By nature, people love sweet food. This is why agave nectar has been one of the favorite baking ingredients used in Mexico and America. It is also commonly used to sweeten cold beverages like cocktails because being a liquid, it dissolves easily.
This liquid sweetener is quite similar to honey but has a thinner consistency and a slightly more intense flavor. Their low glycemic load will not increase your blood sugar levels like normal white sugar which is a huge benefit for diabetics.
If you happen to run out of them, below are a myriad of options you can choose from.
- Corn Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- White Sugar
- Fruit Syrups
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Brown Rice Syrup
Before we explore the various ingredients you can replace agave nectar with, let’s understand a bit more about the origins and usage of this sweet ingredient.
13 Best Substitute For Agave Nectar
Agave Nectar comes from the agave plant which have over 100 different species and grows in the volcanic soils of Mexico.
They have been used by Latin Americans for its medicinal benefits for the longest time. Traditionally, they boil the sap to produce a sweetener known as â€œmiel de agave.â€[Source]
Agave nectar comes with a slight honey flavor, and is even sweeter than sugar!! Imagine nectar droplets from a lush plant in a warm getaway destination. That’s how mouth-watering and pure agave nectar is!
Often touted as a health food, the problem is that food manufacturers today produce the nectar in a similar way that artificial sweeteners are produced â€“ the agave sugars are subjected to enzymes and heat.
This results in a highly refined, but quite unhealthy fructose that the human liver is left with no choice but to break down and convert into fat. Now, this is unhealthy and probably worse than the effect of regular sugar.
If you are looking for healthier alternatives, consider using honey and dates as natural sweeteners.
Of course, you can still test out the agave nectar alternatives mentioned below.
Honey is a suitable and delicious alternative for people who cannot use agave nectar for whatever reason, but require a comparable common sugar just the same.
This substitute is flexible and has the amazing ability to offset salty food. You can use honey in baking, making sweet goodies, and marinades.
However, some dishes may give off a slight honey undertone, so you may need to reconsider if this is a factor for you.
When using honey as an agave nectar substitute, add a cup for every cup of agave nectar required. Honey’s texture is gooier and thicker, and these make the ingredient a bit trickier to use when cooking.
If you are planning to make treats such as toffee, pralines, or fudge, agave nectar, like most other sugars, in general, will solidify. Undesirable crystal solids may appear abruptly in your supposedly flavorful sugar syrup.
If this is a concern for you, one great way to address it is to expand your dish using corn syrup. It acts as an impedance in the boiling process, resulting to a better and more desirable outcome.
To substitute for agave nectar in delightful candy treats, use a 1:1 mix of white sugar and corn syrup. You may need to adjust the amount to replace agave nectar, as well as the heating temperature to achieve the right flavor and texture.
If you are watching the calories, glycemic index, and other dietary concerns, you can use brown sugar in lieu of agave nectar. This is an easy option that you can use in sauces, dressings, heating, and to sweeten hot and cold beverages.
When used as an alternative to agave nectar, use 1 1/3 cups of brown sugar for every cup of agave nectar in the recipe. This is to compensate for brown sugar’s relative lack of sweetness.
The best thing about brown sugar is that it is readily available in most households. You can also add half a cup of milk, oil, water, or whatever is suitable for the dish you’re making.
This is a more traditional option. Since agave nectar was originally intended to replace white sugar, it makes sense to use white sugar when you need to find an easy replacement for agave nectar.
A low cost option, white sugar can be used in a wide variety of ways such as in sauces, dressings, baking, and hot and cold drinks. However, agave nectar is sweeter than white sugar.
So, when using the latter to replace the former, you should use the 1:1 1/3 substitution ratio; meaning for every 1 cup of agave nectar, the ideal replacement is 1 1/3 cups of white sugar. Add an extra Â½ cup of milk, oil, water, or whatever is appropriate when baking.
A low-calorie sweetener, stevia has both anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties. Unlike table sugar and artificial sweeteners, stevia can help in significantly increasing glucose tolerance and suppressing plasma glucose levels.
