So maybe Tom Philpott convinced you to wean yourself off aspartame, or maybe you just think chemical-based sweeteners taste oogy. (Okay, ALL sweeteners are chemical-based, but you know what I mean.) Well, the folks at Salon have taken one for the team, eating a lot of gross cookies so you can know which sugar substitute is best.

Agave syrup

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free.
  • Stacks up to sugar: Barely any point to substituting. It has a low glycemic index — meaning it won't give you a "sugar crash" — but requires so much processing that some forms might as well be corn syrup. And it has just as many calories as sugar for just as few nutrients.
  • Cookies tasted: "Chewy" and "raisin-like." Nice if you like that sort of thing!

Brown rice syrup

  • Stacks up to sugar: A bit more nutritious. Even after processing, it has a vitamin or two, plus you won't get the sugar crash because it's full of complex carbs.
  • Cookies tasted: "Unpleasantly gummy." One tester compared them to a bad dream.

Stevia

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

  • Stacks up to sugar: Better for the sugar-sensitive (and much, much sweeter per volume). Stevia doesn't raise blood sugar, and it has no calories.
  • Cookies tasted: Crumbly, with an "odd chemical aftertaste." Sugar doesn't just sweeten things, it also serves a structural function in baked goods, so sugar-free treats can't always hold it together.

Date sugar

  • Stacks up to sugar: It's like sugar-plus. You still can't have it if you're sugar-sensitive (diabetic, for instance), but in addition to sucrose it's full of yummy nutrients.
  • Cookies tasted: "Very crumbly" but "nutty, not super-sweet." Salon declared this one the pick of the litter.