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Pillsbury Sugar-Free Brownie Review and Recipe

Virginia has been experimenting in the kitchen for almost 50 years. She loves to share her recipes, cooking tips, and reviews.

No-sugar brownie bites using Pillsbury mix and Cool Whip

No-sugar brownie bites using Pillsbury mix and Cool Whip

What Is the Best Sugar-Free Dessert Mix?

Hands down, Pillsbury makes the best-tasting sugar-free baking mixes on the market. The Chocolate Fudge Brownie mix is no exception. In fact, it may be one of the best no-sugar desserts I've ever had. With a rich, deep chocolate taste and a light crisp on the outside, these treats make you feel pampered, not deprived.

What do you think?

Pillsbury Mix Directions

One of the best parts about these mixes is that they are easy to make. The original directions call for you to add to the mix:

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 TB water
  • 1 egg

After stirring together thoroughly, you bake in a 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes. Mixed as directed, a serving of 1/12 of the pan of brownies, or about 2 1/2 brownie bites is 150 calories. That makes a very satisfying dessert at a reasonable "calorie cost."

Healthier Variations

I like to see if I can make box mixes healthier. I always reduce the oil in brownie mixes to 1/4 cup at the most. Sometimes, I replace the oil altogether, using applesauce instead.

Lower Fat and Low Cholesterol Version

Here is my lower fat variation, mix as directed using:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 TB water
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute

With these substitutions, the calorie count is 125 for 1/10 of the pan of brownies, or about 125 for three brownie bites.

Fat-Free and Cholesterol-Free Version

If you want, you can replace all the oil with applesauce. This makes the brownie a bit flatter and with a denser, moister texture. Here is the ingredient list:

  • 1/3 cup applesauce (I use an unsweetened kind)
  • 3 TB water
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute

The calorie count for this version is about 100 for 1/10 of the brownie or three brownie bites.

Brownie Topping Ideas

These rich brownies do taste great on their own, but if you want a topping or to make a fancier dessert try one of the following:

  • No-Sugar Cool Whip: Not only is this dessert topping easy, but it also gives a nice contrasting flavor of vanilla to the chocolate of the brownies. Put a small slice of strawberry on top for garnish as I do in the photo, and you have a company-ready sugar-free dessert.
  • No-Sugar Chocolate Frosting: Purchased icings never taste as good as homemade. Like most canned icings, Pillsbury Sugar-Free Chocolate Frosting has a preservative taste, it also has a non-caloric sweetener aftertaste. However, the icing is sweeter than I had expected, so it could fulfill the sugar cravings of someone who longs for that deep sugar plunge. Certainly, it is easy enough to take off the lid and ice the brownie with this canned icing. If you are looking for a more traditional birthday gooey treat, this might do the trick.
  • Pudding Frosting: For a less intense sugar taste, try making a frosting using Sugar-Free Pudding. Make the pudding thicker by adding just 1/2 of a cup of skim milk to the 3 oz box of instant pudding. Or you can make a thicker version of the Cooked Sugar-Free Pudding by using 1/2 the amount of milk required.
  • Low-Sugar Ice Cream: Serve slices of the brownie with no or low sugar ice cream for a great treat.
  • Brownie Pie Sundae: Mix it up by baking the brownie in a pie crust, then serving it with ice cream and hot cooked sugar-free chocolate pudding on top. Add Cool Whip, and you have a terrific dessert. I served this to my husband on his birthday!

Hints for Dieters and Diabetics

These brownies taste so good and dense that you feel like you've had a great dessert even with a very small portion. I like to make them as brownie bites, using mini muffin cups. The small size of the brownie bites makes them cook fast and helps with portion control. Two or three of these equals one serving and makes you feel like you've really splurged.

Homemade Recipe

Of course, using a baking mix saves some time. I like having mixes in the pantry always ready to go. However, it doesn't take a lot more time to make up your own homemade brownies. Moreover, if you want to save some time, you can always make batches of the dry ingredients and put them in a ZipLock bag to use as your own "homemade" baking mixes.

These mixes can also make a great gift for someone. The best part is that you can choose the sweetener you add to the mix. See my table for the differences between the sweeteners.

