10/29/2014 08:32 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2014

Sugar vs. Artificial Sweetener: Which Wins In A Taste Test?


Artificial sweeteners are one of those eternally controversial topics in the food world. Some people swear by them, some people condemn them and new studies are constantly being released about their effects. On top of all the debate, new sugar substitutes seem to be coming out every year. Not the biggest fans of substitutes in general here at HuffPost Taste -- we opt for butter over margarine and real or no meat over the fake stuff -- we usually choose natural sugar over artificial sweetener. That said, we're certainly not strangers to sugar substitutes, and are always curious about the potential merits, faults and most importantly, taste of artificial sweeteners.

Your brain may know the difference between artificial sweeteners and sugar -- but do your taste buds? And which sweetener do they prefer? Some people may choose sweeteners based on the calorie content. While a zero-calorie sweetener might appeal to certain people, others will stay far away. If only taste and not calories were a factor, however, which sweetener would these people choose? We rounded up our most discerning HuffPost editors and put their taste buds to the test.

We tested 10 sweeteners, including real sugar and sugar in the raw, by adding the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar into eight ounces of black tea. We steeped one pot of tea and divided it into 10 cups, so that every sweetener was working its magic in the same exact substance. We then asked our editors to rate the taste on a scale of 1 to 10. We tested only powdered sugars, so we left out liquid varieties like agave or honey.

We also asked the editors to share which sweetener, if any, they typically use in their beverages. None of the reviewers use artificial sweeteners to sweeten their drinks -- they typically prefer sugar, honey or unsweetened beverages.

It turns out, according to our reviewers, real sugar tastes better than any artificial sweetener. It also appears that people hate erythritol, the key ingredient in the two least favorite sweeteners. Finally, we learned that Sweet 'N Low has cream of tartar in it. We'll leave you with that puzzling fun fact.

Here's how artificial sweeteners and real sugar stacked up, according to our blind taste test.

As always, this taste test is in no way influenced or sponsored by the brands included.

Taste Test: Artificial Sweetener Versus Sugar

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