brown sugar

Top 6 Brown Sugar Substitutes For Your Baking and Cooking Needs

Brown sugar is a staple in any kitchen, not just for baking, but also for sauces and marinades. We’ve all been in a situation where we are making a last-minute dish with brown sugar as one of the ingredients. Of course, not having this staple around can become a problem. 

However, there is no need to leave the house and go back to the store. You should know that there are plenty of options out there for you to use instead of brown sugar, and we’ll give you the details about them.

What Is Brown Sugar?

In any case, before we move on, let’s talk about, what is brown sugar? 

This sucrose is made from refining molasses, which is what gives it the distinct brown caramel color we all know so well. 

There are two kinds of brown sugar. The first is known as raw, natural, or turbinado, and it still contains molasses traces as the refining process isn’t complete. The second kind is the refined brown sugar that is made by adding molasses back to refined white sugar.

As a rule of thumb, if you see a darker brown sugar, it probably contains more molasses. This compound is the one that adds moisture and softness to the sugar, making it important not just in baking but also in making sauces, stews, and marinades. 

See more: How long does sugar last?

What Can I Replace Brown Sugar With?

In case you don’t have any or simply can’t use it, these are the best brown sugar substitutes for any situation:

Best For Cookies, Banana Bread, and Making Coffee or Tea

#1. White Sugar + Molasses

As you read above, some brown sugar is simply refined white sugar with added molasses. That’s why it makes sense that if you don’t have any brown sugar, you can mix white sugar and molasses to use in things like cookies, banana bread, and muffins. 

To use it in place of brown sugar, mix one cup of white sugar with about a tablespoon or half of the molasses. You can even store this sugar combination and use it later in coffee or tea.

Both products are easy to come by, and molasses comes in handy when making other recipes, so it’s a worth buying ingredient.

See More: Best Substitutes for Molasses

#2. White Sugar + Maple Syrup

This is another good combination that yields very similar results to using brown sugar. Maple syrup is commonly used in pancakes, waffles, and sauces. You can use one cup of the white sugar you have at home and mix it with one tablespoon or more of maple syrup.

These two ingredients are very easy to come by, and maple syrup is a good item to have in your pantry. You can use this mix in baking banana bread, cookies, coffee cake, and more. Make sure you adjust for liquid, as this mix can be stickier than regular sugar. 

#3. Honey

This is a great choice when it comes to baking recipes, especially if you are trying to be healthy. You can use honey as a substitute for brown sugar when making banana bread, granola, cookies, and even in drinks, like juices, tea, and coffee. 

You can find honey in any grocery or convenience store, and it lasts a long time in your pantry.

To replace for brown sugar, use ⅔ of a cup of honey for every one cup. Remember that honey is liquid, so your recipe may need to be adjusted. Also, honey doesn’t caramelize as other sweeteners do, so it may alter the final color too.

See more: Best Substitutes for Honey

#4. Coconut Sugar

You may not know this type of sugar yet, but it is a very healthy and nutritious choice. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree, and it tastes very similar to brown sugar. You can use coconut sugar in cakes, banana bread, and coffee or tea. 

Coconut sugar isn’t that easy to come by, but you can try your local health or organic store. Use it in the same amount as you would use brown sugar, but keep in mind that this sweetener is denser. You may need to add more fat to improve the moisture.

Best For Sauces, Meatloaf, BBQ Sauce, and Baked Beans

#5. Turbinado Sugar

This raw sweetener is technically brown sugar, but not refined. It is especially good for adding richness and color, which is great when making sauces like BBQ sauce, and cooking dense foods, like baked beans and meatloaf.

To use this instead of brown sugar, use the same amount of turbinado sugar. 

Keep in mind that the crystals are larger, so you may want to crush or grind them before using it. You can also dissolve them in the liquid you are using to make sauces. Buying turbinado sugar isn’t too hard, as your local grocery store probably has some in the baking aisle.

#6. Granulated Sugar

In this case, the product may not be equally caramel-like, but good old granulated sugar does the trick in many recipes.

Some good options include BBQ sauce, meatloaf, ham glaze, and baked beans. Be careful not to add too much. We recommend you use the same amount, but make sure the crystals melt.

You probably already have granulated sugar at home, but if you don’t have one, you can find it in any grocery or convenience store. It is not a really healthy choice, though, but it works wonderfully in many dishes.

See More: Granulated Sugar Alternatives


Can I substitute maple syrup for brown sugar?

Yes, maple syrup is a good choice for many recipes, but it may be better to mix it with granulated sugar for texture. You can use maple syrup alone in certain products, like banana bread, cookies, or sauces. Be careful not to add too much, as it can be overpowering.

Can I replace white sugar with brown sugar?

Yes, brown sugar can be used instead of white sugar, but it does add a particular flavor and color. You can use it in baked goods that can turn into caramel, like cookies or banana bread, but it may not be the right choice for light-colored cakes.

What’s better between honey or maple syrup?

Both sweeteners are high in calories and sugar, but they are technically healthy and natural. However, you should always be careful when using either of these, particularly because they are absorbed quickly. Maple syrup is lower in calories, but honey has more naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

What is the best brown sugar substitute for keto?

On the keto diet, you can use stevia, monk fruit and erythritol or a blend of these as an alternative to brown sugar for your beverages and baking recipes.


If you are about to bake a loaf of banana bread or you want to make your mom’s meatloaf recipe, then brown sugar seems pretty essential. Don’t worry, though. These six alternatives are great for different recipes and dishes, so you won’t have to give up before baking or cooking.

Up Next: The Best Caster Sugar Substitutes

brown sugar substitutes

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