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How to Make Light Brown Sugar

Learn how to make light brown sugar easily with just two simple ingredients.

This is perfect for when you’re in a pinch and don’t have brown sugar on hand.

light brown sugar in a white bowl on a white marble counter

Brown sugar is what makes some of the best recipes – like chocolate chip cookiesso good.

Luckily, if you’re out, it is really easy to make at home or substitute brown sugar.

All you need is regular sugar and molasses!

Understanding Sugar

Sugar may seem very basic if you’ve baked before, but I’ve been asked about it in the past – so I’ll explain.

There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.

When a recipe (any recipe, not just mine) says “sugar” without specifying anything else, it is regular white sugar.

White Sugar

White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.

It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand, whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.

Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different, depending on what you choose to use.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar.” But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”

Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.

The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.

In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea, but is also used for baking.

Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and mineral.

However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.

This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.

Caster Sugar

This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.

It has a grain finer than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.

Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.

You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.

This sugar is rarely, if ever, used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting and icings.

In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar.

It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar

In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.

The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used.

Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.

In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.

In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.

Replacing Sugar with Honey

If you’d prefer to use honey instead of sugar, you can do so with pretty good results.

Honey can be two or even three times as sweet depending on the honey, so for every 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey.

Since honey adds liquid, you need to remove some to balance it out.  For every cup of honey, remove a 1/4 cup of liquid.

Also, it burns faster than granulated sugar, so you want to lower the baking temperature by 25 F or 14 C.  In addition, check it early and often to avoid burning or overbaking.


It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar or demerara. 

What we call brown sugar is essentially white sugar that has had molasses added back to it. 

Both dark and light brown sugar can easily be made at home if you have a little white sugar and molasses.

The only difference between dark brown sugar and light brown sugar is the amount of molasses used.

Types of Molasses

Molasses is a byproduct of making sugar from sugarcane or sugar beets.

The process goes through three boiling cycles and with each cycle a different type of molasses is created.

There are five types of molasses: blackstrap, light, dark or medium, treacle, and sorghum (which is technically not a molasses).

The lighter the molasses, the sweeter it is.

Light Molasses

Light molasses is the syrup that remains after the first processing of the sugar.

It is the lightest in color as well as sweetest in taste.

This type of molasses is often used as a syrup for pancakes and waffles or is stirred into hot cereals such as oatmeal.

Medium or Dark Molasses

Medium or dark molasses is made from the second boiling of the sugar.

It is, naturally and has a thicker consistency.

It has a little stronger flavor than light molasses, but not as strong as blackstrap.

It is the type commonly used in gingerbread.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is the syrup remaining after the third extraction of sugar from sugar.

The word blackstrap comes from two seperate words.

Black, refers to refers to the color of the molasses, which is extremely dark, while strap is derived in part from the Dutch word stroop, meaning syrup.

It has a very strong, somewhat bittersweet flavor with a heady aroma.

It is best used in recipes rather than as a straight sweetener such as pancake syrup.

It contains many of the nutrients left behind by refined sugar crystals so some people feel it is healthier.


True treacle dates back to Victorian times. However, today, treacle is a blend of molasses and refinery syrup.

It is notably sweeter and has a much more mellow flavor than molasses and ranges in color from light gold to nearly black.

British treacle can be substituted for molasses in most recipes, but much less frequently will molasses work as a replacement for treacle.

Sorghum Molasses

Technically, also referred to as West Indies, or Barbados molasses, sorghum is not molasses.

It comes from the sorghum plant, a cereal grain which although grown specifically for molasses, it is not refined sugar.

The syrup is made from the juice of the stalk which is cooked and clarified, resulting in a smooth clear amber color.

Sorghum molasses generally contains a preservative which is added to lengthen its short shelf life.

Since it can ferment, sorghum molasses should be refrigerated.

Can You make brown sugar with blackstrap molasses?


You can generally use any molasses for making brown sugar, but blackstrap is sometimes easier to find.

When you use blackstrap molasses to make brown sugar, it may smell a little strong, but the color will be right and the flavor will be perfect in baking.

In fact, it is my preferred type of molasses when making brown sugar.

Yield: 1 cup

How to Make Light Brown Sugar

light brown sugar in a white bowl on a white marble counter

Making light brown sugar at home is super easy and all you need is regular sugar and molasses.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Additional Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 cup white or caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses


  1. Place sugar in a bowl
  2. Add molasses
  3. Mix until color is uniform

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 17Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

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