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Agave nectar or syrup is a sweetener that has become quite popular in recent years. However, it can be expensive, and some people may not have access to it. Thankfully, there are several agave nectar substitutes that can be used instead.
These substitutes are often just as sweet as agave nectar and can be used in the same way. Here is a list of some of the most common substitutes for agave nectar. But before we discover them, let’s make sure we understand what agave taste like!
What Does Agave Nectar Taste Like?
Agave comes from a succulents like plant which makes tequila and is a popular sweetener in many countries. It is about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar cane and has a lower glycemic index, which has been touted as being great for diabetics or people watching their blood sugar levels. Though recent studies are saying it’s still not the best option.
When used in recipes, agave nectar or some call it agave syrup adds sweetness with a light floral flavor. It can be used as a one-to-one replacement for sugar. If you’re looking for an agave nectar substitute, honey or maple syrup are the two top alternatives, but there is so much more. Keep reading to find out!
Simple and Easy Agave Nectar Alternatives
All the substitutes below will work wonderfully in replacing agave. But keep in mind that ratios might be different for some. For example honey can be a 1:1 ratio swap while stevia will not be.
Another key thing to keep note of is how your recipe is using agave. Yes, all of them use agave for sweetness, but some recipes might be also using it’s stickiness or bulking. This is when it’s important to look at the recipe as a whole. For example granola bars usually use a sweetner that is sticky to help hold things together.
Some of these alternatives are sugar-free. So if you are low carb, keto, or just watching your sugar intake, these substitutes will work great. Also, some of the substitutes are vegan-friendly. So if you don’t want to use honey or agave, these options will be perfect for you.
Honey is one of the best substitutes for agave. This is because it has a similar sweetness, a floral note, and is also a sticky liquid. Honey is a thicker consistency than agave nectar, but because of the similar sweetness it still can be used as a 1:1 substitution.
The biggest difference is that honey does have a distinct flavor than agave. It will come forward in a lot of dessert recipes, drinks, sauces and such. It will be more forgiving in marinades, dressings or when used in small amounts.
2. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is also a wonderful substitute for agave. Like honey it’s also a liquid consistency and sticky. The sweetness level is similar but maple is maple. It will have the distinct flavor, even more than honey. This could work wonderfully in your recipe or be a disaster. Look at your recipe and see if a maple flavor would compliment it or not.
Maple syrup is also a 1:1 ratio for agave.
3. White Sugar
White sugar is the most basic form of sugar and can be used as a one-to-one replacement in most recipes. It will bring the sweetness you need, but it will lack that floral hint. Plus it will not have a thick syrup like consistency. White sugar will be the easiest to have on hand, and will work, but keep in mind it will not have the same abilities and flavor as agave has.
4. Simple Syrup
When it comes to finding an agave alternative, look no further than simple syrup! With a neutral taste and similar consistency, simple syrup works wonderful for drinks, cocktails, and other liquid based recipes.
Simple syrup is able to bring sweetness without altering flavors. Which might be exactly what you need instead of honey and maple syrup.
Now, you might be thinking…I don’t have any simple syrup. Don’t worry! it’s super easy to make. All you need is two ingredients: sugar and water.
Simply mix equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring until the sugar has all dissolved. Once it has cooled, store in a sealed jar or bottle. That’s it!
Simple syrup can be used in a 1:1 exchange in most recipes; but you might have to tweak that ratio on your sweetness level.
5. Light Corn Syrup
When it comes to agave substitutes, corn syrup is a good option. Made from processing corn, corn syrup is sweeter than other sugars, so it can help to maintain a strong sweet taste in your recipe. This is why corn syrup is used in a lot candy making.
Light corn syrup does have a thicker and sticky consistency. So, it is best used as a substitute in recipes where that is important like in baking.
Keep in mind, however, that corn syrup is known for not being the healthiest of sweetener, so if you are looking for a more natural option, honey or maple syrup may be better choices.
