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Last year, I sent out an email to everyone who had purchased the cookbook to see which stevia extract was the best-tasting, least bitter product out of the vast array that’s currently on the market. You guys kept sending in emails with suggestions for different brands of stevia to try, so I went out and bought them all! I tested 11 different stevia extracts, and now I feel like a crazy cat lady, only with bottles of white powder in place of fluffy, adorable balls of fur.
Why did I undertake this expensive and time-consuming experiment? Because I didn’t want you guys to deal with the frustrating experience of buying and trying a multitude of stevias in hopes of finding one that wasn’t bitter. Quitting sugar is one of the most difficult yet transformative journeys to undertake, and the right sugar-free sweetener can make or break that experience.
You might still be wondering what all the fuss is about stevia. Why go to all the trouble of finding a good stevia as opposed to just using another sugar-free sweetener? Here’s your answer: Stevia is an invaluable sweetener for anyone who is trying to cut back on their sugar intake. Here are four reasons why I still love stevia after 7 years of sugar-free baking:
1. It’s safe* and diabetic-friendly, with no harmful side effects. With zero calories and carbohydrates, it’s one of the two natural sweeteners (the other being erythritol) that has no impact on blood glucose levels.
2. It’s exceptionally sweet, which makes it cost-effective. A little bit goes a long way.
3. It plays well with other sweeteners. Stevia never tastes quite right when you use it by itself to sweeten baked goods. However, when you combine it with erythritol or xylitol, it’s magical!
4. It tastes better than artificial sweeteners… if you buy the right brand!
*There are stories floating around the internet that those with ragweed allergies could be sensitive to stevia. This claim has not been substantiated in the scientific literature.
There are so many stevia brands out there, all making wild claims about tasting “just like sugar,” when in fact all stevia extracts are not created equal! I still remember that fateful date when I drove to the nearest health food store and excitedly purchased my first bottle of stevia powder, only to get home and find out it tasted like licorice-flavored failure. I felt defeated and discouraged. If the friendly folks over at the Low Carb Friends forum hadn’t clued me in to NuNaturals being the best stevia brand, I might have gone right back to a steady diet of Dr. Pepper and Pop Tarts. With the old, wonderful NuNaturals stevia extract, we were able to create decadent sugar-free substitutes for our old favorite treats, ranging from a frozen coffee drink that tasted like the Starbucks kind to a sugar-free chocolate cake that rivalled Duncan Hines.
And then 2013 happened.
Alas, the delicious NuNaturals stevia we all knew and loved was no more. In 2013, the manufacturer stopped producing the extract, so the company switched to a different formulation of stevia. After a few loyal readers alerted me to the change with emails and comments, I set out on a quest to find the next best stevia product.
Scroll down for the results of the Ultimate Stevia Taste Test!
The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test
I searched Iherb.com, Amazon, and small natural foods companies for months to find all of the best-selling stevia products currently on the market. The following are the results of comparing the stevia extracts, side by side, in a series of blind taste tests.
The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test: First Round Elimination
Not shown: NuNaturals, KAL Natural, Mood & Mind Stevia Powder
The following stevias were immediately removed from the testing line up. They were either bitter in flavor or very dilute in their level of sweetness:
KAL Natural Stevia Extract (too bitter)
KAL Pure Organic Stevia Extract (too bitter)
Mood & Mind Stevia Powder (too weak)
NuNaturals NuStevia Pure Extract, 2014 formula (too weak)
Stevita Simply-Stevia (too bitter)
SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Extract (too bitter)
The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test: The Final Four
From left: JAJA Stevioside, Whole Foods 365 stevia powder, Stevia Select stevia, Trader Joe’s stevia powder
The stevia extracts pictured above made it to round 2.
Whole Foods 365 Stevia Powder (not available for purchase online)
These four stevias are all good tasting, but there are slight differences in flavor profile. Trader Joe’s Stevia and 365 stevia are very similar in flavor and level of sweetness, with the TJ’s stevia having the edge over 365 brand flavor-wise. Stevia Select and JAJA Stevioside are stronger than TJ’s, but they are slightly more bitter. You can use any of these in the old Healthy Indulgences recipes, but you’ll need to use double or triple the amount of the following stevias to achieve the proper level of sweetness.
1. Stevia Select Pure Stevia Powder (updated 6.30.16)
When combined with other sweeteners (e.g. erythritol, xylitol, or honey), Stevia Select pure stevia extract comes out on top. It’s very potent (just 1/16 teaspoon will sweeten a cup of coffee, blended with a little erythritol) and has the least perceptible aftertaste of any of the other stevias. It’s easy to use too much and cross over into bitter territory, so I recommend blending 1/8 teaspoon Stevia Select with 2 Tablespoons erythritol to dilute the sweetness. Use this mixture in coffee for 100% natural, pleasant-tasting sweetness. Don’t forget to pick up a tiny spoon set to measure it out!
After a year of further testing, Trader Joe’s stevia has been bumped to second place. It has a clean sweetness and no lingering aftertaste, but it’s less potent than Stevia Select. You can buy it here, or you can purchase it at your local Trader Joe’s store for $9.99/oz. Just be sure to get the 1 oz bottle. The larger bottle of TJ’s stevia contains lactose (sugar!) as a bulking agent.
If you’d like to use TJ’s stevia in older Healthy Indulgences recipes (pre-2014) and the recipes in the cookbook, use twice the amount of stevia called for.
Here are the stevias I decided not to purchase based on the lack of reviews and/or the high percentage of unfavorable reviews (3-, 2-, and 1-star):
BulkSupplements Pure Stevia Powder (14% unfavorable reviews)
California Gold Nutrition, Certified Organic Stevia (not enough reviews)
Frontier Natural Products Organic Stevia Powder (51% unfavorable reviews)
Hard Rhino Pure Stevia 90% Steviosides Extract Bulk Powder (not enough reviews)
Superior Source Sweet ‘N Natural Stevia Pure Nutritional Supplements Powder (not enough reviews)
Trim Healthy Mama Stevia (no reviews from a third party site)
Zenulife Health Global (not enough reviews)
Have you tried any of the above listed stevias, or a stevia that’s not mentioned here? If so, let us know what you think of it!
This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing products through the links, you can help support the site! I purchased these products myself and was not compensated for any of these product reviews. All opinions are my own.