15 Refreshing Diet Soda Alternatives Free Of Aspartame

There's been a lot of buzz about diet soda in the news lately, specifically those containing the artificial sweetener aspartame. According to a recently published finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, aspartame is "possibly carcinogenic" to humans. With cancer being one of the leading killer diseases across the globe, lots of people are looking to lower their risk by cutting aspartame out of their diets. Unfortunately for many of us, that means giving up certain beloved diet sodas. 

Breaking a soda habit is hard enough, but coming up with replacement beverages doesn't have to be. Stock up your fridge with these options to make your transition easier. Even if you find you can't kick the can completely, adding some variety to your beverage rotation will at least keep your hydration game on point and provide any guests to your home a plethora of options to choose from when they come to visit.


It's hard to compete with water as the top beverage. It's abundant and widely available. Whether you choose mineral water, bottled, or filtered tap, you can't really go wrong. It has long been understood that drinking enough water is crucial to your overall health. It helps you maintain proper kidney function, keeps your skin aglow, and might even aid in weight loss. By replacing your diet sodas with a refillable water bottle, you'll be doing your whole body a favor (not to mention cutting back on plastic and aluminum waste with the reusable bottle).

While it might be a little difficult for your tastebuds to make the switch from artificially sweetened sodas to water, you can give your H2O a little boost by including some natural flavorings. Cucumber water is a refreshing and healthy option that is commonly found in spas around the world. All you need is to slice up a cuke and let it steep. The light flavor of the cucumber is just enough to add brightness and interest to the water. Plus, it never hurts to feel like you're pampering yourself.


A few years ago, there was a seismic shift in the grocery store. Suddenly, massive swaths of aisle real estate became dedicated to bubbly water. No matter where your allegiance lies, be it with Polar, LaCroix, Bubly, there is no shortage of seltzer brands to choose from. Commercially available seltzer water comes in a rainbow of flavors, from the traditional lemon, lime, and cherry, to the more elaborate cocktail-inspired flavors.

The great thing about seltzer water is how convenient it is. In the same way that you grab a soda on the way out the door, you can just as easily swap it out with a can of flavored seltzer. The bubbly tingle you crave with soda is right there and the flavors are on point. You'll never find yourself lacking in selection.

If you want to take a greener (and more economical) turn, there are plenty of options for making seltzer at home! SodaStream machines are a popular choice if you want to make your own bubbles. There are tons of popular SodaStream flavors available in concentrates, so you can mix and match until you've concocted your signature seltzer flavor.

Cranberry juice and seltzer

Cranberries are a superfood, no doubt about it. Bright red and reminiscent of the holidays, cranberries are potent in flavor. There are plenty of health benefits of drinking cranberry juice, from improved gut health and digestion to fighting the formation of plaque on your teeth. They're also high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In order to avail yourself of these benefits, though, you want to make sure that you're drinking pure cranberry juice and not cranberry juice cocktail. Pure cranberry juice doesn't contain any additional sweeteners and has a powerfully tart flavor.

Drinking cranberry juice straight might not be to everyone's taste, however, throwing a splash of the potent beverage into a glass of seltzer water with a squeeze of fresh lime creates a truly refreshing drink. It hits multiple flavor notes that will have you saying, "Diet, who?"

Cranberry's flavor plays well with lots of different flavors, from citrus to ginger, to the herbaceous notes of rosemary. You'll look extra fancy and get to stretch your mixology muscles without going near a bar.

Botanical iced teas

Iced tea is a classic refresher. You can buy yourself a can of Arizona, or you could brew your own fun blend. Starting with a base of black, white, or green tea, you can infuse botanicals and herbs with your own fresh ingredients. Chamomile, for example, has a very bright and distinctive flavor. It can often be purchased at grocery or health food stores in its dried form. Incorporating the dried chamomile into your tea leaves will give you a beautiful, floral beverage that will bring sunshine with every sip.

There are other botanical ingredients that you can doll up your tea leaves with, too. Birch bark lends a familiar, soda-like flavor to your tea, while rosehips will make it taste more robust. Lavender is a great addition if you want a soothing sipper, and lemongrass is a fun variation of the typical lemon-wedge accent. You can also pick fresh herbs that you might already have growing in your garden, such as rosemary or mint, and muddle them into your tea to allow the natural oils to perk up your brew.

