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How to make Brown Sugar - For those times you need brown sugar but all you have is white! Now you can easily make your own with just 2 ingredients.

How to Make Brown Sugar (Bold Baking Basics)

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Hi Bold Bakers!

Brown Sugar is a fantastic ingredient in baking that shouldn’t be left out. It adds a caramel flavor and depth to recipes. I know it’s not available in all countries but I don’t want you to leave it out of your baking so I’m going to show you how to make it so you never have to leave it out again.

It couldn’t be simpler to make your own Brown Sugar, just mix together sugar and molasses (or treacle).

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This makes a light brown sugar: it is slightly caramel in flavor and is golden in color. 

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Store in an air-tight container for months. 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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To make Dark Brown Sugar it’s the same deal. You just want to double down on the molasses. You will see, feel and smell a big difference between the Light and Dark Brown Sugar. The dark has an even richer, deeper caramel flavor.

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Brown Sugar is ESSENTIAL in recipes like my Chocolate Chip Cookie, Brownie Recipe, Sticky 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. Brown Sugar does that, that’s why I don’t want you to leave it out.

This recipe is part of my Bold Baking Basics Series. There you will find useful recipes like How to Make Cake Flour, How to Make Buttermilk and lots more to help you become a better Bold Baker.

4.77 from 38 votes
How to make Brown Sugar - For those times you need brown sugar but all you have is white! Now you can easily make your own with just 2 ingredients.
How to Make Brown Sugar (Bold Baking Basics)
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • Light Brown sugar
  • 1 Cup (8 oz/240g) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoons molasses (treacle)
  • Dark Brown sugar
  • 1 Cup (8 oz/240g) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons molasses (treacle)
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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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154 Comments

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  1. Claudia W Rooney on June 7, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    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!!

    • Gemma Stafford on June 9, 2019 at 4:08 am

      Hi Claudia,
      good woman, never defeated, that is the idea. Delighted to have this lovely review,
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Royal on May 7, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Hi gemma, can I use Browning in place of molasses for making brown sugar

    • Gemma Stafford on May 9, 2019 at 4:36 am

      Hi there,
      NO!!! that is just color, you will be missing the flavor of the molasses. Here is a substitute (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/molasses-substitute/).
      Molasses is what is removed from sugar cane/beets/palm/coconut etc in the making of white table sugar.
      depending on the recipe, in many cases, you can use the sugar you have to hand. Coconut sugar is already golden and is delicious too.
      I hope thi is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Nesrine on April 30, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Gemma!

    I was wondering if it’s possible to use carob syrup (or dates) as molasses. Will it give the same texture and flavor?
    Thanks in advance~

    • Gemma Stafford on May 1, 2019 at 6:08 pm

      That’s great question and I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

      Great idea!
      Gemma.

  4. Darren on March 31, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    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 brown, but a variant–but the underlying issue is more-or-less the same.)

    For instance, you advise 1 tsp per cup of sugar for light, and 2 tsp per cup for dark. But other sources say 1 tbsp (3 tsp) for light, and 2 tbsp for dark; or 2 tbsp for light, and 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) for dark; and at least one even says to use 1/4 cup for dark, *after removing* 1/4 cup of sugar from the cup.

    And the seemingly-insane is, many of these sources will quote figures of 3.5% molasses by volume for light brown sugar, and 6.5% for dark. (Figures that the English Wikipedia says are average for commercial brown sugars.) Whereas, clearly, these differing recipes couldn’t possibly result in the same percentages of molasses by volume … right?

    ———–

    Well, if 3.5% and 6.5% respectively by volume are taken as the “correct” amounts, might we be able to calculate the commercial amounts in absolutes? For instance, say we want to add molasses to a cup of white sugar, such that, by volume, we end up with 6.5% molasses. Try this: (1 cup = 48 tsp)

    x tsp / (48 tsp + x tsp) = 6.5%
    x / (48 + x) = 0.065
    x = 0.065(48 + x)
    x = 3.12 + 0.065x
    0.935x = 3.12
    x = 3.34
    x = 3.34 tsp

    If this calculation is correct, then presumably, about 3 tsp and a third are called for to make dark brown sugar. (So maybe round it to a tbsp and a 1/4 tsp … or even just a tbsp.)

