Best Brown Sugar Substitute

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Learn how to make brown sugar in just five minutes with only two ingredients! Whether you run out or just want a BETTER version of store bought, this brown sugar substitute is the perfect recipe.

Brown Sugar Substitute in a glass jar

What is Brown Sugar

Light brown sugar is white sugar combined with molasses. The molasses gives the sugar moisture (giving it the soft texture), a darker color and a light caramel flavor.

Dark brown sugar calls for twice the amount of molasses giving it a darker color and richer flavor.

Brown sugar gives such a nice flavor for baking and even cooking. Here are some of our favorites: Granny Cake, Banana Crumb Muffins,  Chocolate Chip CookiesPineapple HamPecan PieBanana Bread,  Gingerbread Kiss Cookies and Candied Pecans.

Can you use Regular Sugar instead of Brown Sugar? Yes! However, baking is a science and there’s usually a good reason why a recipe is calling for brown sugar. Which means, it’s not best to sub in granulated sugar and expect the same result. It’s likely that either the texture, the flavor, or both won’t get the best result.

Ingredients For Brown Sugar Substitute

It’s so easy to make your own brown sugar substitute at home and you only need two ingredients! You will need different amount of the molasses depending on if you make light brown sugar vs dark brown sugar.

  • Sugar: You need regular white granulated sugar for the base of the recipe.
  • Molasses: Use this to add that warm and slightly smokey flavor you get with regular sugar.

How to Make Brown Sugar

  • Step 1. In a standing mixer, food processor or even your fingertips, add the sugar and molasses and combine until fully incorporated. All the stickiness should be gone when it’s done. Spoon the mixture into a sealed container.
  • Step 2. Use this recipe for all of your favorite baked recipes! Enjoy!

How To Soften Brown Sugar

First, you will need to make sure to store correctly. This homemade brown sugar recipe can last almost indefinitely and stored at room temperature.

It’s very frustrating to open a box, bag or jar (both light and dark) to only find a rock solid clump. This happens when the moisture dries up, likely due to improper storage. It’s best to store your sugar in an airtight container. I prefer to use this Brown Sugar Keeper container.

If hardening does occur, use this method to soften. Just place your block in a microwave-safe bowl. Lay a damp paper towel over the bowl and microwave it in 20-second intervals, loosening with a fork between each interval, until it’s soft.

Top view of Brown Sugar Substitute in a glass jar and a Tablespoon

Brown Sugar Substitute

Homemade brown sugar is not only easy to make but tastes like any store-bought recipe. You can use our homemade version for any recipe you need and some brown sugar replacement ideas for other recipes! Be sure to share these simple swaps with your friends and family who run out of sugar.

Here are the best brown sugar alternatives.

  1. Make Your Own – follow our method in the recipe box for the best result for texture, sweetness and flavor.
  2. White Sugar – you can always replace brown sugar with white granulated sugar using a 1 to 1 ratio. For example: 1 cup of white sugar combined with 1 cup of molasses. Just expect a crispier texture like in cookies. The brown sugar has more of a moisture content so the texture will definitely be different.
  3. Honey, Maple syrup or Agave nectar – liquid sweeteners like these will work well with nice flavors for non baked recipes, like sauces and glazes. If replacing with one of these, use 3/4 the amount of what the recipe calls for.
  4. Turbinado Sugar – Turbinado is a great alternative raw sugar with larger granules and is best used as finishing sugar for sprinkling on top of breads, muffins, etc… Not the best alternative for mixing into a batter.
  5. Coconut Sugar – extracted from the sap of coconut palm tree flowers, this sweetener has a similar flavor to brown sugar, but will not have the same moisture content.
  6. Muscovado Sugar similar in color and has a bit higher molasses content.
  7. Palm Sugar – this sweetener add a color and consistency that is similar to brown sugar or demerara sugar but it is not as moist. However, it has a wonderful flavor with hints of caramel and butterscotch.

NOTE: These seven brown sugar substitutes will not produce the same exact results other than our recipe listed below. The result will not be as dark and the flavor will not be as deep and rich. Your baked goods might be lighter in color and the results can vary based on the recipe. However, these will work if needed.

Tips and Tricks

  • What Type of Molasses Should I use? Any molasses is fine to use for making this brown sugar substitute, but blackstrap is the easiest to find. Blackstrap molasses may smell a bit strong, but the color will be right and the flavor is perfect for baking.
  • You can make this light or dark by adjusting the recipe a bit. By adding more molasses you can have dark brown sugar if needed instead of light.
  • Some other substitute sweeteners instead of molasses. You can use things like agave or maple syrup.
  • And, finally, the way you are mixing the ingredients together is important. Using an electric mixer or food processors is great. However, you can use a simple plastic bag full of your ingredients and massage it to combine. Make sure it is fully mixed in though with no stickiness.

Brown Sugar Substitute in a glass jar with a Tablespoon

More Homemade Pantry Staples:

Brown Sugar Substitute in a glass jar with a Tablespoon
Homemade Brown Sugar feature
5 from 8 votes

Brown Sugar Substitute

Learn how to make brown sugar in just five minutes with only two ingredients! Whether you run out or just want a BETTER version of store bought, this brown sugar substitute is the perfect recipe.
Servings: 2.5 cups
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes


Light Brown Sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses

Dark Brown Sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tbsp molasses


  • Mix the ingredients together by hand or stand mixer until sugar is fully coated and no longer sticky to touch.
  • Enjoy your favorite baked recipes

Last Step:

Please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.


Serving: 2.5cups | Calories: 1679kcal | Carbohydrates: 434g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 693mg | Sugar: 413g | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 2mg


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14 comments on “Best Brown Sugar Substitute”

  1. I thought it was one cup sugar and two tbsp of molasses for light and four tablespoons of molasses for dark


  3. I was introduced to this idea by Becky from Acre Homestead. Thanks for reminding me! What I’m curious about is – there are numerous kinds of molasses (sulphured, unsulphured, etc.). What kind do you actually use?

    1. Hi Cathy. Yes, there are many kinds of molasses! Some more readily available than others. While any would work for a brown sugar recipe with some variance in taste, a light unsulphured will well work for most recipes in general.

  4. 5 stars
    I’m a bit more lazy. When I needed brown sugar, I’d just make it in the recipe… add my cup of sugar, drop in a Tbsp of molasses, the eggs, the vanilla… whatever I needed to cream with my sugars. Worked really well. I love hacks like this. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Avatar photo
    Margaret Lunt

    5 stars
    I have heard of doing this, but until today, I had never tried it. In the middle of making apple dumplings, I realized I was out of brown sugar. Followed this recipe and it turned out perfect. I will be telling every friend and family member about how to do this. Thanks so much !!

    1. Really? I’ve never heard of this. I’ll have to try that next time I mix up a batch.