Fed up with sugar-laden sodas or diet lemonades filled with junk sweeteners? I hear you! That’s why I developed this easy Healthy Sugar-Free “Sprite” (or “7 Up”) copycat: it’s so refreshing, and in the healthiest possible way.
This recipe is so simple I’m almost ashamed to post it, but on the other hand, that’s what I’m all about, right? — simple recipes. Besides, this drink is so good that it would have been shameful to keep the recipe all to myself! Our family totally fell in love with it, and everybody swears it tastes just like Sprite! This is definitely going to be our go-to drink for the rest of this summer.
Tips for making the Healthy Sugar-Free “Sprite”
No tricks or tips needed when it comes to making this recipe; even small kids can do it! Just combine the first four ingredients, add the ice-cold sparkling water, stir gently and enjoy!
And the great thing is, you can adjust the sweetness to taste—unlike store-bought versions, which are always pretty sweet. Just add a couple of drops of stevia, stir, taste, and add more if you like.
Also, if you want a more intense lime flavor, just add more lime juice to taste. That’s it!
Oh yes, there actually is one secret tip: if you use bottled lime juice, the drink will taste even more like Sprite. But since I prefer using fresh ingredients, I still recommend freshly squeezed lime juice—from organic limes, naturally. There are enough toxic chemicals in this world: you don’t need to flood your system with extra pesticides or herbicides.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include some progress photos and a short video on how to make this drink! So, here we go:
Grab all your ingredients.
And a glass.
Pour the freshly-squeezed lime juice into the glass.
Follow with the lemon juice.
Add the powdered erythritol…
…and the stevia.
Stir well until the erythritol is dissolved.
Fill with ice-cold sparkling water, preferably mineral water…
For extra refreshment, serve it on the rocks.
My sugar-free lemon and lime-flavored soda experiments
Actually, this isn’t the first time I developed sugar-free sodas or drinks. In fact, here’s a book full of sugar-free zero-carb drinks I wrote several years ago (here is the Kindle version). For sugar-free summer cocktails, you might want to check this post. And as for sodas, this “Sprite” copycat is the perfect successor to my DIY Diet Dr Pepper recipe.
So, how did I end up with this recipe? I made the first versions of this drink several years ago. I remember I had some leftover lime juice in the fridge, and simply decided to make a refreshing drink out of it. Since lime juice is really sour, I wanted to add a sweetener, and ended up using liquid stevia, since erythritol, even its powdered form, wouldn’t necessarily have dissolved properly.
After adding a couple of drops of stevia, I filled the glass with ice-cold sparkling water. The taste was incredible! Later — exactly four years ago — I improved the recipe, and it appears as Lemon-Lime Flavored Carbonated Beverage in my Healthy Drink Recipes book.
Then, this week, my 7-year-old son suddenly asked me to make this drink. He remembered how tasty it was. Luckily, I had some bottled lime juice in my fridge. I took a glass and added a squirt of lime juice, a couple of drops of liquid stevia and ice-cold sparkling water to a glass and stirred. To our surprise, the taste was just like Sprite! And with only three ingredients!
I’ve always thought you also needed lemon juice to make Sprite, but this version tasted just like Sprite as it was, even though it only contained lime juice. I was so ready to post this 3-ingredient recipe, but then I realized that freshly squeezed lime juice would be better: fresh juice tastes so much better and has more vitamins and other beneficial stuff than bottled juice does.
So I made a version with freshly squeezed lime juice instead of bottled juice. Even though the taste was superb, it wasn’t quite like Sprite. I guess it couldn’t be, because Sprite definitely doesn’t contain fresh juice, or any juice whatsoever: just natural flavor. If you take a look at the ingredients in regular Sprite, they are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate and sodium benzoate. There is nothing natural there! (Well, the natural flavors, maybe, but I shudder to imagine how “natural” they are in reality…)
And the ingredients in Sprite Zero look even worse: carbonated water, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavors, potassium benzoate, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. How can anybody drink that junk!? Or offer that garbage to their kids?
