Can I use stevia instead of sugar for syrup?

Using a sugar substitute like stevia instead of regular sugar when making syrup is a common question for people looking to reduce sugar in their diets. Stevia is an increasingly popular non-caloric sweetener that comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is much sweeter than sugar but has no carbohydrates or calories. This makes it seem like an ideal replacement for sugar in syrup recipes. However, there are some important factors to consider when substituting stevia for sugar in syrups.

The pros and cons of using stevia in syrup

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using stevia instead of sugar when making syrup:


  • Stevia has zero calories and carbohydrates, so it won’t affect blood sugar levels.
  • It’s 100-300 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a tiny amount.
  • Stevia-sweetened syrup will have 97-99% fewer calories than sugar syrup.
  • It does not promote tooth decay.
  • Stevia is derived from a natural source.


  • Stevia has a bitter aftertaste that some people dislike.
  • It does not caramelize like sugar.
  • Stevia-sweetened syrups are much thinner than sugar syrups.
  • The sweetness from stevia can have a chemical taste.
  • It is heat-unstable and loses sweetness when cooked.

As you can see, using a stevia syrup replacement provides calorie and carb-free sweetness but lacks some of the thickness, texture, and caramelized flavor of real sugar syrup. The aftertaste may also be unpleasant for some. Whether the pros outweigh the cons will depend on your priorities and personal taste preferences.

How to substitute stevia for sugar in syrup

When substituting stevia for sugar in syrup recipes, there are some important guidelines to follow:

Use liquid stevia extract

Pure liquid stevia extract is much more potent than stevia powders and easier to incorporate smoothly into syrups. Look for stevia extracts without any added ingredients.

Start with a very small amount

Stevia extract is extremely concentrated compared to sugar. Start by using 1/16 teaspoon of liquid stevia for every 1 cup of sugar called for in the recipe. You can add more to taste, but it’s best to sneak up on the sweetness level slowly.

Reduce liquid

Since stevia syrup won’t thicken up as much as sugar syrup, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 25-50% depending on how thick you want the final syrup. Keep a closer eye on stevia syrups as they cook since they have a higher risk of burning.

Combine with sugar

Cutting the sugar by half and replacing it with a small amount of stevia helps maintain some of the thickness and flavor of regular syrup. A 1:1 sugar substitution often makes syrup that is cloyingly sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

Add flavorings

Boosting flavors like vanilla, almond, maple, coconut, or fruit juice can help mask any bitterness from the stevia. Let the syrup cool and taste it before adding more stevia or flavorings until the taste is balanced.

Expect a thinner consistency

Stevia syrup will likely coat foods more thinly than sugar syrup. It also has a tendency to become runnier as it cools. Store stevia syrups in the refrigerator to help thicken them up.

How does stevia syrup taste compared to sugar syrup?

The taste of stevia syrup will depend on the specific recipe, ingredient ratios, and personal tastebuds. Here is how it generally compares to regular sugar syrup:

  • Much sweeter initially but has a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste.
  • Less dense, thick, and sticky than sugar syrup.
  • Won’t crystalize as it cools like cane sugar syrup.
  • Lacks deep caramel notes and buttery richness from sugar.
  • Clean sweetness without sugar’s heaviness.
  • Natural flavors come through more than with sugar syrup.
  • Can have a slightly chemical taste at high concentrations.

Getting the right stevia to sugar balance helps mitigate the bitterness and chemical notes. Combining sugar and stevia gives a flavor closer to normal syrup. But the thinner texture and lack of caramelization means the taste experience will still differ from 100% sugar syrup.

What are the best uses for stevia syrup?

Here are some of the best ways to use sugar-free stevia syrup:

Pancakes and waffles

Light, fluffy pancakes and waffles are a perfect match for stevia syrup. The thinner consistency soaks in nicely. Add some cinnamon or maple extract to the syrup for more flavor.

Fruit toppings

Fresh fruit like berries, peaches, bananas, and citrus work well topped with stevia syrup instead of higher calorie options. The fruit flavors help mask stevia’s bitterness.

Oatmeal and yogurt

Mix a bit of stevia syrup into plain Greek yogurt or overnight oats for a zero-calorie sweet kick. The creamy textures complement the thinner syrup.

Smoothies and protein shakes

Add stevia syrup to protein shakes, fruit smoothies, or coffee drinks. The chilled temperature helps highlight stevia’s clean sweetness.

Salad dressings and marinades

Stir a spoonful of stevia syrup into vinaigrette salad dressing or marinades for grilled chicken, fish, or veggies. It blends in well with acidic ingredients.


A splash of stevia syrup sweetens up low-calorie cocktails like skinny margaritas or mojitos. Shake it into the drink or add it directly to the glass rim.

Recipes using stevia syrup

Here are some tasty recipes that use stevia syrup:

Berry Maple Oatmeal


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp maple flavored stevia syrup


  1. Cook oats according to package directions.
  2. Top with Greek yogurt, blueberries, and walnuts.
  3. Drizzle with stevia maple syrup.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken breast, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp stevia agave syrup
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Wrap Ingredients:

  • 8 butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienned
  • Cilantro, green onion, lime wedges for garnish


  1. Combine chicken and marinade ingredients. Refrigerate 30 min.
  2. Cook chicken on stove or grill until done. Slice or shred.
  3. Fill lettuce leaves with chicken, carrots, cucumber. Garnish.

Berry Green Smoothie


  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla stevia syrup
  • 1 tsp chia seeds


  1. Add all ingredients to high speed blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and pour into a glass.

Tips for the best sugar-free syrup

Follow these tips to make sugar-free stevia syrup with the best possible flavor:

  • Start with very small amounts of stevia and add to taste.
  • Use liquid stevia extract not powders.
  • Simmer on low heat and don’t boil to avoid bitterness.
  • Add flavor extracts, spices, or citrus juices.
  • Mix with a sugar alcohol like erythritol to improve thickness.
  • Chill thoroughly before using to help consistency.
  • Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Shake or stir before using if separation occurs.

It can take some trial and error to find your perfect stevia syrup recipe. The results are worth it for a delicious sugar-free topping!

Potential downsides of stevia

While stevia provides a no calorie way to sweeten foods and drinks, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Aftertaste – Stevia has a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste than some people dislike. Properly substituting stevia can minimize this taste.
  • Gastrointestinal effects – Rarely, stevia may cause bloating, nausea or other GI upset in sensitive individuals.
  • Blood sugar impact – There are mixed findings on stevia’s glycemic impact. Some studies have found blood sugar elevating effects.
  • Drug interactions – Stevia may interact with diabetes medications, blood pressure drugs, diuretics and lithium.
  • Allergic reactions – There have been rare reports of allergic reactions like rashes or asthma symptoms.
  • Regulatory uncertainty – The FDA has not approved whole leaf or crude stevia extracts as food additives due to safety concerns.

In moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, stevia is likely safe for most people. But those with allergies, diabetes or on medication may want to exercise more caution or avoid stevia.

The bottom line

Stevia extract can substitute for sugar and corn syrup in syrup recipes with some adjustment to the ingredient ratios. The resulting stevia syrup will have almost no calories or carbohydrates. However, the different texture and flavor profile may require tweaking the recipe and your expectations. Combining sugar and stevia tends to offer the best flavor. Stevia works well in lighter syrup applications like fruit, oatmeal and drinks rather than recipes where thicker, caramelized sugar syrup is needed. With some experimentation, syrup can be made with stevia that provides sweetness without spiking blood sugar.

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