Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a sweetener that comes from the fluid of the agave plant. It varies in color from light to dark and has a sweeter taste than sugar but a more neutral flavor compared to honey. This makes it perfect to use for flavoring everything from drinks to desserts.
Agave nectar tends to be high in fructose, so it’s not the best sweetener option for those watching their sugar intake. So, if you can’t use agave nectar, consider using one of these wonderful agave nectar substitutes to get that same subtle sweetness in your dish.
1. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup, or rice malt syrup, is made from brown rice. It is a thick syrup that is less sweet than agave nectar. It’s a healthier alternative to agave syrup and a good option for those watching their blood sugar.
You can use brown rice syrup to replace agave nectar in everything from baked goods to beverages. But, keep in mind that it is less sweet, so you will need to add more than what the recipe calls for to mimic the sweetness of agave. Adding too much brown rice syrup will likely also alter the flavor and texture of your dish, so use it only when other agave nectar alternatives aren’t available.
1 cup agave nectar = 1 cup brown rice syrup. (Add more if required.)
2. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is made by processing corn. It is sweeter than natural sugars and has a strong sweet taste, so if you’re looking to maintain the sweetness of agave in your dish, corn syrup will prove to be a worthy choice.
Agave can crystallize when added to fudge and pralines, so corn syrup makes for a great substitute. It will act as an interfering agent to help you get the desired results, crystal-free. It can also help retain moisture in baked goods. However, corn syrup can be a touch too sweet, so you should avoid adding it to drinks and other dishes that don’t need as much sweetness.
1 cup agave nectar = 1 cup corn syrup.
Honey has a different flavor profile than agave, but it does share similar sweetness, color, and texture. It is also excellent for balancing out salty food and is high in nutritional benefits, so you can use it to replace agave in a range of sweet and savory dishes.
You can use honey in biscuits, desserts, cakes, and marinades, but keep in mind that it will leave a subtle honey taste that can slightly alter the flavor profile of the dish. It will also bring in a thicker consistency, so it might pose a challenge in the mixing process. You should consider using raw, unprocessed honey to enjoy more nutrients and antioxidants for a health-friendly approach.
1 cup agave nectar = 1 cup honey.
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup has a similar sweetness to agave, but it has its own distinct flavor that isn’t as intensely sweet as agave. It is vegan, has a low glycemic index (GI), and has a wealth of antioxidants, so you can use it as a nutritious substitute for agave nectar.
The unique flavor of maple syrup adds richness to whatever it’s added to, but it works best in baked goods and pancakes. It can create a wonderful sweet-salty flavor when paired with savory foods like bacon, but you should avoid adding it to marinades and dressings as its strong flavor profile will clash with other ingredients in the dish.
1 cup agave nectar = 1 cup maple syrup.
5. Simple Syrup
Simple syrup has a neutral taste and a similar consistency to agave, so you can use it to replace agave in a range of dishes and beverages. It’s easy to make with equal parts water and granulated sugar and keeps well in the fridge, which further adds to its popularity.
You can add simple syrup to many recipes that call for agave nectar, but it works best to maintain the sweetness of cocktails, mojitos, margaritas, and other drinks. However, it will be significantly thinner than agave syrup, so you will likely need to alter the amount to achieve your desired level of sweetness and consistency.
1 cup agave nectar = 1 cup simple syrup. (Adjust to taste.)
Stevia is a type of sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It is available in powder and liquid form and tends to be more intense in flavor than agave nectar. It is a great low-calorie substitute for agave and is perfect for people trying to watch their weight.
Because stevia is more concentrated than agave, use less than what your recipe calls for to avoid overpowering the recipe’s unique flavors. It also has a very distinct taste and bitter, licorice-like aftertaste that isn’t natural. So, stevia may not work for all palates and diets. Additionally, as you’re using it in less amounts than agave, it will also shift the consistency of baked goods, so keep that in mind.
Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
7. White Sugar
White sugar has a similar sweetness to agave, although on a much subtler scale. It can be used to round up the flavor of savory dishes like marinades, sauces, and dressings. It is easily available and is a low-cost option that most people will have on hand, making it an easy substitute for agave.
You can use white sugar in dressings, sauces, drinks, and other dishes. However, keep in mind that it is less sweet in taste, so you will need to add more to compensate for the flavor. As we’re going from liquids to solids, you will also need to add half a cup of liquid (water, milk, oil, etc.) for every 1 1/3 cup of white sugar to maintain the desired texture of cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.
1 cup agave nectar = 1 1/3 cup white sugar. (Add 1/2 cup of water/milk/oil as needed.)