The flavorful syrup known as agave nectar is perfect for adding sweetness to hot and cold drinks, desserts, sauces, and all other kinds of recipes without reaching for the sugar bowl. Agave nectar is also used as a “simple syrup” substitute when making cocktails.
The Mayans were so enamored with agave nectar that they believed this sweet, golden elixir must have been gifted to them by the gods!
While it has been a staple in Mexico for centuries, agave nectar has only recently caught on in the United States due to the fact that it has a lower glycemic index than many other sweeteners.
If you’re wondering how to find the best agave syrup, take a look at these nectar notes for finding sweetness and quality.
Our recommendations for Best Agave Nectars:
A Complete Guide to Agave Nectar
You won’t find a local farm offering this sweet culinary agent. Nearly all agave nectar products come directly from Mexico because the plants are exclusively peppered throughout Mexico’s dry regions.
But the truth is that you’ve already tasted agave before if you’ve had a sip of tequila.
Yes, the natural sugars in agave are actually fermented to make tequila. However, this plant can do so much more!
What Is Agave Nectar?
Agave nectar is a sweet, syrup-like product that’s harvested from the agave plant. The plant is a succulent that is found throughout the terrain in Mexico’s dry regions.
Getting agave syrup isn’t as simple as just squeezing the flesh of a succulent to get syrup the way you would tap a tree for maple syrup. The “sweetening” of agave nectar actually occurs as the result of a special heating process.
First, growers harvest the plant’s pineapple-like core. Next, a hydrolyzing process turns the inulin from the agave’s core into fructose. Finally, the agave is filtered to create different flavor notes and colors.
This process creates several different types of agave nectars that work nicely in various drinks and dishes.
How Does it Taste?
If you’ve had a taste of agave nectar, there’s no doubt that you were mesmerized by the lip-licking flavor of this natural sweetener that’s worlds away from sugar.
In fact, many people who get a drip of this syrup on their tongue for the first time wonder exactly what they’re tasting because it provides such a unique flavor.
The taste of agave nectar can be summed up by being called sweet. The closest flavor comparison is honey.
Still, you definitely won’t confuse agave for honey. Agave nectar is notable for its clean, pure taste. It lacks any of the bitterness or chemical flavors that some artificial sweeteners and sugar alternatives produce.
While agave adds sweetness, it doesn’t dominate the flavor profile of the food or drinks you’re preparing.
Often compared to both honey and maple syrup, agave nectar offers a flavor that’s much more neutral than either of those two popular sweeteners. This fact makes it such a great companion for drinks and dessert recipes.
Is it Healthy?
Agave nectar’s reputation as a “health food” is complicated.
First, agave is technically considered an added sugar simply because of the way it’s made. The same is true for things like raw honey and maple syrup.
Yet, the sugars in agave are natural sugars!
A pure agave nectar product will never contain added sugars.
It can be helpful to know how agave stacks up against table sugar if you’re looking at it as a health food.
With simple table sugar, the breakdown of fructose versus glucose is an even split of 50 percent to 50 percent. With agave, the breakdown is 80 percent fructose to 20 percent glucose.
The significance of agave nectar being mostly fructose is that fructose has a lower glycemic index than glucose. This can be beneficial for people with concerns about blood sugar.
Agave nectar also contains water, vitamins, minerals, and trace amounts of fat in its composition. According to the USDA, 1 teaspoon of regular agave nectar contains 21 calories.
Blue Agave or Regular Agave?
Be prepared to see both blue agave and regular agave sold when you shop for your agave fix.
Blue agave nectar is sourced solely from the blue agave plant (Agave tequilana). Regular agave can contain syrup from thorny, grey, and green agave plant varieties.
Generally, blue agave is seen as being of a higher quality than ordinary agave. This mostly comes down to sourcing. All blue agave comes from Mexican succulents that are cultivated by growers in the tequila industry.
What’s more, the Mexican government actually places strict quality-control guidelines on the production of blue agave nectar.
Types of Agave Nectars
The way agave nectar is filtered determines its final flavor profile. Agave producers can finish their products to create four different varieties.
Knowing a bit about each variety can help you to find the perfect match based on what you intend to sweeten with your nectar.
Light Agave Nectar
Light agave offers a whisper of sweetness. It is known for being very neutral and mild.
This makes it a perfect choice when you’re looking for a sweetener for making desserts and baked goods. Many people also add a dash of light agave nectar instead of sugar when making sauces.
Amber Agave Nectar
Amber agave nectar is often compared to caramel syrup. However, it doesn’t quite have the sticky, hard consistency of caramel.
This is the one to choose if you’re looking for a flavored syrup that you can pour directly on top of desserts or whipped coffee drinks. It’s also a good option when making savory sauces and dishes that call for a pinch of sweetness.
Dark Agave Nectar
Like amber agave nectar, dark agave earns comparisons to caramel. It’s also a bit like maple syrup.
In fact, many people use dark agave as a syrup substitute on top of pancakes. It’s also nice for meat and poultry marinades.
Raw Agave Nectar
There is also a raw version of agave nectar available. It can be any of the varieties mentioned above — the difference is in the processing temperature.
The benefit of going with raw agave is that it’s a healthier option because all of the naturally occurring enzymes from the agave core are preserved by processing the syrup at a lower temperature.
5 Best Agave Nectar Brands Reviewed
Many people looking to switch to natural sweetness are on the hunt for the best agave nectar. While there are dozens of brands on the market, some of them are substandard or overpriced.
Below are reviews of our top 5 agave nectars for sweetening anything from tea and coffee to sauces and pancakes.
