6 Brown Sugar Substitutes to Help Save You a Trip to the Grocery Store

I'm sure I'm not the only one who looks forward to finally getting some time in the kitchen to whip up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies or blondies. There's something so relaxing about turning on some music and going into full-on baking mode. After reading through the recipe a few times and gathering ingredients from the kitchen cabinets, a fun moment can quickly turn into frustration or panic once you realize you're missing an important ingredient. I think we've all been there before.

Brown sugar is one of those ingredients that if the recipe calls for it, you definitely want to use it or something similar. Made up of granulated sugar and molasses, brown sugar has a deep, caramel-like flavor to it. It's not only delicious in baked goods, but also in barbecue sauces and other savory dishes.

Instead of making an unexpected trip to the grocery store, check out our list of brown sugar alternatives that won't sacrifice any flavor and will also save you a trip to the store.

1. Learn How To Make Your Own Brown Sugar


Just like you can make your own cake flour or buttermilk, there's also a simple way to prepare brown sugar at home. Learning how to make brown sugar with two ingredients can really save your baked goods.

For every cup of white sugar, add in 1-2 tablespoons of molasses for light brown sugar. To make dark brown sugar, for every cup of white sugar, add in 1/4 cup of molasses. You can mix these ingredients together with a wooden spoon, in your KitchenAid mixer, or food processor.

Always store your brown sugar in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container and if you ever find that it has turned into a brick, check out our list of easy ways to soften it in no time.

2. Use Granulated Sugar and Maple Syrup

Sometimes we don't always have molasses in our kitchen cabinets, so a great substitute would be maple syrup. And if you don't have maple syrup, agave nectar works, too. Just follow the same ratio mentioned above for both light brown sugar and dark brown sugar.

3. Turbinado Sugar

One of my favorite raw sugars is turbinado sugar. It's minimally processed and I use it to sweeten my coffee or to add a crunch on top of muffins or pies. Turbinado sugar has a very mild molasses flavor to it and can be used as a brown sugar alternative. However, there are a few things to remember before you swap out brown sugar for turbinado sugar.

  • This type of sugar is not as rich in molasses flavor, but you will still get subtle hints in certain baked goods or sauces.
  • Turbinado sugar does not contain much moisture, so for some recipes, it can cause the end product to be a little dry. Just be sure to use turbinado sugar for liquid batters like brownies, cakes or even in sauces. You can always add in a drop or two of molasses or maple syrup to make up for that lack of moisture.
  • Turbinado sugar crystals are larger, so you can always try throwing the sugar into a food processor to grind them up a bit.

4. Muscovado Sugar

Another great brown sugar substitute would be the delicious and super molasses tasting sugar called muscovado sugar. Just like turbinado sugar, it's natural and minimally processed, making it a healthier option to something processed like granulated sugar.

The molasses is not removed from this sugar, so it's known to be darker in color and strong in flavor. Another great thing is that since it contains a lot of moisture, there's less of a chance of it clumping up. Muscovado sugar is ideal for a baking recipe like ginger or molasses cookies.

5. Coconut Sugar


Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the flower buds from the coconut palm tree. You might've seen bags of coconut sugar at the health food store since it is becoming more popular as a brown sugar substitute.

It looks a lot like regular brown sugar and has a mild sweet flavor. Coconut sugar is an all-around perfect alternative since it will hardly affect your finished product.

6. Use More Granulated Sugar

When all else fails and you don't have any other options, you can always use more granulated sugar. Sure, you won't get that deep molasses flavor, but, hey it's better than putting your cooking on hold to run to the grocery store!

This post was originally published on November 26, 2019.