Don’t have brown sugar, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best brown sugar substitute to use in recipes.

Brown sugar substitute

Making a recipe that calls for brown sugar and don’t have it? Don’t worry, there are few options that are perfectly suited as a substitution. Brown sugar is simply granulated sugar with a bit of molasses added to it. So there are lots of types of sugar that will do the trick! You can even make your own brown sugar. Ready to get started?

How to make brown sugar

You can make your own brown sugar from white sugar and molasses. Here’s what to do:

  • Light brown sugar: Stir together 1 cup white sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses.
  • Dark brown sugar: Stir together 1 cup white sugar with 2 tablespoons molasses.

Best brown sugar substitute

1. Granulated sugar (white sugar)

The best brown sugar substitute? Good old white sugar. Yes, this substitute works anytime, whether it be a baking recipe or savory sauce. You may notice a slight difference in a baked good from the caramel flavor of brown sugar and the lightly higher moisture content of brown sugar. If you’re worried about that, make brown sugar following the instructions above.

2. Coconut sugar

The next best substitute for brown sugar? Coconut sugar. It’s made from the coconut palm and has a flavor that’s very similar to brown sugar. It’s a little less processed than granulated sugar, and has become much easier to find at grocery stores in the US.

3. Turbinado sugar

Turbinado sugar also works as a substitute for brown sugar. Turbinado sugar is raw sugar with large, light brown crystals. It’s less processed than refined white sugar, because it’s boiled only once to remove the molasses (refined sugar is boiled multiple times). It has a more complex, caramel-y flavor than refined sugar so it’s closer in flavor to brown sugar.

4. Maple syrup (not baking)

Maple syrup can work as a brown sugar substitute, too! This is a better substitute in non-baked recipes, like where brown sugar is used as a sweetener in sauces. Why? The moisture content of syrup is much higher than brown sugar. Adding it to baked goods can make the texture very soft versus crisp (like in cookies). The most common ratio is to use ¾ cup maple syrup for every 1 cup sugar in a recipe.

Related recipes

Here are some recipes where you could use this brown sugar substitution:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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