Need A Substitute For Dark Brown Sugar? You Make It Now!

Dark brown sugar is a “grab me” item in my pantry. It’s so versatile, I use it in my sauces for dishes, dessert recipes and even in my baking escapades. You never know when you need to sprinkle some sweet taste on your cooking! It’s best to keep some always in the kitchen.

But what if you run out? I wouldn’t be surprised if you are desperately looking for an alternative. Do you need a substitute for dark brown sugar? I’ve got good news for you. I know exactly what you need! Ready to grab it?


There are two types of brown sugar: light and dark brown sugar. 

Light sugar (Left) & Dark brown sugar (Right) [Via Serious Eats]

  • Brown sugar offers a distinctive pleasing taste like molasses syrup. It has a darker color and tastes more like molasses than light brown sugar.
  • Light brown sugar is generally used for baking, condiments, and coatings. The richness of dark brown sugar, on the other hand, makes it perfect for gingerbread, shredded meat, baked beans, and other full-flavored food.

First Choice: Let’s Make Our Own Dark Brown Sugar!

Apart from being effective, it’s easy to make as everything you will need is in your kitchen. It is simply a case of mixing white sugar with molasses.

  • The composition of dark brown sugar is white sugar and 6.5 molasses.
  • Formula: ¼ cup of molasses per cup of white sugar.

You might want to go ahead and quickly mix it. But wait, let’s take it slowly.

  • First of all, remember that you can’t use blackstrap molasses, as they don’t have enough sucrose and will taste bitter. So it’s best to use light or dark molasses.
  • If you’re planning to make 4 cups of dark brown sugar, mix 3 cups of white sugar and 1 cup of molasses. The measurements should be exact.

Mix the two ingredients manually by using a stirrer or spoon. You can also use a mixer, which is faster and more effective. It blends everything evenly so that it looks almost exactly like the dark brown sugar you need.

The color may not be as you expected. It will depend on the kind of molasses you use.

Here is a short video on how to make dark brown sugar:

That was simple, right? Now use your homemade dark brown sugar in the same way as the sugar from the stores.

You can make a huge batch of dark brown sugar if you like. It will save you making another batch the next time you need some. Just make sure you store it in a tightly sealed container as this prevents it from hardening.

Second Choice: Light Brown Sugar

Light brown sugar is also an effective alternative to dark brown sugar. They’re both a mixture of white sugar and molasses. The only difference is light brown sugar has fewer molasses, compared to the dark variety.

To get the dark consistency you need, simply add more molasses to the mix.

  • For a cup of dark brown sugar: take exactly one tablespoon from a cup of light brown sugar and replace it with exactly one tablespoon of molasses. Blend it in the mixer.

Experts say that your use of dark brown sugar should depend on the recipe you are planning to make. In dishes that lack flavor and where the color does not matter, you can use pure light brown sugar as a substitute.

Third Choice: A Little Bit Of Honey!

If you need dark brown sugar because of its sweetness and weight, then why not use honey? Honey is even sweeter than sugar. It also has the moisture and flavor of dark brown sugar. I guess it’s even better! Honey is healthy and has a unique fruity sweetness.

If you opt to use honey, then you must remember these things:

  • The amount of honey you need to use will be less compared to the dark brown sugar that you used in your recipe. This is because honey is heavier compared to sugar and also much sweeter.
  • You’re allowed to use the same amount of required sugar and honey for a certain recipe, if it’s just up to a cup. But if it requires more than a cup, here’s the ratio: 2/3 cup of honey = 1 cup of dark brown sugar.
  • Note: Honey is naturally a little bit acidic, which can change the flavor of your dish. If you can’t take it, a small amount of baking soda will neutralize the acidity and do the trick. Ratio: ¼ teaspoon of baking soda = 1 cup of honey.

More Substitutes

If you don’t like molasses or can’t get it, use maple syrup as an alternate. It tastes like water with a little bit of sweetness, in contrast to honey.

If you’ve decided to use maple syrup as a replacement ingredient, here is the ratio: ¾ cup of maple syrup = 1 cup of dark brown sugar.

If you intend to use it in baking, reduce the volume of the other liquid in your ingredients as maple syrup is watery. So, if you add ¾ of a cup of maple syrup to your baking mix, you will need to reduce the same amount of liquid from your other ingredients.

If the ratio is not right, it will affect your baking and your cookies or cake won’t be as you want them to be! Got it, right?

There’s no need for you to panic and buy some dark brown sugar, as substitutes are just around the corner. It’s much faster to make your own than it is to take a trip to the store!

I personally buy commercial brown sugar because it’s economical, flavorsome and consistent. But, at times like these, it’s good to make your own. As the master of the kitchen, one mustn’t be pressured. Knowing how to make a substitute from scratch is a great trick to have up our sleeves!

Some Tips To Help You Get By

  • When making substitutes, it’s important to use the exact measurements as required. A little difference will have a huge impact on what you plan to make.
  • You can manually mix the sugar but using a mixer is recommended for an even, thorough blend.
  • What dish are you making? The kind of brown sugar you use varies according to the recipe you are making.

Knowing that you can make a substitute for dark brown sugar in your kitchen means there is no need to worry anymore. There are so many surprising discoveries that you can make by just staring at your pantry, so let your imagination do its work!

If you’ve discovered another way of replacing dark brown sugar, you are welcome to share it with us!