Learn how to make brown sugar at home! This recipe works as a brown sugar substitute and if you have 5 minutes, granulated sugar, and molasses, you won’t need to make an emergency trip to the store when you run out! I include alternative options if you don’t have molasses on hand, too!
Brown Sugar Substitute
We’ve all been there. In the midst of making a recipe (maybe chocolate chip cookies?) only to reach for the bag of brown sugar and find out you’re completely out. While you might be tempted to substitute granulated sugar, it’s just not quite the same. You won’t get precisely the same depth of flavor and your recipe will lose some moisture.
So what do you do?
Well, if you happen to have regular (granulated) sugar and molasses on hand, you’re in luck. With just these two ingredients I’m showing you how to make brown sugar (it takes less than 5 minutes). This isn’t just a substitute for brown sugar this is it, the real-deal, legit stuff that you can use in any recipe.
This recipe will work flawlessly in any recipe (try it in my brown sugar cookies or brown butter chocolate chip cookies) and it’s great for making ahead and storing in your pantry just to have.
What You Need
This is probably one of the easiest to make recipes on my site because it only requires 2 ingredients!
- Granulated sugar. Simple white sugar is the base of this “recipe”.
- Unsulphured molasses. This is what gives brown sugar its moist, slightly sticky texture and what makes it brown. If you don’t have molasses I do have some recommendations for alternatives in my FAQ section below.
How to Make Brown Sugar
There’s no fancy equipment needed, all you need is a mixing bowl and a spoon or spatula.
- Combine the granulated sugar and molasses in a mixing bowl.
- Stir the sugar and molasses until completely combined and sugar is one cohesive color.
SAM’S TIP: The molasses will form clumps and little balls in the sugar. To work them out, use a spatula to press them against the side of your mixing bowl and grind them between the spatula and the side of the bowl until no clumps remain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this is brown sugar, so if you’re out at home, all you need is some granulated sugar and molasses and you can make your own light or dark brown sugar
This is best stored in an airtight container, or a Ziploc bag with as much air pressed out as possible. It will keep for several months (or longer).
Air hardens brown sugar. To keep it soft make sure you remove as much air from the container you’re storing it in as possible. For this reason I prefer to use a Ziploc bag, it’s easy to press out most of the air. If storing in a different container (like a tupperware container) it can be helpful to press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the sugar before securing the lid.
If your sugar has hardened, don’t panic! Put a slice of bread in with it (weird, right!?) and it should soften within hours. The sugar will pull moisture from the bread, making the bread hard, but the sugar nice and soft.
Unfortunately if you use anything other than molasses it is no longer true brown sugar. However, many people have reported recipe success using maple syrup or buckwheat honey instead. Do a 1:1 substitution for the molasses, the end result will be lighter in color but this is OK).
Keep in mind maple syrup and honey have different flavor profiles than molasses so you may have a subtle variation in your end product.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
How to Make Brown Sugar
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon unsulphured molasses increase to 2 Tablespoons of molasses if you would like to make dark brown sugar
- Combine sugar and molasses in a mixing bowl.1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon unsulphured molasses
- Use a spatula to work the ingredients together as well as you can. Use the spatula to press any lumps against the side of the bowl and smash them out.
- Continue to mix until no lumps remain and the brown sugar is uniform in color.
- Store in an airtight container.
StoringAir will dry out the brown sugar and make it hard, so for best results store in an airtight container. I like to store mine in a Ziploc bag and press out as much of the excess air as I possibly can. Brown sugar will keep for months, if not longer.
What to do if your brown sugar hardens:If you go to use your brown sugar and find it has hardened, place a slice of bread with the sugar for several hours in the container, the sugar will soften.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I love this recipe! It’s easy/fun to make, and when baked in things it tastes amazing! If stored properly, it doesn’t dry up that fast. I love that I can make as much as I need and it no longer goes to waste.
Thank you so much, Heather! I’m so glad it was helpful. 🙂
Could the molasses just be added to the recipe instead of preparing brown sugar in advance?
I’m not sure how well it would work. If everything gets combined properly I don’t think it would be an issue, but I can’t guarantee it would work.
Very easy …
You can also soften brown sugar in the microwave. Place your brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 20 seconds. If that is not long enough continue doing it in 20 second increments until it’s the consistency you’re looking for.
Thanks for the tip! 🙂
I make this all the time. Don’t but brown sugar anymore. When I make it I usually make 4-6 cups at a time and I mix it in my stand mixer on low. Doesn’t take long at all.
It’s so easy! 🙂
Really great! Such a great recipe!
I love doing this and it tastes so much more like molasses than store bought, one thing i found is that it hardens much faster than store bought brown sugar, even if they are both stored properly
See my FAQ section to help prevent it hardening 🙂
Can you use Splenda instead of sugar?
Hi Susanne! I haven’t tried it but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. 🙂
Actually using maple syrup might be a nice flavor variation. Kind of like using browned butter instead of butter in CCC. Something to experiment with.