    This is then more than your advised 2 tsp for dark … but much more in line with yours than, say, 2 tbsp for dark, or 4 tbsp yet.

    ———–

    In any case, what is your take on the wildly-different suggestions for how much molasses to add to sugar to make light and dark brown? Particularly if the goal is to mimic commercial brown sugars?

    Also, sorry if this post is a bit technical. It’s just that because “amber sugar” isn’t commercially made (so far as I know … maple sugar is, and is, I suppose, akin to natural brown sugar as refined brown sugar is to “amber sugar” … so not *quite* the same thing though), in trying to make a cookie recipe work for which amber sugar is taking the place of commercial brown sugar, I’d really like to know what amounts commercial brown sugars use.

    (And, I realize maple syrup versus molasses differ in sugar content and such–although per the brands I have on hand, the difference is actually negligible. Insofar as brown sugar can be firmly-packed or only loosely, I also realize regarding volumes, there are potential ambiguities. Indeed, it seems to me that adding even up to 4 tbsp of syrup to a cup of sugar, the result can be firmly-packed back into a cup. I guess the syrup fills up empty space between the individual sugar crystals. My calculation above treats the volumes as additive, which I think is a proper way to go about it; though calculations based on weight, not volume, would be far less open to interpretation.)

    • Gemma Stafford on April 3, 2019 at 1:50 am

      Hi Darren,
      Haha! you flatter me! I think it fair to say that my math ability is deplorable! Now don’t get me wrong, you would not want to short change me in a store, but I am hopeless with complex calculations.
      Amber sugar/rock sugar/pure cane sugar is only lightly refined. Demerara sugar too is relatively unrefined as is Gur in India for instance, which is sole in blocks to be broken up at home, from what I understand. The percentage of molasses is high in these raw sugars, but I suspect it changes from place to place, according to how much it is processed. I say about 3.5% for light brown sugar, 6.5% for dark brown sugar, and this is of course always related to volume.
      For our purposes here at BBB we are trying to show people an easy way to approximate things, it is not too scientific, and if it feels not light enough, the add more molasses, just an informal way of doing it. I am not too sure how much effect one which is slightly lighter would have on a recipe. Things like gingerbread for instance will need molasses, as will gingerbread men/cookies/snaps.
      I know this is not much help to you Darren, but I think it is a bit beyond me to get this exactly right for you,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Darren on April 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

        Hi Gemma,

        Thanks for your reply. If nothing else, if I *really* want to determine, with most certainty, how much molasses commercial brown sugars have added, I could follow your suggestion to just add more and more molasses until it seems dark enough … comparing to commercial brown sugar along the way, of course. After all, if I have a sample of, say, C&H Dark Brown Sugar to look at / smell / taste, then I could use that for comparison to figure out how much molasses to use. (And then, by extension, maple syrup; honey; sorghum; pomegranate molasses; or any other boldly-flavored liquid sweetener might sometime like to use.)

        I guess it’s just a little frustrating that specifying the actual molasses content of commercial brown sugars is so tricky. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that the nutrition facts for white, light brown, and dark brown sugars *all* say the same amount of sugar? Apparently it has something to do with FDA regulations for sugar products. But is seems bizarre, just because molasses itself has sugar, and so firmly-packed brown sugar *has* to have more sugar in it than the same volume of white sugar. (And, it precludes using the nutrition facts on white sugar, brown sugar, and molasses for help in determining how much molasses has been added.)

        Well, you flatter *me* by calling my calculation complex. I just wonder if I’m right with it or not. In any case, because cookie recipes (and others) can be so sensitive to big changes in sugar content and such, I really do think that too much molasses in making brown sugar can be an issue. (For dark, for instance, using 2 tsp as you suggest, or 12 (4 tbsp) as some other sources suggest, is simply a *big* difference. I would go with your suggestion or 2 tsp before trying something as extreme as 12.)

        And I suppose that’s the real takeaway from this whole discussion: baking recipes are sensitive enough to changes that many people advise not deviating at all from a published recipe. When using homemade brown sugar then–and seeing so many different suggestions for making it–it’s important to realize that adding larger and larger amounts will eventually result in brown sugar that won’t let the recipe bake up right anymore. For commercial brown sugars *do* contain a certain amount; and exceeding it by much in homemade versions is a risky proposition.

