The 11 Best Brown Sugar Substitutes  (Try it Now)
Everything you need to know about which food substitutes to use for which foods and how to use them!
When you have these handy brown sugar substitutes, you can bake without missing a beat!
When you’re getting ready to cook or bake and begin gathering your ingredients, you can confidently proceed even if you’re missing brown sugar!
All you need is one of the many alternatives shared here to achieve fantastic results!
Check out this comprehensive list of great brown sugar substitutes when you need the best brown sugar substitute to make an amazing recipe!
WHAT IS BROWN SUGAR?
Brown sugar is a type of sucrose sugar that is brown in color. Sugar can be refined or unrefined, and the crystals are brown in color.
This is due to residual molasses if the brown sugar is natural, or molasses added to refined white sugar if the brown sugar is commercial.
Brown sugar is an ingredient that is commonly used in both cooking and baking.
CAN YOU MAKE BROWN SUGAR WITHOUT MOLASSES?
What if you don’t have any molasses on hand? Then you’re out of luck, and a trip to the grocery store is in your future.
However, maple syrup can be used in place of brown sugar.
It’s a little tricky: for each cup of brown sugar, use about 2/3 cup pure maple syrup, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
LIGHT BROWN SUGAR VS. DARK BROWN SUGAR
The difference between light and dark brown sugar is determined by the amount of molasses in the ingredient.
Commercial light brown sugar contains about 3.5 percent molasses by volume, while dark brown sugar contains up to 6.5 percent molasses by volume.
Regular commercial brown sugar contains up to 10% molasses by weight. It is soft because it is naturally moist from the molasses.
As a result, it’s no surprise that one is lighter in color and the other is darker. Dark brown sugar has a slightly richer flavor, reminiscent of caramel or toffee.
CAN YOU USE LIGHT BROWN SUGAR AND DARK BROWN SUGAR INTERCHANGEABLY?
Yes, for the most part. While dark brown sugar has more moisture, it is such a small difference that you would hardly notice it, and there is no need to change any of the other ingredient measurements.
However, there will be a subtle difference in color, taste, and texture.
The color will be lighter or darker, will have a deeper toffee flavor or less of that rich flavor, and will rise slightly more or slightly less depending on which is used in place of the other.
HOW IS BROWN SUGAR DIFFERENT FROM RAW SUGAR, CANE SUGAR, MUSCOVADO, AND TURBINADO SUGAR?
Sugar cane is refined to produce raw sugar. It is an added sugar, not a natural sugar, and is primarily produced in Florida in the United States.
Raw sugar is less refined, so it contains more of the natural molasses found in sugar cane, and it is light brown in color.
Cane sugar is sugar derived from sugar cane. Because the molecules in sugar cane are identical to those in white granulated sugar, they are essentially the same product.
White granulated sugar, on the other hand, can be made from either sugar cane or sugar beets.
Cane sugar is lighter in color and less moist than brown sugar, but both are derived from the sugar cane plant.
Muscovado is a brown sugar that differs from standard “brown sugar” in that it is the most unrefined cane sugar, contains natural molasses, and is rich, moist (moister than brown sugar), sticky, coarse, and has a toffee-like flavor.
It also has some minerals and antioxidants. Because of the more laborious process of making it, it is considered more artisanal.
Turbinado sugar is made from cane sugar as well, and it has larger crystals and a light brown color.
It’s actually the same thing as raw sugar, and it gets its name from the minimal processing that keeps a lot of the natural molasses in the product.
So, the process that brown sugar goes through determines its color, taste, granule size, moisture levels, and, ultimately, your final product!
11 BEST SUBSTITUTES FOR LIGHT BROWN SUGAR AND DARK BROWN SUGAR
1. MAKE YOUR OWN
- Create your own! Brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses added. Even if you don’t have molasses, you can make your own brown sugar with maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey. Who knew it could be so simple?!
