11 Best Natural Sweeteners For Healthier Sweets

Cut out artificial sweeteners and try these natural sugars instead.

Are you searching for a substitute for refined sugar that is more beneficial? If so, then look no further than the natural sweeteners available today. 


If you’re looking for a better alternative to processed sugar, the natural sweeteners available today can be identified by exploring their descriptions. From bee-produced honey to the nectar of agave plants, many delightful choices are out there that provide flavor and health advantages. 

Good thing it is time to cut out artificial sweeteners and try these natural sugars instead.

Natural Sweeteners

Learn more about these natural alternatives below.


Honey is the most popular natural sweetener used for centuries. Different honey varieties exist, each with its distinctive flavor and characteristics.

Pouring aromatic honey into jar

Nevertheless, it is packed with valuable nutrients and compounds, making it a great choice over refined sugars or synthetic sweeteners. 

Honey is packed with beneficial antioxidants, minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may aid in protecting against cell damage from free radicals while supporting overall health and reducing inflammation. 

The type of honey you choose will depend on what you’re using it for – cooking or baking vs adding sweetness to tea or coffee – but there are several varieties out there worth exploring.

But, I personally like the raw or unpasteurized jars of honey for being more nutrient-dense, and I make sure not to overdo it; otherwise, the dish could end up tasting overly ‘honey-ish’ instead.  

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made from maple trees and has fewer calories, and provides essential minerals such as zinc and manganese for immunity support, plus antioxidants for protection against chronic diseases.

Bottle and jars of tasty maple syrup

The best thing about maple syrup is that it’s derived from nature; pure maple syrup has no chemical additives or preservatives. 

From light amber, medium amber, and dark amber, each offering different levels of flavor intensity. I like the dark amber for the sweeter side with a hint of wood.

Sometimes, the stores have it in vanilla or cinnamon-infused syrups, so you will mostly enjoy it in coffee or tea. It’s also the perfect topping for waffles, pancakes, and french toast!

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener made from coconut palms and has a rich, caramel-like flavor.

Coconut palm sugar in a bowl

It contains beneficial antioxidant properties and is also lower on the glycemic index than other sugars.

It is naturally vegan and gluten-free – making it perfect for those watching their diets.

There is an array of coconut sugar varieties to choose from. From organic varieties free from added chemicals or preservatives, unrefined versions with higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals, light brown options for milder flavors and dark brown variations that pack more punch, all boasting key health benefits.

When using coconut sugar, I make it into something special by sprinkling some crystals over yogurt parfaits.

The subtle hint will make the parfait tastier while keeping things healthy overall. Once you taste it, you will never use white sugar again.

Agave Nectar

The sweetener agave nectar is sourced from the agave plant native to Mexico and Central America.

Mexican agave nectar

It has a low glycemic index, and is packed with health benefits and comes in various forms, including light or dark syrup, liquid concentrate, and powder.

Agave nectar has a lower glycemic index and contains anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits due to its saponins and fructans.

It is sweeter than regular table sugar, so you can use less when baking or cooking without sacrificing sweetness, such as using ¾ cup instead of the usual 1 cup. 

Agave’s unique taste makes it perfect for adding an exciting twist to recipes such as pancakes, muffins and cakes; remember not to overdo it; otherwise, your dish could taste overly sweet.


Often seen in those small white pouches, Stevia is a natural sweetener from the stevia plant, 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients.

Stevia (as granular) on an old wooden table

Sometimes, people would say that it has a bitter taste and a menthol-like taste. But I like the taste of Stevia when using it in my morning coffee, or sometimes I would sprinkle it over oatmeal. 

Since it is much sweeter than usual table sugar, just put a little Stevia in your favorite drinks, then add gradually while tasting it so that it will not be too sweet. 


The truth is molasses come from sugarcane, a byproduct of the sugar-making process.

molasses that remains as a residue from the crystallization of cane sugar

But unlike refined sugar, molasses is packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for bone and heart health and antioxidants. 

