What sweetener is in Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate?

Sugar-free and low sugar chocolate options have become increasingly popular for people looking to reduce their sugar intake. Major chocolate brands like Hershey’s have responded by releasing sugar-free versions of some of their classic chocolate bars. But how do they remove the sugar while maintaining the delicious chocolatey taste? The key lies in the alternative sweeteners used.

Sweeteners in Hershey’s Sugar-Free Chocolate

Hershey’s uses two main sweeteners in their sugar-free chocolate products: maltitol and erythritol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that is about 90% as sweet as sugar but contains fewer calories. Erythritol is another sugar alcohol that is about 70% as sweet as sugar with very few calories. The combination of these two sweeteners allows Hershey’s to replace the sugar in their chocolate recipes while maintaining a sweet flavor.

In addition to maltitol and erythritol, Hershey’s sugar-free chocolates contain cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, milk fat, cocoa powder, soy lecithin, vanillin, and artificial flavor. So while the sugar is removed, they still contain the essential ingredients for making chocolate like cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The sugar alcohols simply replace the granulated sugar.

Nutrition Facts of Hershey’s Sugar-Free Chocolate

Here is a nutrition label comparison between regular Hershey’s chocolate and Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate:

Nutrition Facts Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Sugar Free Milk Chocolate
Serving Size 1 bar (43g) 1 bar (43g)
Calories 230 180
Fat 12g 11g
Carbohydrates 26g 14g
Sugar 24g 1g
Protein 3g 3g

As you can see, the main difference is the reduction of sugar from 24g to 1g per serving. This comes from replacing sugar with maltitol and erythritol. The calories are also reduced from 230 to 180 per serving.

Benefits of Sugar-Free Chocolate

There are several potential benefits to choosing sugar-free chocolate options like Hershey’s:

  • Reduced sugar intake – For people monitoring sugar and calories, the sugar-free version has 97% less sugar than regular chocolate.
  • Lower calorie option – At 180 calories per serving, the sugar-free chocolate is a more diet-friendly alternative.
  • Doesn’t sacrifice taste – Thanks to alternative sweeteners, Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate still maintains the distinctive chocolate flavor people love.
  • Can be part of a diabetic diet – With very little sugar, sugar-free chocolate can be consumed as an occasional treat for some people with diabetes.
  • Keto-friendly – The low carb count makes Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate keto-approved.

The reduced calories and sugar makes sugar-free chocolate appealing for weight loss and low carb diets. It provides a way to still indulge in chocolate while limiting sugar intake.

Downsides of Sugar Alcohols

However, there are some potential downsides to the sugar alcohols used in Hershey’s sugar-free chocolates:

  • Digestive issues – Some people experience bloating, gas, or diarrhea from sugar alcohols, especially in large amounts.
  • Spikes blood sugar – While not as high as regular sugar, maltitol and erythritol can still impact blood glucose levels.
  • Not carb-free – Sugar alcohols are technically carbohydrates, even though they have fewer calories.
  • Aftertaste – Some people detect an unpleasant cooling aftertaste from erythritol.

The amount of sugar alcohols that cause side effects varies individually. Consuming too much can lead to GI discomfort. Those with diabetes also still need to monitor their portion sizes.

Glycemic Impact

One concern when choosing sugar-free chocolate is its effect on blood sugar levels. Here is how Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate impacts blood sugar compared to regular chocolate:

  • Glycemic Index – Regular milk chocolate has a GI of 49, while sugar-free chocolate has a GI of 9. The lower number indicates a more gradual rise in blood sugar.
  • Glycemic Load – Likewise, the glycemic load is 10 for regular chocolate and only 1 for the sugar-free version. This means it has minimal effect on blood sugar.

This data shows that Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate is a much better option for controlling blood sugar than regular chocolate. However, portion control is still important for diabetics when consuming sugar-free chocolate.

Ingredients Controversy

There has been some controversy around the ingredients in Hershey’s sugar-free chocolates. Specifically, the use of maltitol has been called into question.

Maltitol is one of the most common sugar alcohols used in sugar-free and low carb products. However, there are concerns over its digestive side effects and glycemic impact. Some health advocates argue that erythritol or stevia are better alternatives.

