What is sugar free Reese’s sweetened with?

Quick Answers

Sugar free Reese’s are sweetened with maltitol syrup, a sugar alcohol that provides sweetness similar to sugar without spiking blood sugar levels. Maltitol has about half the calories of sugar but can cause gastrointestinal issues if consumed in large amounts. Reese’s uses maltitol syrup to replace sugar in their sugar free peanut butter cups to provide a sweet taste without added calories or carbohydrates.

What Are Sugar Free Reese’s?

Sugar free Reese’s are a version of the popular Reese’s peanut butter cups that contain no sugar. They use sugar alcohols, specifically maltitol syrup, to provide sweetness instead of regular sugar. This allows people who are limiting sugar for health or dietary reasons to still enjoy the classic chocolate and peanut butter flavor of Reese’s cups.

Regular Reese’s peanut butter cups contain 10g of sugar per serving. Sugar free Reese’s have less than 1g of sugar and are considered a low-calorie candy option. However, they do still contain 220 calories per serving, with 16g of fat primarily from the peanut butter. So they are not calorie-free, just sugar-free.

The ingredients for sugar free Reese’s peanut butter cups are:

– Milk chocolate (maltitol, cocoa butter, milk powder, soy lecithin, vanillin)

– Peanut butter (peanuts, cocoa butter, maltitol syrup, palm oil, salt, soy lecithin)

As you can see, they replace sugar with maltitol syrup to provide the sweetness needed to balance the chocolate and peanut butter flavors.

What is Maltitol Syrup?

Maltitol syrup is the primary sweetener used in sugar free Reese’s. It is a sugar alcohol derived from maltose, which itself is derived from starch. The process breaks down the starch into glucose molecules which are then hydrogenated to create maltitol.

Like other sugar alcohols, maltitol tastes similar to table sugar but has fewer calories and does not spike blood sugar levels as dramatically. It has about 90% of the sweetness of regular sugar but with only half the calories. This makes it an appealing sugar substitute for low calorie or low carb diets.

However, one downside is that excessive consumption can lead to gastrointestinal distress, including gas, bloating and diarrhea, though people have different tolerance levels. Reese’s recommends not eating more than 2-3 sugar free peanut butter cups per day to avoid these issues.

Some key attributes of maltitol syrup:

– Provides bulk and texture similar to sugar
– About half the calories of sugar (2.1 calories per gram vs 4 calories for sugar)
– Does not promote tooth decay like regular sugar
– Glycemic index of 35 compared to 65 for sugar (lower GI is better)
– Not fully absorbed by the gut so does not impact blood sugar as dramatically

So in summary, maltitol syrup allows Reese’s to mimic the sweetness of sugar in their sugar free cups without calories or spike in blood sugar. The tradeoff is possible gastrointestinal effects if too much is eaten at once.

Nutrition Facts for Sugar Free vs Regular Reese’s

To compare the nutritionals of regular Reese’s peanut butter cups vs the sugar free version:

Regular Reese’s (1 package = 2 cups)

Calories 220
Fat 12g
Carbs 21g
Sugar 14g
Protein 5g

Sugar Free Reese’s (1 package = 2 cups)

Calories 200
Fat 16g
Carbs 8g
Sugar 0g
Protein 7g

As you can see, the sugar free version reduces the carb count substantially by removing sugar. This comes mostly from the maltitol syrup substitution. However, the calorie and fat content is still similar due to the high fat peanut butter. So while sugar free Reese’s are technically low carb, they are not exactly low calorie. The fat and protein content remains high, which provides a filling snack but still a calorie-dense one.

Glycemic Index and Blood Sugar Impact

One of the main reasons people choose sugar free candy is due to blood sugar and glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) measures how dramatically a food spikes your blood glucose levels.

Table sugar has a moderately high GI of 65. This causes a rapid rise in blood sugar and subsequent insulin spike. Over time this can be taxing on the body and contribute to insulin resistance.

Maltitol syrup however has a much lower GI of 35. This means it does not cause blood sugar to rise as quickly or drastically. For people with diabetes or pre-diabetes, this makes it a safer sweetener option compared to regular sugar.

