How to Make a Substitute for Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a very popular ingredient, which is used in many homemade cakes, cookies, candies and desserts. Brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar and molasses. Sugar manufacturers make two types of brown sugar, light brown sugar and dark brown sugar. The difference in color and flavor between the various types of sugar is determined by the amount of molasses that are added to the sugar. The more molasses are added, the stickier the crystals, the darker the color and the stronger the flavor. Light brown sugar contains 3.5 percent molasses and dark brown sugar contains 6.5 percent molasses. There are two methods that manufacturers use to make brown sugar.

One way is to boil sugar cane until brown crystals form, while the other way is to blend molasses syrup with white sugar crystals [source: Canadian Sugar]. Brown sugar comes in two forms, granulated or liquid. You can substitute brown sugar for white sugar. Simply use an equal amount of brown sugar as you would white sugar. The only difference is the molasses' taste [source: Domino Sugar]. But what about a substitute for brown sugar? Read on to learn how to make a substitute for brown sugar.


  • To make dark brown sugar, mix 1 cup of white sugar with ¼ cup of molasses, making sure to mix well.
  • To make light brown sugar, add 1½ tablespoons of molasses to 1 cup of sugar. Be sure to mix well [source: Martha Stewart].

You can get creative when working with brown sugar. For example, you can make light brown sugar out of dark brown sugar by simply mixing some white sugar into your dark brown sugar. Keep adding white sugar until you're happy with the color.


Substitute Brown Sugar FAQ

Can I substitute brown sugar for honey?
You can, but you have to add more liquid to the recipe if you're going to swap these ingredients, as honey is a liquid and brown sugar is not. So for instance, you need to substitute each cup of honey with 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of another liquid (for example, milk, if the recipe calls for it).
What can I use if I don't have brown sugar?
Make your own. Add 1/4 cup of molasses to one cup of white sugar, and mix well. It's that easy.
Is maple syrup healthier than brown sugar?
Both are "medium" on the glycemic index, but pure maple syrup is packed with antioxidants and contains quite a bit more potassium, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. Brown sugar is highly refined compared to the almost straight-from-nature maple syrup. That said, a teaspoon of maple syrup contains 86 calories while brown sugar only has about 17.
Is light brown sugar the same as demerara sugar?
While they're the same color, they aren't quite the same. Demerara is a large-grain sugar that comes from sugarcane. It's minimally processed and provides some crunch in recipes. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is a mix of white sugar and molasses and is therefore quite refined. It's also slightly moist and the grain is much smaller.
Can I use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar?
You can swap the two without it changing the recipe that much. The difference is that light brown sugar has 3.5 percent molasses while dark brown sugar contains 6.5 percent. You can also just add some white sugar to your dark brown sugar to lighten the color and flavor.