Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It is many times sweeter than sugar without the health problems that sugar consumption can cause. Try one of the stevia substitutes below if you can’t find stevia in your local supermarket, would rather not use it or don’t have time to go shopping.
Your best bet: White granulated sugar
Because stevia’s main function is as a sugar alternative, the best substitute for it is often white sugar. What makes it the best is the fact that sugar provides sweetness without the bitter aftertaste that can make stevia unpleasant for some people. Sugar is also much easier to find and less expensive than stevia. It will be easier to find recipes that use sugar since it has a longer history of use. The downsides of sugar are its effects on health. As a high-calorie food, it will not help you to lose weight and can also increase your risk of dental cavities.
Because stevia is so much sweeter than sugar, you have to use much more sugar than you would use stevia. You will need a cup of sugar for every 1/2 teaspoon of stevia powder or every teaspoon of stevia liquid.
A decent second choice: Agave nectar
Agave nectar comes from the agave plant, which is the same plant used to make tequila. Like stevia, agave nectar is an alternative to sugar and is often marketed as the healthier option of the two. While agave nectar is considerably less sweet than stevia, it is still sweeter than sugar. That sweetness means that it can be an effective sugar alternative much like stevia. Unlike stevia it is high in calories, which means that it may not be the option for you if you want a low-calorie sweetener; however, it is absorbed into the blood more slowly than sugar and does not cause the same type of blood sugar spike. It is important to note that because stevia is sugar-free, it does not cause a spike.
Because it is a liquid, agave nectar is a more appropriate substitute for liquid stevia extracts than it is for stevia powder. Note that the sweetness of stevia can vary so the amount of agave you use in place of it will vary as well. In general, you will want to use 3/4 cups of agave nectar for every 1/2 teaspoon of stevia powder in a recipe or for every 1 teaspoon of stevia liquid.
In a pinch: Erythritol
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that provides the same sweet taste as sugar. Like stevia, it provides its sweetening effects without any additional calories. You can get it in a granulated form that is similar in appearance to stevia powder. Erythritol does not cause tooth decay since bacteria in your mouth will not use it for food, the way that they would use sugar.
Erythritol does cause side effects for some people. The negative effects can include digestive issues. Consuming erythritol in moderation can help to mitigate these issues. It is unlikely to cause problems if you consume it in serving sizes smaller than 50 grams.
Sucralose is a modified sugar. It is an artificial sweetener that differs from other artificial sweeteners in that it is made from sugar. Like stevia, it is versatile and you can use it in any application that requires stevia. It is similar to stevia in another important way: it has no calories. Despite being chemically similar to sugar, sucralose can pass through the gut unmetabolized so that it is not converted to energy or fat. The downside of sucralose is flavor. Like stevia, it is used as a sugar substitute but fails to perfectly mimic the simple sweetness of plain sugar.