        Anyway, thanks again for the feedback. And good work on a very good and helpful site. (I learned how to make sweetened condensed milk, for instance, from your site. Only I’ve used goat milk for it instead of cow.)

  5. Kayleigh Maguire on March 6, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Hello just wanted to ask if I could use demerara sugar instead of brown sugar in your blondie recipe and if so will I need to use the same amount?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 7, 2019 at 2:37 am

      Hi there,
      sure you can, a lovely natural brown sugar, you would use the same amount.
      I hope you enjoy this recipe,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. HollyIrish on March 2, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Made this today and it gave the cookies so much flavor! Never going back to store bought!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 2, 2019 at 9:28 pm

      I’m delighted to hear that 😀

  7. Karen Golinveaux on March 2, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    I was wondering how to make the wonderful brown bread I ate in Cork. I live in Boston and can’t find the correct flour here. Could you post a recipe and a source for the flour? Thanks so much..

    • Gemma Stafford on March 4, 2019 at 2:41 am

      Hi Karen,
      I use a whole meal flour here in LA which I get from Wholefoods or my local health food store. This works well in my traditional loaf. I think I will do another version for St Patrick’s day this year, the loaf version perhaps. (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/irish-soda-bread/). I will email you a link to a good reliable recipe.
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Ansu on January 15, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Where do you get those storage jars.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 16, 2019 at 2:52 am

      Hi there,
      There are so many types of glass jar available here in the US. I like the shape of this one. (http://amzn.to/2hjHIGM) you will find it here.
      Check out your local store too, there should be lots of choice,
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Karen on December 30, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Gemma! Can I use organic cane sugar? It’s a little on the larger grain size😊. Thank you!
    Karen
    Ps love your FB page🥰

    • Gemma Stafford on December 30, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      Yes, you totally can ;D

  10. Mike S. on December 27, 2018 at 11:47 am

    I’ve been making brown sugar like this for years. Thank you for posting this. BTW – In the US a cup of white sugar is about 200g or 7 oz. Also, we have “light”, “dark”, and “blackstrap” molasses. The proportions in your recipe will work for “dark” or “blackstrap” molasses. A lighter molasses like “Grandma’s Original” will require more molasses to achieve a similar result.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 30, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      Ah great tips, so glad you enjoyed this one!

  11. Maimuna Manzoor on December 2, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Hey Gemma…I am planning to make homemade brown sugar . Can you tell me where can I find molasses ?..and if you can please pin a link as to what brand works best to make this brown sugar?. Looking forward to your reply.
    Thank you 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on December 2, 2018 at 5:26 am

      Hi there,
      Molasses is not so much a brand. Molasses is what is removed from sugar cane/beets/coconut/palm etc, in the making of white granulated sugar. It is just called molasses. A lighter version which will also work well for you, is treacle.
      Depending on where you live you may be able to buy a sugar which already contains the molasses, a dark brown sugar/muscavado/jaggery for instance. Do not focus on the brand, ask at your store or market,
      Gemma 🙂

  12. Olga Allen on October 27, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Gemma, I would like to know if you can use Splenda instead of white sugar with the molasses? I’ve used splenda in a carrot cake and it was really good. I am diabetic and also bake for friends who are diabetic. Thank you for all the information you share with us.

    • Gemma Stafford on October 28, 2018 at 6:49 am

      Hi Olga,
      you sure can! I am happy that you find Splenda works well for you in carrot cake, well done you. You may also be interested in some of the new age sweeteners.
      You are coming to this at a time when there are a number of great alternative sugars available. Here we use one called Lakanto, but there is Truvia, and Swerve, really all much the same thing, using either monk fruit or stevia for the sweetness, and an alcohol sugar such as erythritol or xylitol, which will caramelize, and behave like real sugar in a bake. Stevia and Monk fruit will not caramelize on their own, but will be great in drinks and some puddings/custards etc. Do a little research into these products, they are a little expensive at the moment, but for you it would be so worth it!
      The difference for you is that these subs will caramelize, and that is important for browning, crisping etc.
      Thank you for being here with us, and for this input,
      Gemma 🙂

  13. Trish on October 27, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I would use coconut sugar because it is already brown in color and it is much healthier than white sugar.

