How to Make Brown Sugar in Minutes

Bowl With Brown Sugar

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When you are eager to make a recipe that calls for brown sugar, but you don't have any in the cupboard, you can save yourself a trip to the grocery store. This easy recipe takes just five minutes and uses only two ingredients: sugar and molasses. Brown sugar couldn't be easier to make. You may never need to buy it again.

The recipe has three variations: making light brown sugar from white sugar, making dark brown sugar from white sugar, and making dark brown sugar from light brown sugar.


Three recipes for brown sugar are as follows:

  1. Light Brown Sugar from White Sugar and Molasses: Measure 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses into a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until completely mixed. 
  2. Dark Brown Sugar from White Sugar: Measure 1 cup of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of molasses into a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until completely mixed.
  3. Dark Brown Sugar from Light Brown Sugar: Measure 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses into a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until completely mixed.

Why This Works

Molasses is a byproduct of making white sugar and contains protein, minerals, and vitamins. For example, molasses is high in manganese, potassium, vitamin B6, and more. The thick syrup acts as a sweetener and comes in various forms, including light, dark, and blackstrap.

One benefit of this recipe is that it doesn't go to waste. Molasses is added back into white sugar to make brown sugar. Light brown sugar contains about 3.5 percent molasses, and dark brown sugar contains about 6.5 percent molasses.

By adding molasses to white sugar, you are doing precisely what is done at the sugar factory but a discounted price. And by making it as you need it, you don't have to worry about your store-bought brown sugar turning into hard clumps.

The complex and rich flavor of molasses gives an extra dimension to the taste of finished products like cookies, muffins, marinades, and sauces.

Alternatives Without Molasses

If you don't have or want to use molasses, you can try these alternatives:

  • Try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup to a cup of granulated sugar. It will result in a slightly different flavor element. Real maple syrup works best, but maple-flavored syrup could be used in a pinch.
  • Agave nectar also can be used, mixing a tablespoon with a cup of granulated sugar.
  • Buckwheat honey has a strong flavor much like molasses. Mix a tablespoon of it into a cup of white granulated sugar.
  • Rum flavoring also adds a flavor similar to molasses. Use white sugar in your recipe and add a couple of drops to the mixture. Rum is made by fermenting and distilling sugarcane juice or molasses, so it's not wise to use actual rum, as it won't have enough of the concentrated flavor. It simply will add more liquid and alcohol to the recipe and would require other adjustments.