16 Popular Sugar-Free Candies, Ranked Worst To Best

Candy is the guilty pleasure of many adults, but if you want to avoid sugar, you may think you have to give it up. However, there is a solution: sugar-free candy. The question is, are they any good? We've tried 16 sugar-free candies and ranked each one from worst to best to help you decide.

In moderation, sugar-free candy can be a welcome treat. The FDA designates food as sugar-free when each serving contains no more than 0.5 grams of sugar. This is also called zero sugar. There are three options for sugar replacement. The first is artificial sweeteners, which are processed in a lab. They have nutritional value and are often FDA-approved, such as aspartame. Because some experts claim they pose risks such as weight gain or disease, these have largely fallen out of favor.

The next category is sugar alcohol. These are gaining popularity in the candy market. These include erythritol, maltitol, and xylitol. Some people complain these cause gastrointestinal discomfort, like bloating, gas, or diarrhea. The final replacement category for sugar is novel sweeteners. These are usually derived from plants and include allulose, monk fruit, and stevia. For this ranking, we considered the types of sweeteners used, as well as how well the flavors of these sugar free candies mimic the classics.

16. Life Savers Pep-O-Mint Sugar Free Mints

If you love classic candy, Life Savers are the original leave-in-your-pocket-or-purse hard candy treat. We were disappointed to discover that sugar-free Life Savers are only available in mint-flavored varieties. Pep-O-Mint Sugar Free Mints are flavored with both sorbitol and aspartame. This is the only candy on this list that contains aspartame. Many advertised that it did not use this sweetener, demonstrating how far it has fallen out of favor.

The label also clearly points out a warning for people diagnosed with phenylketonuria. This candy contains phenylalanine, an amino acid that anyone with that condition should avoid. Of all the candy we tried, these had the worst flavor. It was mintier than other brands but not nearly as much as the original. It had a heavy artificial flavor, most likely thanks to the aspartame. Hopefully, Life Savers will reinvent this candy with a better quality sweetener.

15. Russell Stover Sugar Free Fruit Chews

Fruit chews are the delicious take on old-timey taffy. Its fun and chewy flavor lingers in your mouth for long-lasting flavor. We initially thought it was great news that Russell Stover makes a sugar-free version.

Unfortunately, this candy did not stand up to other fruit chews. This may be caused by the fact that sugar is an essential ingredient to provide the right taste and consistency for taffy and fruit chews. You have to replace those sugars with a high amount of sugar alcohols or digestion-resistant carbohydrates.

These fruit chews are sweetened with maltitol syrup but also have ticagel natural gum, which contains sucrose. According to the label, this adds a "negligible amount of sugar." Finally, this candy contains Red Dye #40, which research has linked to both ADHD and other issues.

But the biggest problem with these fruit chews is the taste and the price. Several pieces melted and stuck to the wrapper but were perfectly chewy. While most flavors had a fair amount of fruity taste (except strawberry), the candy also had a strong stevia flavor and an unpleasant aftertaste. At nearly $10 a bag, we could not recommend these candies.

14. Russell Stover Sugar Free Candy Coated Chocolate Peanut Gems

Candy-coated chocolate peanuts are a beloved treat around the country, so we were excited to try a sugar-free version of this popular item. We noticed that Russell Stover doesn't make any version of Gems with sugar, but the sugar-free gems are available with or without peanuts. Online grocers show that ingredients contain shellac, a food coloring made from an insect's larva cocoon. There was no mention of this ingredient on the bag we purchased, but if you eat vegan, you'll want to know that if you're purchasing this candy from Russell Stover.

That said, these candies were a disappointment. It lacked either a rich chocolatey or nutty flavor. Plus, it had a slight aftertaste. Like the Chews, Gems are also colored with Red Dye #40. We think these had a hefty price for both the low quality of ingredients and the taste and cannot recommend this sugar-free candy.

13. SmartSweets Red Twists

Next up is SmartSweets' take on twisted candy, which some people inaccurately label licorice. Red Twists contain allulose and stevia as sweeteners, providing a more nutritious option than traditional candy. The ingredients also include plant-derived fiber, so it can even provide nutrients your body needs. It also helps reduce the candy's impact on your blood sugar.