2. WHITE SUGAR
- You can use the same amount of white sugar as the recipe calls for and still get a delicious result. Because white sugar contains less moisture than brown sugar, the only difference you may notice is a crisper cookie or baked good.
3. MUSCOVADO SUGAR
- Muscovado is brown in color and contains more molasses, so it can be used in place of light brown sugar in a 1:1 ratio. It is also available in light and dark varieties, but it is slightly more flavorful than brown sugar.
- Jaggery is a common ingredient in many South Asian dishes, and it is frequently found in a hard, block-like form. It has an earthy flavor that complements savory recipes and can be used as a 1:1 substitute for both light and dark brown sugar.
5. SUGAR FROM COCONUT
- Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm and has a flavor similar to brown sugar. In your recipes, use a 1:1 substitution.
6. TURBINADO SUGAR
- Turbinado sugar can be substituted for brown sugar, but it is typically mild, has large granules, and is light in color. Because it is difficult to mix into many recipes, it is best used as a finishing sugar, adding crunch and sparkle to the texture. Even so, if you’re in a hurry, a 1:1 ratio will suffice!
7. RAW SUGAR
- Although brown in color, raw sugar is more similar to white sugar than brown sugar. Because it contains very little molasses, if you replace brown sugar with raw sugar, add extra liquid to compensate for the moisture loss.
- Brown sugar’s claim to fame is its molasses content, so leaving it out of the substitution list would be a disgrace. Substitute in a 1:1 ratio, but keep in mind that molasses is a liquid, so either reduce liquids elsewhere in the recipe or slightly increase dry ingredients.
9. DATE PASTE OR DATE SUGAR
- Date sugar is a natural sweetener made from grated dehydrated dates that is widely regarded as a healthier alternative to processed sugar. Use equal parts of everything.
10. PALM SUGAR
- Palm sugar (also known as palm date sugar) is available in hard cones or blocks. It must be shaved or chopped before use, but it is a natural sweetener that can be substituted for brown sugar.
11. HONEY, AGAVE, MAPLE SYRUP
- Because they are completely liquid, these liquid sweeteners are best used in non-baked recipes such as sauces and glazes, whereas brown sugar is solid.
SUBSTITUTES FOR OATMEAL
Because of its liquid texture and rich flavor, maple syrup is an excellent substitute for brown sugar when making oatmeal.
The amount you should use is determined by how sweet you want your oatmeal. Begin small and taste test until you achieve the desired result.
If you don’t have brown sugar, you can substitute white sugar in a 1:1 ratio.
If you want to sweeten your oatmeal without adding sugar, try:
- Fruit (bananas, berries, mango, stone fruit, applesauce),
- Dates or Coconut
- Butters (nut or seed)
- Nectars (agave, coconut)
- Syrups (maple, date, sorghum, barley malt, yacon)
- Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)
- Extracts (vanilla, peppermint, almond)
- milk (almond, soy, cows),
SUBSTITUTES FOR MEATLOAF
Brown sugar is frequently used in meatloaf glazes.
If you don’t have brown sugar, you can still make a delicious meatloaf by using the same amount of white sugar in its place. It may alter the texture and flavor slightly.
If you happen to have molasses on hand, you can always mix it in with the white sugar (or combine directly with ketchup or bbq sauce).
Frequently Asked Questions
What does brown sugar do in cookies?
Brown sugar is commonly used in cookie recipes. Because of the high moisture content from the retained molasses, the cookies will be chewier, moister, and puffier because it is acidic and activates the baking soda. Using different sugars will result in a crispier, flatter cookie, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s simply a matter of taste!
Which is more expensive, white sugar or brown sugar?
Brown sugar is typically more expensive than white sugar. This is due to how it is processed or where it is sourced. Brown sugar is made from molasses, which was once less expensive than refined sugar but has now nearly doubled in price.
Can you use regular sugar if you don’t have brown sugar?
Sometimes a recipe calls for brown sugar, and we don’t always have brown sugar on hand. Unless we are avid bakers, we frequently have only regular white sugar in the house.