11 Best Brown Sugar Substitutes You Can Try!

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If you are someone who loves to make syrups and drinks of your own, you must have noticed some recipes calling for brown sugar in particular. Brown sugar isn’t something we have at home all the time and that’s why knowing some brown sugar substitutes is important.

Brown Sugar

Home cook or a chef, we all will have white sugar in our pantry. But brown sugar isn’t something as common as that white sugar. Running to a store just to grab some brown sugar may not always be a good idea.

Brown sugar is the perfect way to meet all our sweet cravings. It can be used in all dishes similar to that white sugar. Brown sugar imparts a dark sweet flavor to the recipes, that’s why it’s a favorite ingredient for many bakers.

Are you confused regarding what to use as brown sugar substitutes? Well, white sugar, coconut sugar, muscovado sugar, and turbinado sugar are some of the best brown sugar substitutes available to us. If you want to know all about brown sugar and its best alternatives this article is for you. 

Quick Peek: Brown Sugar

Brown sugar isn’t something new to us. However, there will be some readers out there to whom this will be a new ingredient.  If you are one of them, this section is for you. Knowing your primary ingredient better will help you to substitute it better.

What Is Brown Sugar?

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a sugar product and has a brown color to it. This brown color is due to the presence of molasses. Many sugar-producing countries all across the globe produce brown sugar, however, American brown sugar is the most popular among them all.

Brown sugar is often made by combining white sugar with that molasses. This molasses is responsible for bringing an intensely sweet flavor to the recipes. Many times, people get confused between brown sugar and raw sugar.

Both brown sugar and raw sugar have a brown color to them. However, raw sugar has a more light color to it when compared to brown sugar. Raw sugar has naturally occurring molasses, whereas molasses is added to white sugar to make brown sugar.

Depending upon the amount of molasses added to white sugar, brown sugar can be classified into two. 

  • Light Brown Sugar – This contains 3.5 % of molasses. If the recipe doesn’t mention any brown sugar, in particular, this is what it means. This is most commonly used for baking.
  • Dark Brown Sugar – It contains 6.5% of molasses. It has a more intense color and flavor that that of light brown sugar.

Describing Brown Sugar: Flavor And Texture

Brown sugar texture is similar to that of normal sugar. Generally, brown sugar has a light brown color to it. However, depending on the quantity of molasses present in it, the color may vary.

The flavor of brown sugar is a very prominent one. Brown sugar tastes like that toffee. It has a deep caramelized flavor and brings a toffee-like taste to the recipe. When added to a dish, it brings in a brown hue, making it perfect for baking.

If you are someone who loves a more caramelized flavor in your dishes, rather than just sweetness, brown sugar is something you should include in your cooking. Even if it sounds just like regular sugar, the flavor it imparts to recipes is different. 

Uses Of Brown Sugar

Brown sugar has so many uses. Owing to its rich caramel taste, brown sugar is a constant in baking. Brown sugar brings a more intense color and flavor to the recipe. It works especially well for chocolate cakes and cookies.

Brown sugar is also used to make many syrups and drink recipes. The color and flavor of brown sugar bring into a drink are unparalleled. Owing to its crystal texture, it is often used to garnish the baked good.

Brown sugar is not just used in baked goods. Many meat dishes which uses sugar in very low amount often use brown sugar. This can also be used to garnish some vegetables as well as fruit salad bowls.

Brown sugar has a high amount of moisture content in it. Moreover, it has a granular texture and a sweet smell. For this reason, it has been a favorite for people in the beauty industry. Brown sugar is often used as a body scrub.

Brown Sugar On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

 Brown sugar is a flavoring substance that is added only in a limited quantity in our food. Therefore the nutritional contribution makes it very less. However, there are some health benefits to including brown sugar in our diet.

Helps In Weight Loss:- If you are on a diet and crave some sweetness, add brown sugar instead of white one. Brown sugar has less calorie value and can be consumed in little amounts.

Act As A Energy Booster:- Brown sugar is nothing but carbohydrates. Thus if you are in a need of an energy boost, add some brown sugar to your food and have it.

Helps To Relive Period Cramps:- Some people add brown sugar to their tea to get relief from period cramps. Even though many people claim its benefits, there is no scientific explanation to back up this theory.

Works As A Body Exfoliator:- brown sugar has a high moisture content in it. Its delicious fragrance along with its granular texture makes it an excellent option as a body scrub.

Many people are of the misconception that brown sugar is less harmful than that white sugar. However, this isn’t true. Both brown sugar and white sugar are equally hazardous to our health if not taken limitedly.

Overuse of brown sugar in your food can lead to multiple health issues like irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, inflammation, and osteoporosis.

