Making treats with xylitol

A teaspoonful of xylitolXylitol is a great alternative to sugar. Unlike many artificial sweeteners, it doesn’t have an unpleasant aftertaste and it has a similar sweetness level and bulk as sugar.


Xylitol tastes a little bit different from ordinary sugar. It brings a pleasant cooling sensation into your mouth as it dissolves. This is not a bad thing, though: it complements any mint- or citrus-favoured treats wonderfully by heightening the feeling of freshness present in these flavours.

If you’re using it in your treats with other flavours, it’s not likely you will notice the coolness, especially if it’s just one of many ingredients in the recipe.

How to use xylitol?

Xylitol is very easy to use in cooking and baking. If you’re modifying a recipe which uses ordinary sugar, it’s often feasible to substitute it by using the same amount of xylitol instead.

Although xylitol behaves in many ways similarly to ordinary sugar, there are some differences that are worth knowing about:

  • It doesn’t caramelise in the same way as sugar. So, if you’re planning to make a caramel sauce, you need to use another type of sweetener.
  • It can’t be used to bake anything that uses yeast as the raising agent. Yeast can’t metabolise it, and therefore, the treats won’t rise. Since I don’t use any yeast at all in my baking, this won’t be an issue with my recipes. But if you’re modifying other recipes, do bear this in mind.
  • Baking times can be a little bit longer.

Currently xylitol is only manufactured in a granulated form. If you need it in an icing sugar consistency, make the granulated xylitol finer by whizzing it in a food processor for a few minutes.

Copyright © Tarja Moles 2012. Photo © Tarja Moles 2012

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Tarja Moles is the author of No Naughties: Sweet Treats without Sugar, Wheat, Gluten and Yeast. Visit for free recipes and information on special diets and living with multiple dietary restrictions.