HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Instead of straight sugar in pumpkin pie

I was wondering what are some good subsitutes for sugar in Pumpkin Pie. I am thinking of something other than Maple syrup. Could you use apple sauce, apple butter, or fruit juice? I am looking to make the pie to have only a faint sweetness.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My recipe only has condensed milk, tinned pumpkin and a splash of brandy.

    1. Try a brown sugar & molasses combo, or cane syrup, or Lyle's Golden Syrup (a very light cane syrup) if you can find it. Lyle's is great in a pecan pie, too.

      1. I have experimented in the past with reducing the sugar and using a little coconut milk mixed with the condensed milk... and a combo of brown & white sugar.. makes for a little more carmelized flavor, less sweet and the coconut is subtle.

        1. I usually reduce the amount of sugar in most pie recipes because I don't like a too-sweet filling. You can safely go down around 10-20% without affecting the rest of the pie. I haven't tried reducing beyond about 25%, I don't know what would happen if you went below this.

          It's pretty easy to experiment with the filling. Make the pie filling without any sugar, then add pre-set amounts (100%, 75%, 50%, whatever you think will work) to small 1/2 cup (or smaller) ramekins or similar ovenproof cups. Bake at the appropriate temperature until set. Taste and pick the one that suits you. This experiment also allows you to see how the overall texture/taste are affected by the reduction in sugar.

          1. Equal makes a product that's called Sugar Lite, half sugar half equal. I use it for all sorts of stuff -works great! :)KQ

            1. If you use any liquids, you may end up with too much liquid for it to set properly.

              For fruit, I would suggest pears rather than apples. You could roast them if you want a slightly caramelized tone to the fruit sugars in them.

              1. Try date sugar!! It's not quite as sweet, filled with fiber (helps offset GI Index for those that that's an issue) and doesn't change the texture. It's really fantastic and I've used it in brownies without anyone having a clue.

                Good luck!

                1. ooh interesting about the date sugar. i have these natural biscotti-like snacks which i adore...barry's bakery is the brand. fantastic...anyway, they are made with beet sugar which i thought was cool. are these available at most supermarkets?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ceeceee

                    Beet sugar is inferior to cane sugar for certain baking purposes; it's cheaper.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      i've never baked with either. i'm usually a turbinado girl.

                  2. My turbinado is cane sugar, just unrefined. After one disaster with the cheap and awful beet sugar I will never buy it again. Pure cane is the only sugar I buy for baking etc. If the package is not marked Pure Cane or 100% Cane, you are getting beet and beware!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Candy

                      Unless, of course, it's an alternate sugar like date or palm.....btw, found this great page about sugars, how to substitute, what they are. I had no idea some of these existed:


                    2. I like honey in my pumpkin pie.

                      1. I have tried substituting in some buckwheat honey, much to my sister's dismay! But my dad and I really enjoyed it. Buckwheat makes for a really strong flavour...an acquired taste?

                        1. you can use a product called FRUIT SWEET made by a company called WAX ORCHARDS, i believe. great stuff. what it is is three different fruits' juices that have been boiled down (reduced) to a thick, sweet, umm, sweetener. dont fool yourself, its still sugar and will spike your GI and all that, but i can not believe it is no better at all than over-processed white sugar, be it cane or beet or whatever. i love the stuff. i have to order it online but you can find it in some health food shops i hear.

                          1. I'm in with the honey crowd- but it does add a significant quanitity of liquid to the recipe.

                            If you want to add a bit of sweet that will contribute some appropriate autumnal flavors, go for maple sugar- you can use it like brown sugar (or the white stuff) but it has that extra maple syrup flavor that blends so well with pumpkin.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lunchbox

                              agreed with honey, if you dont want to go for maple syrup , honey is close and I actually find that any recipe that calls for sugar is much better with honey anyways (better for your health as well)

                            2. I just made my first no-sugar pumpkin pies, and I reduced some apple juice concentrate. I boiled a can of it down to about 1/3 of the original amount, added a little cornstarch to thicken it, and got 2 pies' worth out of it. My husband tried it tonight and liked it very much. It's not as sweet as your average pumpkin pie. Good luck!