How to substitute agave syrup for sugar in your favorite recipes

Michele Borboa, MS

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If you are looking for a healthier way to sweeten your diet, turn your taste buds on to natural sweeteners. Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a natural sugar alternative that is similar to honey and can be used in both food and drink. Here's how to substitute agave syrup for sugar in your favorite recipes.

Agave nectarSwap out sugar for agave syrup

Though sugar lends a craved sweetness to foods and beverages, it has no nutritional value and causes sharp fluctuations in blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels. This can lead to fatigue, crankiness and strong carbohydrate cravings. A healthier alternative to satisfying your sweet tooth is substituting agave nectar for sugar.

Agave syrup is a low-glycemic sweetener

Agave syrup, as compared to other sweeteners, has a desirable low-glycemic index. This means that when consumed, it won't cause a significant rise or fall in blood sugar.

Here is a list of sweeteners and corresponding glycemic values. The higher the value, the bigger the impact on blood sugar.

Sweetener Glycemic values
Agave syrup 27
Fructose (fruit sugar) 32
Lactose (milk sugar) 65
Honey 83
High fructose corn syrup 89
Sucrose (sugar) 92
Glucose 137
Glucose tablets 146
Maltodextrin 150
Maltose 150


Guidelines for substituting agave syrup for sugar

Like many natural sweeteners, you can seamlessly substitute agave nectar for sugar in most recipes. Because agave syrup is sweeter than sugar, you can actually use less.

Baking rules for substituting agave syrup for sugar

  • Use about two-thirds cup of agave nectar for every one cup of sugar called for in recipes.
  • Reduce the liquid ingredients in recipes by two-thirds, since agave nectar is liquid (and sugar is dry).
  • Reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees and increase baking time by a few minutes.

In savory foods, such as sauces, dressings and beverages, substitute agave syrup for sugar in a 2:3 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon (three teaspoons) of sugar, substitute two teaspoons agave syrup.

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Michele Borboa, MS
Michele Borboa, MS is a contributing editor for specializing in health, fitness, and all things food. She is a veteran health and fitness professional, personal chef, and mom in Bozeman, Montana. She is also the author of the time-saving cookbook Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy (Fair Winds Press, July 2011). You can contact Michele at or give her a tweet at