Best Overall: Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar by Blue Green Agave
Consisting of raw Weber blue agave, this premium syrup sweetens the deal on purchasing a non-sugar sweetener by saving you money on every ounce. It’s produced at temperatures below 118 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve the natural enzymes of the plant.
An all-purpose sweetener, this product offers a gentle, neutral sweetness that doesn’t necessarily alter the flavor profile of food and drink recipes.
- Amount: 176 oz
- Type: Raw Organic Blue Agave Nectar
- Great for hot and cold beverages, baking, and sauces
- Sweet and smooth flavor
- 100 percent pure blue agave nectar
- Value priced 1.3-gallon container
- USDA certified organic
Blue Green Agave’s blue agave nectar is noted for its exceptionally pure and delicious taste.
Going with this semi-bulk option provides a great discount when compared to purchasing smaller bottles of similar products. The agave comes in a 1-gallon PET container with a built-in easy-pour handle that makes it easy to refill a smaller bottle.
Get this premium quality agave and you will have plenty of sweetness for months to come!
Looking for a different-sized container?
This agave nectar is also available in a 5-gallon container or a 47-ounce bottle. You can choose between raw blue and light blue varieties.
When ordering the bulk size to save money, it never hurts to start with a smaller bottle of nectar first to make sure that this product offers the flavor you’re looking for based on the foods or beverages you’re flavoring.
Best Light Agave Nectar: NOW Foods Organic Light Agave Nectar
NOW Foods Organic Light Agave Nectar is a popular option among people looking for just a “smidge” of sweetness for coffee and tea.
- Amount: 23.28 oz
- Type: Raw Organic Blue Agave Nectar (Light)
- Premium quality blue agave nectar
- Great for coffee, tea, and desserts
- Affordable but ample
- USDA certified organic
Offering a consistency that’s slightly thick and sticky, this agave syrup is so easy to spoon into hot drinks. It also dissolves easily with just a stir for perfectly blended sweetness in both hot and cold beverages.
That’s why the NOW Foods Agave Nectar is one of my favorite options for sweetening cold brewed teas.
This agave syrup also drizzles beautifully over yogurt parfaits or oatmeal.
A raw agave product, this syrup has been prepared using temperatures below low temperatures to preserve its original enzymes.
This organic agave nectar comes in a convenient, easy-to-store plastic bottle that allows for effortless pouring and drizzling. The thick consistency really helps each bottle to go a long way!
Best Amber Agave Nectar: Madhava Organic Amber Agave
Straight from the blue Weber agave farms of Mexico, this beautiful syrup boasts a rich, bold flavor profile. Many people give Madhava’s amber agave credit for being the best agave to stir into coffee.
- Amount: 17 oz
- Type: Raw Organic Blue Agave Nectar (Amber)
- Winner of Clean Laber Purity Award
- Comes in an “easy squeeze” bottle with a mess-free valve cap
- BPA-free packaging
- Certified Fair Trade and USDA organic
A little goes a long way with this rich sweetener. What’s more, the bottle is designed for easy, controlled squeezes to ensure you get your money’s worth by not wasting even one single drop!
Unlike some of the pale agave nectars out there, this amber agave offers a hint of sweetness that’s comparable to brown sugar. That deep, toffee-meets-molasses flavor note makes this a perfect choice if you’re looking for agave for your morning oatmeal.
The taste comparable to brown sugar also makes this a great agave nectar for baking.
Best Agave Nectar for Cocktails: Tres Agaves Agave Nectar Mixer
Unlike the other agave products on this list, this mixer isn’t pure agave. This is a cocktail-ready, low-calorie sweetener that’s perfect for making authentic Mexican margaritas.
- Amount: 25.36 oz
- Type: Organic Agave Nectar Mixer
- Great for cocktails
- Dissolves easily in cold drinks
- USDA organic
The mix consists of organic agave nectar, filtered water, and citric acid to give you a great way to create sweet alcoholic beverages without using ordinary simple syrups.
The benefit of this product is that it dissolves much faster and easier when placed in cold beverages than traditional honey-like agave syrups.
Good and Affordable: Organic Agave Nectar by Agave in the Raw
From the makers of the famed Sugar In The Raw, this ultra-pure agave is an affordable option for getting quality nectar from a trusted brand.
The consistency of this agave nectar is very light. It flows like a dream from the container.
- Amount: 18.5 oz
- Type: Organic Agave Nectar
- Mild and smooth flavor
- Amazon 1# Best Seller
- Comes in an easy-pour bottle
- USDA organic and Non-GMO Project verified
While this is a good budget option, you may find that its light flavor actually causes you to use a little more than you might with another brand’s agave.
However, this is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a very subtle and delicate sweetness that allows you to add just a dash of sweetness to things like coffee, tea, lemonade, or morning oats. It’s nearly impossible to accidentally sweeten something too much with this mild syrup.
Agave Nectar FAQ
What is the difference between dark and light agave syrup?
The difference in color and taste of dark and light agave syrup is achieved in the production process by the filtration of minerals and salts.
Light agave nectar has a mild flavor and can be used for anything from beverages to desserts. It’s a great choice when you are looking for subtle sweetness without adding any overpowering taste.
Dark agave nectar has a stronger flavor and is often used to add caramel-like notes to meat dishes. It also works nicely as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
Why should I buy raw agave nectar?
Raw agave nectar is never heated above 115°F. This means that it retains the beneficial natural enzymes and often has a lower fructose content compared to the agave that is treated in higher temperatures.
Which agave nectar is best for margaritas?
We recommend the Tres Agaves Agave Nectar Mixer for tequilas and cocktails because it dissolves easily in cold drinks. It’s made of organic agave nectar, filtered water, and citric acid.