However, sugar alcohols like maltitol can still impact blood glucose, just to a lesser degree. People who need to tightly control sugar levels may still need to account for this and monitor intake. Those with more flexibility in their diet can utilize sugar free foods like Reese’s to satisfy sweet cravings without as big of a glucose effect.

Gastrointestinal Effects of Maltitol

The main drawback of maltitol, and sugar alcohols in general, is the potential for gastrointestinal distress. Our bodies do not fully digest or absorb maltitol since the chemical structure differs from regular sugar. This means if you eat too much too quickly, it can lead to issues like:

– Gas
– Bloating
– Cramping
– Diarrhea

These effects arise because the undigested maltitol passes into the colon, where it acts as a fermentable fiber. Gas producing bacteria in the colon break it down, releasing gasses that cause bloating. Osmotic changes draw water into the colon, causing diarrhea.

The level of tolerance varies greatly by individual. Some people do fine eating many servings of maltitol foods. For others, even a few pieces of sugar free candy leads to discomfort. There are a few tips to mitigate the laxative effect:

– Start with small servings and work up slowly
– Ensure adequate water intake
– Limit other high fiber foods when consuming maltitol
– Avoid excessive consumption

Reese’s recommends keeping consumption to 2-3 peanut butter cups daily to avoid gastrointestinal issues. This amounts to 20-30g of maltitol, which is a moderate serving size. Larger amounts increase the risk of undesirable gastrointestinal side effects.

Cost Comparison of Regular vs Sugar Free Reese’s

When comparing prices, sugar free Reese’s tend to cost a bit more than regular Reese’s peanut butter cups:

Regular Reese’s: $0.33 per cup
Sugar Free Reese’s: $0.39 per cup

A couple factors make the sugar free version slightly more expensive:

– Specialized ingredients – Maltitol syrup costs more than regular sugar. Not as much demand so smaller production scale.

– Niche market – Caters to smaller segment of population concerned about sugar intake. Not mass market appeal.

– More complex manufacturing – Need separate equipment and protocols to keep sugar free line separate.

The higher price point reflects the extra costs incurred to manufacture sugar free Reese’s. However, the difference is fairly small, only about 15% more per cup. Many consumers feel it is worth paying a premium to reduce sugar and carbs. The unique sweet taste profile also garners brand loyalty.

Taste Comparison Between Sugar Free vs Regular

When comparing the taste, sugar free Reese’s are quite similar to the original:

– Chocolate coating has same creamy, smooth texture
– Peanut butter filling provides rich flavor
– Nice combination of chocolate and peanut butter

The main difference arises in the sweetness. Since maltitol syrup is not as sweet as sugar, the overall candy is a bit less sweet:

– Sugary aftertaste is missing
– Slightly less intense sweetness upfront
– Some people note a mild aftertaste from the maltitol

This reduced sweetness allows more of the true chocolate and peanutbutter flavors to come through. Fans of Reese’s appreciate that the sugar free version largely replicates that iconic candy combination, with only subtle differences in sweetness.

Personal preference will determine whether you find the slight change in sweetness level an improvement or not. Many regular Reese’s eaters still find the sugar free version satisfies their cravings thanks to the rich chocolate and peanut butter flavors being present.

Who Are Sugar Free Reese’s Good For?

Sugar free Reese’s can be a good option for the following groups with dietary restrictions:


The low glycemic impact makes sugar free Reese’s a safer choice for diabetics. They can enjoy an occasional treat without spiking blood sugar as much as regular candy. Moderation is still key however.

Low Carb Dieters

Removing sugar slashes the carb count significantly, fitting into a low carb, high fat or ketogenic eating plan.

Calorie Restricted Diets

While not low calorie, sugar free Reese’s have about 10% less calories than regular. This modest reduction can be significant for those tracking every calorie.

Dental Health

The lack of sugar helps prevent tooth decay and cavities, making it more dentist approved.

Sugar Sensitive

Some people experience crashes or negative effects when consuming regular refined sugar. The maltitol may provide more steady energy.

As with any food, individual reactions vary. But for many people concerned about sugar intake, sugar free Reese’s offer an appealing alternative.

Tips for Incorporating Sugar Free Reese’s Into Your Diet

Here are some tips to integrate sugar free Reese’s into your eating plan:

– Stick to the recommended serving size of 2 peanut butter cups, or 20g of maltitol. This minimizes GI impact and any potential digestive issues.