Molasses is very tasty in old-fashioned recipes for holiday baked goods. I have tried it in gingerbread, chocolate chip cookies, and fruit cakes, and you can imagine the aroma from the kitchen that spells holiday. 

Using molasses improves many of our favorite dishes. In classic barbeque, the molasses give its dense sweetness that is perfect for the smoky and meaty taste of barbeque.

In pancakes, molasses syrup gives that morning a kick to brighten the day. 

Blackstrap Molasses

When molasses is boiled three more times, the result will create a blackstrap molasses that is more nutrient-dense.

Weighing Molasses

It can be darker and thicker than regular molasses, but this is a healthier and popular home remedy for anemia, arthritis, stress, PMS symptoms, and blood sugar spikes.

Did you know that experts suggest that to reap the full benefits of blackstrap molasses, you should mix one to two tablespoons in your morning drink daily?

I have tried it in savory dishes like glazed ham and baked beans, and it has that deep, rich flavor that I would always try to achieve until this blackstrap molasses came into the picture. 

Brown Rice Syrup

Sometimes, when rice is mentioned, people tend to shy away from this syrup because it is associated with carbohydrates.

But wait, brown rice syrup is a vegan and gluten-free liquid sugar from brown rice, a healthier kind of rice. It is also popular with the name rice malt syrup, rice syrup, or maltose syrup. 

Brown rice syrup is best for baking and cooking, though you must adjust the measurement because it is half as sweet as sugar.

If you are not into the sweeter side, the brown rice syrup can be drizzled on top of pancakes or waffles. But I would enjoy it as toppings for ice cream and dessert.

Yacon Syrup

For those managing their weight, yacon syrup is your dietary sweetener. Yacon syrup came from the roots of the yacon plant grown natively in the Andes mountains in South America.

Fresh Yacon roots with yacon syrup on wooden board

The best thing in this syrup has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years in treating diabetes and helping with kidney and digestive disorders.

To reap all the good things in yacon syrup, you may use 1-2 teaspoons an hour before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Add it to your drink or toppings to the dessert, but you can not use it in cooking or baking. 

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is most popular by its name, lo han guo or Swingle fruit; it comes from Southern China and has no calories.

Monk fruit natural herbal remedy and sugar

Though monk fruit is intensely sweet, ranging from 15- to 200 times sweeter than table sugar. 

I recommend adding monk fruit to baked goods because it is stable in high temperatures.

However, an adjustment to the recipe is needed because the volume and texture difference is naturally inherent in table sugar.

Also, monk fruit is best to add to morning drinks such as coffee, tea, milk, and vegetable and fruit juice. 

Dates and Date Paste

Dates and date paste are great alternatives to traditional sweeteners because they contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

Dates Tamarind Chutney

Centuries ago, the sweet fruit of the date palm trees was used as a natural alternative to more traditional sweeteners.

The date paste is made by mashing dates into a thick syrup-like consistency that can be used instead of other sweeteners.

Dates can be eaten raw right out of their skins or cooked into various dishes like stews or curries for added sweetness without adding extra calories or fat content compared to traditional sugars.

It is excellent for sweetening baked goods and sauces without adding artificial flavors. 

Natural Sweeteners

  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Agave Nectar or Agave Syrup
  • Stevia
  • Molasses
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Yacon Syrup
  • Monk Fruit
  • Dates and Date Paste
  • Fruit Juices
  • Conclusion

What is Your Sweetener of Choice?

The list of natural sweeteners with descriptions of each provides a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising health. For example, honey is a traditional choice for its versatility and flavor, while maple syrup adds depth to any dish.

Coconut sugar has an earthy sweetness that can be used in baking or as part of drinks; agave nectar is perfect for those looking for low-glycemic options, and dates provide the most natural form of sweetness with added fiber and nutrients. 

With today’s wide option of natural sweeteners plus their health benefits, you can easily cut your sugar intake and lead a healthier lifestyle. Explore our comprehensive list of options with detailed descriptions to find the perfect fit.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.