Do you love the taste of brown sugar but don’t want the extra calories? Or maybe you’re out of brown sugar and need a quick substitution. Either way, we’ve got you covered!
In this blog post, we will discuss 17 substitutes for brown sugar that will satisfy your sweet tooth. From honey to molasses, there’s something for everyone! So keep reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
What is brown sugar?
Brown sugar is a type of sugar that has undergone minimal processing, resulting in the retention of more natural molasses flavor and color. Brown sugar is made from refined white sugar that is combined with molasses, which gives it its characteristic color and flavor.
The amount of molasses added to brown sugar can vary, resulting in light or dark varieties – both of which have a sweeter, more intense flavor and darker color compared to regular white sugar.
Brown sugar is commonly used in baking and cooking, lending it’s signature sweetness and moist texture to desserts and savory dishes alike. Its molasses content also adds a hint of caramel-like complexity to recipes.
Substitutes for brown sugar.
Brown sugar is a very popular ingredient used in baking and cooking. However, sometimes you may not have brown sugar on hand or you may be looking for an alternative to it. Fortunately, there are several great substitutes that can be used as a substitute for brown sugar.
Unsweetened applesauce is a great substitute for brown sugar in recipes. It can be used as a one-to-one substitute, replacing the same amount of brown sugar called for in the recipe with an equivalent amount of applesauce.
Applesauce adds a mild sweet flavor to baked goods and also helps add moisture to the finished product.
It’s especially useful in recipes that have a long baking time since the added moisture helps prevent the item from becoming dry and crumbly.
2. Coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees and has a caramel-like flavor profile with hints of butterscotch.
It is a perfect one-for-one substitute for brown sugar in baking recipes and can even be used as a topping on oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.
3. Caster sugar.
Caster sugar, also known as baker’s sugar or superfine sugar, is a refined white sugar that dissolves quickly and can be used to replace brown sugar.
To substitute brown sugar with caster sugar, use the same amount stated in the recipe but add 1 tablespoon of molasses for each cup of caster sugar used.
4. Date Sugar.
Date sugar is made from dehydrated dates. It has a similar texture to brown sugar but with a slightly different flavor profile that is more caramelized and nutty.
Date sugar retains its natural molasses so it contains some minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium.
It can be used in any recipe calling for brown sugar by substituting one-for-one. Date sugar has a strong flavor so it works best when used in recipes with bold flavors such as cookies, cakes, and muffins.
5. Honey + maple syrup, or agave nectar.
Honey, maple syrup and agave nectar are all popular alternatives to brown sugar. Honey is a natural sweetener with its own unique flavour that can be used as a substitute for brown sugar in many recipes.
Maple syrup also offers a distinct sweetness, but it has a thinner consistency than honey or store-bought brown sugar. Agave nectar is a sweet syrup made from the Agave plant and it also has its own unique flavor that can be used to replace brown sugar in baking recipes.
All three of these substitutes for brown sugar have their own advantages, so cooks should experiment with each one to find which works best for them.
When using any of these substitutes, it is important to note that they may have different textures, flavors, and consistencies than brown sugar.
For example, maple syrup has a thinner consistency and lighter flavor than honey or brown sugar, so it won’t provide the same texture when used for baking.
It is also important to make sure you adjust measurements accordingly when using any of these alternatives to ensure the recipe turns out correctly.
Jaggery is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal whole cane sugar that has been used in India and other parts of South Asia for centuries.
It’s made from the sap of date palms, coconut trees or sorghum plants. Jaggery has a rich molasses flavor and can be used as an alternative to brown sugar in recipes.
Brown sugar and jaggery are similar in taste and texture, but jaggery has more minerals and vitamins. It’s also a healthier option because it contains fewer calories per teaspoon than brown sugar and is unprocessed.
6. Liquid sweetener.
Liquid sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar are great substitutes for brown sugar.
They can be used to give a hint of sweetness in baked goods or even added to coffee and tea. The amount you need may vary depending on the recipe so it is best to start small and add as needed.
7. Maple Sugar.
Maple sugar is an excellent substitute for brown sugar, as it has a similarly sweet flavor with a slightly distinct smoky flavor.
Maple sugar is made by boiling down maple syrup to create a concentrated sweetener that can be used in many recipes, such as cakes and cookies.
It has the same moisture content as brown sugar so it works well when swapping out a one-to-one ratio.
It is also not overly processed like white sugar, so it may be a better choice for those looking for a healthier alternative.
Molasses is a great substitute for brown sugar in baked goods. It is much sweeter than regular white sugar and lends a unique flavor to recipes.
When substituting molasses for brown sugar, use a 3/4 cup of molasses for every 1 cup of brown sugar called for in the recipe.
