Agave nectar has become a popular sweetener in the past decade or so. Not only is it sweeter than sugar, but it’s a bit better for your body, too.
If you’re looking for some alternatives to agave to use in your recipe, there are several suitable substitutes such as white sugar, honey, and date syrup.
Agave is low on the glycemic index, meaning it does not raise blood sugar levels very much when consumed. This is because it’s low in glucose, but on the contrary, it’s high in fructose. It also contains small quantities of vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B.
The Best 11 Agave Syrup Substitutes
Agave is 30% – 40% sweeter than sugar, so you can use less of it when substituting. One cup of sugar is equivalent to roughly ⅔ cups of agave. Keep in mind that if you’re swapping agave for white sugar, increase the quantity of liquids in your recipe slightly.
For example, if you’re cooking with oil, water, milk, tomato sauce, coconut milk, etc., add a touch more than the recipe calls for. This will prevent your meal from getting dried out.
Honey can be used in place of agave in anything from marinades to cookies. Honey is an easy substitute: it has a 1 to 1 ratio for agave. It’s just as sweet and is still a liquid, so you don’t have to alter any other ingredients if you’re baking.
Honey can be a little bit of a pain to maneuver because it’s so sticky. I tend to stay away from honey if I’m making mixed drinks because it doesn’t tend to blend well by just shaking it. It sticks to the bottom of my cup/shaker, and I end up with a big glob at the bottom of my glass.
Maple syrup is a convenient substitute for agave because most of us already have some in the pantry! Maple syrup can be added in a 1 to 1 ratio for agave. Certain maple syrups are sweeter than agave, so depending on yours, consider cutting back to ⅔ cup of maple syrup for every one cup of agave.
It’s not uncommon to see people using agave instead of maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. I personally think there’s nothing better than some pure maple syrup on my pancakes, though.
Date syrup is another natural substitute for agave. Like agave, it’s derived from a plant and contains traces of vitamins and minerals. You can find date syrup and most natural grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Date syrup has a relatively strong flavor and isn’t my go-to substitute for agave, which has a pretty untraceable taste. Date syrup is delicious on yogurt, in smoothies, and on top of oatmeal.
Brown sugar provides a vanilla caramel-like taste to whatever you use it in. There is a common misconception that brown sugar is the same as raw sugar – it’s not. It does, however, taste similar.
Brown sugar can be used in place of agave at the same rate as white sugar. That is, 1 cup of brown sugar can replace ⅔ cup of agave.
Corn syrup is simply corn that is processed and made into liquid glucose. Corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup that we hear about being horrible for your health. High fructose corn syrup is corn syrup that has been further processed to turn glucose into fructose; hence it is sweeter.
Corn syrup can be used in place of agave at a 1 to 1 ratio. It is not as low on the glycemic index as agave, but it does make for a suitable substitute in most recipes.
Molasses can be used instead of agave at a 1 to 1 ratio. I like molasses because it adds a caramel-like flavor, but that being said, it can be too strong-tasting for certain recipes. For example, you won’t see me adding molasses to my marinades where agave or brown sugar are used.
If you must, you can use vegetable glycerine as a substitute for agave. It’s about half as sweet, so you’ll need to use more to get your desired flavor. Vegetable glycerin is used in baking because it helps harden certain treats, and it’s quite sticky.
Vegetable has higher calories than sugar and isn’t considered healthy, so I don’t recommend using it habitually in place of agave.
Sorghum Syrup is a great natural substitute for agave. It’s less sweet, so use double the amount of agave you’d normally use.
Sorghum syrup is derived from the Sorghum plant. The benefits of using this substitute (other than trying something new) are that it has a similar texture to agave, so nothing else in your recipe should need to be adjusted. If anything, lessen the amounts of your other liquids since you’ll be using more of this than agave.
Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit has grown in popularity over the past few years. It is derived from the Iuohon Guo plant. It’s way sweeter than agave and white sugar, so go easy on it!
Stevia is just as sweet as agave and just as easily found. You can replace agave for it at a 1 to 1 ratio! Stevia is considered healthier than white sugar for having fewer calories and leaving less plaque on your teeth!
Tips & Tricks
- Remember to consider your recipe when making these substitutions. Certain sweeteners on this list have strong flavors of their own that could alter the taste of your recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is agave or honey healthier?
- Honey is considered healthier than agave by most standards. It has several health benefits like antioxidants and the ability to help soothe a cold. Agave is a natural winner for people with diabetes because it has a very low glycemic index.
I hope one of these agave substitutes works out for your recipe! Some, like Monk Fruit powder, are on the healthier side. Some, like white sugar and brown sugar, definitely aren’t considered health foods but are conveniently found in most household pantries.