Sweet Substitutions: 12 Delicious Brown Sugar Substitutes

Sweet Substitutions: 12 Delicious Brown Sugar Substitutes
24 min reading time

Are you looking to switch up your baking game by substituting brown sugar but don’t know where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! From muscovado sugar and molasses to coconut granules and honey, there are plenty of alternatives that will do a great job of replacing brown sugar.

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring some amazing brown sugar substitutes that will make all your baked dishes as delicious – if not more – than ever before! So let’s jump in and explore some of these awesome options.

What is Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is a type of natural sweetener made from partially refined or unrefined cane sugar combined with molasses. It’s usually coarse and considered less processed than white sugar, giving it a more unique flavor and texture. Brown sugar has a rich caramel aroma, and moist texture, and contains small amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium that are present in molasses.

While brown sugar does contain trace amounts of essential minerals that regular granulated will not have (like iron and calcium) its nutritional content is minimal compared to whole foods because most of these molecules get broken down during cooking or processing so their effects are not felt by consuming them alone in large quantities instead they should always be enjoyed when included along with balanced meals containing full-spectrum nutrition sources including fruits vegetable proteins grains etcetera.

How to Choose the Best Brown Sugar Substitutes?

Choosing the best substitutes for brown sugar can be a difficult task, as there are several options available. However, with a few simple guidelines, it is possible to select an alternative that offers both flavor and texture similar to those of traditional brown sugar. Here are some tips for finding the perfect substitute:

  1. Consider date sugar or coconut palm sugar as substitutes for light or dark brown sugars. If you’re looking for something with little added sweetness, these alternatives may provide just the right amount of flavor without overpowering the dish.
  2. Maple syrup is another great option if you don’t want your food to be too sweet or if you have dietary restrictions such as veganism or diabetes which require cutting down on added sugars.
  3. For those who prefer not to use refined white sugars but still want a product with similar results try jaggery – unrefined cane juice extracted from palms trees found mainly in India & Southeast Asia -or sucanat -made by lightly heating evaporated cane juice until it becomes dry granules again.

12 Best Brown Sugar Substitutes for Your Cooking!

There are plenty of substitutes for brown sugar that you can use. From maple syrup to honey to coconut sugar, the possibilities are endless. Not only will these substitutes save the day, but they’ll also add a unique flavor to your dishes.

So next time you’re in a bind, try experimenting with different substitutes of brown sugar and see how they enhance your recipes. Who knows, you might even find a new favorite ingredient!

1. Granulated White Sugar

White Granulate Sugar - One of the substitutes for brown sugar

Granulated white sugar is a great substitute for brown sugar because it offers a variety of advantages over the latter. For starters, granulated white sugar has a finer texture than brown sugar and dissolves more easily in liquid recipes – like cakes or cookies – making it easier to use and ideal for baking. Furthermore, its neutral flavor ensures that the other ingredients in a recipe can shine through; whereas, an overpowering taste from brown sugar might drown out subtler flavors.

Additionally, white granulated sugar has a longer shelf life compared to light or dark brown sugars due to its reduced water content (around 0-2%). Brown Sugar contains around 3-10% moisture and thus will become harder over time as that moisture evaporates away; while this may not be much of an issue if used soon after purchasing, any leftover product is unlikely to be usable after 6 months on the shelf.

On the other hand, white granulated sugar maintains its properties almost indefinitely since there’s no excess moisture present that can affect it over time. Additionally, in some recipes, you may also need less of it! For example, 1 cup of light/dark brown sugar is equal to 2/3 cup white granules where as when replacing molasses, depending upon your recipe you would need just 1 teaspoon molasses per ½ cup. So here you save up on calories by reducing the quantity consumed

From a health perspective, there is no difference in nutrient value—both types contain around 15 calories per teaspoon with traces of calcium and iron—brown sugars generally contain slightly more vitamins and minerals.

2. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar used as an alternative to brown sugar

Coconut sugar is quickly becoming one of the most popular natural substitutes for brown sugar. The product is derived from the coconut palm tree, and it looks like an unrefined version of dark brown sugar in terms of color and composition. It has a mild caramel-like flavor which adds a great sweetness to recipes without an overpowering taste.

When opting for coconut sugar as a substitute in baking recipes or any sweet treats you make at home, remember that because of its stronger flavour profile, you may need to reduce the amount used in comparison with a regular table or brown sugars; start out by cutting quantities by up to 40%. Due to its unique molecular structure, however, coconut sugar doesn’t tend to behave exactly like other forms so results may vary so always keep an eye on your baked goods throughout cooking!

