Food Tips

8 Healthy Sugar Substitutes for Holiday Baking

December 19, 2022

I’m all for a delicious pastry, cupcake or cookie! And I think it’s important to create balance and freedom with food, not rules and restrictions.  That being said, it’s also important for our health to eat as many high quality, nutrient-dense foods and ingredients as possible. So what if we can combine both worlds? This […]

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I’m all for a delicious pastry, cupcake or cookie! And I think it’s important to create balance and freedom with food, not rules and restrictions. 

That being said, it’s also important for our health to eat as many high quality, nutrient-dense foods and ingredients as possible. So what if we can combine both worlds?

This blog is meant to help you know how to use alternative ingredients for sugar to make healthier baking recipes. It’s perfect for healthy holiday baking, or any time of year!

The best part is that it’s flexible. You can sometimes mix and match, or use half regular sugar and half substitute.

My advice… don’t sacrifice taste! If you try a healthy alternative for sugar, and you don’t like how it turned out, switch it up the next time until you find what tastes good. 

Keep reading to see my list of sugar replacements for healthier baking, plus a few recipe suggestions!

*This blog contains affiliate links through which I might make a small commission if you purchase. I appreciate your support and I’m so glad you stopped by!


Refined sugars can affect our mood, blood sugar, body shape, inflammation, and more. Reminder, this is NOT about going on a diet and never having a regular cupcake again. 

It’s about creating balance and more nutrient-dense versions of some of our favorites, which supports how we feel as well!

Same great taste, better for you! Let’s look at the 8 options for substituting white sugar:


I like the brand Lakanto. They have various types of no-calorie sweeteners that you can use as a 1:1 substitute for sugar, such as powdered sugar, brown sugar, white sugar, and more.

I like this over stevia because to me it has less of an aftertaste.


You also might see it as cane sugar. This is a less refined version of sugar, so it is one small step up on the healthy scale in comparison to refined white sugar. 


This has a lower glycemic index than granulated sugar, so it doesn’t spike blood sugar as fast. 

Another benefit to coconut sugar is that it retains minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, along with some short-chain fatty acids like polyphenols and antioxidants. 

It does still have the same amount of calories as regular sugar, but has some healthier benefits.


Swerve is another brand that makes zero calorie sweeteners. They use erythritol in their sugar replacement products, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol. 

Swerve carries a granular sugar replacement, a confectioner sugar replacement, and a brown sugar replacement. I love the brown sugar substitute because the texture is so similar to brown sugar. I usually use half Swerve and half regular brown sugar. 


Yes, these 2 are still sugars, but they are also more of a “whole food” version of sugar. 

Sometimes I’ll figure out how to use one of these instead of regular sugar. Obviously for baking it matters if your ingredients are wet or dry, so you might need to find a specific recipe that uses honey or maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar.


Another way to go about creating healthy baking recipes is to simply use a little bit less sugar than what is called for in the recipe. 

Baking ingredients are usually pretty precisely measured to get the best outcome, so it might take some experimenting!


You already know I don’t like the taste of stevia, but if you don’t mind it, there is a wide range of products and it only takes a little bit to go a long way. 

I’ve heard people rave about flavored stevia drops in a tincture bottle. Not for me taste-wise, but it is a good 0 calorie option for sweetening things. 


There are a ton of paleo recipes with the only sugar in the recipe coming from fruit like banana, dates, figs, or even fruit juice concentrate. 

Once we start to have a little less sugar, our taste buds also adjust and naturally sweet foods start to taste better! 

When we’re having a lot of sugar, things like berries and apples might not even taste sweet to us, just sour. 

Healthy Holiday Baking Recipe Ideas for Using Sugar Substitutions:

image and recipe from paleorunningmama.com
    • Sub brown sugar with Swerve brown sugar replacement, sub confectioner’s sugar with Lakanto powdered sugar for frosting)
image and recipe from foodnetwork.com
    • Sub sugar with Lakanto granulated sugar replacement. I say keep the red and green sugar crystals for garnish 😉 
image and recipe from foodnetwork.com
image and recipe from paleorunningmama.com
image and recipe from paleorunningmama.com


Don’t stress about cutting calories or making all sugar off limits. That’s not realistic and usually leads us to overeat or binge at some point on the foods we’ve cut out. 

Instead, practice balance by introducing some higher quality ingredients into your favorite baking recipes. Use this blog as a guide to experiment with sugar alternatives for baking recipes. 

Comment below to let me know which one(s) you’ve tried. Feel free to share any other suggestions you have based on healthier baking recipes you’ve made in the past!


My name is Tessie Tracy, and I’m a Certified Eating Psychology and Nutrition Coach, as well as a fitness expert & keynote speaker.

I’ve helped hundreds of women like you finally lose the diet mentality, and feel on track and consistent with healthy habits that don’t include restriction, punishment or guilt!

I’ve been featured in various media outlets, such as Well + Good, BuzzFeed, The Wash Post, USA Today College, and more. And I’ve worked with major companies as a corporate wellness trainer, such as USC, George Washington University, Nissan, Bank of America, Westinghouse, and MindBody, to name a few.



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