What is Muscovado Sugar?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Muscovado sugar is a type of minimally refined cane sugar that is popular in some baked goods and specialty recipes. It is especially popular in Great Britain, where it is often readily available at various markets. This product is also sometimes labeled as Barbados or moist sugar, for people who are having trouble finding it; if neither of these alternatives are available, shoppers may be able to order it from a specialty supplier.

Muscovado sugar.
Muscovado sugar.

This sugar has two distinctive traits that make it quite unique. The first is the coarse grain and large, rough crystals that are unevenly sized. The second is the high molasses content, which causes the sugar to be dark, strongly flavored, and very sticky. These two traits can make substitutions for Muscovado sugar quite difficult, as it is prized for its moisture, coarse grain, and flavor, and it is difficult to replicate.

Muscovado sugar is made from sugar cane.
Muscovado sugar is made from sugar cane.

This cane sugar is made by pressing sugarcane to release the naturally sweet juice and then cooking it slightly before allowing it to dry. During the cooking process, various ingredients are added to help remove impurities that may be present in the sugarcane juice; typically, these impurities rise to the top in the form of foam which is skimmed out. Both coconut milk and lime juice are used in traditional processing, and these refining ingredients do not usually leave flavors behind. After the sugar is dried, it is broken apart and sold.

Because Muscovado sugar is minimally refined, it keeps many of the essential dietary vitamins and minerals that are present in the sugarcane plant. While it may be odd to think of sugar as being health, this variety is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, among other useful compounds, which is why some cooks like to use it. Although it is certainly not a health food, it is more beneficial than pure white refined sugar.

When used in baked goods, this sugar may not behave as expected by cooks who are used to using refined white sugar. Bakers need to think about the increased moisture content, and until they become familiar with how this sugar changes the profile of baked goods, they may want to stick to recipes that are specifically designed for it. If a cook must replace Muscovado sugar in a recipe which calls for it, he should use the most dark, coarse brown sugar that he can find and add some molasses to it to make it sticky and to enhance the flavor.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I used to believe that white is pure as in the case of white sugar, but upon learning about and having tasted the muscovado sugar, I know brown is its natural color. It is really pure as far as the essential dietary nutrient is concerned. The reason is in the way it is processed. What is natural is real.


I just bought Muscovado sugar at Harris Teeter Supermarket.


I buy dark muscavado from Marks & Spencers in the UK. It is fantastic. It is the best I have ever tasted.


I buy my muscovado sugar on eBay and it is the best I've tasted! The brand is El Maestro and it has a pure, strong molasses taste that you can’t compare anywhere else. I believe it's imported from the Philippines where they specialize in that. Perfect with any recipe, especially coffee and tea -- and marinating meats!


I need it for my chocolate smartie cookies!


I finally found muscovado sugar at Williams Sonoma. It wasn't cheap but after searching for it for the past year unsuccessfully, I figured what the heck! The clerk said that it was a new product in their shop.


Contrary to white refined sugar which is pure calories, the muscovado has a lot more in it. Try it in your tea or coffee.


For those of you looking for muscovado sugar, it is available from India Tree on Amazon for the best price you'll find. Four one-pound bags on sale for $18.86. Also qualifies for free shipping with an order of $25 or more. I've been using raw sugar or demerara sugar for many years now and thought I would find out what all the rage was with muscovado.

I'm happy I did! I've only used it in coffee so far and it adds a delicious richness like no other sugar. You get minerals too for an added health benefit which is stripped out of refined sugars. Also, muscovado is supposed to be the secret ingredient for the best chocolate chip cookies in the world!


In the U.S., your best bet for finding muscovado sugar is to check with places like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Wild Oats and Earth Fare. Stores specializing in natural, whole foods will often stock different sugars.


I don't want a substitute. there must be somewhere to get it in south Fl.


Where can I get this Muscovado sugar? I have a recipe that calls for it from the food channel. Port st. Lucie, Fl. area


Try the muscuvado sugar from the philippines, specifically the one with lime. it's uber delicious.


There is no substitute for muscovado sugar. But fortunately, it is easy to get hold of these days.


Do me (and yourself!) a huge favor and find some muscovado sugar! I promise you you'll be glad you did-- there really isn't any substitute for its bright, complex flavor.

It tastes *fantastic* just by itself! Once upon a time, all brown sugar was made this way, but not anymore, and it's making a comeback. Take advantage of it and try it!


what type of sugar can be used to substitute muscovado sugar? please help as i have a recipe that requires it.


I have several recipes that call for Muscovado sugar, but I was never exactly sure what it was. I'll have to try out those tips for substitutions!

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