Nutritionally speaking, coconut sugar is lower on the glycemic index than both white and brown sugars (35 compared to 68 and 64 respectively). This means that it does not cause blood glucose levels to rise as much when consumed, making it a healthier choice for those who are sensitive to regular sugar’s effects on their systems.

3. Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado sugar - one of the popular substitutes for brown sugar

Muscovado sugar, also known as “molasses sugar,” is a type of sugar which has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is made through the traditional process where raw cane juice is boiled down until it forms crystals. The result is a rich, dark brown, fine-textured sugar that retains some of its natural molasses content.

Muscovado sugar can be used as an effective substitute for brown sugar in many recipes due to its similarities in terms of color and texture. Its deep flavor adds complexity to baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and bread—and too sweet treats like meringues or caramel sauces—while providing greater depth than regular white or even light brown sugars would.

When substituting muscovado into recipes calling for brown sugar always use one cup of Muscovado per every cup used in the original recipe (as long as they are packed equally). Since Muscovado has higher moisture content than regular brown (or even more so light & dark) sugars it might require some adjustments when using them interchangeably; start slowly by adding 1 tablespoon at first until desired texture/consistency is reached – this will ultimately depend on your preference though!

4. Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar used as an alternative to brown sugar

Palm sugar, also known as Coconut Palm Sugar, is a natural sweetener with various health benefits that makes it an ideal substitute for brown sugar. It is derived from the sap of the inflorescence of the coconut palm tree and has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia as a traditional sweetener.

Compared to other sugars like brown or white sugar, palm sugar contains several nutrients such as zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B1 which make it a healthier alternative than other types of sugars. Additionally, its complex flavor profile gives off subtle hints of caramel or butterscotch instead of just the pure sweetness that most people associate with regular cane-sugar-based products. This unique combination lends itself nicely to many dishes by adding depth to both savory and sweet recipes without being overly sweet like refined sugars often are.

In terms of taste and texture, palm sugar provides a more nutrient-dense option than plain white or even brown sugar which can be cloying at times if too much is added. It has less glycemic impact on your blood glucose levels making it easier on your digestion while still providing the same level of sweetness that you get from cane-based options minus all the artificial ingredients associated with them plus additional vitamins and minerals that can help support better immunity overall.

5. Maple sugar

Homemade maple sugar - one of the substitutes for brown sugar

Maple sugar is a natural sweetener that has been used as a sugar substitute for centuries. It comes from the maple tree, which is native to North America and northern Asia. While it shares some of the same properties as white or brown sugar.

It can be used to add sweetness, texture, and flavor to dishes. To start, maple sugar is derived from the sap of the maple tree which makes it a natural sweetener. Unlike other forms of processed sugars such as white or brown sugar which are void of any nutritional value, Maple Sugar contains minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc which are beneficial to your health when consumed in moderation.

When being used in recipes as a brown sugar substitutes you’ll find that maple sugar provides a deep caramel flavor and slight molasses taste making it perfect for enhancing the flavor profile of many dishes. Due to its richer flavour profile compared to regular refinement-processed sugars when reduced amounts are used, you won’t have any loss in taste quality which can happen if less refined sugars aren’t implemented accurately in small quantities without using exotic ingredients like honey or molasses syrup etc.

6. Molasses

Molasses used as an alternative to brown sugar

Molasses, also known as “black treacle,” is a viscous dark-brown syrup made from the juice of cooked sugar cane or the sap from certain types of palms. Unlike white table sugar, which is highly refined and processed to rid it of all other natural ingredients besides sucrose, molasses provides additional nutritional benefits due to its wide array of vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and B vitamins like folate and thiamin (niacin).

When baking with molasses as one of the brown sugar substitutes, it is important to realize that they are not interchangeable in equal amounts because molasses has more moisture than brown sugar. In baked goods such as quick bread or cookies where texture plays an important role in the final product, it is recommended that you reduce the amount of liquid called for in your recipe by 25 percent if substituting molasses instead of brown sugar since too much liquid can result in softer textures than desired or lead to uneven dough development during kneading/mixing.

Overall use these tips when substituting for brown sugar – remember you need less than would be called out (due to higher moisture content) & adjust ingredients slightly if needed based on taste preference – do so & you’ll have delicious results every time!

7. Honey

Honey used as an alternative to brown sugar

Using honey as a substitute for brown sugar is a great way to add some natural sweetness to your dishes. Honey has many medicinal, cosmetic and culinary benefits, which make it an ideal choice for replacing brown sugar in recipes.

First and foremost, honey is much sweeter than refined sugars like white and brown sugar. This means that you can use less of it in your baking recipes without sacrificing the desired flavor profile of the dish. Additionally, the amount of sweetness provided by honey will go a long way towards cutting down on overall calories consumed when cooking with this healthy sweetener.

The first reason why honey makes for a better brown sugar substitute than other alternatives like white or table sugar, molasses or agave syrup, is because it produces a unique and delicious flavor when used in cooking and baking. Honey’s complex combination of fructose and glucose gives baked goods an extra level of sweetness without being too overpowering – perfect if you don’t want the food to be overly sweetened. The attractive golden-amber color that honey imparts also adds an aesthetic touch to whatever dish you’re making.

Another advantage of using honey as your primary sweetener is its high antioxidant content. Honey contains antioxidants called flavonoids which work to scavenge free radicals in the body and prevent cell damage from occurring. Compared to other types of refined sugars, the levels of antioxidants found in honey are significantly higher – so not only will you enjoy the sweeter taste but you’ll get some health benefits out of eating foods made with it as well!

8. Date Sugar

Date Sugar used as a substitute for brown sugar

Using date sugar as a substitute for brown sugar is an increasingly popular choice among health-conscious individuals and those looking to reduce added sugars in their diets. The main benefits of using date sugar are that it is naturally derived, provides more nutrients than refined white or brown sugars, and has minimal effect on blood glucose levels when consumed in moderate amounts.

Date sugar is made from dried dates that have had the water removed through a natural dehydration process. It’s then ground into a fine powder that looks like conventional table sugar. It has a light caramel color and flavor reminiscent of brown sugar but without the moisture or sweetness of its predecessor.

Nutritionally speaking, date sugar also offers some advantages over other sweeteners due to its higher mineral content, you are getting fewer empty calories – instead, you’re getting essential minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium as well as vitamins A1 and B2 all from one single ingredient! In addition to being high in fibre content at around 7g per 100g serving size compared to 0g found in white & brown sugars — making it is ideal for digestive health too!

9. Raw Sugar

Raw organic brown sugar used as an alternative to brown sugar

Raw sugars can be a great substitute for brown sugar, whether you are trying to reduce your sugar intake or just looking for something with a different flavor. Raw sugars are unrefined and typically have higher levels of inherent minerals than regular granulated or white table sugars. They also generally contain more moisture due to their high molasses content.

When used as a substitute for brown sugar in baking, raw sugars will give the finished product a deeper color, unique texture, and slightly richer flavor. The sweetness level is similar to that of brown sugar due to the presence of the same sucrose molecules found in conventional types of sweeteners like table sugar or corn syrup solids; however, it may require an adjustment when using larger amounts as the difference between raw and refined forms is significant.

It’s important to note that when replacing brown sugar with raw sucrose such as turbinado (also known as “sugar-in-the-raw”) there may need adjustments in liquid ingredients so that baked goods don’t become too dry due to the higher moisture content within more natural sweeteners. It’s best if you try out variations until finding one that works best with your favorite recipes!

10. Jaggery

Jaggery powder used as one of the substitutes for brown sugar

Jaggery, also known as gur or panela, is a natural sweetener found in tropical and subtropical regions. It is made by boiling down the sap of sugarcane or various palms until it crystallizes. Jaggery has been used for centuries throughout India and South Asia to sweeten food and beverages.

When used as a substitute for brown sugar, jaggery has many advantages. Jaggery has great anti-oxidant properties that help prevent cell damage from free radicals thus helping slow down body’s ageing process internally at the molecular level – surprisingly something which cannot be said about white/brown sugars as they lack all these vital nutrients!

Additionally being 100% natural with no artificial additives; it adds more sweetness than conventional sugars yet carries only half the calories when consumed in the same quantities making it a more suitable option than conventional sugars when trying to maintain a healthy weight goal over the long term period due its low glycaemic index property (GI 40).

11. Golden Syrup

Golden Syrup - one of the substitutes of brown sugar

Golden syrup is an incredibly versatile syrup that can be used in place of brown sugar to add a unique flavor and texture to many sweet and savory dishes. It’s often used as an ingredient in baking, sometimes referred to as light treacle or just syrup, but it has countless other uses too.

