What Is Muscovado Sugar?

A Guide to Buying, Using, and Storing Muscovado Sugar

A glass bowl of brown sugar cubes
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Muscovado sugar is an unrefined or partially refined cane sugar with a strong molasses flavor and high moisture content. It has a slightly coarse texture and feels sticky to the touch. Enjoyed for its rich molasses and toffee-like flavor, muscovado is rather common in Europe. It is gaining attention in other parts of the world, including the United States, so the artisanal sugar is becoming easier to find. Muscovado is popularly used in chocolate sweets and other baked goods, as a warm drink sweetener, and for savory sauces and marinades.

What Is Muscovado Sugar?

Muscovado sugar goes by many names, including Barbados sugar, molasses sugar, kandasari, khand, and moist sugar. It's generally an unrefined sugar, though some is partially refined. The African island of Mauritius is known for producing the best muscovado sugar.

Standard brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar. During the production process of muscovado, no molasses is removed, which accounts for its high moisture content. The texture of muscovado sugar is moist and sticky, so it's often compared to wet sand. Its taste is complex and rich, a strong molasses flavor reminiscent of toffee and slightly bittersweet.

Muscovado sugar comes into two varieties: dark and light. Dark muscovado has no molasses removed and is more common. Only a portion of molasses is extracted from light muscovado, which gives it a lighter flavor.

Muscovado Sugar Uses

The deep flavor of muscovado sugar is often used in cake and cookies, sometimes in candies. It pairs best with chocolate baked goods like brownies and cookies. Gingerbread and similar dark-flavored sweets are also a good match, and it makes a delicious caramelized ice cream. Muscovado makes an excellent sweetener for coffee and tea, or when sprinkled over the top of oatmeal and yogurt.

Muscovado sugar has its uses in savory dishes, too. Most common among these are barbecue sauce and marinades or glazes for meats.

Where to Buy Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado sugar is available in natural and specialty food stores, as well as online. In Europe, it is common, and a growing interest is making it easier to find in supermarkets and well-stocked grocery stores in the U.S. Muscovado is more expensive than brown sugar. It's often sold in 1-pound bags, though bulk quantities are available.

Muscovado Sugar Substitute

Unrefined brown sugars, such as jaggery, panela, and Sucanat, are the best substitutes for muscovado sugar. If you don't have those, dark brown sugar is the next best option for dark muscovado, and light brown sugar is a good substitute for light muscovado. Demerara and turbinado sugars are not as moist, but make a decent substitute in most recipes. Any of these can replace muscovado in equal amounts.

You can also make a comparable sugar using white granulated sugar. Similar to making your own brown sugar, stir 2 tablespoons of molasses into 1 cup of white sugar until it's the consistency of wet sand.


Since muscovado and all other brown sugars have so much moisture, they're prone to drying out. When stored improperly, the sugar will become clumps and eventually harden. Store muscovado in an air-tight container with a tight lid or a plastic zip-top bag. To soften muscovado, place a terracotta brown sugar saver or a slice of apple or bread in the container.