SmartSweets claims that its type of product testing is more comprehensive than other companies. It tests for a particular sugar molecule that other companies leave out of testing. This is why you'll see a few grams of sugar in one serving of its products. The implication is that other companies may contain those sugars; in total, one serving of Red Twists contains 2 grams of sugar.

Red Twists were less firm than expected and weren't very sweet compared to their conventional counterparts. There was a slight and unique aftertaste, almost a little like sour candy flavor, so we could not put as high up on the list as we would have liked.

12. York Zero Sugar Dark Chocolate Candy Peppermint Patties

If you love chocolate but also love a refreshing blast of mint, Peppermint Patty is your go-to candy. Launched in 1940 by the York Cone Company, this candy had to break perfectly down the middle when snapped or the batch would not be released. York Patties aren't as firm anymore, but texture is still an important part of the experience.

Hershey's Zero Sugar line is sweetened by maltitol, a sugar alcohol. How does this sugar-free York Peppermint Patty measure up? The ads for the traditional Peppermint Patty depict the feeling of being wrapped in frosty mountains of snow to illustrate the "blast" of cool, minty flavor. Sadly, this sugar-free version doesn't deliver on that promise. The mint flavor is mild, even bland, and was rather disappointing. The dark chocolate shell had a good taste, but overall, the Zero Sugar York Peppermint Patty did not come close to satisfying when compared to the original.

11. Lily's Milk Chocolate Style Peanut Butter Cups

Just like Hershey's, Lily's offers a low-sugar peanut butter cup. Interestingly, Hershey's bought this company in 2021 despite having launched its own Zero Sugar line that same year. Lily's candies are sweetened with erythritol and stevia extract. It also contains dextrin, a non-GMO dietary fiber, and inulin, a soluble plant fiber. That means that Lily's candy contains a fair amount of fiber. All of the dairy used by Lily's is free of growth hormones (rBST), and many of its items are Fair Trade Certified. 

Once you open the wrapper, you are met with a delicious chocolatey smell, which delivers a rich, smooth taste. The peanut butter was on target in taste but a bit too mild. The candy wasn't bad, but not as enjoyable as the original Reese's or even the Zero Sugar version. We give Lily high grades for manufacturing a candy you can feel good about, but we had to knock a few points for the high price of a small bag. We are also curious to see if Hershey's changes the formula of Lily's products over the next few years.

10. Lily's Creamy Milk Chocolate Style Bar

If you're in the mood for a straight-up milk chocolate candy bar but want a change from Hershey's, Lily is a great substitute. This brand is often regarded as one of the better healthy chocolates because of its mix of flavor and high-quality ingredients. The milk chocolate bar is sweetened with dextrin, erythritol, and stevia. It contains 6 grams of saturated fat, but that is not necessarily unhealthy.

The chocolate taste of this candy bar is silky smooth, leaving a pleasing flavor in the back of the throat. Oddly, it had a better aftertaste than while eating. Still, we think Lily's is a great substitute if you love your milk chocolate and are not a fan of Hershey's Zero Sugar. It is also a bit pricey for those quality, non-GMO ingredients. Lily's is available in most major grocery stores, but it is a bit harder to find than Hershey's Zero Sugar.

9. Hershey's Reese's Zero Sugar Chocolate Miniatures Peanut Butter Cups

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are probably one of the most beloved Hershey's candies. But although this iconic candy was inspired by Hershey, it was invented by someone else. In 1928, Harry Burnett Reese invented the peanut butter cup as part of an assortment. It was a fan favorite, and the rest is history. Hershey bought the H.B. Reese Candy Company in 1963.

Upon opening, the familiar chocolate and peanut butter scent wafted up ... just like the full sugar version. The taste, however, was far less sweet, even if you're not a fan of high sugar content, although the chocolate was rich and milky. The peanut butter had a good mouthfeel but it was drier than the original candy, which impacted the consistency. That may explain why it seemed like the flavor clung to the back of the throat — not necessarily a bad thing. Like all the Zero Sugar candies, these are available at a good price point; therefore, we recommend these peanut butter cups.