Why Use A Substitute For Brown Sugar?

This question must have crossed your mind at least once while reading this article. Brown sugar is one such ingredient that brings in an exotic aroma along with a deep sweet flavor to the dishes. Then, what is the need for a substitute?

The first and foremost reason is that brown sugar is way more expensive than regular sugar. This is because of the fact that brown sugar is made by adding molasses to the refined sugar and it is a long process. So if your recipe only calls for a small amount, let’s look for a better cheap brown sugar substitute.

Brown sugar is harmful to health in many ways. Therefore if you can find a better health option that tastes just like brown sugar, it’s better to choose that brown sugar substitute rather than the original one.

Brown sugar is not commonly available like white sugar. Chances are high that you won’t be able to find brown sugar in your nearby grocery store all the time. Thus having a backup plan will be good.

Furthermore, why go to a store to a store when an apt brown sugar substitute lying in your pantry? It will definitely save you more time and money. I think these are compelling reasons to consider using a brown sugar substitute.

Now that we have covered everything there is to know about brown sugar, let us go to the core of this article, which is a brown sugar substitute. Continue reading to learn more about them!

11 Best Brown Sugar Substitutes

1. Plain Sugar

Plain Sugar

The easiest and most convenient brown sugar substitute is plain sugar. White sugar has a very sweet taste to it and has a granulated form. It can be used as a brown sugar substitute in most recipes.

However, plain sugar lacks the deeply caramelized sweetness brown sugar brings to the recipe. Also, brown sugar brings a chewy texture to the recipe, which cannot be recreated using white sugar.

While using white sugar in place of brown sugar, follow the 1:1 ratio.

2. Muscovado Sugar

Muscavado Sugar

Muscovado sugar is one of the best brown sugar substitutes. It has a rich brown color and high molasses content similar to that of brown sugar and brings in a similar brown sugar flavor to the dishes.

Muscovado sugar is a highly unrefined sugar, which means that the molasses content is way too higher than that of normal brown sugar. Since it has a higher moisture content, muscovado sugar tends to crumble easily.

Thus if you are replacing brown sugar with that muscovado sugar while baking, make sure to add the muscovado sugar only little by little to the recipe. Also, make sure to give the mixture a good mix with an electric beater for better consistency.

Also, muscovado sugar makes the dish chewy. While using muscovado sugar in place of brown sugar, follow the 1:1 ratio.

3. Raw Sugar

Raw Sugar

Raw sugar looks very much similar to that brown sugar and can be used as a brown sugar substitute. It has an amber color and has the presence of molasses in it. Just similar to brown sugar, it brings a deep sweet flavor to the dishes.

When it comes to taste, brown sugar can be easily swapped with raw sugar. However, raw sugar has a more coarse texture than that brown sugar. Also, raw sugar has less moisture content in it.

Therefore, raw sugar will take more time to blend in any recipe than that brown sugar. If you are planning to swap brown sugar with raw sugar, grind the raw sugar into a powder form before adding it to any recipe.

4. Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar is one of the healthiest alternatives to brown sugar. It tastes just like brown sugar and can be used in almost all dishes as that brown sugar.

Coconut sugar just like raw sugar doesn’t hold much moisture content in it. For this reason, it is extremely hard to blend and might make the mixture coarse. This may affect the texture of many baked goods, if not their taste.

For making it up, you can add some extra oil or butter in your recipe than the needed amount. Melting the coconut before adding it to the mixture will also help to retain the moisture content in the food.

When using coconut sugar as a brown sugar substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio.

5. Date Sugar

Date Sugar

Date sugar is made from dehydrated sugar and has a very granular texture. It adds a rich flavor to the recipe and is considered one of the healthiest brown sugar substitutes we can find in the market.

Date sugar has a brown color to t similar to that of brown sugar. However, date sugar so much time to blend into any food or drink. Moreover, it is a little pricey when compared to the price of brown sugar.

When using date sugar as a brown sugar substitute, use 1 tablespoon of date sugar for 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.

6. Palm Sugar

Palm Sugar

Palm sugar is a type of sugar derived from palm trees. It has a brown color to it and brings an intense sweetness to the dish. Palm sugar is an idle brown sugar substitute you can try!

Palm sugar is healthier than that brown sugar. Thus if you want to avoid the side effects of sugar without missing its sweetness, try including palm sugar in your recipe. When using palm sugar as a brown sugar substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio!

7. Maple Sugar 

Maple Sugar

Maple sugar is a widely used brown sugar substitute. It is prepared from the sap of the maple tree and is commonly used by people in Canada and the North Eastern United States. It is healthier than brown sugar and can be used as a brown sugar substitute.

