7 Brown Sugar Substitutes: Learn How to Make Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar Substitutes


Did it ever happen that you are about to bake and you realize there’s no brown sugar in the kitchen cabinets? You start scrambling around to find a brown sugar substitute in the kitchen. Well, that’s something very possible to happen to anyone and thanks to the many substitutes readily available at home. You can even use white sugar as an alternative and many others. According to Better Homes & Gardens, you can use the same amount of white sugar in place of brown sugar in the recipe. Suppose, the recipe calls for one cup of brown sugar, you can use one cup of white sugar instead!

However, this hack for baking works only for a few recipes as there’s a significant difference between the two kinds of sugar. But, you need not stress over the situation because we have got you the best brown sugar substitutes available. You just need to identify which substitute best with your baking recipe as all of them have different reactions based on the varying chemical reaction taking place while baking or cooking. So, keep in mind that there can be a change in the texture of the baking dish that you swap brown sugar for. But, it will save you in the time of crises.

7 top brown sugar substitutes

White sugar and molasses

Making a combination of molasses and white sugar can be a great alternative to brown sugar, as that’s how they make brown sugar.

To make this substitute, you will need 1 cup or 200gms of granulated white sugar and 1tblspn or 15ml of molasses. For dark brown sugar, make the quantity of molasses 2tblespn or 30ml.

And you have your brown sugar ready!

White sugar and maple syrup

It is a traditional substitute for brown sugar that people still use. It is prepared with a mix of maple syrup and white sugar (granulated).

Simply mix 200gms or one cup of granulated sugar with 15ml or 1 tablespoon of pure maple sugar, which is readily available in the market. You also might have some at home already. You won’t believe, but this substitute can even fool an experienced food critic.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a substitute that is prepared using the sap of coconut trees. Most often, it is a healthier alternative to sugar for its high content of mineral, vitamins and fiber that are otherwise not found in refined sugar sources.

You can swap coconut sugar and brown sugar easily in 1:1 ratio. Although coconut sugar tastes and looks like brown sugar, it will not hold the same kind of moisture. It can affect the texture of your dish, making it denser or a little dryer than required.

But, you can also do something for the moisture content. Add a little oil or butter (works as extra fat) to the recipe. You can also melt the coconut sugar before using it for the baking method.

Honey, agave nectar or maple syrup

Doing minimum changes t the original recipe, you can use honey, agave nectar or maple syrup as a substitute for brown sugar. As you see, the replacements are liquid, the added moisture can affect the outcome of your recipe, mainly when you are baking.

The exact quantity of the substitution depends on the recipe you want to make, but these essential tips can help you get started:

You can replace 200gms of brown sugar with 2/3 cup or 160 ml of the liquid sweetener (the one you choose).

For every 160 ml of the sweetener you use, reduce another liquid ingredient by 60 ml.

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You should try reducing the cooking time as well. Just by a few minutes though. Why? These sugar replacements may get caramelized quicker than brown sugar. 

Raw sugars

Raw sugars such as, demerara or turbinado can be used as perfect brown sugar substitutes as their mild caramel flavors and light amber colors are much similar to brown sugar.

In many baking recipes, raw sugars are easily traded for brown sugars, without making much difference. However, it is more coarse and drier than brown sugar, which could be a matter of concern for the result of your recipe.

Being coarse, raw sugar granules do not necessarily mix well in the batter or dough as proper as brown sugar, which gives your dish a grainy texture. It mainly happens when you bake low-moisture recipes or the one originally intended to be of a delicate texture.

If you have a mortar, pestle or spice grinder, try grinding the raw sugar granules and bring it to a finer texture that can be easily mixed in the batter. Alternatively, you can try dissolving the sugar granules partially in warm liquid like water, oil or melted butter. Make sure you d this before adding the substitute to the batter or dough.

Muscovado sugar

Muscovado sugar is a kind of refined sugar that works great as a replacement of brown sugar because it also contains molasses like brown sugar. But, the moisture content of molasses in muscovado is higher than it is in regular brown sugar. This change in texture makes it stickier and tends to clump.

You can use this substitute for any recipe that needs brown sugar (but you don’t have it available). When baking using muscovado sugar, you should consider sifting it properly to get away with any clumps before putting it in the batter or dough.

To improve the integration of muscovado sugar, you can add it little at a time to an electric mixer with the recipe batter or dough.

Plain white sugar

When everything else fails, brown sugar can be replaced by an equal amount of white sugar without nay worries of ruining the recipe. White sugar doesn’t have the same flavor as brown sugar but it is the least noticeable change you will feel in the recipe, especially in taste as it hardly changes in some recipes.

