Can you use agave instead of honey?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use agave instead of honey?”, and what are the other substitutes for honey?

Can you use agave instead of honey?

Yes, you can use agave instead of honey. Both honey and agave nectar have a similar texture and sweetness level. Therefore, agave nectar or agave syrup can be used in place of honey in a 1:1 ratio. 

Agave is a low-allergy sweetener and is much sweeter than sugar. So, you can cut down on your calorie and carb intake with the same level of sweetness.

The manufacturing process of agave and honey 

Agave nectar 

Agave nectar is the fluid extracted from the blue agave plant, the same plant that is used as a raw material for making tequila. 

The fluid extracted from the plant is filtered to remove the impurities and foreign particles. Then it is heated to break down the complex sugars into simple fructose. 

The resulting sweet liquid is concentrated until it develops a syrup-like consistency. The process of heating may destroy some of the heat-sensitive compounds present in the agave fluid.


Honey is manufactured when the bees collect the nectar from different plants and accumulate it in the honeycomb. Raw honey may be consumed as-is or pasteurized to destroy the harmful bacteria, prevent crystallization and improve the keeping quality of honey.


A tablespoon of agave nectar and honey roughly provide the same number of calories i.e 64kcal. Both of these sweeteners are sweeter and more nutritious than table sugar.

Glycemic index 

The Glycemic index is a tool that measures how much blood sugar and insulin spike is produced by digesting a certain food. 

This is especially helpful for diabetics who should limit their intake of high GI foods. Because these types of foods digest more quickly and result in a surge in blood sugar. The GI value of agave nectar, honey, and table sugar is compared in the table below.

Type of sweetener Glycemic Index (GI)
Agave nectar 58
Honey 19
Refined white table sugar (sucrose)60 

Sugar components

Honey comprises 30% glucose and 40% fructose. Other sugars present in the honey in smaller amounts include maltose, sucrose, kojibiose, turanose, isomaltose, and maltulose. 

On the other hand, agave nectar comprises 75-90% fructose. Agave nectar and high fructose corn syrup have a comparable fructose percentage. High fructose consumption has been linked with an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides, fatty liver, and memory loss.

Excessive consumption of fructose puts a strain on the liver that breaks down the fructose into triglycerides. A high triglyceride level in the blood leads to many health complications. It is also the leading cause of belly fat.

Other health benefits 

A moderate intake of honey has numerous health benefits. For example, it reinforces the immune system to fight the symptoms of the common cold. Honey is renowned for its remarkable antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

Honey is also a rich source of powerful antioxidants, known as phytochemicals. These antioxidants play a crucial role in combating the oxidative stress that occurs due to the formation of free radicals. 

Moreover, antioxidants delay aging and reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The darker the honey in appearance, the higher the antioxidant content. 

Raw honey, due to minimal processing, retains the maximum amount of antioxidants and other nutrients. However, raw honey should not be fed to children under the age of 1 as it may lead to Botulism.

Top alternatives for honey 

Maple syrup 

Maple syrup is a very convenient vegan alternative to honey as it has a similar texture and consistency. It can be used to replace honey in a 1:1 ratio. You can use it in baking, to drizzle over your pancakes, or sweeten your yogurt.

Brown sugar 

Brown sugar and white sugar are both excellent substitutes for honey in baking. To adjust the consistency and texture, you can caramelize the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Use ½ cup of water for every 3 cups of white or brown sugar for caramelization.

Date paste 

Date paste is a super nutritious plant-based alternative to honey. Blend 1 cup of dates with 2 cups of water to get a thick paste. Use it to replace honey in a 1:1 ratio.

Coconut nectar 

If you are a fan of coconut oil or coconut milk, you would probably love substituting coconut nectar in place of honey. This vegan sweetener comes from coconut leaves and can be used in place of honey in a 1:1 ratio.


In this article, we answered the question “Can you use agave instead of honey?”, and what are the other substitutes for honey?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.