6.Brown Rice Syrup
When it comes to sweeteners, brown rice syrup is often overlooked in favor of more common options like sugar and honey. However, brown rice syrup has a number of unique properties that make it worth considering for a substitute for agave.
For one, brown rice syrup is much less sweet than other sweeteners, so it can be a great way to reduce the overall sugar content of a recipe. If that is your goal! The flavor is somewhat nutty, with some people comparing it to butterscotch.
Additionally, brown rice syrup is less likely to crystallize than sugar, making it ideal for creating smooth, creamy textures in desserts like agave would.
And because brown rice syrup is derived from whole grains, and doesn’t contain fructose. So, if you’re looking to cut down on sugar without sacrificing flavor or texture, brown rice syrup is definitely worth a try.
Because of brown rice syrup is less sweet start with 1:1 and go up as needed.
7. Light Brown Sugar Syrup
Do you want to find the closest match to agave nectar? This easy syrup recipe has worked great for when I run out of agave. Unlike simple syrup this uses light brown sugar giving it extra hint of flavor.
** If you don’t have light brown sugar you can use 1/2 cup of regular or dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar instead.
- 1 c light brown sugar
- ⅔ c water
1. On medium heat on stove place the light brown sugar and water in a small pot.
2. Stir continually as you cook for 5-7 minutes. Wait until all the brown sugar has dissolved. Do not boil.
3. Let the syrup cool at room temperature and place in a glass bottle or jar. You can keep this syrup on the counter or in the fridge for longer storage.
Things NOT to use as a Alternative to Agave Nectar
I’m going to be real and upfront with you. I have seen so many sites list of weird ingredients as a substitute for agave. And they just won’t work for your recipe. Unless you want to ruin your recipe. Let’s take a look:
Sure molasses is liquid, thick, and sticky. Hey! Like agave! BUT the flavor of molasses is extremely strong and pungent. It’s far less sweet than agave as well. And you can not use a ratio 1:1. Well, you could, but you will most likely ruin you recipe. Trust me…don’t do it.
Coconut sugar is a brown sugar-like sweetener that has a rich caramel flavor. It’s created in the Philippines and other South East Asian countries, and it’s produced from coconut palm tree sap. Because it has such a distinct flavor it might not do well for a agave sub. Coconut nectar on the other hand would be a better sub, but it does have those caramel undertones.
Sugar-Free Agave Nectar Substitutes
If you are going low carb, keto, or watching sugar intake you might want to try a sugar free option for agave. You can for sure buy keto friendly agave syrups like:
MADHAVA Organic AgaveFIVE
This sweetner is made using stevia, and monk fruit. It does use a small amount of real agave to help give it that flavor. For 2 teaspoons it only has 5 calories and 1 gram of sugar.
Nectevia Original – Stevia Infused Agave Nectar
Nectevia is mixture of stevia and agave, making it 4 times sweeter than agave alone. Meaning you can use a fraction of this stuff and get all that delicious agave flavor with way less calories and sugar. For 1/2 teaspoon it’s 2 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar.
Using Stevia and Monk Fruit
With tons of blends (erythritol, allulose, xylitol) out there you can easily use a stevia or monk fruit blend as a substitute for agave. It won’t be like the options above which are liquid but they will bring the level of sweetness you need to your recipe.
I would recommend reading the back of your sweetner to see if it’s 1:1 ratio for sugar. If so you might need to add a little extra since agave is sweeter.
For drinks even using a liquid stevia or monk fruit would work great. Just remember they can be very strong. Start with a small amount and taste.
My Final Thought on these Substitutes for Agave Syrup
We have gone through numerous agave nectar substitutes. And I have to say my favorite is the honey or maple syrup route. But, if you want to go keto or sugar free those stevia and monk fruit options are fantastic.
Really the best way to find a agave sub that works for you is to experiment with recipes. Find what you like in both taste and texture. And run with it! Happy cooking friends!
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