Skip to main content

Paleo Basics & Beyond

The Paleo Pantry:


Avoiding Refined Sugars

One major challenge paleo adherents face comes in the form of refined sugars, which are nearly impossible to avoid in the current food system. White sugar is highly processed; chemicals must be used to purify the cane syrup and turn it into refined sugar. Instead, the paleo diet relies on natural sweeteners. We choose which sweetener to use based on each individual recipe; because each option has a distinct flavor and interacts with other ingredients differently, it’s helpful to have a variety of sweeteners on hand. Below, we list the ones we turn to in the test kitchen.

Restocking Your Pantry


  • Honey

    The flavor of honey, which is made by bees from the nectar of flowers, varies depending on the source of the nectar and on the style of processing. Honey comes in two styles: traditional translucent honey and raw honey. All honey is heated and strained to remove impurities: Traditional honey is strained under high pressure to remove pollen, while raw honey is gently strained, just enough to rid it of wax or debris. We prefer the more nuanced flavor of raw honey (our favorite is Nature Nate’s 100% Pure Raw and Unfiltered Honey). Since it has such a distinct flavor, it is best used in specific applications where the flavor is desirable or won’t be noticed. [Buy on Amazon | Read Our Review]

Pure Maple Syrup

  • Pure Maple Syrup

    Although maple syrup ranges in color and flavor, from mild-tasting light amber to boldly flavored, dark-colored syrups, all maple syrup is produced the same way—by boiling the sap of maple trees. Choose one that best suits your tastes, make sure the ingredient label reads only “maple syrup,” and try using it in our recipe for All-Morning Energy Bars. [Buy on Amazon | Read Our Review]

Perfect Paleo Pancakes

Recipe Paleo Pancakes

These pancakes are fluffy, tender, lightly sweet, and easy to make. 


Maple Sugar

  • Maple Sugar

    Maple sugar is made by boiling the liquid out of maple syrup. Like cane sugar, it is granulated and can be used in a wide variety of applications. We like to use maple sugar in recipes where a maple flavor is desirable, but extra moisture (as would be found in maple syrup) is not. [Buy on Amazon]

Coconut Sugar

  • Coconut Sugar

    Coconut sugar is made from coconut palm flower sap, from which the liquid is evaporated over moderate heat. Like maple sugar, it usually comes granulated. Its flavor is more mild than maple sugar’s, but, like maple sugar, it doesn’t add extra moisture to a recipe. We use coconut sugar (our favorite brands are Madhava and Wholesome Sweeteners) in muffins to give them a neutral-flavored sweetness. [Buy on Amazon: Madhava; Wholesome Sweeteners

Dried Fruit

  • Dried Fruit

    Dried fruits, like dates and raisins, can make great natural sweeteners. Since every fruit has its own distinct flavor profile, it’s important to choose the fruit carefully based on the recipe. Sometimes we puree dried fruit to create uniform sweetness or flavor, but we also use small pieces of dried fruit to provide bursts of sweetness in a dish. [Buy on Amazon | Read Our Review]

Sweet on Snacks

Recipe All-Morning Energy Bars

Finding a paleo-friendly granola bar is tough because so many contain oats, grains, and refined sugars. So we developed a portable snack that’s easy to make and contains only whole, nutritious ingredients.


We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Read Our Guide to Paleo Flours and Baking