Agave nectar is a popular natural sweetener that is used a lot in vegan recipes and raw desserts. Learn what are the best substitutes for agave nectar if you don’t have it on hand or you want to use a different sweetener.

Agave nectar pouring into clear bowl on napkin and cutting board.
Agave nectar.

Overview of Agave Nectar

What it tastes like

Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) is a type of sweetener that comes from the agave plant. It has a light, subtle flavor that is similar to honey.

Nutrition info

It has a number of health benefits. It is less processed and has a lower glycemic index. This makes it a good choice for people who are watching their sugar intake.

How it’s used

While it can be used in place of sugar in many recipes, it is also commonly used as a natural sweetener for beverages such as coffee, tea and smoothies.

Look for agave in the baking aisle of your local grocery store. It will be found near the raw honey, maple syrup, sugar, and coconut sugar.

Best Substitutes for Agave Nectar

If you have a recipe that calls for agave but you don’t have it on hand, here are the best agave nectar substitutes.

1. Maple syrup

Maple syrup pouring into funnel filling a jar.
Maple syrup.

Maple syrup is a delicious and versatile sweetener that has been used for centuries. This sweetener has a unique flavor that is perfect for pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast foods. It is a very good substitute for agave that has a similar sweetness level.

It can also be used in baking or as a topping for desserts.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use one tablespoon of pure maple syrup.

2. Brown rice syrup

Brown rice syrup pouring into clear bowl on white background.
Brown rice syrup.

Brown rice syrup is a sweetener made from brown rice. It has a caramel-like flavor and is often used as a substitute for molasses or honey.

Brown rice syrup is made by cooking brown rice with enzymes to break down the starch. The resulting syrup is then filtered and evaporated to remove excess water.

Brown rice syrup can be used in a variety of recipes, including baked goods, sauces, and dressings. It is also a popular ingredient in energy bars and gluten-free products.

While brown rice syrup is not as sweet as refined sugar, it is a good option for those seeking a natural sweetener. It’s also less sweet than agave, so you’ll need to use more. I consider it a good substitute.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use two tablespoons of brown rice syrup.

3. Honey

Honey pouring into clear bowl on white background.

Honey is a delicious, natural sweetener that has been used for centuries. Made by bees from the nectar of flowers, raw honey is a source of carbohydrates and nutrients. It also contains enzymes and antioxidants that can have several health benefits.

If you follow a strict vegan diet, you’ll want to avoid using honey as a substitute for agave. Otherwise, it works great as an agave nectar substitute, especially for salad dressings.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use one tablespoon of honey.

4. Simple syrup

Jar of simple syrup on dark surface.
Simple syrup.

Simple syrup is a sweetener made from regular sugar and water and it’s often used in cocktails, as it sweetens the drink without affecting the flavor. It can also be used in baking or as a topping for pancakes and waffles.

Simple syrup can be made with either white or brown sugar, and the choice of sugar will affect the flavor of the syrup. The ratio of table sugar to water can also be varied, depending on how sweet you want the syrup to be.

Adapt the recipe to your desired level of sweetness.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of simple syrup.

5. Coconut nectar

Clear glass container with coconut nectar on wooden surface.
Coconut nectar.

Coconut nectar is a sweet, caramel-like syrup that is made from the sap of coconut trees. It has a similar flavor to brown sugar, but it is less processed and has a lower glycemic index.

Coconut nectar is often used as a natural sweetener in recipes for desserts, drinks, and sauces. It can also be used to make candy, chocolate, and other sweet treats.

In addition to its sweetness, coconut nectar also has several health benefits. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, and magnesium. It’s a very popular sweetener and a great substitute for agave.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use one tablespoon of coconut nectar.

6. Molasses

Molasses pouring into clear bowl on patterned kitchen towel.

Molasses is a thick, dark syrup that is produced during the sugar refining process. It is full of nutrients and has a distinct, sweet flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in many recipes.

While blackstrap molasses can be used on its own as a sweetener, it is often combined with other ingredients such as flour or baking soda to create a variety of sweets and baked goods.

If molasses is used instead of agave, you’ll likely notice that the flavor of the finished product will be different.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use one tablespoon of molasses.

7. Light corn syrup

Light corn syrup pouring into clear bowl on light background.
Light corn syrup.

Light corn syrup is a liquid sweetener made from corn starch. It is typically used in foods such as candy, cookies, and frosting.

Compared to other types of corn syrup, light corn syrup has a lighter color and flavor. It is also less viscous, or thick.

Light corn syrup is made by processing corn starch with enzymes. This breaks down the starches into smaller molecules called glucose. The glucose is then purified and combined with water to create the final product.

Avoid using high-fructose corn syrup as it is highly processed and can negatively affect blood sugar levels.

To substitute one tablespoon of agave nectar, use one tablespoon of light corn syrup.

Pros and Cons

Here’s a chart summarizing various substitutes for agave nectar and agave syrup, including the pros and cons:

Maple SyrupUnique flavor, perfect for breakfast and desserts.Distinctive taste may not blend well in all recipes.
Brown Rice SyrupCaramel-like flavor, good in baked goods.Less sweet, may need more to achieve desired sweetness.
HoneyNatural sweetener, contains antioxidants.Flavor is distinct and varies by source; not vegan.
Simple SyrupEasy to make, versatile in use.More processed, primarily just sugar and water.
Coconut NectarLow glycemic index, rich in nutrients.Flavor can vary, not as readily available.
MolassesNutrient-rich, strong flavor.Very strong flavor that can overwhelm other ingredients.
Light Corn SyrupNeutral flavor, good in candy and baked goods.Processed, lacks the nutrients found in less refined sweeteners.


Can I use artificial sweeteners instead of agave?

I don’t like using artificial sweeteners as they are not considered healthy for the most part. Try using one of the other substitutes mentioned above instead.

Are agave nectar and agave syrup the same?

The terms are used interchangeably. Read the labels on any bottles to ensure that the only ingredient is agave. But, yes, the nectar and the syrup should be the same. Sometimes manufacturers may add additional ingredients to agave syrup though.


There are many substitutes for agave nectar and each of these sweeteners has its own unique flavor that can be used to enhance a variety of recipes. When choosing a substitute for agave nectar, it is important to consider the desired flavor and sweetness of the final product. Whichever substitute you choose, be sure to experiment and have fun in the kitchen!

About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 5 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.

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