Run out of brown sugar? No problem. With white sugar and molasses you can learn how to make brown sugar to use in your favorite baking recipes.
A mainstay for topping Steel Cut Oats or for rolling up with cinnamon in Jumbo Orange Cinnamon Rolls, brown sugar is one of those grocery staples you don’t want to run out of. But if you do, rest assured you can make your own!
Forget about making Molasses Crinkles without it. The flavor and texture just aren’t the same.
Sometimes you really need brown sugar.
It was a few pantry challenges ago when we ran out of this staple. I didn’t want to go to the store to get more, lest I be tempted to buy other things that we probably didn’t need while I was there.
So, I figured out a way to create a baking substitution for it instead!
Why This Works
Now, it’s important to remember that you can’t make something from nothing. I can’t conjure it out of thin air. But, I could consider what happens during sugar cane processing.
- The sugar cane is shredded and then juiced.
- The juice is clarified, concentrated and crystallized.
- The crystals have even more liquid removed, resulting in raw sugar.
- The raw sugar is purified further, then melted and filtered. Molasses is a by-product at this point.
- Then the sugar is crystallized, dried, and packed for shipping.
The amount of molasses left in the sugar determines what type of sugar you have: white, light brown, or dark brown. White sugar has more of the molasses removed while dark brown sugar has more molasses remaining.
So, in the absence of a bag of this classic sweetener, I can recreate it by adding molasses back into white granulated sugar!
All you need to make your own brown sugar are two ingredients:
white sugar – You’ll need plain granulated, white sugar. Powdered sugar will not work for this.
molasses – You know the stuff you buy at the holidays for one recipe and then never use again? This is the time to use it up!
So, that’s what you do.
- For every cup you need, measure out 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses.
- Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl, working the molasses into the sugar with a fork or a pastry blender. This may take a few minutes and seem impossible at first, but it will come together. Trust me.
- And voila! Store it in an airtight container at room temperature.
Dark Brown Sugar Variation
To make dark brown sugar, you would do the exact same thing as above, but add 2 tablespoons molasses to the granulated sugar.
First, make sure you are keeping it in an airtight sealable container instead of the bag it comes in once it’s been opened. Then you can add a piece of white bread or a few marshmallows on top. These will add some moisture and help keep it soft.
It can be used as a sweetener in baked goods like Gramma John’s Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies or Vanilla Pear Brown Sugar Muffins, sauces, marinades, and beverages as well as a topping for oatmeal or fruit.
Since this sweetener contains molasses it also contains some minerals, such as calcium, iron, and potassium that white sugar is lacking. It also has a deeper flavor than white sugar, thanks to the molasses.
When you’ve run out of brown sugar and can’t or don’t want to run to the store, it make sense for a practical standpoint to make your own. How does it pencil out, money-wise?
Here are the prices from a mid-range grocery at non-sale prices:
- sugar: $0.22/cup ($1.99/4#)
- molasses: $0.14/tablespoon ($3.40/12 oz)
This pencils out to $0.36 cents/cup!
The cheap brand costs $2.49/32 oz, or $0.55/cup. Turns out homemade is cheaper than store bought!
More Kitchen Tricks
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How to Make Brown Sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- Combine the sugar and molasses in a bowl. Work the ingredients together with a fork until the molasses is completely distributed throughout the sugar.
- Store the brown sugar in an airtight container at room temperature.
- To make dark brown sugar: Do the exact same thing as above, but add 2 tablespoons molasses to the granulated sugar.
- How do I keep my brown sugar soft? – First, make sure you are keeping your brown sugar in an airtight sealable container instead of the bag it comes in once it’s been opened. Then you can add a piece of white bread or a few marshmallows on top.
This post was originally published on January 12, 2020. It has been updated for content and clarity.