How To Soften Brown Sugar

Soften Brown Sugar In The Microwave or On The Counter

A bowl of brown sugar covered with a wet paper towel

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Softening brown sugar is a snap in the microwave. Due to the molasses and sugar in brown sugar, it often becomes hard rather easily. As a result, it can be hard to break up when you need to use it. Most of us use brown sugar in baking recipes, thus it needs to be softened so it can fit into a measuring cup. You can't do that when you have a hard clump or brick of sugar! Here are a few ways that explain how to soften brown sugar. It isn't difficult to soften the sugar; when you re-soften the sugar, you also won't have to replace a perfectly good ingredient.

How to Soften Brown Sugar In The Microwave

You can use the microwave as a quick way to soften the brown sugar. Just follow these tips:

  1. Place the brown sugar in a microwavable bowl.
  2. Put a couple of damp paper towels on top of the brown sugar.
  3. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap or microwave safe lid.
  4. Heat the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. If not yet softened, continue to heat for 10- second intervals.
  5. Fluff the sugar with a fork and use it immediately.

How to Soften Brown Sugar On The Counter Overnight

If you need to use the brown sugar the next day, try this method:

  1. Follow the first three steps listed above, putting the hardened sugar in a microwave bowl, covering it with damp paper towels and then sealing the bowl.
  2. Leave the sealed bowl on the kitchen counter overnight. The next day, the sugar will be softened. It may be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator.

Other Ways to Soften Brown Sugar

Some people swear by putting a slice of white bread or apple slices into the container of brown sugar. The sugar takes the moisture from the bread or apples, keeping it soft.


  • To keep new brown sugar from hardening, keep it in an airtight container right after opening.
  • Another way to prevent hardening is to purchase what is known as a brown sugar saver. It is a small piece of terra cotta that goes into the container with the sugar after you wet it. It helps hold in the moisture due to the porous nature of the terra cotta. It just needs to be wettened again every few months to keep the brown sugar soft.
  • Learn how to measure brown sugar using these handy step-by-step photos.
  • Most recipes will call for the brown sugar to be packed -- not just poured -- into a measuring cup. As a handy reference, please note that a one-pound bag or box of brown sugar is equivalent to about 2 1/2 cups of packed brown sugar.