Vegan Natural Sweeteners

A breakdown of vegan natural sweeteners for baking.

Today, we’re talking vegan natural sweeteners! As a dessert-focused blog, vegan natural sweeteners are essential in all of my recipes. Sweetness is what makes desserts so delicious and decadent! How and when to use vegan natural sweeteners is what I’m going to break down for you today.

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I don’t use any refined sugars – white, brown, turbinado, whatever. Sugar wreaks havoc on your body and health, and you DO NOT need it for delicious baked goods.

There are many, many vegan natural sweeteners out there. These are simply what I use the most and what I prefer to use in my baking. So as always, go with what works best for you! These are what I use the most in the recipes on this blog, and the ones that I truly love using in my baking. You’ll see the list is quite short – if you’ve read around here, you know I go for simplicity with my vegan baking! I always try to use a fruit as my sweetener, because they’re easy to find. Easy is always the best route for how busy we all are, especially if you get a delicious end product regardless. 🙂

If they’re new to you, I hope you walk away with some tips/tricks and confidence to use any of these vegan natural sweeteners in your baking!

  • Dates
    • What is it? Dates are small, oval shaped fruits that are sticky and soft. They grow on the date palm tree, and can usually be found in the bulk section, baking aisle, or fruit/vegetable section of the grocery store. I always get the Natural Delights brand. I buy them already pitted, so be aware of the pits and make sure you remove them before blending if necessary.
    • Nutrition: Dates are packed with potassium, copper, iron, manganese, and vitamin B6. They are completely sugar, so people are often worried they’ll “make you fat.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! They are easily digested, avoiding the typical blood sugar spike that white, refined sugar would give. Don’t be afraid. They are AMAZING option for sweetening recipes without any adverse health affects.
    • Taste: They are literally nature’s candy – dates pack powerful, caramel-like, rich sweetness.
    • When/how to use it: I use dates in almost all of my recipes! It’s by far my number one choice for a sweetener. The method is to blend them into a paste, by blending dates with hot water until the mixture is smooth and creamy. For example, if I needed 1 cup of date paste to add to a batter, I would blend about 16 pitted medjool dates with 1 cup of water, until smooth and creamy. Then I would measure out 1 cup of that mixture to put into the batter. Super easy and seriously SO sweet and perfect.
    • My favorite recipes:

almond-butter-swirl-brownies-7

  • Bananas
    • What is it? Haha…no explanation necessary here. Mashed, ripe banana goodness!
    • Nutrition: Bananas are packed with healthy sugars, fiber, potassium, and tons of vitamins and minerals.
    • Taste: Unless combined with a strong flavor like chocolate, bananas are going to give off a sweetness that makes it obvious bananas are in the recipe – not a problem, in my opinion!
    • When/how to use it: I use banana puree in recipes that are banana-focused (obviously), like banana breads, cakes, or muffins. I’ve also used it in mug cakes or chocolate-heavy recipes, and found that I couldn’t detect too much banana flavor, but it provided rich sweetness to the recipe. I also always use it as the creamy, sweet element in smoothie bowls.
    • My favorite recipes:

banana-bread-doughnuts-3

  • Stevia
    • What is it? Stevia is actually an herb, and the sweetness comes from the leaves of the stevia plant in South America.
    • Nutrition: The sweetness from stevia is derived naturally – it doesn’t really provide nutrition, but the perk is that it doesn’t have any calories.
    • Taste: Stevia provides a typical sweetness, as it’s in granulated form, similar to a refined, white sugar. I’ve heard some number like it’s 200 times more sweet than white sugar, so you need much less than what a recipe may call for in regular sugar.
    • When/how to use it: I use stevia much more sparingly than dates in my recipes. When I do use it, it’s typically for cookie recipes, or in a baked good where the texture would be changed greatly by the addition of date paste. Basically, I only use stevia on rare occasions when date paste wouldn’t work in a recipe!
    • My favorite recipes:

pumpkin-pancakes-8

  • Other options:
    • Pure maple syrup
      • If you do need a runny, sticky sweetener, pure maple syrup is a great choice, though it’s very high in sugar content and calories – but typically it’d be used in a recipe you won’t be eating day in and day out, so if for a special dessert, go for it!
    • Coconut sugar
      • I’ve never used coconut sugar myself, but I’ve heard great things about it as a substitute for granulated white sugar – look into it if you aren’t a fan of stevia or need a granulated option.

So there you have it! My go to vegan natural sweeteners. Long story short, dates are ALWAYS my first choice. As fruits, they’re basically the most natural form of sweetness you could ask for. I love the caramel profile they add, rather than straight up sweet flavor – they give another dimension, and better depth of flavor, to anything I add them to.

What vegan natural sweeteners do you prefer for your baking?