Sugar Substitute: Tips for Using Agave Syrup


Agave syrup is a hot ingredient among raw foodists and people with blood sugar problems, but the syrup is great for everyone. Being less processed than sugar, it’s a purer food. Agave has a low glycemic index, meaning you won’t have as much of a blood sugar spike after eating it.

Though it’s sweeter than sugar, the sweetness is similarly neutral. Honey and maple syrup are both great, but impart too much of their own flavor to be used in many applications. Agave is the only sugar substitute I know of that isn’t chemically-based and doesn’t have a weird flavor. It tastes pure and simply sweet. I love it because it dissolves easily in iced coffee or tea, and homemade lemon or limeade, meaning it’s great for summer.

Tips for using Agave Syrup:

- Like any sweetener, enjoy in moderation (60 calories per tablespoon).

- Since it is sweeter than sugar, use 25-30% less in recipes.

- When baking, use a little bit less of whatever liquid is in your recipe.

- Set the oven temperature by 25% from the temperature the recipe calls for.


Grown in Central Mexico, the dusky, green-blue agave plant produces a sweet, sticky juice that can be extracted to make agave syrup or fermented and distilled to make tequila. Both worthy uses of the succulent, in my opinion!

Images: raelb, timsamoff

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.