Diabetes-Friendly Dessert Recipes

Published on 
June 18, 2024
October 13, 2022
Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD
Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD
Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD

If you have type 2 diabetes and are making some dietary changes, you may wonder, “Will I ever be able to eat a cookie again?” It can be hard to say no to desserts, especially when it comes to celebrations, holidays, or special events. But there are plenty of diabetes-friendly desserts and options for those eating low carb — it’s just about tweaking the ingredients to fit into your individual diet plan. 

Did you know? Nutrition is a powerful tool to not only manage, but actually reverse, type 2 diabetes. Learn more and see if you’re eligible for Virta Health's type 2 diabetes reversal treatment.

Why low carb desserts for diabetes?

Carbohydrates and sugars cause an insulin response. Fat, on the other hand, does not impact insulin.

That’s why we substitute with low carb ingredients. Just because a dessert is low carb, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. When looking for a low carb dessert recipe, the main ingredients that will require substitutions or modifications are flour (we can substitute almond flour for white flour), sweeteners (replace sugar with a low carb sweetener of choice), and liquids (swap milk for heavy cream or almond milk).

Because carbohydrate restriction can lead to rapid decreases in blood sugar and blood pressure, Virta strongly recommends getting medical supervision before making any dietary changes if you are on medications for blood sugar or blood pressure. A physician can help you safely reduce your medications so that they don’t drive your blood sugar or blood pressure too low. Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hypotensive (low blood pressure) episodes can be very dangerous.

What should you look for in dessert recipes if you have diabetes?

When looking for a low carb dessert recipe, the main ingredients that will require substitutions or modifications are flour (substitute almond or coconut flour for white flour), sweeteners (replace sugar with a low carb sweetener or sugar alternative of choice), and liquids (swap milk for heavy cream or almond milk).

Desserts in moderation

While there are plenty of tasty options for low carb desserts and it would be easy to include them in your everyday meal plan, it’s still important to practice moderation with these foods. Not only can they be calorically dense, they also can contribute to your total carb intake for the day and it’s important that a majority of carbs come from non-starchy veggies instead of desserts. Remember to look at your short-term goals and consider how often including a dessert is appropriate – this will be different for everyone. 

Although low carb desserts will not impact glucose as significantly as traditional desserts, it’s usually still best to include them only on occasion. Because each person has an individual response to certain ingredients like low carb sweeteners, make sure to check your blood glucose before and after eating so you know your tolerance to these foods.

There are some quick options if you need something small to curb a sweet craving like dark chocolate (80% or darker), fresh berries with heavy cream, or sugar-free Jello. If you’re looking for substitutions for some of your favorite dessert items, here are a few of our top recipes.

Diabetes-friendly desserts: top substitutes for your favorite dessert items

Peanut butter cookies

We love these easy three-ingredient peanut butter cookies. A simple mix of eggs, low carb sweetener, and peanut butter will be a tasty substitute for their traditional, carb-heavy counterpart.

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

Chocolate zucchini cake

This Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a perfect low carb alternative to traditional chocolate cake. You could also use this recipe to make cupcakes or low carb muffins. Unsweetened cocoa powder gives this recipe a rich chocolate flavor without adding extra sugar.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

Handmade chocolates

These handmade chocolates utilize a sugar alternative to keep them low carb. Butter and coconut oil add fat to the recipe to stabilize blood sugar and make these chocolates more satisfying than traditional truffles.

Theresa’s Handmade Chocolates Recipe

Pecan pie

This pecan pie recipe is perfect for the holidays. A mixture of coconut and almond flour keep this recipe low in carbohydrates, while still keeping everything we love about pecan pie: a flaky crust and gooey filling.

Pecan Pie Recipe

Mason jar ice cream 

There’s nothing better than ice cream on a summer day. This sugar-free mason jar ice cream is not only tasty… it’s also very cute. It’s a favorite of Virta patients.

Mason Jar Ice Cream Recipe

Coconut cheesecake 

Macadamia nuts and coconut make up the crust of this low carb cheesecake. It’s the perfect recipe to celebrate birthdays, holidays, or any occasion.

Coconut Cheesecake Recipe

Strawberry “pretzel” salad

This one may sound strange…but it’s delicious! Think of it as a layered cheesecake bar with strawberry jello. Like a twist on a low carb strawberry shortcake! 

Strawberry “Pretzel” Salad Recipe

Bundt cake

This bundt cake recipe with glaze is a decadent low carb alternative to cake – perfect for a special dessert or as a quick snack with morning coffee. Top it with some chopped nuts for a beautiful presentation! 

Camy’s Bundt Cake Recipe

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

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