This recipe has dense, sweet, and very chocolate brownies. They do not rise as well as the Pillsbury Brownies, but they do taste as good. You can experiment with using a bit more baking powder or using baking soda to make them rise more. Different no-calorie sweeteners can affect the rising too.

Calories: 33 calories per brownie bite (if you make 30 from the mix), or 82 calories for 1/12 of a pan of brownies.

VirginiaLynne's Diet Brownie Bites

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

15 min

30 min

30 brownie bites


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup granulated sugar-free sweetener, Splenda, Equal or your favorite
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 TB oil or melted margarine
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, (no sugar added)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put mini-muffin cupcake holders in a mini muffin pan (about 24–30). Spray each cup with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together. Add the eggs, oil, milk, and applesauce and mix until well blended.
  3. Put about 1 TB of brownie mix in each mini muffin cup. Bake for about 10–15 minutes or until the brownies pop back when touched. Serve with sugar-free ice cream, topped with sugar-free whipped topping or serve with sugar-free pudding.
  4. If you make 30 brownie bites, then each one is 33 calories. Or 1/2 of the brownie mix is 82 calories.

Sweetener Comparison


Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal)

4 calories per gram

Approved in 1996 by the FDA, which set an acceptable daily intake as 50 mg. per day or about 4 cans of soda (70 percent of all aspartame is used in diet sodas) Aspertame is 80 or more times sweeter than sugar.

The FDA has found no correlation between using aspartame and cancer. It is approved for pregnant women.

Not used in baking. Some people are sensitive and may have headaches, dizziness or skin reactions.



FDA approved in 2002. Neotame is a chemical which comes from aspartame. It is 8,000 times sweeter than sugar.

FDA sees no cancer risk. It is approved for diabetics and pregnant women. It can be used in baking.

Some groups worry it may be as toxic as aspartane because it also breaks down to menthanol

Saccharin (Sweet'N Low)


Made from petroleum, saccharin is 300 times sweeter than sugar. In 1977, the FDA considered a ban on saccharin when rats who were fed huge amounts got cancer. A warning label was added to Sweet'N Low but dropped in 2000.

Has been used the longest of all the no calorie sweeteners and is the most studied. Can be used for baking and fine for diabetics.

Some groups remain opposed to use of Saccharin, especially by infants, children and pregnant women, suggesting connections with irritability and muscle dysfunction

Sorbitol and Mannitol

2.6 calories per gram

Approved by FDA in 1971, these sugar alcohols are usually taken from corn syrup but these are found in fruits naturally.

Can be used in baking.

Can cause upset stomach and have a laxative effect, especially if eaten in large amounts.



Purified Rebaudioside A which is taken from Stevia leaves is approved by the FDA even though Stevia leaves are not. Stevia is a South American plant product which has been used there for years. It has been used in Japan for 30 years also.

Some research suggests it can lower blood pressure and sugar levels. It can be used in baking and is considered safe for pregnant women and diabetics.

When sold as a diet supplement, it isn't regulated by the FDA.

Sucralose (Splenda)

0 (3 per tea. with added bulking agent)

Approved in 1999 by FDA. 600 times the sweetening power of sugar.

After many studies, the FDA concludes no risks of cancer or other problems. It can be used for baking but has an aftertaste

Maltodextrin is added to make Splenda more like sugar granules and this gives it 12 calories per TB or 3 calories per teaspoon. Label may not list these calories.


2.4 calories per gram

FDA approved in 1963. Can be taken from many foods but generally taken from corncobs as a corn byproduct.

Good for teeth and may help accute middle ear infections. Doesn't affect insulin levels. Can be used for baking.

May upset digestion or have laxative effect. Is toxic to dogs.


16 in 1 tea.

Tips on Portion Size

Making sure that you take any desserts in small portions can be a good idea. Not only because portion control is always a part of a diet plan, but also because some noncaloric sweeteners can cause gas, bloating, and even diarrhea, especially if you overindulge. Some of the Amazon reviewers of Pillsbury's mix noted that the sweetener in that dessert caused them problems. The Splenda used in Pillsbury's no-sugar brownie mix generally causes fewer problems but still should be eaten in moderation.

© 2013 Virginia Kearney