Anyway, back to my experiments. My goal was to provide you with a truly healthy “Sprite” alternative so that you don’t have to drink that commercial rubbish. But since using fresh lime juice didn’t bring me any closer to the taste of real Sprite, I had to go back to the drawing board.
Because Sprite is a lemon-and-lime-flavored drink, I decided to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to my experiment. I really played around with the recipe in the drinks book, and ended up mixing lemon and lime juice.
So, for my next experiment, I used 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 teaspoon lemon juice (also freshly squeezed), 1 cup (240 ml) sparkling water and 10 drops NowFoods Better Stevia Glycerite. The taste was good, but not like Sprite. Actually, my husband and son preferred this version with lemon juice to the one with only lime juice.
Then I realized that the stevia does leave an aftertaste. Since erythritol is quite a neutral sweetener, I wanted to see how it would work with powdered erythritol. I wasn’t sure if it would dissolve, but it was worth trying, I thought.
So, for my next experiment, I used only lime juice, and sweetened the drink with 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol. After pouring in 1 cup (240 ml) sparkling water, the drink was pretty tasteless and not very sweet, so I added an additional teaspoon of lime juice and 2 more tablespoons powdered erythritol. The erythritol dissolved in the drink, which I was really happy about. But I still wasn’t satisfied with the taste. After adding more erythritol I could definitely detect its aftertaste!
Maybe, if I were to mix powdered erythritol and stevia, I’d get pure sweetness without too prominent an aftertaste? I made yet another experiment with lime and lemon juice and powdered erythritol as sweetener. It wasn’t sweet enough, so I added 3 drops stevia glycerite. Now I was getting closer to the taste of real Sprite!
So, using both lime and lemon juice, and both erythritol and stevia as sweeteners, brought me closest to the taste of real Sprite. For my next (and final) experiment I used 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol, 8 drops stevia glycerite, and 1 cup (240 ml) ice-cold sparkling water. Everybody from our family thought this version was closest to Sprite (we actually had some Sprite to compare it to! I never buy Sprite: this was for research purposes only).
I didn’t let it bother me too much that my original idea for 3-ingredient Healthy Sprite Copycat ended up having five ingredients. Even though the 3-ingredient “Sprite” tasted wonderful, my ultimate goal was to develop a recipe that’s as close to Sprite as possible. And I think I succeeded surprisingly well.
Oh yes, I actually want to say a couple of words about why this drink is so good for you. First of all, you need to stay hydrated on hot summer days. This drink certainly does its job as a perfect rehydrator, especially if you use sparkling mineral water: that way you’ll replenish some of the minerals you lose in sweat.
Plus, lemon and lime juices contain a hefty amount of vitamin C. They also contain potassium, a mineral that’s vitally important to our cells and their functions.
Erythritol is a well-tolerated sugar alcohol that usually doesn’t upset your stomach or spike blood sugar levels like some sweeteners do.
When you use natural stevia extract that’s obtained from stevia leaves, you get some benefits of the stevia plant. And the alcohol-free version (glycerite) is great for everybody, from adolescents to older people.
And here’s the recipe:
|In Total (recipe makes 1 serving)
Tips for variations
You can vary this drink to your heart’s content by adding a dash of another type of 100% fruit juice, such as orange juice or cranberry juice. (Don’t worry: the carb count won’t rise too much if you add just a teaspoon or tablespoon. My favorite zero-carb orange flavoring, 100% orange essential oil, is an absolute no-no here, as it’s oil and doesn’t dissolve but just floats on the top of the drink. Yes, I tried it, and other citrus essential oils as well…)
Try different varieties of stevia, too. If orange juice has too many carbs for you, why not use orange stevia, which has zero carbs? You can also try berry stevia, strawberry stevia, or you can get really wild with vanilla, cola or toffee stevia!
For adults, you can make a tasty cocktail by adding some vodka or rum to the drink.
Which variation are you going to make?