5 Brown Sugar Substitutes to Try

Raw sugar still life
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Out of brown sugar, or just discovering that yours has turned brick hard? If you're in the middle of a recipe, you can use this simple brown sugar substitute, until you're able to get to the store for another bag.


  • granulated sugar
  • molasses (optional)


To make a successful substitute, just replace the brown sugar called for in the recipe with an equal amount of granulated sugar.

Since brown sugar is nothing more than granulated sugar with a bit of molasses added to it, your recipe should still come out great. You may notice a subtle change in the taste and moisture content of your recipe, but the difference should be negligible. If you're making a cookie recipe, for example, you may find that your cookies come out a bit crisper and lighter in color than usual.

Who knows? That could even prove to be a good thing.

How to Make Real Brown Sugar

If you have granulated sugar and molasses in your pantry, you can make your own brown sugar in under a minute. No cooking required. Here are instructions for making light brown and dark brown sugar. Maple syrup can be used in place of the molasses, if you don't have any molasses on hand. It has a slightly different flavor, but will still work well.

How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar

Looking for a brown sugar substitute because your brown sugar is too hard to use? There's actually a really easy fix for that. Here are a couple ways that you can soften brown sugar. Be sure to check out the tips for keeping your brown sugar soft at the end of that article. They'll save you from having to soften your brown sugar every time you use it.

Have Light Brown Sugar and Need Dark Brown Sugar?

Just add a tablespoon of molasses to a cup of light brown sugar to turn it into dark brown sugar. This will give you the real deal.

If you don't have molasses, use a tablespoon of maple syrup instead, or just use your light brown sugar in place of the dark brown sugar that's called for. You probably won't notice any difference in your recipe, if you do. Need light brown sugar and only have dark brown sugar? Go ahead and use it. You'll hardly notice the difference.

Live Somewhere Where Brown Sugar Isn't Available?

Then, use muscavado sugar or demerara instead. They have a similar moisture content and flavor, and will work well as a substitute for brown sugar. Use dark muscavado in place of dark brown sugar and light muscavado in place of light brown sugar.

More Ingredient Substitutions

If you found this substitute helpful, be sure to bookmark or pin my complete ingredient substitution list before you go. It has over 70 substitutes to help you keep your recipes on track — without an extra trip to the store.

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