If you’ve ever whipped up a cocktail or mocktail, you know that syrups are an essential part of the mix. But which type of liquid sweetener should you use? Is simple syrup really better than agave nectar? What’s the difference between them, anyway? Let’s explore the answers to these questions and more as we take a look at simple syrup vs agave.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is a combination of water and granulated sugar cooked down until it forms a thick liquid. It is used to sweeten cold beverages like cocktails or lemonades because it mixes easily into liquids without leaving any gritty residue behind like granulated sugar does. Simple syrup also has an even sweeter taste than regular sugar due to its higher concentration of sweetness after being reduced into syrup.
You may use simple syrups all the time without realizing it. Used as alternative sweeteners in your morning coffee perhaps. Hazelnut syrup all day for me!
What is Agave Nectar?
Agave nectar is a natural sweetener made from the juice of an agave plant. It has a mild flavor with notes of caramel and honey, and it can be used in place of sugar or other sweeteners in baking, cooking, and drinks. Compared to refined white sugar, agave nectar is lower on the glycemic index scale (GI) but higher in fructose content. It also has fewer calories than regular sugar, making it a popular choice for those looking to cut back on their sugar intake.
You can purchase agave syrups in light, amber, raw, and dark agave syrup. Use lighter syrups in lighter dishes/drinks, and darker syrups in deeper/bolder dishes/drinks.
Simple Syrup vs. Agave – What’s the Difference?
The most obvious key difference between the two is their taste profile.
- Mild sweetness
- Roughly 17 calories per teaspoon
- Made by heating equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves completely into the water, creating a thick syrup.
- Simple syrup is more versatile and pairs well with most flavors.
- Customizable! This simple sugar syrup is a great choice when you're wanting to create a slightly different flavor profile for your drink. Create syrups with fruit rinds, dried flowers, or herbs. The combinations are endless.
- Slightly floral sweetness with hints of caramel and vanilla.
- Roughly 20 calories per teaspoon
- Made from the sap of the agave plant (usually the blue agave plant) and requires no heating or processing to create its syrupy consistency.
- Agave is best suited for drinks with a stronger flavor such as tequila or a whiskey-based drink.
- Takes a bit more effort to dissolve in cold drinks rather than in hot drinks.
So what's the "healthier option"? Agave contains less glucose than table sugar, giving it a lower glycemic index, meaning that it will absorb slower in the body than sugar. Additionally, simple syrup contains more sugar than agave does, so keep that in mind if you’re watching your sugar intake.
So when it comes to choosing between simple syrup and agave nectar for your next drink, it all comes down to personal preference or simply what you have on hand! If you like a mildly sweet flavor then go with simple syrup; if you prefer something with a more depth of flavor then try using agave instead! No matter what sweetener you choose, it’s sure to make your next cocktail or mocktail even tastier!
The main difference between simple syrup vs agave lies in their composition – where agaves are composed primarily of fructose sugars whereas simpler syrups contain both fructose sugars as well as glucose sugars which makes them sweeter overall!
Additionally, while both types are great options when looking to add sweetness to recipes/drinks – certain uses will require one over the other depending on what kind of results you’re looking for! For instance, if making something where texture is important then using simpler syrups may provide better results whereas if wanting something with less intense sweetness then opting for agaves may work better!
When choosing between simple syrup vs agave nectar there are many factors that come into play—from taste preference all the way down to conversion rates, but ultimately both types have their own unique advantages that make them great choices when looking for ways to sweeten up your favorite recipe/drink!
For those who prefer something sweeter simple syrups would likely work best whereas, for those who want something lighter, agaves would likely yield better results! Ultimately - whatever your preference - both types are excellent options when seeking out ways to sweeten up your favorite beverage/recipe - so don't hesitate to try them out today!
However, don't underestimate the simplicity of simple syrup. Simple syrup lends itself to being infused in a huge variety of flavors perfect for any variety of beverages.
Monin has a HUGE variety to pick from, I love the variety packs that they've put together:
- Lavender, Elderflower, & Hibiscus Syrup
- Raspberry, Strawberry, & Wild Blackberry
- French Vanilla, Caramel & Hazelnut Syrup
Start out with these and you will have a great head start on enjoying delicious flavors in your drinks.
Are you ready to Make Your Own simple syrups?!
1:1 Water & white sugar, then adding additional flavors is pretty easy. Most flavor infusions are as simple as boiling the ingredient with the water mixture, then straining & enjoying. Some popular additions are:
- Orange, lemon, or lime peels
- Rosemary & thyme sprigs
- Cinnamon sticks
Uses for Simple Syrup
Simple syrup can be used in many recipes, including cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, and sauces. In addition to adding sweetness to baked goods and sauces, simple syrup can be added to coffee or tea for extra flavor.
It can also be used as an ingredient in cocktails or mocktails; just add one part simple syrup for every four parts liquid. This will give your drink the perfect level of sweetness without being overly sugary.
Uses for Agave Nectar
Agave nectar can be used much like simple syrup but with one major difference—since it has a neutral flavor and less sweetness than simple syrup does, you’ll need to add slightly more agave nectar (about 25% more) when using it as a substitute for simple syrup in drinks or recipes that call for sweetness.
Agave nectar can also be used as a substitute for honey in recipes such as marinades or glazes; however, since it has a milder flavor than honey does, you may need to adjust your recipe accordingly by adding additional spices or herbs for extra flavor if desired. Additionally, agave nectar can also be added directly onto foods such as oatmeal or yogurt for an extra touch of sweetness if desired!
Simple Syrup To Agave Syrup Conversion
When converting from one type of sweetener to another (for example from simple syrup to agave nectar), always remember that each type has its own unique set of properties – so while they may serve similar purposes they will not necessarily produce identical results!
For instance when converting from simple syrup to agave nectar – use 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of agave per 1 tablespoon of simple syrup! Additionally – make sure you keep an eye out for any other differences that might arise due to using one sweetener over the other – such as texture consistency, etc!
Other Sweetener Options
While simple syrup and agave are not the only sweet syrup used in cocktail recipes
Maple Syrup - A very popular alternative to simple syrup. It is recommended to use 100% pure maple syrup. In a pinch, you could use any pancake syrup you have on hand but note it could contain high fructose corn syrup.
Golden Syrup - You might assume golden syrup is honey, but it's comprised of sugar, water, and citric acid. The mixture is boiled, and not stirred until reaching a golden color.
Honey - A great option! Honey on its own will not mix well in icy drinks or iced tea. If your beverage is hot, go for it! To prepare thinner honey, heat equal amounts of honey and water the same way you would when making a simple syrup then add to your drinks. The sweetness level of a 1:1 honey and water mixture will be moderate. For a richer flavor, opt for 2:1 honey to water.
Brown Sugar Syrup - Treat creating this syrup the same way you would a simple syrup, equal parts brown sugar to sugar. The added molasses yields a beautifully unique flavor. An excellent choice when using dark spirits, tea, or coffee. Brown sugar varieties include light and dark brown sugar, demerara sugar, turbinado sugar, and muscovado sugar.
Sugar Beet Syrup - Similar to molasses in color and maple syrup in taste and honey in consistency. Lovely in warm drinks!