    • Gemma Stafford on October 28, 2018 at 6:39 am

      Hi Trish,
      This is true. Coconut sugar is less refined than white sugar. It is still a mix of fructose and sucrose though, and has a similar effect in the body. A little low on the glycemic index, and really nice too in all sorts of bakes.
      Thank you for this input,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. KazBlue on October 27, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Love the recipie and would like to be able to get the jars you use they are sweet but cant find the link 🙁

  15. Phyllis Knight on October 21, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Thank you so much! I can’t get good brown sugar where I live but I can now make my own. I can’t wait to make this.

    • Gemma Stafford on October 21, 2018 at 7:47 am

      I’m delighted to hear that :).

      Best,
      Gemma.

  16. Claudia Moema on October 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Hi, Gemma. It is a nice recipe.Thanks. Here in Brazil we have a delicacy from the Northeast of the country called “rapadura”. It is made from the hardened syrup of sugar cane after some boiling. You should try it.
    Thanks, again form all your recipes and teaching!

    • Gemma Stafford on October 17, 2018 at 7:11 am

      Hi Claudia,
      I should come to Brazil to try it! I would love that. I will research this right now!
      Than kyou for letting me know about this, I rely on you bold bakers for my tips too, especially regional ones.
      That sounds a bit like Jaggery, from India, I wonder if I am right!
      Gemma 🙂

  17. Karen on October 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you! My sister and I both are excited to do this! Oh, btw, your waffle recipe is delicious. I ordered the pan and we had them for breakfast this morning. We loved them. Thank you for all the great recipes and tips.

    • Gemma Stafford on October 8, 2018 at 1:15 am

      Thank you again Karen, and thanks to your sister too, it is good to have you with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  18. Bint Moussa on October 1, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Hi gemma. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, it is life saviour. I have a question i did follow the recipe for the dark brown sugar but even with 2tsp of molasses it looks more golden than dark brown. Am i supposed to add more molasses or leave it as is?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 1, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Hi there,
      If you want a dark brown sugar then you need more molasses! Try it, you may need a lot more but add one teaspoon at a time,
      Gemma 🙂

  19. anirudh.m on September 22, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Hey Gemma. I have a few questions.

    1) I’ve heard that jaggery and brown sugar is the same thing but I feel there is a difference in the flavour. Does it make a difference after baking? Is jaggery light or dark brown sugar?
    2) We get brown sugar here in India but it is not clumpy and soft as in the US and other countries; it is in a crystal form. I’ve actually been using pancake syrup to make the sugar more sticky and resemble what you get aborad. The only thing is I can’t seem to make dark brown sugar with the syrup and molasses are very expensive here. How do I get dark brown sugar? Is using light brown sugar enough?

    I know its a lot of doubts but baking is not very simple as we have to alter some ingredients. Thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on September 23, 2018 at 2:34 am

      Hi there,
      jaggery is as good as it gets when it comes to brown sugar. It is unrefined, and depending on the source, cane/palm etc it is lighter or darker. The molasses is there, in the sugar, so the flavor is all there. you will not need to add molasses to this. I hear you though, it is dry. Brown sugar is wet because it has had the molasses added back, in varying degrees, to make it light or dark. Demerara sugar is an unrefined brown sugar and it too is a dry crystal, with the molasses still intact.
      do not try to make it sticky, it is unnecessary, though the form here in the US can indeed add moisture to a bake, all will be well.
      The form you buy it in matters too, the finer the grind the easier it is to incorporate into any recipe.
      I hope this is of help, get to know your own local ingredients, they will be perfect.
      Gemma 🙂

  20. Tracy on September 18, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Gemma! I am recently new to your site and everything I have tried thus far has been fantastic!! So glad I found you 😉

    Question regarding the bread for storing the brown sugar.
    If you’re not going to be using it for a while, how often should you change the bread? Obviously you don’t want it to get moldy, lol.

    • Gemma Stafford on September 19, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Hi Tracy,
      Actually the bread does not go moldy, for some reason, but it does harden and at that point it will need to be changed.
      A large marshmallow or two will work well for this too.
      Thank you for your kind words, and for being here with us,
      Gemma 🙂

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