Learn how to make brown sugar to use in your favorite recipes. You only need 2 ingredients and a few minutes to make homemade brown sugar!
Brown sugar is one of my favorite types of sugar to cook and bake with! It adds moisture, subtle caramel flavor and toffee notes, and delicious flavor to all kinds of recipes from a chocolate chip cookie recipe to brownies to bbq sauce and marinades!
But if you’ve ever gone to bake only to discover you’re out of brown sugar, we’ve got you covered with an easy homemade brown sugar substitute that only requires 2 INGREDIENTS and a few minutes to make. Yes, it’s really that easy!
Here’s what you need to make your own DIY brown sugar at home!
What Is Brown Sugar Made Of?
You might think that brown sugar and white sugar are made from two different kinds of sugar cane, but brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses! When making sugar, cane juice is evaporated and spun to remove the molasses from the crystals, leaving behind white granulated sugar and liquid molasses. Then, to make brown sugar, some of the molasses is added back into the white sugar. Makes, sense, right?
Light Brown Sugar VS. Dark Brown Sugar.
There are two main varieties of brown sugar–light brown sugar and dark brown sugar. The only difference is the amount of molasses in the sugar!
Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark brown sugar, which has more molasses content. More molasses means that dark brown sugar has a darker color and a more intense molasses flavor. This works great in things like banana bread, gingerbread, and spice cake!
Here’s What You Need To Make Brown Sugar
So, to make a brown sugar substitute, all you’ll need is granulated sugar (white sugar) and regular unsulphured molasses (NOT blackstrap molasses)
- For Light Brown Sugar: 1 cup of white sugar (200 grams) + 1 Tablespoon of molasses (15 ml)
- For Dark Brown Sugar: 1 cup of white sugar sugar (200 grams) + 2 Tablespoons of molasses (30 ml)
Important note: You’ll want to use regular, unsulphured molasses, NOT blackstrap molasses, which is more strong and bitter. Most molasses sold in grocery stores in the United States is regular/unsulphured molasses. If you live in the UK, you can also use black treacle, which may be easier to find.
How To Make Brown Sugar, Step By STep:
In A Bowl
- Combine sugar and molasses in a mixing bowl.
- Use a flexible spatula to stir and combine well. At first, the molasses will probably form some clumps in the sugar. Use your spatula to press them flat and blend the molasses in. (You can use a hand mixer to help you, but I find that a spatula does a great job pressing out the little bubbles) Mix until the color is evenly distributed and it looks like every grain of sugar is coated with molasses.
- Use right away or store brown sugar in an airtight container up to 1 month.
In A Food Processor
- Combine sugar and molasses in the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse to combine thoroughly, pausing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, as needed. Mix until all the sugar crystals are evenly coated in molasses.
- Use right away or store in an airtight container up to 1 month. (Keep it soft with these tips!)
Now, Let’s Use It!
Now that you made brown sugar, you’re ready to use it! Put it to use in one of these recipes:
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For Brown Sugar
What’s the best substitute for brown sugar? Honestly, homemade brown sugar! DIY brown sugar will have the same deep caramel color and similar moisture, which will help your baked goods spread, rise, and taste the way you expect. It’ll work better than swapping in another sugar, like coconut sugar, demerara sugar, or muscovado sugar. (Learn more about different types of sugar here)
Is there anything I can use besides molasses? If you’re in the UK (or can find it in the US), you can try black treacle. It’s slightly sweetener than molasses, but will totally work for this recipe. I don’t recommend any other liquid sweeteners, like honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup, as they won’t have the same flavor or texture.
How To Store Brown Sugar. The best way to keep brown sugar soft and fresh is to avoid air exposure and heat. Store the brown sugar in a zip-top bag with excess air pressed out of the bag, or in an airtight container.
How To Measure Brown Sugar. The most accurate way will always be to use a kitchen scale, but when you don’t have one, you’ll need to pack the brown sugar down into your measuring cup a bit. The extra moisture from the molasses means the sugar isn’t as compact, so you’ll need to gently pack it into the measuring cup to get an accurate measurement. (That’s why most recipes call for packed brown sugar)
TIPS & TRICKS
More Baking tips to Try: