How to Make a Turbinado Sugar Substitute

No worries if you do not have this special sugar

illustration showing good turbinado sugar substitute

The Spruce / Julie Bang

Preparing a recipe that calls for turbinado sugar and wondering what, if anything, you can use in its place? Luckily, another sugar from your pantry should do the trick. Here's how to make a successful substitution, without a special trip to the store or opening your wallet.

What You'll Need

All you need to make a turbinado sugar substitution is either light brown sugar, demerara sugar, or light muscovado sugar.


It couldn't be easier! Just use the same amount of light brown sugar in the place of turbinado sugar. Brown sugar is more refined and has a slightly higher molasses content, but it will contribute a similar color and flavor to your recipe. It's okay to use dark brown sugar if that's all you have; just know that it will contribute a darker color and a bit more moisture than the recipe intended (which you may find is a good thing). Demerara or light muscovado sugar can also be used in equal amounts in place of turbinado sugar.

If you live in a place where it's difficult to find any of these sugars, just whip up your own brown sugar from granulated sugar and molasses.

What Is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado sugar is a natural brown sugar that is made by pressing sugar cane to extract the juice. The resulting sugar cane juices are allowed to evaporate, leaving behind large light brown sugar crystals. Turbinado sugar is less processed than granulated sugar and retains some of the natural molasses from the sugar cane juice. This makes it more moist and flavorful than granulated sugar. Some cooks prefer turbinado because it's minimally processed; others prefer it because the large crystals lend themselves to decorating the tops of baked goods.

If you decide to buy turbinado sugar, be sure to store it in an air-tight container. Like brown sugar, it's prone to hardening when exposed to air. But don't fret—if yours turns brick hard, it's easy enough to soften it back up.

More Sugar and Sweetener Substitutes

When a recipe calls for a type of sugar or sweetener that you don't have in your pantry, don't like to use, can't track down locally, or don't want to buy since you only need a small amount (or it's a ridiculous price), turn to these substitutions to keep your recipe on track:

Keep our ​list of substitutions handy so you can refer to it whenever you find yourself out of an ingredient, or need to make a change to accommodate an allergy or food preference. With over 70 substitutions (and counting), it's sure to have the information you need to get the job done.