You may also need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for each cup of molasses you add.
9. Muscovado sugar.
Also known as Barbados sugar, muscovado is a raw cane sugar that has a deep molasses flavor. It can be used as a substitute in recipes calling for brown sugar, although the texture may differ slightly.
The taste and texture of this type of sugar are not exactly like those of brown sugar, so you may need to adjust the other ingredients in the recipe for the best results.
Muscovado is available in light and dark varieties, depending on how much molasses has been retained by the sugar crystals. You can substitute muscovado for brown sugar at a 1:1 ratio.
10. Palm Sugar.
Palm sugar can be used as a substitute for brown sugar. It is made from the sap of different types of palm trees and has a mild, caramelly flavor.
To use it as a substitute, reduce other liquids in the recipe by one tablespoon per cup of palm sugar used.
Piloncillo is a popular substitute for brown sugar in many Mexican and Latin American countries. This unrefined sugar has a unique flavor, that is both sweet and slightly smoky.
It can be used as an alternative to brown sugar in recipes such as cakes, cookies, pies, marinades, and sauces.
12. Plain white sugar.
Plain white sugar is a good substitute for dark brown sugar. It has the same sweetness and texture, but without the subtle molasses flavor of dark brown sugar.
To make it an even better substitution for dark brown sugar, you can add 1 teaspoon of unsulfured molasses to each cup of white sugar. This will give your baked goods that hint of molasses flavor.
13. Turbinado Sugar.
Turbinado sugar, also known as raw sugar, has a slightly coarser texture than brown sugar and a slightly more pronounced molasses flavor. It is made by boiling and evaporating cane juice and then pressing it into granules.
Turbinado is often used in baking recipes that require light-colored sugars, such as shortbread cookies or vanilla cakes, because the golden brown color won’t discolor the finished product.
14. White Sugar + Liquid Sweetener.
White sugar can be used as a convenient substitute for brown sugar.
To create the molasses flavor and color of light or dark brown sugar, simply combine one cup of white granulated sugar with one tablespoon of liquid sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, corn syrup, molasses, sorghum syrup or agave nectar.
This combination works well in recipes that call for light or dark brown sugar, but it may not be suitable in recipes where the molasses flavor is essential. Adjust the amount of liquid sweetener to taste if desired.
15. White sugar + maple syrup.
If you don’t have access to brown sugar, this combination is a great substitute. To make the perfect ratio of sweetness and texture, mix together equal parts white sugar and maple syrup.
This will give you the same effect as one cup of brown sugar. You can also adjust the amount of each ingredient to your preference.
16. White sugar + molasses.
White sugar can easily be replaced with brown sugar, but you can also create a substitute by combining white sugar and molasses.
For every cup of white sugar needed in a recipe, replace it with ¾ cup of white with 2 teaspoons of molasses.
This combination will give you the same flavor as light or dark brown without adding too much moisture to the recipe.
17. Homemade brown sugar.
Brown sugar can be made at home by combining equal parts of white granulated sugar and molasses. This combination will give you the same measurements and sweetness as store-bought brown sugar.
Keto substitute for brown sugar.
For a keto-friendly substitute for brown sugar, consider using natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, erythritol or allulose.
These are low-calorie alternatives that don’t contain any added sugars and will help you keep your carbohydrates under control.
To make them more similar to the flavor of brown sugar, consider adding a few drops of molasses.
For baking, you can also replace the recommended amount of brown sugar with an equal amount of keto-friendly sweetener and add a few teaspoons of coconut flour to help it bind better.
This will help keep your baked goods low in carbs while still providing a delicious sweetness.
Sugar-free substitute for brown sugar.
One sugar-free substitute for brown sugar is Swerve Brown. This naturally derived sweetener can be used in place of traditional refined sugars without any added calories.
It has the same texture and taste as regular brown sugar but with no artificial ingredients or chemicals.
Swerve contains a combination of non-GMO erythritol, oligosaccharides, and natural flavors. It can be used in baking, beverages, sauces and more.
Swerve is gluten-free and measures cup for cup equal to regular brown sugar so it makes a great option for those looking to reduce or eliminate their refined sugar intake.
Another substitute for brown sugar is coconut palm sugar. This sweetener is made from the sap of coconut palm trees and provides a natural sweetness with a slight caramel flavor.
It has a lower glycemic index than regular processed sugar, making it a suitable option for diabetics or those on low carbohydrate diets.
Coconut palm sugar is also rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. It works great in baking and works cup for cup equal to brown sugar.
Lastly, date sugar is a great substitute for brown sugar. It’s made from dehydrated dates that are ground into a fine powder resembling regular sugar.
