Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

Homemade Brown Sugar Recipe (How to Make Brown Sugar)

4.60 from 210 votes
Make this homemade brown sugar recipe to know How to Make Brown Sugar with 2 ingredients anytime you need a rich caramel note in all baking.
Homemade Brown Sugar is golden brown and moist, stored in a red enamel mug with a metal scoop on the side in the top left corner.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE Brown sugar is an essential ingredient and a Bold Baking Basic. It adds an irresistible caramelly, toffee-like flavor, a richer color, and a lovely moistness and softness to baked goods. It’s also perfect for adding a warm sugar note to dressings, sauces, and marinades, and it’s a delicious sweetener for coffee and tea.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 6/13/2023, to include additional step-by-step photography, Pro Chef Tips, and answers to the most frequently asked questions. 

Homemade brown sugar elevates every recipe it’s used in and because you can make it as light or dark as you like, you can give your cooking a personal touch. It’s economical, you can make the amount you need, and it’s fresh.

I know brown sugar is not available in all countries, but I don’t want you to leave it out of your baking, and with this homemade brown sugar recipe, you’ll never have to be without it again. It’s just two ingredients and two steps–what could be simpler?

Homemade Brown Sugar is stored in a red enamel mug with white speckles all around and "sugar" on the front.

Table of Contents

What is Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is simply white granulated sugar combined with molasses. Adding molasses gives white sugar a richer, deeper flavor. Because of the added molasses, brown sugar is moister than white sugar.

Sugar is made from the juice of sugar cane or sugar beets. The juice is evaporated until crystals form, and then the crystals are spun in a centrifuge to separate them from their liquid. That liquid is molasses. Brown sugar is made in a reverse process–molasses is added back to white sugar.

Tools You Need

Ingredients

Ingredients for Homemade Brown Sugar are granulate white sugar an molasses in glass bowls.

  • Granulated Sugar aka regular sugar or white sugar

You can substitute caster sugar, which has more finely ground crystals than granulated sugar. Substitute it in a 1:1 ratio.

  • Molasses

I recommend using mild or dark molasses. Blackstrap molasses has a slightly more robust flavor and may taste a bit too strong.

You can substitute black treacle at a 1:1 ratio.

How To Make Brown Sugar

"Step-by-step

Combine molasses and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Rub in the molasses with your fingertips until the molasses is blended in.

How Do I Store Brown Sugar?

The air evaporates the moisture in brown sugar, leaving you with a rock-hard clump of unusable sugar.

The best way to store brown sugar is to store it in an airtight container with a slice of bread. Check out my article How to Store Brown Sugar for more details.

What Can I Use Instead of White Sugar in this Recipe?

For best results, use granulated sugar (aka regular sugar or white sugar) OR caster sugar.

  • Turbinado, demerara, and raw sugar: These sugars still retain some of the molasses from the refining process. Their larger grains make them better for a sweet and crunchy topping and they’re not recommended for general baking purposes because they don’t easily dissolve in a dough or batter.
  • Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar is drier than white granulated sugar. If you substitute coconut sugar for granulated sugar, it’s recommended that you add an additional tablespoon of liquid or fat (oil or melted butter) to your recipe.

What Can I Substitute for Molasses?

For best results, use mild or dark molasses or black treacle.

  • Fancy Molasses, also known as Gold Star, can be substituted, but the results will be different because Fancy Molasses has a lighter and sweeter taste.
  • Other molasses varieties like carob molasses, which has a rich, chocolate-like flavor, and grape or date molasses, which has more of a fruity flavor, can also be used.
  • Not recommended are light treacle (golden syrup), honey, and maple syrup, because they lack the deep flavor of molasses.

FAQs

Do You Recommend any Brown Sugar Substitutes?

  • Muscovado sugar: This brown sugar is less refined, so it retains much of its molasses component. Muscovado has more complex flavors, with more pronounced caramel and toffee notes. It can be substituted for brown sugar, but since it’s moister you might have to sift it to remove clumps.
  • Jaggery (made from palm sap or sugar cane juice), rapadura, or panela (boiled crushed cane sugar): You can substitute the granular form of any of these for brown sugar, and they can be substituted in equal amounts.

What’s the Difference Between Light and Dark Brown Sugar?

Dark brown sugar has a bolder molasses taste than light brown sugar. In commercial varieties, the concentration of molasses to sugar varies from 3.5% for light and 10% for dark brown sugar.