8. SmartSweets Sweet Fish

No candy list is complete without a take on fruit-flavored gummy fish. SmartSweets makes these low-sugar treats with allulose and stevia, similar to its Red Twists. Thanks to the testing, these treats earn a label of 3 grams of sugar per serving.

But where the twists failed to measure up, Sweet Fish hits the nail on the head — almost. Its berry flavor faithfully reproduces that of original Swedish Fish, but there is the barest hint of Stevia aftertaste. Still, this candy was very enjoyable, full of good flavor, wonderful chewiness, and even that faithful gummy berry scent.

We'd prefer to see these sold in resealable bags. If exposed to air for too long, the candy fish may harden, but you can try to finish them in one sitting. The bags do contain a fair amount of fish, so you may want to share! SmartSweets, in general, are a little harder to come by in grocery stores, but you can find Sweet Fish in most areas. It is also available to purchase online.

7. Werther's Original Sugar Free Hard Candies

Dating back to 1909, Werther's Original Candy may have been on the shelf at your grandparents' house — or even great-grandparents' — homes for many years. Its advertising campaigns even focused on bringing generations of family members together.

However, the sugar-free version did not come around until nearly 100 years later, in 2005. These hard candies feature a sugar alcohol called isomalt. It's smooth and rich yet mildly flavored. It's not overly sweet, but, considering its tiny size, it did last a fairly long time with a satisfying caramel flavor.

Werther's Sugar Free hard candies are a faithful reproduction of the original and are available at a reasonable price. Go ahead and bring a few bags next time you visit your older friends and family members. We bet they'll appreciate it. And you might find yourself stocking up on it for your own eating pleasure.

6. Evolved Almond Butter Cups

If you are dedicated to clean, sustainable food, Evolved candies are a good fit. The company launched in 2012 with the mission of making candy that doesn't compromise its ingredients. Evolved contains organic Jerusalem artichoke fiber, which can improve gastrointestinal health by promoting good gut bacteria. This prebiotic fiber helps to control glucose, making this an excellent choice for people living with diabetes. Evolved sweetens its products with organic monk fruit. Its candies have certifications from Beyond Celiac Gluten-Free, USDA Organic (for most ingredients), and Rainforest Alliance. 

What about the taste? The almond butter in these cups is rich and creamy, with excellent flavor. The cup is deeper than most, providing a lot of flavor. The chocolate is not very sweet, but we suspect it has a high cacao content. Evolved's Almond Butter Cups are a great feel-good and healthy candy, but it's a bit elusive. You should be able to find Evolved at Whole Foods and better-quality or natural grocery stores. The price point for individual cups is comparable to or better than other organic nut butter cups; however, you can get a good deal online.

5. Choc Zero Dark Chocolate Almond Keto Bark

Chocolate bark, so named for its bumpy resemblance to tree bark, consists of a flat sheet of chocolate covered with a layer of another item. The most popular is peppermint bark, which is often associated with the Christmas season. While Choc Zero does carry holiday-themed candies in season, its Keto Bark candies are available all year. These are made with non-GMO-resistant dextrin and sweetened with monk fruit. Dark Chocolate Almond Keto Bark is the most widely available choice.

Choc Zero uses non-GMO-resistant dextrin, so it does contain 5 grams of dietary fiber and uses monk fruit as a sweetener. The chocolate also includes Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, which may contribute to the delicious flavor. The almonds are small and evenly distributed throughout the bark for crunch in every bite, but it was a bit dry. 

Choc Zero makes all its dark chocolate without dairy and on a separate production from its milk-based products, so these bars are truly vegan-friendly. While not certified by the organization Fair Trade, this brand is recommended by The Food Empowerment Project, which recommends vegan chocolate products from sources free from human exploitation. Choc Zero costs more than conventional candy, but we think the quality makes it worth the price.

4. Chocolove XO Almonds & Sea Salt in 60% Dark Chocolate (No Sugar Added)

Chocolove is a premium chocolate brand specializing in ethically sourced options. This company traces the cocoa beans it uses back to the farmer, using non-GMO verified and Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa ingredients.

XO bars are named for the extra fiber they contain (X) and the fact that they have zero sugar added (0). They are sweetened by inulin from chicory root fiber, featuring only 1 gram of sugar. The almond and sea salt bar uses 60% dark chocolate.

