Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) is a sweetener which comes from Mexico and South Africa.

Agave nectar and syrup have gained popularity in recent years as supposedly more ‘natural’ substitutes to sugar and honey. They derive from the South American agave plant, which is also used to make tequila.

What is it?

Agave nectar is sweeter and thinner than honey. Its color varies from light to dark amber, depending on the degree of processing, and it is sold in light, amber, dark and raw varieties, as both nectar and thick, dark syrup. Light agave has a very mild, almost neutral flavour; amber agave has a medium-intensity caramel flavour; and dark agave has a strong, caramel flavour not dissimilar to molasses or golden syrup. Agave nectar consists primarily of fructose and glucose, meaning that its impact on blood sugar, as measured by its glycemic load, is much less than white sugar.

Ways to use it?

  • Agave nectar dissolves quickly, so is a good sweetener for cold drinks, such as iced tea or cocktails.
  • Use as a sweetener in place of sugar or honey in hot drinks, baking or other cooking.
  • Use dark agave nectar straight out of the bottle as a topping for pancakes and French toast.

How much to use?

  • Agave is more calorie dense than sugar but about 40% sweeter, so start by using about half as much agave as you would sugar.
  • For one cup of white sugar, use 1/3 to 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup.
  • Replace honey or maple syrup with equal amounts of agave syrup.