7 Sweet Substitutes For Agave Syrup
If you’ve ever had a tequila shot, you’ve tasted agave… although the drink and the syrup have very little in common other than the fact that they are both derived from the same plant. The plant agave is a perennial plant that grows in hot, arid conditions like those in Texas, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It is technically classified as a succulent and is sometimes considered a houseplant.
Agave syrup is also called agave nectar or maguey nectar and has become a popular sweetener for three reasons. The first is that agave is technically sweeter than sugar but has a lower GI index, meaning it is processed at a lower rate than white sugar. This is especially good for folks with diabetes. The second reason is that agave syrup is derived 100% from plants, making it friendly for vegans. The third is because agave syrup is delicious!
Agave syrup is used as a table syrup and sweetener, and it is also a primary ingredient in health food cereals and granola bars. Because it is plant derived, it is suitable for most diets except those who have fructose allergies (or anyone who can’t have sugar!)
Agave is slightly thicker than maple syrup but thinner than honey. It comes in golden yellow color and also deep amber which is cooked longer and will have a richer, deeper flavor and caramel like notes. Agave dissolves easily in hot and cold water and can be added to just about any food to add sweetness. Agave is prized for its unique flavor and the fact that it comes in so many flavors, ranging from extra floral and we’ve even seen some flavored with chili flakes!
Although agave syrup is becoming more and more popular, it can still be a bit tricky to find in some markets. You might have to look in a specialty store or in a health food store to track it down, and it can be quite expensive!
It can be kept in room temperature and will keep for a long time in a cool, dry place. For these reasons, we are here to give you a list of 7 sweet alternatives for agave syrup that you will find just as tasty!
1. Corn Syrup
If you are on a budget, corn syrup is your friend! Not only is it shelf stable, but it is also extremely affordable! Corn syrup also comes in a pale yellow version that will be similar to raw agave, or a more amber coloured syrup.
Corn syrup is widely available and is neutral in flavor which may be a good thing. But if flavor is what you’re after, and not just a cheap sugar fix, we recommend exploring some of the other options on this list.
Corn syrup is very high in sugar and highly processed, so it certainly should be consumed in moderation.
2. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is much less sweet than agave and thinner in viscosity. It is also plant-based and is often considered to be healthier due to its lack of chemical processing. Maple syrup is sap from a maple tree that has been cooked down until thick, just like agave is the sap from an agave plant, cooked down until thick.
The only downside to maple syrup is that it can be quite expensive and needs to be stored in the fridge after opening. Also, maple syrup is quite dark in color and therefore may not always be the best alternative to agave.
3. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is probably the closest thing to agave syrup and acts very similar! Both agave and brown rice syrup are likely to be harder to find (check your health food store) and likely to be more expensive but are worth a try if you’re seeking something a little less sweet than some of the other options on this list.
It is important to note that although brown rice syrup is considered a healthy food, it is still very sweet and heavily processed. It can be used as a 1:1 ratio to agave syrup and as mentioned, will act in a very similar way when cooked, especially in cereals, desserts, and granola. Brown rice syrup is another vegan sweetener on this list.
4. Blackstrap Molasses
Molasses is made in the production of brown sugar production and is super sweet. Molasses is thicker than agave so you may need to thin it out with some water before adding it to whatever you are cooking or baking.
It will definitely add more depth of flavor than plain sugar and has a distinct taste that may or may not be desirable.
Keep this in mind and if you’re looking for something more neutral in flavor, there are plenty of other options on this list!
Honey is a natural sweetener that is not considered vegan, but is definitely considered delicious by those who love it! Honey is liquid while at room temperature and never spoils, so it is a good thing to have in your pantry for moments like these! You can substitute honey for agave using a 1:1 ratio and use a bit of warmth to dissolve honey in any liquid.
Honey is delicious and adds a certain cooked flavor to whatever you’re making, but will certainly be a great addition to any recipe requiring agave syrup. Just make sure you let any guests know if they are adhering to a strict vegan diet.
6. Coconut Nectar
Coconut nectar is a delicious vegan syrup derived from the flowers of coconut palm trees! It is popular in India and Asian countries and may be harder to find here, but if you can find it, it is an excellent source of minerals and sweetness!
It is a natural sweetener and is minimally processed, making it another healthy food that might also be more expensive, so this may not be the right substitute for you. But it is a good one if you can find it!
Stevia is the final plant-based sweetener we thought we’d mention and it is likely the easiest to access and one of the cheapest. Derived from stevia leaves, this all-natural sweetener is popular for coffee and tea drinkers looking to avoid the extra calories in sugar.
It comes in a concentrated liquid (which is very thin and VERY sweet) and a powder, so this option may not be suitable for all recipes. If you are looking to sweeten your morning tea or lemonade with something other than agave, then you better believe that stevia is a great option!
How sweet it is!! We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these 7 alternatives to agave syrup. There are many others but we thought we would leave you with a list that consists mostly of other plant-based, natural alternatives.
Again, the cheapest one on the list is definitely corn syrup, which can be used in baked goods, but several other natural options will be delicious and add a certain depth of flavor to whatever it is that you’re using agave for today. We highly recommend trying different types of maple syrup and honey, or switching it up and going with some brown rice syrup or coconut nectar. Either way, you can’t go wrong adding a little more sweetness to your life… and we think these 7 ways to do it will satisfy any agave-loving sweet tooth!