Stevia makes this possible by increasing the production of insulin and enhancing the effect of insulin on cell membranes. It combats the effects and complications of type-2 diabetes, and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
The myriads of health benefits provided by stevia make it a great substitute for agave nectar. However, because it is much denser compared to agave nectar, you should not use it excessively. Use only around 2 teaspoons of stevia for every cup of agave nectar.
You can come up with a pleasant-tasting substitute for agave nectar by combining fruits with water. The resulting syrup can be used for mocktails such as mojitos.
Fruit syrups are both easy to make and quite useful. Just mix some sugary fruits with water and heat in a pan until disintegrated. You can refrigerate the syrup for up to 1 month, and use as required.
When using fruit syrups as substitute for agave nectar, the amount of syrup to add will depend on your preferred sweetness.
Another possible substitute for agave nectar is dates. Dates are tropical fruits from the date palm tree.
Dates have very high sugar content, and it even increases when the fruits dry up, with some of the dampness leaving the natural product. To say that dates are sweet is an understatement.
Dates are perfect for pastries, and can be squashed into various recipes to provide an unobtrusive pleasant taste similar to agave nectar. When substituting for agave nectar, use a ratio depending on your taste.
When boiling sugar beet juice or sugarcane, the substance that remains after removing the sugar crystal is known as blackstrap molasses. The crystals, on the other hand are turned into the refined sugar we know.
Blackstrap molasses has a somewhat bitter taste, and is the least sweet and thickest among molasses. The unsulphured, dense variety of sugar is only a bit more grounded compared to most carb-laden sugars, and is considered healthier.
While blackstrap molasses is nutritious, its glycemic index is high. Thus, you need to consume the agave nectar alternative in moderation.
Brown Rice Syrup
One decent agave nectar alternative in baking is brown rice syrup. While its glycemic index is higher compared to agave, it is still much lower than that of regular sugar and even honey.
You can use brown rice syrup in lieu of agave nectar in practically any recipe â€“ baked goodies, smoothies, hot drinks â€“ you name it! Its sweetness level is less than agave, so it may not be the ideal 1:1 substitute if you are looking to amplify your food’s sweetness level.
To compensate for its lack of sweetness, just double the amount of brown rice syrup when substituting for agave nectar.
A delicious syrup from the sap of coconut palm blossoms, coconut nectar is another excellent alternative to agave nectar. It turns into coconut sugar when dried into granules, but as a fluid, it is similar to agave nectar or maple syrup.
Coconut nectar undergoes minimal processing and is quite common. It can be taken directly from the tree, similar to separating maple syrup. Its delicately pleasant taste makes it a good substitute for agave nectar, though not as powerful.
The best part about coconut nectar is that it is gluten-free and vegan friendly. You can use it for your waffles, hotcakes, teas, oats, toasts, espressos, and pastries.
Maple syrup is a tasty topping for various dishes such as pancakes stuffed with fruits. You can even trickle some on your bacon before simmering to come up with an amazing blend of salty and sweet.
The syrup can also serve as a tasty coating for your Christmas ham. If you love sweet food, stocking up on maple syrup may be a good idea. It is not extremely sweet, and can be an ideal daily sweetener.
You can use it as an able substitute to agave nectar in baking. The recommended substitution ratio is 1:1.
This is a good agave nectar substitute as sweetener for cocktails such as margaritas. As the name suggests, simple syrup is simple and easy to make.
Just mix equal parts of water and sugar in a saucepan, then heat until dissolved completely. Don’t worry if you make too much, as you can refrigerate the excess for up to a month.
To substitute for agave nectar, use the 1:1 substitution ratio.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic substances that you can use to sweeten the taste of your food. People who crave the sweetness of table sugar call these artificial sweeteners â€œintense sweetenersâ€ due to their similarity in taste to sugar, although multiple times better with no calories.
Artificial sweeteners have been used in sugar-free sodas for a long time, and you can also use them to substitute for agave nectar in recipes. Just adjust the ratios accordingly as the low-calorie sweeteners may provide a distinct sweet taste.