Is Frangelico high in sugar?

Frangelico is a sweet, hazelnut-flavored liqueur that originated in Italy. With its sweet, nutty taste, Frangelico is commonly used in cocktails or enjoyed straight up over ice. But with its pronounced sweetness, some people wonder just how much sugar is in Frangelico.

What is Frangelico?

Frangelico is an Italian hazelnut liqueur that was first produced in 1978. It’s made from a secret recipe that includes hazelnuts, cocoa, vanilla berries, and other natural flavors. The exact proportions of ingredients are kept confidential.

Frangelico has a smooth, sweet flavor reminiscent of hazelnuts and chocolate. It’s 24-proof, meaning it’s 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). Frangelico is meant to be served chilled and is commonly mixed into cocktails or sipped over ice as an after-dinner drink.

Some of the most popular cocktails made with Frangelico include:

  • Hazelnut Martini – Frangelico, vodka, coffee liqueur
  • Hazelnut Old Fashioned – Frangelico, bourbon, bitters
  • Nutty Irishman – Frangelico, Irish cream liqueur

The sweet and creamy notes of Frangelico complement many liquor bases nicely in mixed drinks. The liqueur is also simply poured over ice for those looking to enjoy the nutty flavor on its own.

Frangelico Nutrition Facts

Frangelico contains 108 calories and 21 grams of sugar per 1.5 fluid ounce (44ml) serving. This breaks down to:

  • Calories: 108
  • Total fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Sugar: 21 g
  • Protein: 0 g

The main source of calories and carbohydrates in Frangelico is from sugar. Given that a 1.5 ounce serving contains 21 grams of sugar, Frangelico would be considered high in sugar.

To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends adults restrict their intake of added sugars to no more than 25 grams per day. So a single serving of Frangelico provides 84% of the recommended daily limit of added sugar intake.

Alcohol and Sugar Content

In addition to its sugar content, the alcohol content of Frangelico also contributes to its calorie count.

At 24 proof, Frangelico contains 12% alcohol by volume. Pure ethyl alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram. This means that for a 1.5 ounce serving size of Frangelico, roughly:

  • 12 grams come from pure alcohol, providing 84 calories
  • The remaining 24 calories come from sugar and other ingredients

So while sugar is the main source of calories in Frangelico, the alcohol still makes up a good portion at about 78% of its total calories.

Sugar Content of Other Liqueurs

Compared to other popular liqueurs, Frangelico is moderately high in sugar. Here’s how it compares:

Liqueur Sugar per 1.5 ounce serving
Frangelico 21 grams
Bailey’s Irish cream 14 grams
Kahlua 17 grams
Triple sec 16 grams
Amaretto 15 grams

As you can see, Frangelico is on the higher end for sugar content compared to other liqueurs in the same class. Bailey’s Irish Cream contains 25% less sugar per serving at 14 grams.

So Frangelico is not the most sugar-dense liqueur, but it is significantly higher in sugar than vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, and other distilled spirits that don’t contain added sugar.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that ranks carb-containing foods by how much they raise your blood sugar levels.

It’s a helpful tool for people managing conditions like diabetes who need to monitor how foods impact their blood sugar.

Frangelico has not been tested to determine its specific GI ranking. However, it’s likely to have a moderately high GI due to its high sugar concentrations.

For comparison:

  • Table sugar has a GI of 65
  • Milk chocolate has a GI of 43
  • Peanuts have a GI of 14

Given the sugar and sweet flavor of Frangelico, its GI would likely be comparable to chocolate, around 40-50.

This means it would cause a sharper rise in blood sugar than foods like nuts with more fiber, protein and fat to slow digestion.

Frangelico and Weight Gain

Like any alcoholic beverage, Frangelico is calorie-dense, providing 108 calories in just 1.5 ounces. This can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess.

A few factors play a role in Frangelico’s potential to lead to weight gain:

  • Sugar content – Frangelico contains 21 grams of sugar per serving, accounting for over 75% of its calories. Added sugars can promote fat storage.
  • Low satiety – Liquid calories from alcohol tend to be poorly filling compared to solid food. This makes it easier to overconsume calories from drinks.
  • Mixers – Frangelico is often mixed with sodas, juices or cream liquors that further increase calorie counts.

To reduce the likelihood of weight gain:

  • Practice moderation – Limit Frangelico to 1-2 servings max per day
  • Avoid sugary mixers – Stick to water, soda water or diet mixers
  • Account for calories – Be mindful of Frangelico’s calories when making your daily diet

Overall, Frangelico can certainly fit into a healthy diet, but calories and portion sizes need to be considered.

Low-Sugar Frangelico Alternatives

If you want to reduce sugar but still enjoy the flavor of Frangelico, consider these low-sugar alternatives:

Sugar-Free Hazelnut Syrup

Make your own custom sweetener by combining sugar-free flavors. Mix hazelnut extract, vanilla, and your preferred sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. Use this lower-sugar syrup in cocktails instead of Frangelico.

Hazelnut Extract with Diet Soda/Seltzer

Add a few drops of hazelnut extract into soda water, diet ginger ale, or other zero-calorie beverages for a refreshing, sugar-free drink. Adjust extract amounts to taste.

Hazelnut-Infused Vodka or Rum

Steep hazelnuts in vodka or spiced rum for 1-2 weeks to naturally extract the flavors. Strain out the solids and use the infused spirit in place of Frangelico.

Sugar-Free Coffee Liqueur

Make your own lower-sugar coffee liqueur using brewed espresso, whiskey, vanilla, and a zero-calorie sweetener. Blend until smooth and store in an airtight bottle.

The Bottom Line

Frangelico does contain a high concentration of sugar, with 21 grams per serving. This gives it a very sweet taste but also accounts for over 75% of its calories.

If limiting added sugars due to health or weight concerns, Frangelico may not be the best choice. There are lower sugar alternatives to consider instead.

However, enjoyed occasionally and in moderation, Frangelico can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Just be mindful of portion sizes and accompanying mixers.

While high in sugar, Frangelico does provide a delicious hazelnut and chocolate flavor that can be enjoyed sensibly by those with no medical need to restrict their sugar intake.

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