What’s the Difference Between Light and Dark Brown Sugar?

What’s the Difference Between Light and Dark Brown Sugar?

To recognize what brown sugar is, you need to have a take a observe how sugar—just like the granulated white desk sugar your grandmother stole packets of from the diner—is made.

The brief version: Sugar is simply sucrose (C12H22O11), a molecule which happens evidently in a whole lot of plants, aleven though maximum of the sugar we consume on this u . s . comes from the stalks of sugarcane.

To flip sugarcane into subtle desk sugar, the stalks are reduce then overwhelmed with rollers till juice is extracted. Milk of lime and carbon dioxide are introduced to assist make clear the juice, then it is despatched via an evaporator to do away with the water and pay attention it right into a syrup. The sugar withinside the syrup is crystalized, and also you emerge as with a huge vintage vat of uncooked sugar crystals (to be able to be in addition subtle into white sugar) blanketed in molasses. Yum.

While the ones molasses-lined uncooked sugar crystals at the moment are technically brown sugar, maximum of what you purchase in the shop labeled “brown sugar” is sugar that has been subtle to the white sugar stage, then re-combined with molasses to supply a steady color and taste.

So what is the distinction among mild and darkish brown sugar?

The distinction among mild and darkish brown sugar is definitely the quantity of molasses every carries. Light brown sugar has much less molasses consistent with general quantity of sugar (approximately 3.5�cording to Rose Levy Beranbaum) at the same time as darkish brown sugar has greater (6.5%). You can effortlessly see the distinction of their make-up the use of simply your eyeballs: darkish brown sugar is darker in colour and appears greater like molasses syrup. You can flavor it too: darkish brown sugar has a barely greater complicated taste, one that human beings regularly represent as much like caramel or toffee.

Can I use darkish and mild brown sugar interchangeably in cooking?

Given that you’ve got likely Googled your self into this text, panicking, arms complete of flour and midway via a recipe, the solution is: commonly speaking, sure they’re interchangeable. (I need to get that accessible due to the fact regardless of what number of years move with the aid of using, regardless of what number of cakes, cookies, and breads I make, I nevertheless manipulate to have the “oh s%&$” second due to the fact I began out a recipe with out all of the components withinside the house.) In fact, many recipes do not even specify what color of brown sugar to use, aleven though it is satisfactory to expect that with the aid of using “brown sugar” they imply mild.

That would not imply they may be identical. Because darkish brown sugar carries greater molasses, it weighs greater, carries greater moisture, and is greater acidic.

Wait, that does not alternate things? Yes, however now no longer really. The quantity of moisture is so negligible that you would by no means should compensate with the aid of using including greater dry components for your recipe. There are  approaches wherein you will see a small distinction: flavor and texture. Taste is apparent: goodies made with darkish brown sugar could have a barely deeper taste with the ones notes of caramel and toffee I mentioned. That’s why I simplest use darkish brown sugar whilst making gingerbread; however relying at the recipe, you could now no longer even note a distinction. Regarding the greater acidity of darkish brown sugar, acid turns on baking soda, so in case you use darkish brown sugar to make, say, cookies, your cookies will upward thrust higher, however simplest barely.

The Test

To check this, I made  batches of our Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies, the use of the equal recipe however converting the form of brown sugar used.


The maximum apparent distinction is the colour of the completed cookies: there may be no manner you would pass over which of them have been made with darkish brown sugar. The darkish brown sugar cookies additionally tasted greater of molasses, however this is due to the fact brown sugar is the primary flavoring agent and it is now no longer competing with different components. Other than that, the cookies made with mild brown sugar unfold a piece greater, and those made with darkish brown sugar rose simply each so barely higher. But we are speaking approximately the form of adjustments you would want a magnifying glass (or an obsessive meals personality) to see.

What approximately white sugar? Can I update it for brown?

Using white sugar whilst a recipe requires brown (or vice versa) is tons greater problematic. Molasses is hygroscopic, that means that it loves to hold directly to moisture. As a result, baked items made with brown sugar emerge as moister, heavier, and chewier, at the same time as the ones made with white sugar emerge as lighter and crisper (study up a piece greater at the technological know-how in this text approximately the satisfactory chocolate chip cookies).

Cookies made with white sugar can even have a tendency to unfold greater with out the acidic raise of brown sugar to assist them upward thrust, like in those chocolate chip cookies:

If you have a recipe that requires brown sugar and all you have is white sugar and molasses on hand, you could approximate mild brown sugar with the aid of using combining a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of molasses withinside the meals processor and going for walks it till it reaches a uniform colour.


The distinction among mild and darkish brown sugar normally comes right all the way down to flavor. While there may also be diffused variations in texture, experience unfastened to switch them out with out worry.

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