There was a class action lawsuit filed in California claiming Hershey’s sugar-free chocolates were falsely advertised. The suit alleged the maltitol still raised blood sugar despite being marketed as a diabetic-friendly product. Hershey’s disputed these claims in court.

While maltitol may not be the ideal sweetener, Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate bars are still one of the few options for a lower sugar chocolate treat. The ingredients allow them to replicate the taste and texture of milk chocolate without the added sugar.

Sugar-Free Chocolate Options

Here are some of the sugar-free chocolate bar options available from Hershey’s:

Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate Bars Sweetener Used
Sugar Free Milk Chocolate Maltitol, Erythritol
Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Maltitol, Erythritol
Sugar Free Milk Chocolate with Almonds Maltitol, Erythritol
Sugar Free Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almond Maltitol, Erythritol

Each of these sugar-free chocolate bars use a blend of maltitol and erythritol to replace the sugar typically found in chocolate. They mimic the taste and texture of original Hershey’s chocolate bars.

In addition to these bar options, Hershey’s also makes sugar-free chocolate chips and Kisses using the same sweetener blend. This allows people to bake cookies, cakes, and other treats with lower sugar chocolate.

Baking with Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips

A popular use of Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate is for baking desserts. Here are some tips for baking with Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate chips:

  • Replace the chips in the recipe 1:1 – Use the same amount called for with regular chocolate chips.
  • Adjust other liquids or fats – Sugar-free chocolate may require slightly more butter or oil since sugar adds moisture.
  • Reduce oven temperature by 25°F – Sugar-free chocolate can burn faster than regular chocolate.
  • Watch baking time closely – Cookies may bake faster compared to using regular chocolate chips.
  • Store baked goods separately – Sugar-free chocolate baked goods tend to dry out faster.

Making these minor adjustments to your favorite cookie or brownie recipe allows you to make lower sugar baked treats. Hershey’s sugar-free chips contain only 1g of sugar per serving.

Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Here is a recipe for soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies using Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate chips:


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sweetener like Swerve
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Hershey’s Sugar Free chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sweetener until creamy.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Mix in almond flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Fold in sugar-free chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop 1-2 tbsp of dough per cookie and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
  8. Let cool on baking sheet before removing.

The sugar-free chocolate chips make these keto-friendly chocolate chip cookies a delicious low carb, gluten free dessert option.

Price Comparison

One thing to consider when choosing sugar-free chocolate is the price difference compared to regular chocolate. Here is a price comparison between Hershey’s regular chocolate bars and sugar-free bars:

Hershey’s Chocolate Bars Price (Average)
Milk Chocolate Bar (1.55oz) $1.09
Sugar Free Milk Chocolate Bar (1.45oz) $1.94
Special Dark Chocolate Bar (1.45oz) $1.19
Sugar Free Special Dark Chocolate (1.45oz) $2.09

On average, the sugar-free chocolate bars cost around 75¢ to $1 more than the same size regular chocolate bars. This equates to over a 70% price increase. The higher cost reflects the more expensive sweeteners used.

Occasional indulgence in sugar-free chocolate may be worth the price. But frequent daily consumption can get expensive, so keep the higher costs in mind when budgeting.

Reviews of Taste

Opinions are mixed on how Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate bars compare taste-wise to original Hershey’s chocolate. Here are some reviews:

  • Positive: “It tastes very close to the original! If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t realize it was sugar-free. The texture is smooth and creamy.”
  • Positive: “Really satisfies my chocolate cravings without all the sugar. I don’t feel the sugar crash later either.”
  • Negative: “The aftertaste is a little funky to me. It lacks the rich chocolate flavor I love.”
  • Negative: “It has a slightly chalky texture that the original Hershey’s doesn’t have. Not my favorite.”

It seems most agree the sugar-free version is extremely close to the original, while a minority detect a different aftertaste. Personal preference will determine if the small differences in flavor are worth it for the sugar and calorie reduction.

The Bottom Line

Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate bars use a blend of the sugar alcohols maltitol and erythritol to replace the sugar typically found in chocolate. This allows them to create chocolate with 97% less sugar than their original recipes. The result is a lower calorie chocolate option that can be enjoyed in moderation by those limiting sugar for health or weight loss reasons. However, some may find the higher price or slightly different taste not worth the tradeoffs. Overall, Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate bars can be a tasty occasional treat for chocolate lovers looking for reduced sugar options.

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