While not very sweet, these bars deliver a rich chocolate flavor. The dry roasted almonds give this bar a deliciously nutty flavor, so we recommend it for almond fans. There is only a hint of sea salt, which is appropriate for a less sweet candy. These bars are priced a bit high, but we think they are a great bargain for what Chocolove delivers: low carb, high fiber, no traditional sugar, keto-friendly, and sustainable.

3. Hershey's Zero Sugar Milk Chocolate Candy Bars

Hershey has added many of its chocolate candy flavors to its Zero Sugar lineup. Instead of trying all of them, we went with the original classic: Hershey's milk chocolate candy bar. While the Hershey name is synonymous with milk chocolate, founder Milton Hershey did not invent this blend, though he is credited with making milk chocolate candy popular and readily available.

The Zero Sugar Chocolate Bar has a long history to live up to. How did it taste? Hershey's iconic milk chocolate flavor comes through in this candy bar, but it's a bit less sweet than its counterpart and not quite as melty. The flavor sticks to your mouth but dissipates faster than the traditional bar. All in all, this was a delicious candy without a hint of aftertaste. It's a guilt-free way to enjoy Hershey's classic milk chocolate candy taste.

As a chocolate option, we felt that Hershey's Zero Sugar Chocolate Candy bar was everything you'd expect out of a candy, minus the sugar. It tasted closer to the original than any of the other chocolate brands. Given its longevity and its appeal to anyone who loves milk chocolate, we felt it earned a position in the top three sugar-free candies.

2. Pur Mints

The Pur Company claims its products are made for everyone because they "meet any dietary restriction." It achieves this by using xylitol as a sweetener. Some studies have shown that it can prevent tooth decay. Although further research is recommended, it is not harmful like conventional sugar.

We put Pur Mints in the second spot because everyone needs candy they can feel good about. Plus, just about everyone can eat Pur since it is safe for vegans, people with a diagnosis of diabetes, and anyone eating a keto-friendly diet. With its resealable pack, Pur is small enough for your back pocket so you can have them on hand whenever you need a cool candy experience or to freshen your breath.

Pur's taste and minty experience blew sugar-free Pep-o-Mint Life Savers out of the water. We thought it contained just the right amount of spearmint. Biting into it was as bitter and cool as you'd expect in a mint. These mints were an excellent experience and an affordable, healthful option we recommend for anyone.

1. Twizzlers Zero Sugar Strawberry Flavored Twists

We were hoping that a classic candy that's available nearly everywhere would earn the top spot, and Twizzlers Zero Sugar fit the bill better than any other candy we tried! Twizzlers is a popular movie theater candy that doesn't compare to its competitors — and with good reason. A range of Twizzler flavors, as well as being featured in "Back to the Future," "Home Alone," and even an episode of "Friends," launched this candy to popularity.  That's a tall order to live up to, but Zero Sugar Twizzlers surpassed our expectations!

We chose this candy for our number one spot because there was no discernable difference between these Twizzlers and the full-sugar version. It was the best imitation of any original sugared candy, including product and package size for the price. You'll open the bag to the familiar scent of these movie night treats. A similar size to its sugared version, Zero Sugar Twizzlers has the right mouthfeel, consistency, and near-perfect chewiness. So go ahead and enjoy this guilt-free, long-lasting, full-flavored candy that earned our top recommended candy for people avoiding sugar.


These candies reviewed were initially chosen for their availability and popularity. These brands are readily available at major supermarkets, including Giant Foods, Weis Markets, and Whole Foods. Our first metric for ranking was taste. Candies that are a substitute for sugar-based candy, such as nut butter cups, were compared against the flavor of the original sugar-based or popular version. If there was no precedent, taste and richness were the main components. Candies were also judged on whether the sweetener left an overpowering taste. 

Next, we looked at additional ingredients, the quality of the replacement sweetener, and whether it contained any health benefits. Finally, we reviewed the cost. Was the candy a good bargain? If not, was there a good reason for the high cost, such as premium ingredients or special certifications? There were many options, yet more that we wish were for sale. Here are the top 16 sugar-free or low-sugar candies, ranked from worst to best.