The main component of golden syrup is inverted sugar, which gives it its signature golden hue and distinct flavor profile. In addition to being an excellent brown sugar substitute in baking recipes like muffins, cakes, cookies and pancakes; it can also be incorporated into savory dishes such as glazes on meats like pork belly slices or seared scallops for added sweetness paired with salty notes from herbs like oregano or thyme. You can use this amazing product for everything from making caramel sauce for desserts like ice cream sundaes to spicing up marinades before grilling beef kabobs!

12. Make-Your-Own Brown Sugar

Making your own brown sugar is a great way to save money, and make sure that you have the perfect item for baking recipes. Brown sugar has a slightly different taste than granulated white sugar and provides a unique texture. Not only does it sweeten desserts, but it adds depth of flavor as well. Plus, once you learn how to make brown sugar, you can easily prepare batches in different weights when needed. Here’s how to get started:


  • 1 cup regular granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses or other liquid sweetener (maple syrup or honey both work nicely)


  1. Place the granulated white sugar into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Pour the liquid sweetener over top of the sugar and mix until all the pieces are evenly coated in molasses or other sweetener of choice. It may take quite a bit of stirring with a spoon before there isn’t any excess liquid remaining at the bottom of the bowl – just keep stirring until this happens!
  3. Use an electric mixer on low speed to beat together both ingredients for approximately two minutes or until they look like they’re combined into one uniform mixture (you should not be able to see any granules anymore).
  4. Transfer your new homemade brown sugar into an airtight container and store it in your pantry for up to six months! To use as desired, measure out either by volume using measuring cups or weight using an electronic kitchen scale for exact measurements according to recipe directions; start off with half teaspoonful per ingredient whenever possible since this is usually enough sweetness even if it doesn’t seem like much!

It’s really that simple – now go ahead and try making your own brown sugar at home! You’ll be glad you did – plus homemade items always add something special when cooking in more ways than one 😉

Benefits of Making Your Own Homemade Brown Sugar

Making your own homemade brown sugar has plenty of benefits; not only does it taste better than store-bought kinds but it also has health benefits such as reduced risk for diabetes since natural raw cane sugars contain higher amounts of minerals than refined ones.

Additionally, it is more economical since you don’t need to buy expensive pre-mixed bags from stores nor worry about running out at inconvenient times! All in all, making your own real brown sugar is incredibly easy and inexpensive – so why not give it a try?

Can Light Brown Sugar be Substituted for Dark Brown Sugar, and Vice Versa?

Absolutely! Brown sugar is made from white granulated sugar combined with molasses. The difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses added during production.

Light brown sugar contains about 3.5 percent molasses by weight, while dark brown contains 6.5 to 7 percent, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 (SR28).

However, since an equal amount of either type can be used interchangeably in a recipe without drastically changing the flavor or texture, it might not make much of a difference whether you use 1 cup of light or 1 cup of the dark as long as you’re following a basic baking recipe that does not take into account the differences between these two types of sugars.

How Brown Sugar can be Stored?

Storing brown sugar in a cool, dry place is the best way to ensure that it remains fresh and usable for a long time. Here are some tips to help you store your brown sugar properly:

  • Store it in an airtight container
  • Keep it away from heat sources
  • To absorb any excess moisture that might collect over time, place one slice of bread (or a damp paper towel) into the container before adding the brown sugar
  • Avoid refrigeration
  • If you rarely use large quantities of brown sugar out right away then freezing what’s left over after usage may be beneficial – particularly keeping repackaged unused portions tightly sealed together transported swiftly & stored freezing temperatures.

How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar?

You can soften your brown sugar in just a few easy steps.

The first thing you need to do is break up the lump of hardened brown sugar using either a spoon or a fork. If the hardened lump is really difficult to break apart, put it into the microwave for 10-15 seconds at 50% power – this should make it easier for you to separate without scorching your delicate grains of sweetener.

Once you’ve broken up all of the large chunks, place them into an airtight container with either an apple slice or two tablespoons of water. Close the lid tightly and let sit overnight (or at least 8 hours). The moisture from either method will help rehydrate and soften up any remaining hard brown sugar lumps in no time!

What Does Brown Sugar Do in Baking?

Brown sugar is an essential ingredient in baking recipes for a variety of reasons. It helps add moisture and flavor to cakes, cookies, pies, bread, and other baked goods.

The addition of brown sugar to batters or doughs helps create tenderness as well as promote browning in baked goods due to the Maillard Reaction (a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives food items their characteristic brown color).

