How Do I Choose the Best Brown Sugar Substitutes?

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  • Written By: Valerie Clark
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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With all the options for brown sugar substitutes, it becomes difficult to know which substitute is the best. It comes down to what ingredients you have available for substitution. The most common alternatives are powdered sugar, a blend of white sugar and molasses, and a blend of artificial sweetener and maple syrup.

Brown sugar is called for in many cake and cookie recipes. Store-bought brown sugar is made with molasses and white sugar. Light brown sugar contains approximately 3.5 percent molasses, while dark brown sugar has upwards of 6.5 percent. In addition to granulated brown sugar, some stores may offer liquid brown sugar. The specific type you need should be named in the recipe.

If you’re baking with sugar and the recipe calls for light brown sugar but all you have is dark brown, there is a quick fix if you have white sugar on hand. Simply add white sugar to the dark sugar and mix. A one-to-one ratio of dark brown to white sugar is all you need.

There may be times when you decide to bake something at the last minute and the recipe calls for brown sugar, which you do not readily have on hand. If you have powdered sugar available, you can make an ingredient substitution. The ratio for this substitution is two-to-one — two portions of powdered sugar equal one portion of brown sugar.


Cooking with brown sugar can be challenging if you don’t have enough brown sugar. In this situation, the best brown sugar substitutes are white sugar and molasses. After all, that is how brown sugar is manufactured for the store-bought varieties. Homemade brown sugar substitutes are easily found on cooking websites where recipes are numerous. You will need approximately 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) of molasses for every 1 cup (201 grams) of white sugar to make an even swap.

So far, the best brown sugar substitutes mentioned have been for times when you do not have the right type of brown sugar or you are completely out of brown sugar. There is one more option for brown sugar substitutes that doesn’t use molasses and is relatively low in calories. This option is likely the best choice for healthy-minded cooks.

The best brown sugar substitute for s healthy lifestyle does not use brown sugar at all. The trick is to use artificial sweetener and sugar-free maple syrup. Mix the two ingredients with a fork at a four-to-one ratio. In other words, use 0.25 cup (85 grams) of maple syrup for every 1 cup (201 grams) of artificial sweetener. A cup of this low-calorie brown sugar substitute is equivalent to 1 cup (201 grams) of regular brown sugar.


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