Are you searching for the best agave nectar substitute that will give your beverages, baked goods, and cooked dishes the right amount of sweetness they need?
My list has ingredients that are also vegetarian and vegan-friendly, like agave, as well as sugar-free options. I have also included kitchen staples most of you surely already have that you can use to substitute for agave nectar or syrup.
7 Best Agave Nectar Substitutes
Agave nectar or syrup is a natural sweetener obtained from the agave plant. It's why I consider other natural sweeteners that are also vegan and vegetarian to be the best replacements for it. That said, here are my top picks for the best alternatives to agave syrup:
1. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a liquid sweetener that most of us, if not all, surely have drizzled over our waffles and bacon, boring pancakes, breakfast oats, omelets, and fruits.
Like agave, you won't have to worry about serving guests following a vegetarian or vegan diet because the syrup is made from maple trees.
However, be forewarned that not all maple syrup products are vegan. You will find some honey maple syrup varieties, so I highly suggest opting for pure maple syrup.
What I love most about pure maple syrup is it has the same sweetness as agave nectar. But consistency-wise, it's much thicker than agave nectar, which can change your recipe's overall texture and richness.
This versatile sweetener also has a bit of a smoky flavor. It's why I only add three-fourths of the amount the recipe calls for agave nectar. For instance, I add ¾ cup of pure maple syrup for every cup of agave nectar listed in the recipe.
But if you don't mind the added richness and smokiness, you can always replace agave nectar with the same amount of pure maple syrup.
Best for just about anything.
2. Light Corn Syrup
This natural sweetener is made from corn and has the same sweetness as agave syrup. As you can see, I indicated light corn syrup because the darker variety has a thicker consistency and is far sweeter.
I use it in my candy, cookie, and frosting recipes, but you can also use it in many baked goodie recipes. Its thick consistency also ensures it can bind your dry ingredients perfectly, giving your sweet and baked treats the right texture.
I also love sweetening hot drinks, mocktails, cocktails, and juices with light corn syrup. Not only can it sweeten my drinks with just a tiny amount, but some brands also add a vanilla or caramel taste to my beverages!
Another thing I love about light corn syrup is I can replace agave nectar with it in my marinades, salad dressings, and glazing without any problems. I find that it doesn't overpower any ingredients.
But I want you to remember this: when looking for a light corn syrup product, make sure you don't purchase the high fructose variety.
High fructose corn syrup is highly processed, so it has a higher glycemic index (GI), which can negatively affect blood sugar levels. Also, only use light corn syrup as an agave substitute if you're not serving anyone with corn allergies.
To use, simply replace agave nectar in your recipe with the same amount of light corn syrup.
Best for just about anything.
3. Coconut Nectar
I'm sure those of you following a keto and paleo diet or closely monitoring your blood sugar levels are familiar with coconut syrup or coconut nectar. Surely, it has been a recommended replacement for table sugar in your diet.
Needless to say, coconut nectar isn't just one of the best vegan sweeteners; it's also a perfect choice if you're looking for a low-sugar, low-GI substitute for agave nectar.
For those who haven't used it yet, expect the coconut nectar to be less sweet than agave. But fret not; it will still give your recipes the sweetness they need. This also gives you more room to adjust the measurements.
For instance, if you want to achieve the same sweet taste when using agave nectar, you can add two teaspoons of coconut syrup for every teaspoon of agave syrup listed in your recipe. If you want a less sweet baked treat, simply follow a 1:1 substitution ratio.
Now, one thing I want you to remember when using coconut nectar is it has its own distinct flavor and aroma.
While it can make your baked goods smell more appetizing or even more delicious at times, it can overpower some ingredients. So, always make sure the coconut-ty aroma and flavor work well for your recipe.
Best for any baked goods.
4. Golden Syrup
Another option I recommend you use when you're serving guests who are watching their blood sugar levels is golden syrup, as it has a low glycemic index.
What I love the most about golden syrup is it has the same consistency and color as agave nectar. However, it is much sweeter.
It's why I only add half the amount required in the recipe when I substitute agave nectar with golden syrup.
The golden syrup also has a distinct buttery flavor, so I love using it when baking bread, cakes, and muffins.
Best for baked goods.
5. Brown Rice Syrup
Did you know that brown rice syrup is also one of the top choices when looking for a table sugar, honey, or molasses substitute?
Yes, brown rice syrup has a higher GI than agave nectar but still has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. Thus, it's also ideal for those watching their sugar intakes.
Brown rice syrup is less sweet than agave nectar, but a 1:1 substitution ratio works perfectly for most recipes. Especially if you don't want or need to serve baked products with a very distinct sweet flavor.
Yes, you can always add more brown rice syrup to your recipe, as long as you don't mind adding a distinct caramel flavor to it.
Best for baked goods, energy bars, sauces, and dressings.
A product of the sugar refining process, molasses is a very underrated natural sweetener. In fact, most home cooks only remember it when it's time to make gingerbreads.
But did you know that you can use molasses in many recipes? From baking and making non-bake sweet desserts to whipping marinades and salad dressings, molasses has never disappointed me!
