Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, and while I generally prefer products that use natural sweeteners, if I need to use an artificial one, sucralose is one of my favorites for a variety of reasons.
Sucralose is keto-friendly as it is not very bio-available, and unlike the sugar that it is chemically synthesized from, the majority of any sucralose ingested (73-89%) is not digested or metabolized by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (1). This causes it to not only have no measurable affect on glycemic control (2), but also makes it noncaloric. It has been found however to potentially affect blood glucose levels in the extremely obese (3). Since the goal of a ketogenic diet is to prompt the body to burn fat for energy by essentially starving the body of glucose, sweeteners which do not affect blood glucose levels such as sucralose are ideal. Hurrah for Science!
Sucralose is synthesized from sucrose (sugar) by selective chlorination which substitutes three of sucrose’s hydroxyl groups with chlorine atoms. In effect, sucralose is molecularly-modified sugar, however it is different enough that it should be considered an entirely different synthetic molecule. As you can see from the side-by-side comparison below, three of sugar’s hydroxyl groups have been replaced with chlorine atoms:
Sucralose was approved in 1998 by the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (4) for use as a tabletop sweetener and in products such as baked goods, gelatin, chewing gum, frozen dairy desserts, nonalcoholic beverages, and fruit juices. The FDA also permits sucralose as a general-purpose sweetener for all processed foods. Common brand names of industrially-produced sucralose-based sweeteners include Splenda, Sukrana, Cukren, Zerocal, Candys, Nevella, and SucraPlus.
Not many know this, but I really enjoy baking. Five or so years ago when beginning to maintain a ketogenic diet, I largely gave up baking as I thought at the time that I simply could not eat many of the things that I enjoyed baking, such as pizza dough from scratch, fresh breads in many different varieties, and sweet baked goods such as cakes, brownies, and cookies.
Recently though I have begun re-exploring the world of baking. While I certainly bake fewer things from scratch, I do still bake occasionally from scratch and more frequently from mixes, some examples of which I’ll be detailing in upcoming articles on related recipes and products. Because sucralose is stable under heat (up to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit) and over a broad range of pH conditions, it is frequently used in sugar-free and low carbohydrate baking mixes. Because it is so stable, it is also used in products that require a lengthy shelf life. Sucralose is available in granulated form that allows an equal-volume substitution with sugar, however the texture in baked goods can be noticeably different than goods baked with sugar. Because sucralose is not hygroscopic, baked goods can end up drier and can be less dense than they would be if made with sugar. I have personally experienced this when using it as a sugar substitute in multiple recipes, however many industrially-produced baking mixes do not seem to experience this issue as severely as when using granulated sucralose.
That said, some recent studies have identified potential issues when baking above 350°F or 120°C. One study identified that heating glycerol (found in fat molecules) alongside sucralose produced chloropropanols which may increase risk of cancer (5).
In conclusion, sucralose is one of the more well-studied of the artificial sweeteners and there is a wealth of information online for you to better inform yourself about it. I would suggest starting with the Wikipedia sucralose page and proceeding from there.