Make Your Own Brown Sugar

Brown sugar in a white bowl

The Spruce Eats / Abby Mercer

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
4 Calories
0g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 4
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 19mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Brown sugar is a less-refined version of ordinary granulated white sugar in which molasses is present for color and flavor. In general, it will impart more moisture to baked goods but can also change the color or texture of the final product. Delicious and with a bold flavor, brown sugar is a great pantry ingredient to have at hand. When you run out of it, our recipe can help you make excellent brown sugar in no time. Learning how to make brown sugar is simply a matter of adding the molasses back into the white sugar—sort of a reverse refining process. Another added benefit of making your own is that you can make just what you need as you need it. This way, it won't get dried out in your pantry and turn to hard clumps.

If you've never used brown sugar before, it's best to experiment a little before committing to a certain amount; remember that the darker the color of the sugar, the stronger the flavor. Although you can replace white sugar with brown at a 1:1 ratio in most recipes, be mindful that the added molasses can change the color and add stronger flavor. It's a staple ingredient in cookies and delicious especially in a straightforward brown sugar cookie.

Although molasses contains protein, minerals, and vitamins, such as being high in manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6, brown sugar isn't healthier than white, and the caloric content is similar in both. Neither is nutritionally superior. The less processing in sugar, or any food item, the better.


Click Play to See This Simple DIY Brown Sugar Come Together

"I love any type of DIY in the kitchen. This is a great recipe to have on hand for when I run out of brown sugar, especially since I usually always have molasses in my pantry." —Renae Wilson

Brown sugar, granulated sugar, and molasses in bowls
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for brown sugar recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Abby Mercer

  2. Combine white sugar and molasses in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or mixer until thoroughly blended.

    Granulated sugar and molasses combined in a bowl with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Abby Mercer

  3. Store brown sugar in an airtight container to prevent from drying out. Enjoy in your favorite recipes.

    Brown sugar in a clear glass jar with the lid off

    The Spruce Eats / Abby Mercer

Make Your Brown Sugar Darker or Lighter

This recipe uses just 1 tablespoon of molasses for each cup of white sugar, but you can adjust the amount of molasses depending on whether you want your brown sugar lighter or darker:

  • To make dark brown sugar from white sugar, increase the molasses to 2 tablespoons per 1 cup of granulated sugar. Stir with a fork and keep in an airtight container.
  • To make dark brown sugar from light brown sugar, add 1 tablespoon of molasses to 1 cup of light brown sugar. Stir with a fork and keep in an airtight container.

Other Great Types of Sugar

Don't have molasses or just want to try something different? Try these other methods of making "brown sugar":

  • Add a tablespoon of maple syrup to a cup of granulated sugar. Real maple syrup works best, but maple-flavored syrup could be used in a pinch.
  • Add a tablespoon of agave nectar to a cup of granulated sugar. The flavor will be milder and the color lighter.
  • Add a tablespoon of buckwheat honey to a cup of white granulated sugar. This honey is darker than orange blossom or wildflower honey and has a strong flavor much like molasses that will come through in the resulting sugar.

What Are Demerara, Turbinado, and Muscovado Sugar?

Many options exist nowadays when it comes to choosing a type of sugar. Among the most used are demerara, turbinado, and muscovado sugar, each with a different flavor profile:

  • Demerara sugar is cane sugar that has a larger grain than average sugar. It has a pleasant flavor, and it's widely used in baked goods. It has a moderate amount of molasses, thus the light color.
  • Muscovado is a very unrefined sugar that is produced in a more manual way than commercially available white or brown sugar. It has a high molasses content, thus the dark color and deep flavor.
  • Turbinado sugar is cane sugar stemming from the first press, so it carries a lot more of the cane flavor and has a beautiful golden color.