Whether you're using light, dark, or unsulfured blackstrap molasses, the syrup will add a good amount of sweetness to your recipes. It will also add depth to every goodie you prepare!
What I want you to keep in mind is that molasses has a unique flavor that might be noticeable, depending on what type you use. For instance, blackstrap molasses has a bitter, salty taste that can be overpowering when combined with ingredients with a subtle flavor.
So, how will you substitute agave nectar with molasses?
I recommend only adding half the amount of what's required in your recipe unless you're using light molasses. Since it has a subtle flavor, a 1:1 substitution ratio will be okay.
Best for baked goodies, marinades, and dressings.
Related: Easy Gingerbread Men Cookies
7. Fruit Syrup
If you have been a fan of an all natural sweetener, you probably have fruit syrups in your pantry or countertop. You surely have used it in your recipes and to drizzle waffles, pancakes, bacon, and ham.
But if you don't have one, scour through your fruit basket for some ripe, even better, overripe fruits like apples, grapes, and mangoes.
You can combine any of the fruits you have or only use one type to make one or more fruit syrups. To do so, follow these steps:
- Slice the fruit(s).
- Place the slice fruits in your blender with an equal amount of water.
- Pulse until blended.
- Once blended, transfer it to your saucepan; you can add more water, but not too much.
- Allow it to simmer over low heat to release the sugar content, making sure you whisk occasionally.
- Once you see a thick syrup, remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour the mixture over a sieve to strain out the fruits.
- Use the fruit syrup in your recipe in place of agave nectar.
When substituting agave with your homemade or commercially prepared pure fruit syrup, remember that fruits have their own flavor. Depending on the fruit you use or combine, it can affect your goodies' overall flavor.
What I recommend you do is to add the syrup gradually. Start with one-fourth of the amount the recipe calls for agave nectar, and add as and when needed.
Best for fruit-flavored baked goodies and sweet treats and as a topping.
Raw Honey: Best Non-Vegan Agave Syrup Substitute
If you're not preparing vegan recipes, raw honey is an easy and quick agave substitute that won't disappoint.
Raw honey has long been used as a substitute for regular sugar. While it still has a bit of sugar, honey has a low GI, so it won't cause any significant blood sugar spikes when used sparingly.
One thing that makes honey a popular sweetener is its versatility. You can use it to add some sweetness to your drinks, pancakes, waffles, oats, and fruits.
You can even use it in baking cakes, brownies, cookies, muffins, and more. The flavor of honey also blends well with savory dishes like fried bacon, ham, eggs, meat, fish, and chicken.
When you substitute agave syrup with honey, simply follow a 1:1 ratio.
Best for just about anything.
2 Sugar-Free, Vegan-Friendly Agave Syrup Substitutes
Are you replacing agave nectar in your recipe because you have a guest on a sugar-free diet, so a low-sugar option won't work? Here are two of the best agave nectar substitutes that you can opt for:
1. Stevia Syrup
Obtained from the stevia plant leaves, stevia is among the most popular alternative sweeteners to white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and other sweeteners. Not only is it sugar-free, but it also has no carbohydrates and calories.
Compared to agave nectar, it is much sweeter, so I advise you to add it gradually to your recipes. Most of the time, a drop or two will already work for recipes requiring a teaspoon of agave nectar. After all, stevia has an aftertaste that might not blend well with some ingredients.
Best for baked goodies.
2. Monk Fruit Syrup
Unlike other liquid sweeteners made from other fruits, monk fruit has been found not to contain sugar. It's even better than stevia because it has a neutral taste that's comparable to granulated sugar.
But like stevia, keep in mind that a little goes a long way when using monk fruit liquid sweetener. You can start by adding one or two drops for every teaspoon of agave syrup the recipe requires.
Best for just about anything.
Adding Sweetness Without Agave Syrup
There you have it! A long list of agave syrup substitutes that you can use. Whether you run out of it, can't find one at the grocery store, or serving someone with special dietary needs, you will surely find a suitable ingredient that will add sweetness to your recipes.
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Homemade Agave Nectar Substitute
- Saucepan or small cooking pot
- fine-mesh sieve
- Small glass jar
- 2 cups coconut sugar
- 1⅓ cups water
- Place the coconut sugar and water in your saucepan or pot.
- Allow to simmer over low heat while constantly stirring with a wire whisk and making sure the mixture doesn't bubble and boil.
- Once the coconut sugar is completely dissolved, which takes around three to four minutes, remove the pan from the heat.
- Place your fine-mesh sieve over your glass container, and then pour the mixture over a sieve to strain out any undissolved sugar.
- Allow your coconut syrup to cool before using it in your recipes.
- Seal the jar tightly and store it in your refrigerator.
- This homemade agave nectar substitute has three to four weeks of shelf life. However, once it turns cloudy, it means you can no longer use it.
- You can replace the coconut sugar with white sugar or brown sugar if you don't need syrup that's low in sugar and glycemic index and vegan. Using table sugar might require more cooking time, around five to six minutes.
- You can also replace the coconut sugar with stevia powder if you need a sugar- and calorie-free substitute for agave nectar. But reduce the amount to 1.5 cups and lower the cooking time to around two to three minutes.
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