Date sugar has a naturally sweet and caramel-like flavor and works best as a topping or sprinkled on cereal.
It’s naturally low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a great option for those looking to reduce their sugar intake. Date sugar doesn’t measure cup for cup equal to brown sugar as it’s slightly sweeter, so use less of it when baking.
Substitute for brown sugar for diabetics.
For diabetics, it can be difficult to find a suitable substitute for brown sugar. However, there are several options available that can help make sweet treats safer and healthier. Some of these include:
- Coconut palm sugar: This is an unrefined natural sweetener that comes from the sap of the coconut tree. It has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar and can be used as a direct substitute in recipes.
- Stevia: This is an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has no effect on blood sugar levels, making it a safe alternative for diabetics. It can be used as a direct substitute in baking recipes.
- Honey: Honey is an unrefined sweetener that contains antioxidants and vitamins like B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. It has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar but can be thicker and have a stronger flavor. It can be used in baking recipes, but the amount should be reduced by about half to achieve desired sweetness.
- Maple Syrup: This is an unrefined sweetener made from the sap of maple trees. It contains some vitamins and minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It has a higher glycemic index than brown sugar, but it can be used in baking recipes and should be reduced by about half to achieve desired sweetness.
Substitute for brown sugar in banana bread.
Brown sugar is a popular ingredient in banana bread as it adds flavour and moisture. However, if you don’t have brown sugar on hand, there are several options that can be used as a substitute.
Honey or maple syrup both make excellent substitutes for brown sugar in banana bread. Both sweeteners will add extra sweetness and moisture to the bread. If using maple syrup, you may need to reduce the amount of liquid (e.g. milk or water) in the recipe by a few tablespoons as it is slightly more liquid than brown sugar and will affect the texture of your banana bread.
If you want to keep it simple, white granulated sugar can be used as a substitute for brown sugar. It won’t add the same kind of sweetness and moisture that brown sugar or honey/maple syrup would but it will still work in a pinch.
Another option is to use light or dark muscovado sugar, depending on how much flavour you want your banana bread to have. Muscovado sugar has a higher molasses content than brown sugar and will add more flavour to the bread. However, it can be quite expensive so it may not be the best option if you’re trying to save money.
Substitute for brown sugar in chocolate chip cookies
When making chocolate chip cookies, you can substitute light or dark brown sugar for regular granulated white sugar.
However, if you don’t have brown sugar on hand and need a substitute, there are several easy alternatives that will work just as well.
You can use white granulated sugar with a bit of molasses added to it, honey mixed with an equal amount of white sugar, or maple syrup mixed with an equal amount of white sugar.
All of these substitutes should be used in the same quantity as regular brown sugar; typically 1 cup to replace 1 cup of brown sugar. Whichever substitute you use, your cookies will still be delicious!
For a healthier option, try using coconut sugar as a substitute for brown sugar. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular white or brown sugars, and it is made from the sap of coconut palm trees.
This type of sugar also contains trace minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
When using coconut sugar in place of brown sugar in your chocolate chip cookies, use the same measurement, 1 cup for every 1 cup of brown sugar that is called for in the recipe. Your cookies will still be sweet and delicious and you’ll get a boost of minerals too!
Substitute for brown sugar in meatloaf.
If you are looking for a substitute for brown sugar in your meatloaf, consider using honey or molasses.
These two ingredients can add sweetness while still providing the depth of flavor found in brown sugar.
Honey and molasses are both much less processed than regular white sugar, making them healthier options as well.
Start by substituting 1/2 cup of honey or molasses for every 1/2 cup of brown sugar called for in the recipe. You may need to adjust the amount slightly depending on how sweet you want your meatloaf to be.
Maple syrup is another alternative that can be used instead of brown sugar. Start by substituting 1/4 cup of maple syrup for every 1/2 cup of brown sugar called for in the recipe. Again, you may need to adjust the amount depending on your desired sweetness level.
Substitute for brown sugar in sloppy joes.
If you’re looking for a substitute for brown sugar in your sloppy joe recipe, try using maple syrup or honey.
Both of these sweeteners will bring out the sweetness in the sauce without overpowering it. Add a few tablespoons at first, and then gradually add more until you achieve the desired flavor.
You can also use molasses if you want a deeper, richer flavor. Start with a tablespoon and add more if needed.
Another option is to use coconut sugar, which has a slightly different flavor than regular brown sugar but still provides the sweetness you’re looking for.
Substitute for brown sugar in baked beans.
If you are looking for a substitute for brown sugar in your baked beans recipe, there are many options available. Honey or maple syrup can be used as sweeteners instead of brown sugar.