Can I Make Light Brown Sugar into Dark Brown Sugar?

Yes. Simply add a tablespoon of molasses to light brown sugar to make it into dark brown sugar.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

  • White sugar should not be used when brown sugar is specified in a recipe. Not only does it adversely affect the taste, but brown sugar lowers the acid/alkaline balance in a recipe, so it’s often used with baking soda for leavening.
  • To measure brown sugar, firmly press it into the cup with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Level with the rim of the cup. The brown sugar should hold the shape of the cup when it is turned out.
  • To fix crumbly brown sugar, you can grind it in a food processor to make it finer and remove lumps, or in a recipe that calls for melted butter and brown sugar, melt the brown sugar first then let it cool down to room temperature and continue as directed in the recipe.
  • Soften brown sugar using the microwave. Place the hardened sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, and then place a damp paper towel on op. Microwave on medium for 30 seconds, or until it’s soft.

Homemade brown sugar is stored in an enamel mug with a lid in the top left corner and a metal scoop next to it in the bottom right corner.

How to Use Your Brown Sugar

This brown sugar recipe is ESSENTIAL in recipes like my Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, Best-Ever Brownie RecipeSticky Toffee Pudding in a Mug, and Gingerbread. All of these recipes have something in common, they have a caramel flavor with a gooey, treacly texture. This sugar does that, that’s why I don’t want you to leave it out.

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Everyday!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved ON 6/13/2023, to include additional step-by-step photography, Pro Chef Tips, and answers to the most frequently asked questions. 

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Watch The Recipe Video!

How to Make Brown Sugar

4.60 from 210 votes
Make this homemade brown sugar recipe to know How to Make Brown Sugar with 2 ingredients anytime you need a rich caramel note in all baking.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Make this homemade brown sugar recipe to know How to Make Brown Sugar with 2 ingredients anytime you need a rich caramel note in all baking.
Author: Gemma Stafford

Ingredients

Light Brown Sugar

  • 1 cup (8 oz/225 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon molasses (treacle)

Dark Brown Sugar

  • 1 cup (8 oz/225 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (treacle)

Instructions

  • Combine sugar and molasses in a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips rub in the molasses until the molasses is completely incorporated and the sugar turns brown.
  • Store in an air-tight container for months. Because of the moisture, brown sugar has a tendency to clump together, to prevent this add a slice of white bread in the container and that will keep the sugar dry and fine.

 

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Claudia W Rooney
Claudia W Rooney
4 years ago

Gemma, I made your best ever chocolate chip cookies for the 10th time in a month. The last batch I whipped up I noticed I didn’t have enough brown sugar…….but, I had sugar and molasses and whipped up a batch for this batch of cookies. The best ever!! Thank you!!

Tahira Akhtar
Tahira Akhtar
4 years ago

Can I use date molasses instead of treacle? Thank you xx

Darren
Darren
5 years ago

Hi Gemma, In looking up recipes for making brown sugar, I’ve come across *many* different recommendations for the amount of molasses to add to the sugar. And, granted, one advantage to making brown sugar at home is that you aren’t restricted to what commercial brands / manufactures do. Still, I have been interested in making brown sugar to be the same “strength” as commercial stuff; but the lack of agreement on the matter has been an issue. (Well, actually, I’ve been interested in making “amber sugar” to the same degree–that is, sugar + maple syrup, not as a substitute for… Read more »

Esme
3 years ago

Brown sugar tastes nice in coffee. ☕

carrol hunter
carrol hunter
3 years ago

You can also use a dry teabag to keep the brown sugar nice

Nada Kabakibi
4 years ago

hi Gemma,i made it it was perfect ,thank you

Melanie
Melanie
6 years ago

Hi Gemma,
When you say white sugar, which do you mean Caster Sugar or Granulated Sugar?
Thanks
P.s. love the videos

Maksym
Maksym
4 years ago

Hi, Gemma. I performed your recipe at home but sugar has no caramel taste and smell, only strong molasses smell , which is pretty far from real Brown sugar from the store. Could you please advice.

Tehmina
Tehmina
4 years ago

WAOO nice

S.H.
S.H.
3 years ago

I wanted to make light brown sugar and ended up needing way more molasses than written in the recipe. Ended up adding 1 1/2 tbsp in order to actually make it look/feel like brown sugar.

This Recipe Made By Bold Bakers

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Sharyn Lord

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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