However, maple sugar also has a high sugar content in it. Therefore, eating too much maple syrup is not recommended. While substituting brown sugar with maple syrup, follow the 1:1 ratio.

8. Honey 


Honey is one of the healthier and easiest brown sugar substitutes available to us. It is a household item and brings a subtle sweetness to your dishes without causing you any health issues.

Honey, unlike brown sugar, has a runny consistency to it. While adding it to sauces or as a garnish, it won’t be an issue. However, when adding to baking, its consistency will be an issue. Hence while swapping honey with brown sugar, use ¾ cup of honey for 1 cup of brown sugar.

9. DIY Brown Sugar

DIY Brown Sugar

If you have a little time at hand, you can make your own batch of brown sugar. All you need is white sugar and some molasses. For making brown sugar, mix 200 g of brown with 1 tablespoon of molasses. If you like a deep flavor, add 2 tablespoons of molasses instead of 1. This will yield you a much darker flavored brown sugar.

10. Refined Sugar with Maple Syrup/ Agave Syrup

Agave Syrup

Brown sugar is made by mixing refined sugar with that molasses. However, if you cannot find molasses, try mixing agave or maple syrup with refined sugar to obtain a similar flavored brown sugar substitute.

For making this, mix 1 tablespoon of maple or agave syrup with 200 g of refined sugar. It brings in a similar flavor as that brown sugar. This will be idle to use as a brown sugar substitute in sauces and for garnishing.

11. Piloncillo


Piloncillo is a popular sweetener widely used in Latin American cooking. It is made from the juice of sugar cane by reducing it to syrup. It has a very robust flavor just like brown sugar and can be used as a brown sugar substitute.

Piloncillo, however, brings a much more earthy flavor to the dishes. It comes in both light and dark varieties. It comes in a hardened form and has to grate it in order to use it. While using piloncillo as a brown sugar substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio.

Short Recap Of The Best Brown Sugar Substitutes

Are you still confused regarding which substitute you should choose among the above-given options? Don’t worry, in this session, we have broken it further down for you. Go through the given session and choose the best option for you!

Most Appropriate: Raw sugar and muscovado sugar is the most appropriate brown sugar substitute.

Easily Accessible: Plain sugar is one of the easily accessible brown sugar substitutes.

Most Healthy Option: Dates sugar and honey is the best healthy alternatives that can be used in place of brown sugar.

How To Use Brown Sugar Substitutes In A Recipe

Brown Sugar

11 Best Brown Sugar Substitutes

Brown sugar is the perfect way to meet all our sweet cravings. It can be used in all dishes similar to that white sugar. Brown sugar imparts a dark sweet flavour to the recipes; that's why it's a favourite ingredient for many bakers. If you don’t have it, try a brown sugar substitute.
5 from 1 vote


  • Plain Sugar
  • Muscovado Sugar
  • Raw Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Date Sugar
  • Palm Sugar
  • Maple Sugar
  • Honey
  • Piloncillo
  • Refined Sugar with Maple Syrup/ Agave Syrup


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Final Thoughts

Now that we have reached the end of the article, I hope your search for a brown sugar substitute ends here. Brown sugar brings a dark colour, crunchy flavour, and deep caramelized flavour to the recipe.

However, if you are ever out of it, do try our brown sugar substitutes. These are some of the best substitutes you can try in place of brown sugar, which brings in a similar flavour as that of brown sugar.

The cooking community is something we all are a part of. Therefore, if you know any other better brown sugar substitutes other than the one mentioned above, share them with us in the comment section!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use to replace brown sugar?

White sugar, maple sugar, muscovado sugar, and honey are some of the best brown sugar substitutes you can try.

Can I substitute regular sugar for brown sugar?

Yes. Regular sugar is an idle brown sugar substitute.

Is brown sugar just sugar and cinnamon?

No. Brown sugar doesn’t contain any amount of cinnamon in it. Brown sugar is simply plain sugar combined with molasses and nothing else.

Can I use honey instead of brown sugar?

Yes. Honey is one of the idle and healthier brown sugar substitutes. Even though it has a runny consistency, it brings a much more natural flavor to the recipe.

What is the difference between white sugar and brown sugar?

White sugar is plain refined sugar. Brown sugar is made from refined sugar by adding molasses to it. White sugar has more calorie value than that brown sugar.

How to make brown sugar at home?

Just mix 200 g of refined sugar with 1 tablespoon of molasses and your brown sugar is ready to use.

What is the healthiest substitute for brown sugar?

Honey and date sugar is one of the healthiest brown sugar substitutes.

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