Brown Sugar Substitutes That Are Keto-Friendly

If you’re on the keto diet you might want to cook/bake with a brown sugar substitute keto. Brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses and is high carb. One cup has 142g of carbs. Substitutes include ingredients like Stevia and maple extract.

Brown sugar in a jar

How can you do keto-friendly baking? It might seem tough with wheat flour and white sugar being sky-high in carbs. Many people think brown sugar is healthier than white sugar, but it’s just white sugar with molasses. This is different from raw sugar that’s somewhat healthier./lower-carb. Fun Fact: 1 cup of brown sugar has 142g of carbs. That’s almost 3x the total daily carbs allowed on the keto diet. The problem is when you’re baking in particular, you’ll want to pick a brown sugar substitute keto that’s close to the flavor and texture of brown sugar. This can be tough since sugarcane products are high-carb.

The good news is there are some practical options. They include natural ingredients like Stevia and maple extract. Some low-carb brown sugar substitutes contain some sugar. However, even in that case, it’s minimalized, so it’s still much lower-carb than a cup of white sugar. When cooking/baking adding substitutes can be tricky. You’ll want to add ingredients that are relatively close to the original one. When you’re on a diet like a keto, it’s tougher because you have other restrictions. You’ll want an ingredient that tastes and feels like brown sugar, yet is much lower-carb. The good news is it’s possible.

What Is Brown Sugar?

The answer about the simple carb is more complex than you might expect. When picking a sugar, one of the main issues is how processed/refined it is. White sugar is highly-processed, which explains why it causes sugar spikes like white flour and white rice.  

In terms of overall nutrition, raw sugar is the healthiest option. They include muscovado and turbinado sugars. That said, the carb count is still sky-high and isn’t much lower than brown sugar or white sugar. So, if you want to avoid getting kicked out of ketosis, you’ll have to ditch the brown sugar.

After going to your local supermarket, you’ll even see different types of brown sugar-like light and dark brown sugar.

When talking about brown sugar, it’s important to talk about white sugar also. White sugar doesn’t contain any molasses. This is the dark syrup that you can buy separately and can also be used for cooking/baking.

White sugar is around 99% sucrose, which is a natural “sweetener.” This doesn’t mean though that it’s somehow healthier since it’s nothing like the original sugarcane.

Brown sugar is just white sugar in which some of the removed molasses has been added back. Light brown sugar is about 6% molasses and dark brown sugar is darker because it contains more molasses.

One of the main differences between white and brown sugar is it’s thicker due to the molasses. The molasses also adds a richer flavor than the white variety.

Why would you want to substitute brown sugar in particular? It’s related to the heartier taste and thicker texture versus white sugar.

It depends on what you’re cooking/baking. In some cases, it’s important to have a richer flavor and/or thicker texture of brown sugar. In other cases, a white sugar substitute is good enough. So, here’s the thing. When tweaking recipes so they’re keto-friendly first figure out what you’re substituting.

Brown Sugar Substitute: Keto Diet

When substituting brown sugar, here are some of the best low-carb/high-fat (CHF) options:

1. Brown Erythritol

This is a brown sugar alternative that’s repackaged. The most important fact is it’s low-carb. One serving of 2 teaspoons is just 8 calories, which includes 0g of net carbs.

2. Truvia Blend

This is another good option if you’re looking for a low-carb brown sugar substitute. This product includes Truvia Natural Sweetener. There’s also a small amount of brown sugar/molasses.

What’s Truvia? This sweetener contains stevia extract as well as erythritol. There’s 1g of sugar for each 1/2 tsp This shouldn’t be a problem for most people in terms of blood sugar spikes. Meanwhile, the Truvia blend itself doesn’t affect blood sugar.  

3. DIY Substitute w/ Maple Extract

Not only can you pick a brown sugar substitute that’s on the market you can even make your own. You’ll need:

  • Granulated erythritol (1 cup)
  • Maple extract (1 tsp)
  • Stevia glycerite (1 tsp)

The Stevia is optional. However, if you want to maintain the sweet flavor and soft texture of brown sugar then it’s a good option.  

4. Sukrin Gold

Here’s a good option if you want to avoid the high carbs of brown sugar. The Brown Sugar Alternative mainly consists of erythritol. This is a low-carb sugar substitute. There’s a little Stevia as well as malt.

The main benefit of this product is it provides the flavor, texture, and even aroma of brown sugar. However, it doesn’t cause any blood sugar spikes. This product is also low-calorie and gluten-free. So, it’s ideal for any recipe that includes brown sugar. There are zero net carbs.

Sukrin Gold can be added to various recipes so it’s quite flexible. That includes barbecue sauce to add some extra sweetness. This can provide the iconic barbecue flavor. You can also add it to a wide range of other recipes.

5. Monk

This is a natural sweetener that’s produced from the monk fruit, which is native to southern China. This fruit contains a natural chemical compound sand sugars that are antioxidants. This produces much of the fruit’s sweetness.

The fruit extract has zero carbs. Watch out because some products have sugar mixed in.

6. Splenda (Sucralose) 

Also known as sucralose this artificial sweetener isn’t metabolized. In other words, the body doesn’t digest it and doesn’t make any calories/carbs.

While there are other sucralose brands on the market Splenda is the most popular one. That’s because it doesn’t have the bitter flavor of other products.

It’s worth noting Splenda includes two carbohydrates that produce 1g of carbs/packet. One X-factor to consider is you shouldn’t use sucralose as a sugar substitute when baking.  

7. Erythritol

This is a kind of sugar alcohol. It’s in a group of natural chemical compounds. This sugar substitute is interesting because it triggers the sweet taste buds on the tongue so it copies the sugar taste. It tricks your taste receptors into thinking you’re eating sugar.

Erythritol is quite sweet and up to 80% as sweet versus regular sugar. However, it’s quite low at 0.2 calories/gram. 

How about carbs? It’s at 4g of carbs/tsp. However, this sweetener might lower the body’s glucose levels, which is a feature you can’t get from brown sugar.

8. Stevia

This is easily one of the top keto-friendly sweeteners. It’s plant-based, low-calorie, and low-carb. 

Studies show that Stevia might help to cause blood sugar levels to decrease. This is different from sugar whether it’s white, brown, or raw.

You can find Stevia in different forms like powdered and liquid. You can use it to sweeten foods like desserts and beverages. One X-factor is Stevia is much sweeter than sugar so you should use a small amount as a brown sugar substitute keto.

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