Citrus in seltzer

Sometimes simplicity is key. Plain seltzer with a few slices of citrus is a timeless delight that just relies on the freshness of the fruit and the effervescence of the seltzer. Citrus fruit isn't just limited to your standard lemons, limes, and oranges. Grapefruit is an underrated fruit whose flavor brings a unique twist to the familiar citrus tang. Sliced kumquats resemble tiny oranges and have both a sweet and tart flavor. Blood oranges are visually striking and flavorful.

In order to get the most flavor out of your citrus fruits, be sure to roll them under your palm on a countertop to release the oils and juices. Also, if you're keeping the rind on your citrus, be sure to give your fruit a good scrub. You can also pair your citrus with a layer of herbal infusion by sticking a spring of rosemary, thyme, or a few leaves of sage into the mix.

Nimbu pani

If you've never heard of nimbu pani, you're seriously missing out. This refreshing Indian lemonade is much more than your standard pitcher of Country Time. You can use either lemon or limes as the citrus base, as they're basically interchangeable in most Indian recipes. Fresh herbs, such as mint or lemon balm, can be muddled along with grated ginger and toasted cumin seeds to deepen and add layers to the flavors.

The ingredient that truly sets nimbu pani apart is the addition of black salt, a volcanic, mineral-heavy salt that gives it the unique flavor it's known for. Traditionally, this drink tends to be more spicy and salty. A pinch of sugar does take the edge off the citrus but not enough to be overly sweet. In Asian countries where nimbu pani is popular, the recipe can vary not just from region to region but from person to person. Almost like a coffee order, everyone takes their nimbu pani just slightly differently. Have fun finding your own perfect balance of tangy and salty while keeping yourself hydrated. 


Fermented foods have begun developing quite a buzz around them. These include things like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha, which are rich in probiotics and promote gut health. Kombucha, in particular, has soared in popularity and become increasingly available in stores and supermarkets. The fermented tea has a light, natural fizz that comes from the developing bacteria and yeast and can contain traces of alcohol, which give the beverage a kick.

Kombucha can be made with either black or green teas, which gives it not only the benefits of probiotics but also the antioxidant goodness of tea leaves. Add fruit juice to sweeten and deepen the flavor of the kombucha, or brew your own, a process that takes about 12 days as the yeast and tea ferments, giving it that trademark sour, bubbly tang. 

Brewing kombucha allows customization of the flavor, mixing and matching different fruit and tea blends. Reuse the SCOBY (or bacterial mother) between batches, much like a traditional sourdough starter.

Herbal mocktails

Looking to get fancy with a diet soda replacement? Try flexing the mixology muscles with some mocktails. Tonic water with muddled basil and a squeeze of lemon will keep everyone refreshed and feeling bubbly, but without all the added baggage of aspartame and alcohol. As a jumping off point, start by going for a virgin Moscow Mule or the timeless Shirley Temple. Feel free to get fancy.

Mocktails are a great substitution for daily diet sodas because they permit the opportunity to get creative. Experiment with an ever-increasing line-up of alcohol-free spirits that have begun flooding the market, adding seasonal herbs and fruits, which can be sliced, mixed, and muddled into soda water or tonic. 

Honestly, a beautifully garnished and balanced mocktail in the hand looks so much more elegant than a can of soda. Make large batches of mocktails, call over some friends, and have a hangover-free get together.

Cocktail bitters in soda water

Often seen behind the neighborhood bar wrapped in paper, bottles of cocktail bitters are a ubiquitous tool of the practiced mixologist. Originally used medicinally, bitters are a blend of herbs and spices that traditionally aided in digestion (a well-known industry cure for hangovers is several shakes of bitters into ginger ale to settle a stomach). But in recent years, folks have come to embrace these humble ingredients as a refreshing beverage too, simply added to soda water.

Angostura bitters are the most popular, harnessing a bitter orange base flavor. As the world of bitters has expanded, however, a wide range of botanical flavors has emerged. Chocolate, celery, and cherry bitters are popular variations. There are also floral and spice-forward bitters that bring botanical flavors to seltzer. There's no rumbly tummy necessary to enjoy a bitters and soda water; for those craving something bubbly and not-too-sweet, it's the ideal beverage.

Coconut water

Is there a treat that screams "tropical vacation" as loud as a fresh coconut, split open and straw stuck inside? Sadly, tropical vacations can sometimes be few and far between — but coconut water is never further than the nearest grocery store. There are lots of different brands to choose from, some better than others.

