Sugar vs. Sweetener – Would a sugar cookie by any other name taste as sweet?

Most of us have had the classic sugar cookie – whether it’s during the holidays or if we just want a fun cookie to cut out into shapes and decorate. However, would sugar cookies made with sugar substitutes instead of actual sugar taste as sweet? We’re about to find out.

We used a classic sugar cookie recipe for this experiment to test out the differences in handling and flavour properties between sugar and sugar substitutes. Based on the results from a previous taste test, we selected the two sweeteners that tasted the most acceptable to be used for this baking experiment: Equal (aspartame) and Splenda (sucralose) (these sugar substitutes are also the ones that are most readily available in the baking aisle of most grocery stores).

The method for this experiment was simple: Make three different batches of sugar cookies except switch the sugar for Equal and Splenda for each batch to see if there were any differences during the mixing, rolling and baking process.My theory:

I think all three products will behave similarly during the baking process however, I think that the cookies made with sugar will brown more as I hear that sugar substitutes don’t have the same browning properties that sugar has.
Taste testers:
Please taste each cookie and comment on flavour, texture and appearance and which sweetener you think it’s made with (sugar, Equal or Splenda).The Reveal:
Thank you everyone for posting your comments. Here are the results:

A: Splenda (sucralose)
B: Equal (aspartame)

My Thoughts:
I have to do the second reveal for this taste test and give them the cookies that were made with actual sugar. When I didn’t include them in the initial taste test, the taste testers didn’t suspect anything. But now that I’m giving them the real sugar cookies – I’m thinking that the taste differences between the cookies will be painfully obvious.

The Bottom Line:
Although when tasted in their powdered/unbaked form, sugar substitutes taste a lot sweeter than actual sugar. However, it appears that they lose their sweetness properties when baked. They both aren’t all that stable in the baking process with Equal losing more of it’s sweetness during the baking process. Splenda was able to maintain more of it’s sweetness and I would choose this sugar substitute when baking. However, neither product is as good as regular, granulated sugar. The cookies made with real sugar were definitely sweeter but the biggest difference was the texture – they were firmer and crispier than the cookies made with sweetener.

13 thoughts on “Sugar vs. Sweetener – Would a sugar cookie by any other name taste as sweet?

  1. Hmm, I didn't think it would be this difficult to tell the difference. But if I'm correct it's really the aftertaste that is a give away. I think A = Equal and B = Sugar. Can't wait for the big reveal!

  2. Cookie A is a little sweeter and not quite as dry as cookie B. Cookie B has a funny after taste. My guess Cookie A is Splenda and Cookie B is Equal.

  3. Beautiful photo – nice work Liz!

    My thoughts…
    The cookies looked identical. Cookie A was sweeter than B. Cookie B seemed a little bit drier.

    A – equal
    B – sugar

    Cookie A –
    Cookie B –

  4. The "wild card" brings that taste test to a whole new level! Who's the great mind behind that?!? =)

    TASTE – cookie A is sweeter than B
    Color – both cookies are similar
    Texture – same again

    My guess is

    Cookie A = sucralose
    Cookie B = aspartame

    Can't wait to see the results!

  5. A and B look so similar, almost identical!
    The textures are both fine and grainy – more like shortbread than sugar cookie.

    A smells a bit more "fragrant" than B.
    A has a SLIGHT sweetness, B has none.
    B is terrible!

    I know the identity of both so I won't comment 🙂

    I have a bad sweetener aftertaste in my mouth right now – I think from both of them!

  6. A-good appearance, good texture, flavour too sweet.
    B-good appearance, uneven texture and tasted a little bland after tasting A first.

    Now for the big question which is which A-is a sweetener I'll say Splenda and B is sugar.

  7. I personally found Cookie A to be a bit more sweeter than Cookie B however in terms of texture I found Cookie B having more of a powdery after taste nonetheless both very similar in taste and might I add quite tasty.

  8. A- not too sweet, dry and cumbly..I think it is sugar
    B-not as sweet as A and a bit drier. I thought I noticed a bitter after taste at the back of my mouth. I think it is equal.

  9. All the cookies had the same appearance.

    A – the strongest aftertaste. My least favorite. I guessed Equal.

    B – less of an aftertaste. Guess is Splenda.

    C – crisper texture with a nice crunch. No aftertaste (yay). Took the aftertaste of A and B out of my mouth. My guess, sugar cookie.

  10. From Cathy…..

    guessing, B is Splenda; A, was a bit sweeter, hence the rationale….
    Great texture…I believe sugar would be crisper? darker?
    However, both A and B would be highly recommeneded!

  11. I think A is sugar. A is sweeter, moisture, crisper texture and
    B is less sweet drier slight aftertaste I am guessing equal.

  12. A had a mild sweetener aftertaste – I'm guessing splenda.
    B left a strong sweetener aftertaste – I'm guessing equal.

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