Ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereal is prepared by coating dried cereal pieces with a powdered low-sugar sweetener such as a high-conversion maltodextrin or low-conversion corn syrup that includes a high-potency sweetener. Liquid oil pre-coats the cereal for better adhesion of the low-sugar sweetener. The coating has a sugar content of less than 10% yet provides taste, texture, appearance and bowl life that mimics RTE cereals presweetened with a sucrose-based coating.