Kitchen Hacks Recipes

What can I use if I don’t have brown sugar?

Ugh. You’ve chopped the butter, sieved the flour and lined your baking tin – but where on earth did your brown sugar go?

You were sure you had some, but, nope, all you’ve got is a caster sugar in your cupboard. A simple swap won’t hurt. Will it?

If you don’t know the answer to what your brown sugar alternatives are (we totally understand if you’re struggling to find any in the shops at the moment), then read on.

Best brown sugar alternatives for baking

1. White sugar

This includes both caster sugar and granulated sugar. A simple direct 1:1 switch for brown sugar will work in your baking. But be warned – brown sugar is rich in molasses (the stuff that makes goods treacly and sticky).

Related: COVID-19: Can I use granulated sugar instead of caster sugar?

As such, you can expect your bake to look the same but not necessarily taste as you’d like. For instance, white sugar flapjacks might taste drier and less gooey than normal, so bear this in mind before you flick on your oven.

2. Granulated sugar + molasses

This one might sound like a stretch – because if you can’t find regular old brown sugar in the shops, how are you going to find molasses?! – but there are workarounds.

Rather than buying it outright, you can make your own molasses by adding two tablespoons of agave nectar or maple syrup to one cup of granulated sugar. Then blitz the mixture in a food processor until it goes sticky. That’s your homemade brown sugar!

3. Coconut sugar

As with straight-up white sugar, coconut sugar doesn’t contain molasses so it isn’t half as moisture-rich as the brown variety. For molasses-like viscosity, consider adding a tablespoon butter or oil to a saucepan and melting with the coconut sugar. This should help boost the moisture profile – just be sure not to burn the sugar.

4. Honey or maple syrup

While not like-for-like replacements in terms of texture, honey and maple syrup have the gooey consistency of molasses so are a good replacement if you don’t have any brown sugar at home. Just remember that, unlike white or coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup are high in moisture, so factor this into your ratios.

So now you know. If you’re all out of brown sugar, there are a few storecupboard essentials to help you make your bake work.

But if that’s not good enough?… Just wait until the brown sugar comes back in your local shop! When a recipe asks for brown sugar, use brown sugar. It’s the safest bet.

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