In need of a healthy agave nectar substitute? You’re in the right place because in this post, you’ll find 11 substitutes that lay out flavor and texture profile, nutritional health benefits, and when to use them. After learning about all these different alternatives, you’ll already be thinking of recipes that you’ll want to make ASAP!

Agave nectar in a glass bowl on the countertop with the original container in the background.

What is agave nectar?

Agave nectar is a liquid sweetener that is from the sap of the agave plant. It’s a natural sweetener that has a lower glycemic index compared to its refined and processed counterparts. If you are more aware of your sugar intake and blood sugar levels, then agave nectar is a good option for you.

Incorporating agave nectar into your cooking and baking provides great health benefits when used in moderation. It contains more calcium, iron, and magnesium than other sweeteners. Agave nectar has a great amount of vitamin C and B vitamins, too. 

The Best Agave Nectar Substitutes

Take a look at these 11 best substitutes for agave nectar. Chances are, you’ll have most of these in your pantry. Some might not be as popular but each substitute can take the place of agave nectar suitably. 

Honey in a glass bowl on the countertop with the original container in the background.
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1. Honey

This is likely the best substitute for agave nectar because you’ll definitely have it on hand. It has a thicker consistency and stronger flavor than agave nectar, so it’s up to you to decide if your recipe can work with it. 

This is also an excellent alternative because, like agave nectar, honey has its own natural health benefits, which is not the case with more processed sweeteners.

Like any natural foods, when heating, it it will lose some of its nutrients, so consider that when you are choosing how you are using this substitute in your agave nectar recipes.

Remember, raw honey comes straight from the hive and has not been altered. Regular honey is pasteurized and removes bacteria that may actually rid the honey of its natural antioxidants.

Learn more about honey and its uses in our Honey Substitute post.

  • When to use honey​: Baking, desserts, sauces, marinades.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of honey to agave nectar​ will work great in these types of recipes.

2. Molasses

Molasses might be sitting in the back of your pantry, so dust it off and use it as a great alternative to agave nectar! It is a thick syrup that is sweet and warm in flavor, yet slightly stronger than agave nectar. 

This popular sweetener is also full of nutritional benefits that artificial sweeteners don’t have. Molasses contains iron and copper that assist in strong, healthy bones. 

  • When to use molasses​: Baking, desserts, marinades, dressings.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of molasses to agave nectar ​will work great in the recipe types above. 
Maple syrup in a glass bowl on the countertop with the original container in the background.

3. Pure Maple Syrup

Whether it’s pure maple syrup or maple flavored syrup, either works as an agave nectar substitute. Maple syrup has an extremely similar consistency to agave nectar, but it’s not as sweet

Pure maple syrup (not maple flavored syrup), is also derived from maple tree sap, so it has strong health benefits when using it (especially when it comes to antioxidants). 

Read more about maple syrup in our Maple Syrup Substitute post!

  • When to use maple syrup​: Baking, cooking, beverages, marinades, sauces.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of maple syrup to agave nectar​ will be suitable for any recipe, and don’t be shocked if you want to add a little more as you’re tasting.

4. Simple Syrup

Simple syrup can be easily made on hand when you need that agave nectar substitute. Use our Simple Syrup Recipe that comes together in just FIVE minutes. 

Simple syrup is straight table sugar and water combined, so it is not a natural sweetener. But when you use it in moderation, you’ll have nothing to be afraid of.

  • When to use simple syrup​: Beverages, cocktails, baking, desserts, dressings, marinades.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of simple syrup to agave nectar ​is suitable for these recipes.

5. Liquid Stevia

If you are counting calories or carbs on the daily, you’ll most likely have this beneficial agave nectar substitute, liquid stevia. It is extremely sweet, so it’s very bold in flavor.

Stevia is actually derived from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant that makes it an automatic natural sweetener with ample health benefits.

  • When to use liquid stevia​: beverages, cocktails, dressings, baking, desserts.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of liquid stevia to agave nectar​ will work in dessert and beverage type recipes.

6. Fruit Syrup

Like simple syrup, fruit syrup can be a great substitute for agave nectar. With this substitute, you can have more fun with it as you can choose which fruit to use to personalize your recipe to your exact liking. Using our Simple Syrup Recipe and adding fruit paste (blending dried fruit and water together) will give you any fruit syrup (watch out for seeds, though!). 

Fruits have natural sugars in them that aren’t much of a threat when it comes to nutritional health benefits. Like anything with sugar in it, it’s best to use in moderation—artificial or natural.

