt - it’s relaxing, allows you to be creative, and you get to eat all the treats as a reward for your hard work! However, most baked goods use a lot of sugar, and you may be trying to cut back on the amount you’re consuming. The good news is that reducing sugar in baking and cooking is quite easy to do, and there are plenty of substitutions that will satisfy your sweet tooth!

When Is Sugar an Essential Ingredient?


One important thing to keep in mind is that sugar reduction is very recipe dependent. In some baking, such as quick breads and cake, sugar is an essential ingredient for providing the right moisture and texture. The chemistry of sugar attracts water molecules, so cutting it out can make your baked goods too tough and dry. If you really want to cut back, sugar can usually be reduced by about a third without seeing a major difference in texture. You can also try eliminating an egg white and adding an extra egg yolk to keep the texture moist.

In recipes that use sugar for the sole purpose of adding sweetness rather than to add moisture or texture, such as fruit-filled pies, custards, or compotes, it’s much easier to cut back without any negative effects. When making a savory recipe that calls for sugar, you can often replace it (or even eliminate it) without noticing much of a difference!

What Can I Use in Place of Sugar to Add Sweetness?

If you’re making something that only uses sugar to add sweetness, there are plenty of alternatives to use instead. Try using these McCormick products to add the flavor you crave without using added sugar. 


Extracts are always a great option since a small amount brings a delicious burst of flavor to a recipe. A splash of McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract gives a  subtle sweetness to fruit salad, hot beverages, and smoothies


Sometimes, all you need is a little cinnamon to add a hint of sweetness. Wake up your taste buds in the morning by sprinkling Ground Cinnamon over apple slices, oatmeal, and even stirring into your coffee. In addition to cinnamon, experiment with other sweet spices like nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, ginger, clove, pumpkin pie spice, and apple pie spice! This Pumpkin Apple Smoothie recipe uses a mix of pumpkin pie spice, pure vanilla extract, and maple syrup to create perfect blend of sweetness and flavor.


Maple syrup is also a great substitute for sugar that you can add to coffee, yogurt, baked goods, oatmeal, and more! Unlike pancake syrup, pure maple syrup is a nutrient-rich sweetener that has many health benefits. If you don’t have pure maple syrup on hand, try Maple Extract. Made with real maple, this rich extract has no artificial flavors, dyes, or corn syrup, and is non-GMO and gluten-free.

In recipes that use fruit, like smoothies, fruit pies, or other baked goods, use very ripe fruit whenever possible. This maximizes the natural sweetness of the fruit itself, so you’ll end up using less sugar to reach your desired sweetness. Swapping out sugar for fresh fruit or fresh fruit purees is also an easy way to add beneficial fiber.


This Easy Mini Cherry Pie recipe is easy to create with less sugar. Simply use a no-sugar-added pie filling and substitute coconut or maple sugar for the topping.

What About Natural Sugars?


Natural sugars, such as honey and agave, can replace sugar in certain recipes. While honey and agave are better for blood sugar levels, keep in mind that they are both higher in calories than sugar. However, they are very sweet, so you only need a small amount to taste the difference.

Honey is tasty in baked goods, but it also complements sauces for meats and vegetables. Two tablespoons of honey is enough to sweeten this Honey Ginger Sauce that pairs well with vegetables like carrots, asparagus, and green beans. Or, use honey to sweeten a Coconut Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing to pair with a bright, refreshing salad.

Just like when reducing your salt intake, you don’t have to immediately jump into a no-sugar diet. Take it one step at a time and experiment with different alternatives until you find what you like. By gradually reducing sugar in your recipes, you may even discover your taste preferences will adjust over time!

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