A Substitute for Brown Sugar

A Few Options If You Run Out

Brown sugar
Titova Valeria / Getty Images

Are you out of brown sugar or have you discovered that yours has turned brick hard? It's inconvenient to run out to the store if you're in the middle of a recipe, and you don't need to go to the expense when you can use this simple brown sugar substitute instead. It takes just a minute. All you need is some granulated sugar and molasses, and the molasses is optional if you don't happen to have any of that on hand either.

Substitute Granulated Sugar 

Just replace the brown sugar called for in the recipe with an equal amount of granulated sugar. Yes, it's that easy. Brown sugar is nothing more than granulated sugar with a bit of molasses added to it.

Your recipe should still come out great, although you may notice a subtle change in the taste and moisture content. The difference should be negligible, however. If you're making a cookie recipe, you might 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.

Make Real Brown Sugar

If you have both granulated sugar and molasses in your pantry, you can make your own brown sugar in under a minute. Just stir one tablespoon of molasses into one cup of granulated sugar, no cooking required. In a pinch, 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 it will still work well.


Watch Now: 7 Baking Substitutions You Need to Know

When It Is a Rock

If you're looking for a brown sugar substitute because your brown sugar is too hard to use, there's a really easy fix for that, too. You can salvage your brown sugar by placing it in a bowl and covering it with a moistened paper towel, then microwaving it on high in 20-second increments until it becomes soft enough to use.

If you don't need the sugar immediately, try the apple approach if you happen to have some apples on hand. Place the sugar in a bowl with a few apple slices, cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and let it sit overnight. 

If You Have Light and Need Dark

Just add a tablespoon of molasses to a cup of light brown sugar to turn it into dark brown sugar, just as you would with granulated sugar. You can use a tablespoon of maple syrup for this purpose as well. 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. It works in reverse, too, if you need light brown sugar and only have dark brown sugar? You'll hardly notice the difference.

Purchasing an Alternative

if you're in the store and you can't find regular brown sugar, you can also use muscovado sugar or demerara instead. Both have a similar moisture content and flavor and substitute well in recipes. Use dark muscovado in place of dark brown sugar and light muscovado in place of light brown sugar.