Molasses is also a great alternative that will add a deep flavor to your dish. For a vegan option, agave nectar or date paste make good replacements for brown sugar.
You can also use jaggery or coconut palm sugar to replace the brown sugar in your recipe. If you want a healthy alternative, try using applesauce or mashed ripe bananas as a substitute for the brown sugar in your recipe.
Substitute for brown sugar in apple crisp.
The best substitute for brown sugar in an apple crisp recipe is white granulated sugar. You can also use turbinado or unrefined raw cane sugar.
Brown sugar has a higher moisture content than other types of refined sugars, which makes it ideal for recipes like apple crisps that need to hold their shape.
The added moisture helps the crisp to stay together when baked. To make sure your crisp has a similar texture and flavor, try adding a teaspoon of molasses along with the granulated sugar. This will give you the slight caramel flavor that brown sugar would provide.
When making an apple crisp recipe, it is important to use the right kind of apple. Try using a tart apple like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp.
These apples hold their shape better when cooked, which will help the crisp to stay together. You can also combine a tart apple with a sweeter variety like Golden Delicious for more flavor balance.
Can cane sugar be a substitute for brown sugar?
Yes, cane sugar can be a substitute for brown sugar. Cane sugar has slightly higher sweetness than regular white sugar and it is milder in flavor compared to other kinds of sugars.
It also has a lower glycemic index than regular white sugar. When using cane sugar as a substitute for brown sugar, add molasses to help bring out the natural molasses flavor and sweetness or use half white sugar and half brown sugar for a deep, rich flavor.
When using cane sugar as a substitute for brown sugar in baking recipes, reduce the amount of liquid called for in the recipe to help maintain texture and consistency.
Can I use honey instead of brown sugar?
Yes, you can use honey as a substitute for brown sugar. Honey has a higher moisture content than regular white or brown sugar, so when using honey in place of sugar it is important to keep that in mind.
Depending on the recipe, you may need to adjust the liquid ingredients accordingly and reduce by about 1/4 cup for every cup of honey used.
You may also need to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F (about 12°C) as honey causes foods to brown more quickly than sugar. Additionally, using honey will give your dishes a more subtle sweetness compared to regular granulated sugars.
Can I use white sugar instead of brown sugar?
Yes, you can use white sugar as a substitute for brown sugar. While the flavor won’t be exactly the same, it is a suitable replacement in many recipes. The difference lies in the extra molasses added to give brown sugar its unique flavor and color.
If using white sugar in place of brown sugar, you will need to adjust other ingredients in the recipe. Because brown sugar is more moist than white sugar, you will need to reduce the amount of liquid called for in the recipe by about 2 tablespoons for each cup of brown sugar replaced.
You may also want to add about ¼ teaspoon of molasses for every cup of white sugar used as a substitute for brown sugar.
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses (or more, if desired)
- Start by adding the granulated sugar to a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour the molasses over the sugar and mix together with a spoon or spatula until evenly combined. The mixture should be somewhat damp, but still crumbly at this point.
- Transfer the mixture to a jar with a lid, or an airtight container. Shake the container vigorously for 1-2 minutes until the granulated sugar and molasses are completely mixed together.
- Your homemade brown sugar is now ready to use in your favorite recipes!
Depending on how dark you'd like your brown sugar, you may need to adjust the amount of molasses added. For a light brown sugar, use 1 tablespoon of molasses. For a darker brown sugar, add up to 2 tablespoons of molasses. You can also experiment with other types of syrup or honey to give your homemade brown sugar a unique flavor!
Additional Tips & Tricks:
- It's best to store your homemade brown sugar in an airtight container, or tightly sealed bag or jar, to help maintain its moisture content. If the sugar starts to become too dry and crumbly, you can always add a few drops of water or vegetable oil to help soften it.
- This recipe is great for making small batches of brown sugar; however, if you need larger amounts for baking, feel free to double or triple the recipe as needed!
- If your brown sugar ends up too dark, simply add a tablespoon of white sugar to lighten it.
- If your brown sugar ends up too light, add a little more molasses until you get the desired color and texture.
- Finally, if you'd like to give your homemade brown sugar an even deeper flavor, consider adding some spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for a unique twist!
Ultimately, it is up to personal preference which substitute for brown sugar you choose. If you are looking for a sweetener with fewer calories and lower glycemic index than regular sugar, try using coconut palm sugar or date sugar as a substitute for brown sugar.
If you want something that will keep the same level of sweetness but without the extra moisture, use white or muscovado sugar.
Finally, if you are looking for something easy to find and cost-effective, try using molasses or honey as a substitute for brown sugar. No matter which substitute you choose, it is important to remember that all sugars should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.