The only factor that makes a difference is its texture. Brown sugar is known to add a slight chewiness to same specific types of baked goods, say cookies. So, when you replace brown sugar with white sugar, you will have a crispier cookie, which is still not bad.

Note: Even if you are you are on probiotics or any other kind of diet plan, having brown sugar items in moderation is not going to harm your healthy lifestyle.

How to make brown sugar?

Missing out an ingredient for a recipe is quite disappointing and stressful, but if it is brown sugar, you have many suitable alternatives. 

In case your brown sugar has turned hard or you find there’s no left in the container, we have come to your rescue.


  • Molasses
  • Granulated sugar


Replacing brown sugar with granulated sugar is the best substitute you can ever find. Just add the equal amount of granulated white sugar instead of brown sugar in your baking recipe.

As brown sugar is nothing but granulated sugar with molasses, your recipe will still result great in taste. You might see a subtle change though in the moisture content, but it would be negligible. For example, if you are baking biscuits, those might come out to be a little crispier than it would be with brown sugar. That could might to good as well.

For dark brown sugar

In case you have light brown sugar but you want dark brown sugar for your recipe, you can add 1tblspn of molasses to it. Yes, It’s that easy a deal!

If you don’t have molasses on hand, use one tablespoon of maple syrup. To not get into the pain of getting these ingredients right away to make the recipe, you can simply use what you have, light brown sugar. It won’t make much difference.

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How to soften hard brown sugar?

Are you in search of a brown sugar substitute because the one you have has turned brick-hard? Well, there’s a quick fix to the problem. Read on.

Brown sugar is an excellent sweetening ingredient for most baked items and it is also known to improve the taste of simple foods such as oatmeal. But, there’s a problem. After opening the box of brown sugar, it can get hard in no time, which is of no use for you. However, we have got another set of saving tips for you that will help you soften up brown sugar quickly.

If you don’t need it at the moment

If you have planned to bake something for which you need brown sugar and your bottle of brown sugar is already open, better check its condition a few days before making the recipe. In it has turned hard, add a few apple slices or a bread slice to an air-tight container of brown sugar. Once you see the sugar has softened, remove the bread or apple slices. You can also try softening the brown sugar by putting it in a bowl and covering it with a damp cloth. Keep it overnight. By the day you will make the recipe, the sugar will be in perfect consistency as it should be.

Get a brown sugar saver as the bakers do

If you like baking a lot, investing a few dollars for your baking recipes would not be a big deal. We are talking about getting a brown sugar saver. It is a small terra cotta stone that is kept wet in the brown sugar canister. How and why this trick works? This baker’s skill is one of the ways to keep your brown sugar from getting hard as terracotta is porous and holds moisture for a long time when placed in an air-tight container. To your surprise, you will only need to wet the terracotta stone once in a few months! You can easily get this brown sugar saver online. It’s just a matter of few dollars and you will not have to worry about the brown sugar getting hard as soon as the box is open.

If you need immediately

 If you have thought of making cookies that require brown sugar or want to add it to your oatmeal right now, put the hard brown sugar in a bowl (microwave-safe), cover it using a damp paper towel and microwave it for 20 seconds or until it softens. You can soften the remaining clumps (if any) using a fork or rush it with your fingers. Once done, the sugar is ready for use!

Try having a brown sugar keeper

Made by progressive, a brown sugar keeper is a container (BPA-free) having an air-tight gasket and a space on the lid’s underside for terracotta disc, which is already there. It can hold 2 pounds of brown sugar, so you need not worry about its size. As the terracotta disc is in a separate place, it becomes easier to scoop sugar out whenever needed, without removing the disc as it can be the situation with the brown sugar saver (which is still a good option though!). It also avoids the issue of the sugar sticking to the terracotta disc.

What makes these tricks work?

You might be having so many thoughts like why does the brown sugar get hard in the first place. If you are wondering, it was an old pack, you are wrong. It is not because the box was sitting for quite long on that shelf. It’s all because of the losing moisture of brown sugar.

The moisture naturally present in brown sugar tends to evaporate faster than in any other similar items and thus causes the sugar to turn hard. By bringing either of these tips to use, you can restore its moisture content or prevent it from losing (the brown sugar saver and brown sugar keeper trick!).

The Bottom Line

Brown sugar is an essential ingredient for baking goods. So, if you run out of this essential item, it gets stressful. But, there’s not much to worry about as there are many brown sugar substitutes you can use in place of real brown sugar. Moreover, there are ways to soften the hard brown sugar kept in your kitchen cabinet. We hope next time when you come across these situations, these substitutes and brown sugar softening tips come to good use.   




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