Erythritol (Ah-REETH-ra-tall) is currently one of the most popular sweeteners. It is promoted as natural, zero calories, tooth-friendly, well-tolerated in the digestive system, and zero effect on blood sugar levels. On the other hand, it is less sweet than table sugar and creates a cooling sensation when dissolved in the mouth—which feels like we are sucking a mint (without the mint flavor).
On my quest to discover all sweeteners containing erythritol across the country, I found over a hundred products. Most are blends with another sweetener.
Sweetener manufacturers combine ingredients to make their products look and taste like table sugar. Blends of erythritol with high–intensity sweeteners such as stevia, monk fruit, or sucralose can fix the reduced sweetness of erythritol. Some products have a mix of erythritol with low-digestible sweeteners, such as xylitol and inulin, which minimizes the cooling effect caused by pure erythritol.
In this blog post, we explore forty pure erythritol products sold in two forms: granulated and powdered. Please refer to my previous blog post 60 Facts About Erythritol to learn its source, production methods, appearance, taste, degree of sweetness, digestion & metabolism, culinary roles, and safety.
All forty products listed in this post contain 99.5 percent pure erythritol. Their crystals might be coarse or fine.
Coarse crystal is labeled with terms such as granular, granulated, or crystalline erythritol. It looks like regular table sugar.
Fine crystal is labeled as powdered or confectioners erythritol. As the name implies, it looks a lot like powdered sugar. Because it has smaller crystals, it dissolves more easily than granulated erythritol. We can use it as a powdered sugar replacement in frosting and for a smoother consistency in soft, spoonable desserts such as mousse.
Since granulated erythritol tends to be less expensive and is widely available, you might want to make your own powdered erythritol by pulsing the granulated in a food processor or coffee grinder.
When replacing table sugar by pure erythritol, keep in mind that it is 30 to 40 percent less sweet than table sugar. Taste preference varies so start with less and add more until you reach your optimum sweetness level.
Measuring cups? Use 1 1/3 cups of erythritol to replace one cup of sugar. Since taste is subjective, you might have to add a little more, such as 1 1/2 cups instead.
Measuring teaspoons (tsp)? 1 1/3 tsp of erythritol = 1 tsp of table sugar. Start with that proportion, but if that's not enough to you, try 1 1/2 teaspoons instead.
Except for two brands, all erythritol products sold in stores are made in China from non-genetically modified (non-GMO) corn.
Made in China from non-GMO corn: The vast majority.
Made in the United States from corn: Hoosier Hill Farm Erythritol.
Made in France from apples and pears: Get Chia Erythritol.
Pros of Erythritol
√ A zero calorie sweetener because most of the amount we ingest is not metabolized.
√ A natural sweetener because it is "derived from a natural source" and "is found in nature".
√ Looks and tastes a lot like table sugar.
√ Non-hygroscopic (does not absorb moisture) so you can store on the table in a sugar bowl.
√ Stable at high temperatures and a wide pH range, so use anywhere table sugar is used.
√ Makes the taste of other sweeteners more "sugar-like," as it is a flavor enhancer.
√ Tooth-friendly as it does not cause tooth decay.
√ The polyol with the least negative digestive effects, such as laxation and bloating.
√ Zero glycemic index as it is not metabolized into glucose; no impact on blood sugar levels.
√ Zero "net carbs" as it offers 4 grams of non-digestible carbohydrates per serving (4 grams).
Cons of Erythritol
X Not a 1:1 sugar replacement: It is almost 30 percent less sweet than table sugar, so expect to add 1.3 times more than table sugar to get the same sweetness.
X Digestive issues: Be prepared for possible digestive discomfort if you over-consume, ingest quickly in concentrated form, or eat by itself in an empty stomach.
X Cooling sensation: The cooling effect erythritol causes when dissolved in the mouth is an undesirable distraction, but it may be a positive effect if we have it with mint flavor or beverages. This effect is an issue if we eat it by itself or sprinkle it over our foods.
X No browning: Erythritol does not undergo browning during baking and cooking. We can bake with erythritol as we would with sugar—mix it with dry ingredients or cream. It won't brown, but it will result in soft and crispy baked goods.
X Cost: Expect to pay 8 to 40 times more than table sugar—we have to consider that table sugar is sweeter so, not only is it much cheaper, we need to use less than erythritol to get the same sweetness level. To draw a comparison: the cost of erythritol varies from 4 to 20 dollars per pound, and table sugar is an average of 75 cents per pound. Powdered erythritol tends to be more expensive—quickly make your own powdered version by simply grinding granulated erythritol.
X Mixing in water: Erythritol's crystals do not dissolve quite as well as table sugar. Powdered erythritol dissolves more easily than granulated erythritol.
X Recrystallization in cold temperatures: Foods and beverages sweetened with erythritol may form crunchy crystals when refrigerated or frozen. To minimize recrystallization, use powdered erythritol instead of granulated in your recipe or just skip storage by eating it right away.
X Storage: Erythritol tends to form lumps even when we think we properly stored it in an airtight container or resealable bag. That does not mean it is unsuitable for eating. By storing erythritol in your freezer or refrigerator, you avoid clumping.
At the time of publishing, the cost of a pound of pure granulated erythritol varies from 4 to 20 dollars in stores across the United States. Please scroll down to see them all.