  • When to use fruit syrup​: Beverages, cocktails, dressings.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of fruit syrup to agave nectar​ will be great in these types of recipes.
Top view of Karo light corn syrup.

7. Light Corn Syrup

Light corn syrup is definitely a baker’s staple because it’s used in many recipes like candy, cookies, and frosting. It is similar to the light agave nectar color and flavor. Light corn syrup is definitely thicker than agave nectar, but it doesn’t make much of a texture difference in recipes. 

Briefly put, light corn syrup is made from cornstarch, and if you’d like to learn more, check out our post about it and other Substitutes for Corn Syrup.

  • When to use light corn syrup: baking, desserts.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of light corn syrup to agave nectar​ will do the trick in these types of recipes.

8. Balsamic Vinegar

Believe it or not, balsamic vinegar is a good alternative to agave nectar. It’s pretty common to have in your kitchen cupboard, so try it out some time. It is sweet, but definitely darker in color. 

Balsamic vinegar does not contain any fat, and has very little natural sugar. It has been proven to stabilize blood pressure, and contains good nutrients for your body.

Read more about balsamic vinegar and its other sister vinegars in this Best Apple Cider Vinegar Substitutes post!

  • When to use balsamic vinegar​: Sauces, dressings, marinades.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of balsamic vinegar to agave nectar​ will be great in these recipes.
Balsamic vinegar in a small glass bowl with the container in the background.

9. Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar might not be a pantry staple for you, but if you use a lot of agave nectar, this one would be good to have on hand. It has that same syrup consistency that agave nectar has and is rich in caramel flavor, but not as sweet as the real thing. 

Coconut nectar has similar nutritional value, and it shares the low glycemic index that agave nectar contains. 

  • When to use coconut nectar​: baking, desserts, cocktails.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of coconut nectar to agave nectar​ works perfectly with all sweet treats.

10. Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup might not also be as common, but it’s a good choice if you do happen to have it in your pantry. It’s significantly sweeter and nuttier than agave nectar, but very sticky in texture. 

This type of syrup does have a higher glycemic index than agave nectar, but it’s a natural sweetener so you don’t have to worry about processed additives. 

  • When to use brown rice syrup​: Baking, dressings, granola.
  • Ratio: a 1:2 ratio of brown rice syrup to agave nectar​ will do just the trick. Taste as you go!

11. Date Syrup

Date syrup is the better option when it comes to agave nectar substitutes because it is extremely healthy. If you only have dates on hand, you can simply make a syrup out of it by adding water and boiling dates in a saucepan, letting it simmer for an hour, then blending it up. 

Dates have great health benefits like adding more fiber and antioxidants to your diet. And they are quite the versatile treat, beyond being a great substitute!

  • When to use date syrup​: Desserts, baking, cocktails, beverages, marinades.
  • Ratio: A 1:1 ratio of date syrup to agave nectar works for any recipe.

​What are the different types of agave nectar?

If you don’t already know, agave nectar is not just one syrup. It has multiple variations that are different in flavor and color all based on how they are produced. Here are the 5 types of agave nectar and brief overviews of their differences:

Light​Light in color, and mild, neutral flavor
AmberDarker in color, and a more rich flavor.
DarkDark like molasses, and has the strongest flavor.
Raw​A less processed agave nectar due to the low temperature production that preserves the natural enzymes and nutrients.
BlueBlue in color, and is used to make alcoholic beverages like tequila.
What is the difference between agave nectar & agave syrup?

Agave nectar is the exact sap taken from the agave plant. Agave syrup is what you usually find at the grocery store. Agave syrup is processed with heat that destroys any nutrients and minerals that are found in the agave plant. While the terms are often used interchangeably, they are distinctly different products.

What is agave nectar used for?

Agave nectar is used in baking, beverages, sauces, canning, and snacks.
Baking: a great substitute for honey and white sugar in cookies, bread, and cakes.
Beverages: ideal sweetener for tea, coffee, hot chocolate, smoothies, and even cocktails. Agave nectar and its substutes also work great with frozen treats—here’s How to Make Sorbet with ANY Fruit!
Sauces & Salad Dressings: adds sweetness and balances out acidity like in our 7 Healthy Homemade Salad Dressings.
Canning: best option for a healthier alternative when preserving peaches, tomatoes, etc.
Snacks: ideal in Healthy Homemade Granola, protein bars, and even the popular protein balls that everyone’s raving about.

The maple syrup base is poured over gluten-free oats.

The Best Agave Nectar Substitute-Friendly Recipes

You can use any of the substitutes listed above in the recipes here. You won’t believe how flexible your cooking can become when you’ve got so many options available!

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