Be careful not to confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Water is the lighter, more hydrating liquid found in the center of the coconut; milk is created by blending the white coconut flesh and the water, creating a cream typically used in cooking and baking. 

Coconut water is a great, light-tasting hydration choice. Drink it plain, or mix with seltzer or fruit juice. Either way, it's high in potassium, electrolytes, and magnesium, making it a healthier choice than diet soda. Muscles and skin will be appreciative, and the added nutrition is a great refresher after a workout.


A tentpole of the little kid economy, lemonade is so easy to mix up that children do it every summer to make pocket money. With only three ingredients (water, sugar, and lemon), lemonade is a versatile drink that signifies a season of carefree, lazy days in the sun.

There are tons of variations on lemonade that takes citrus in all sorts of different directions. Sweeten it in different ways that don't involve plain white sugar with, say, a swirl of honey or maple syrup; muddle in some sweeter fruits like mango, pineapple, or cherries. Or temper the sourness inherent to the lemons by adding herbaceous flavors, such as basil or sage.

Some people, inevitably, will crave carbonation in their lemonade. Satisfy this craving by topping the lemonade with a splash of soda water or citrus-flavored seltzer. The bubbles can add a fun, fizzy lift to the nostalgic, beloved beverage.

Iced coffee with natural sweeteners

When it comes to iced coffee, everyone seems to be allied to either Dunkin' or Starbucks. But iced coffee is an ideal year-round beverage, it can be brewed very easily at home, and since everyone has their own specific iced coffee order, it's so much easier to customize in a home kitchen.

For those who take their iced coffee sweet, but are trying to steer clear of aspartame, there are lots of natural sweeteners that can be substituted. Date syrup has a natural caramel flavor, while honey dissolves easily in liquid and won't leave a gritty sludge at the bottom of the cup. Maple syrup has a flavor all its own that naturally plays well with the flavor of coffee, or throw in brown sugar or a swirl of molasses if seeking a deeper flavor that doesn't skew too sweet. Ditching aspartame doesn't have to muck up the entire morning routine — just embrace creativity.


Once upon a time, it seemed like the whirring sound of the blender was as synonymous with the morning routine as a crowing rooster; but these days, smoothies aren't just for breakfast anymore. Packed with vitamins and nutrients, smoothies help fill folks up and keep them energized throughout the day. They're great for replenishment after a workout, and they're easy to make ahead of time for dispatching later in the day.

Use nut milk, dairy milk, kefir, or fruit juice as the base, then blend in nearly anything in the fridge to make a refreshing, healthy beverage. There are tons of ingredients that can instantly make a smoothie more nutritious. From leafy greens to spoonfuls of bee pollen, it's easy to build a drink, but sometimes it is best to keep it simple and easy. Strawberries, almond milk, and ice are really all that is needed to create a fun, refreshing smoothie without needing to resort to artificial sweeteners. 

Thai iced tea

Thai iced tea is a creamy, frozen drink replete with warming spices. By blending sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, star anise, ice, and tea, it's easy to create the perfect drink to sip on while eating a spicy curry or enjoying the last few hot days of summer. These distinctive spices, mixed with condensed milk, give the drink a delightful sweetness and body absent from regular iced teas or iced coffees.

For those who might find sweetened condensed milk too sugary, replace it with half and half or cream and a swirl of honey or date syrup. Pour the milk into a pan and add the spices, allowing those flavors to steep into the milk. Cooking the spices into the milk helps to more thoroughly incorporate the flavors. The level of warming spices can be adjusted to any preference, and coconut milk can be substituted to give the iced tea an additional layer of refreshing flavor.

Diluted fruit juice

Fruit juices are delicious and easy to make at home. But even those that are freshly-squeezed can be loaded with sugars, which tend to dehydrate and spike blood sugar. To enjoy the natural goodness of fruit juice without getting loaded down with excess sugars, consider diluting the fruit juice.

Pineapple and orange juice are delicious and loaded with vitamins, but the same benefits can be had without sacrificing flavor by simply replacing half the juice with either plain or sparkling water. Fruits and vegetables that have naturally high water content (like watermelon or cucumbers) are also a smart way to dilute more sugary fruits, counterbalancing the sweetness without losing nutritional value.

The sugar in fruit typically scratches the same itch that often has people reaching for soda, but it satisfies while also providing potassium and vitamins that would otherwise not be along for the ride. Add a splash of soda water to scratch that bubble itch as well, and the result is another diet soda alternative your whole body will appreciate.