– Drink plenty of fluids. Getting enough water helps move maltitol through your system.

– Portion out your servings instead of eating from a full bag. This prevents overconsumption which can lead to stomach troubles.

– Balance with high fiber whole foods. Fiber helps slow digestion of maltitol and reduces blood sugar spikes.

– Avoid giving to young children. Kids under age 4 should not have maltitol due to risk of digestive issues.

– Store in a cool, dry place sealed tightly. Sugar free candy can dry out if not stored properly.

– Incorporate as part of an overall healthy diet. Sugar free Reese’s are still a treat food, not intended as a meal replacement.

When consumed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet, incorporating sugar free Reese’s can be an effective way to reduce sugar and carb intake while still enjoying the occasional sweet treat.

Are There Any Health Concerns With Sugar Free Reese’s?

There are no major health concerns associated with sugar free Reese’s bars when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, there are a few considerations:

Gastrointestinal Effects

The most common issue is possible gastrointestinal upset if you eat too much maltitol at once, as detailed earlier. These effects are temporary but uncomfortable.

Tooth Decay

While sugar free, they can still promote tooth decay from the acidity when bacteria in the mouth ferment the maltitol. Be sure to brush after eating.

Blood Sugar

Maltitol has less impact than sugar but can still raise blood glucose levels modestly. Diabetics should monitor closely.

Laxative Dependence

If overconsumed frequently, maltitol may cause laxative dependence where the colon comes to rely on it to stimulate bowel movements.

Overall when eaten in moderation, sugar free Reese’s do not pose significant health risks for most people. But they are still candy, so balance with an otherwise healthy diet.

Recipes With Sugar Free Reese’s

You can incorporate sugar free peanut butter cups into recipes for an extra boost of flavor without excess sugar. Here are some recipe ideas:

No-Bake Sugar Free Reese’s Pie

Crust: Almond flour, butter, salt

Filling: Cream cheese, sugar free peanut butter, maltitol syrup

Topping: Crushed sugar free Reese’s

Sugar Free Reese’s Milkshake

Blend sugar free chocolate ice cream, milk, peanut butter, and sugar free Reese’s pieces for a thick, creamy shake.

Chocolate Bark with Sugar Free Reese’s

Melt sugar free chocolate chips and spread on parchment paper. Top immediately with chopped up sugar free Reese’s before it sets. Refrigerate until firm.

Sugar Free Reese’s Stuffed Cookies

Make peanut butter cookie dough. Flatten small balls of dough and put a sugar free Reese’s in the center. Seal dough over top and bake.

There are limitless possibilities when baking with sugar free Reese’s. Let your creativity run wild!

Where Can I Buy Sugar Free Reese’s?

Here are some places you can find sugar free Reese’s for purchase:

– Online: Amazon, Netrition, Vitacost
– Grocery Stores: Kroger, Safeway, Harris Teeter, HEB
– Warehouse Stores: Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s
– Specialty Stores: Whole Foods, Sprouts, Earth Fare
– Pharmacies: CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid
– Discount Stores: Target, Walmart
– Convenience Stores: 7-Eleven, Wawa, Circle K

Stock and availability varies by location. Your best bet may be ordering online if you have trouble finding them in local stores. Be sure to look on the candy aisle as they are often stocked with regular Reese’s candies.

The brand Select Makes sugar free mini peanut butter cups using maltitol as well. These offer another option if you can’t locate the Reese’s version. Select’s mini cups are slightly smaller but replicate the Reese’s taste quite closely.


In summary, sugar free Reese’s offer people a way to enjoy the classic chocolate peanut butter candy flavor with greatly reduced sugar and carbs. They use maltitol syrup instead of regular sugar to provide sweetness without spiking blood glucose levels as dramatically. Be mindful of potential gastrointestinal effects if overconsumed. When eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, sugar free Reese’s can be a tasty treat option for those limiting sugar for health reasons or dietary needs. Check your local grocery and pharmacy stores for availability. With proper storage and limiting intake to recommended serving sizes, sugar free Reese’s can be incorporated into your eating plan as an occasional indulgence.

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