When used properly in baking recipes, brown sugar can help enhance texture by providing small pockets where liquid compounds can dissolve without drying out the batter too much. This process contributes significantly to achieving the soft texture desired in many cakes and quick breads.

What Recipes Can Be Made Using Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is a great ingredient for baking and cooking. To get the most out of using brown sugar in your kitchen, try some of the following delicious recipes!

For breakfast or brunch:

  • Banana Blender Pancakes with Salted Caramel Syrup: In a blender, whirl together two large eggs, 1 cup flour (all-purpose works best), ½ cup milk of your choice, 2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons light brown sugar until fluffy. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; lightly grease with butter or oil spray. Drop about 4 tablespoons of batter per pancake into pan; cook until pancakes are golden on the bottom side before flipping – about 3 minutes – then an additional 2 minutes on the other side. Serve warm topped with salted caramel syrup.

For lunch or dinner:

  • Brown Sugar Chicken: Marinate chicken pieces overnight in equal parts honey and light brown sugar along with a few pinches of salt & pepper to taste as well as garlic powder if desired; pat dry before proceeding to the next step. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Over medium heat melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (or enough to lightly cover the bottom of pan). Place chicken pieces skin side up onto melted butter in a skillet – sprinkle any remaining marinade mixture over top – do not shift chicken once placed into the hot pan! Cook without turning for 8 minutes then turn over; spoon an additional tablespoon of each honey & light brown sugar directly onto each piece then add another splash of cold water around the edges before transferring the pan to preheated oven for 30 minutes at 375F/190C degree temperature setting, covered loosely whilst baking so that steam may escape — basting every 10 minutes as needed — serve still hot from the oven whilst crispy & tender!

For dessert:

  • Easy Silver Dollar Brown Sugar Cookies: Cream 1 stick unsalted softened butter and 1/2 cup granulated white sugar together until smooth in a bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed – add one egg beaten slightly in a separate bowl plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract plus 3 teaspoons milk also mixed into egg mixture just prior — combine all ingredients together thoroughly just like you would when making cake batter consistency except use only half amount called for by recipe instructions. Gently fold finely chopped pecans reserved from cookie dough portion prepared earlier while adding the remainder maximum amount gradually from bagged dark muscovado-type raw organic unrefined ‘brown’ cane sugars directly next— shape small portions (about dime size) into small flattened circles or make others oblong shapes too… bake 12–15 minutes depending upon how thick cookie discs were rolled out beforehand— enjoy piping hot fresh made tasty treats right off cooling racks afterwards without waiting overnight firstly recommended note many times successful bakers agree…


Brown sugar is an essential ingredient in many baking recipes. But, it doesn’t always have to be used. There are a variety of substitutes available that can provide the same sweetness and consistency desired in many baked goods. From white sugar mixed with molasses to raw cane sugar, there are many options to choose from when brown sugar is not an option. By considering the types of recipes you are baking, the results you are looking for, and the ingredients you already have in your pantry or fridge, you can make an informed choice as to which substitute will work best for your needs. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently choose the best brown sugar substitutes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best brown sugar substitute for cookies?

One of the most popular substitutes is maple syrup, which not only adds a rich sweetness to your cookies but also imparts a subtle hint of maple flavor. Other common substitutions include honey, agave nectar, and molasses – all of which provide a similar depth of sweetness and moist texture that you would get from brown sugar.

What is the best brown sugar substitute for banana bread?

One popular option is to make your own brown sugar substitute by mixing white sugar with molasses. And Coconut sugar is also a great substitute as it has a similar texture and taste to brown sugar.

What is the healthiest brown sugar substitute?

Coconut Sugar is made from the sap of coconut trees. It’s a natural sweetener that contains some vitamins and minerals, including potassium, iron, and zinc. Another option is honey, which is a natural sweetener made by bees. It has antioxidant properties and contains certain enzymes and minerals.

What is the difference between brown sugar and granulated white sugar?

They differ in their taste, texture, and appearance. Brown sugar has a moist and crumbly texture due to the presence of molasses, which also gives it a caramel-like flavor. On the other hand, granulated white sugar has a crystalline texture with a neutral, clean sweetness.

What is the difference between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar?

Light brown sugar is made by combining granulated sugar with a small amount of molasses, which gives it a subtle caramel flavor and a light brown color. Dark brown sugar, on the other hand, has more molasses added to it, resulting in a stronger, more complex flavor and a darker color.

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