Homemade Brown Sugar

This homemade brown sugar recipe only requires two ingredients and ensures you never run out of it again. Yes, making a brown sugar substitute is so simple, and better yet? It tastes just like what you buy at the store!

You’ll love adding freshly-browned sugar to these vegan chocolate chip cookies because it makes them so moist and delicious.

A white measuring cup holds homemade brown sugar.

I hate those last-minute trips to the store. You know when you’re in the midst of making cookie dough and you realize you’re out of a crucial ingredient? Now, here’s at least one more ingredient you can make a home.

What Makes This Recipe Shine?

  • Adjusting how much molasses is used creates dark brown versus light brown
  • The right ratio of molasses makes this recipe full of flavor and adds moisture to your baked goods
  • Using your fingers to work the molasses through the sugar keeps this recipe easy to make and easy for clean-up as well

Molasses is like the magic wand that turns your regular sugar into brown, colorful sugar.

Or, said more accurately, molasses is what turns your regular old white sugar back to brown. Because technically, sugar is browner in its raw state. It’s kind of like how rice is really brown or wheat is really brown. Maybe the whole world is brown!

History of Brown Sugar

Believe it or not, the brown stuff hasn’t always had such a pristine image. In the 1800s the processed sugar industry distributed pictures of microbes that exist in this darker sugar and warned people not to eat it. The campaign was successful and led to the widespread adoption of white sugar over the brown variety.

Hmm. big industry sells a lot of products by spreading misinformation to an unsuspecting public? Someone call Oprah, I think we’ve got a story here!

How Brown Sugar is Made

There is such a thing as Natural Brown Sugar. It’s otherwise referred to as raw sugar. That means the sugar that is taken from the sugar cane is brown. There is a refining process that takes away the brown out of the raw sugar, and do you know what’s left over? Molasses!

So, they take the raw sugar, remove the molasses to make it white, and then add the molasses back to some of it and make it brown again. Are you confused? Me too.

The good news is that it’s really easy to make. You simply add a little molasses to your white sugar, stir, and that’s it.

And you get this awesome Martha Stewart vibe afterward too. I love that Martha Stewart Vibe. It’s like I want to say to my friends, “See that brown, colorful sugar? I made that!”

But, then I think to myself, Would Martha say that? Probably not. Sigh.

We could totally turn Martha Stewart into a verb.

I Martha Stewarted that sugar!

I like that better than confessing how I ran out of the stuff I usually buy at the store.

A jar of molasses is pouring into a small white bowl

What Molasses is Best?

Sulfur dioxide used to be added as a preservative and clarifier, but it can cause allergic reactions, so most molasses is now unsulfured. Most of the time you’ll want to use fancy or light molasses (referred to as treacle in the UK) rather than blackstrap, which has a bitter flavor and is not preferred for baking.

Key Ingredients for DIY Brown Sugar

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe, including substitution ideas:

  • Granulated sugar — Any plain, granulated sugar works here.
  • Molasses — We’ll change the amount of molasses used based on whether you want to make your sugar light or dark brown.

Marly’s Tips

Don’t have molasses on hand? See below for how to make brown sugar without molasses.

How to Make Homemade Brown Sugar

You’re ready to make your DIY brown sugar but you need the steps. See the full recipe card below for more details, but here is a quick synopsis for making brown sugar:

  1. Pour molasses into a bowl with white sugar and stir until well combined.
  2. Transfer it to an airtight container for storage.

Quick Fix Tip

You can use a mixer to combine the molasses with sugar. Simply add the two ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix on medium-low speed until the molasses is distributed equally throughout the sugar.

Light Brown vs. Dark Brown Sugar

Wondering how to make a light brown sugar substitute? Here’s a guide:

  • Light brown = 1 tablespoon molasses per 1 cup of sugar
  • Dark brown = 2 tablespoons molasses per 1 cup of sugar.

How to Make Brown Sugar Without Molasses

I love to have molasses on hand to make things like my Soft Molasses Cookies or Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies. I love how soft and tender cookies are with some molasses added. However, there are those times when you don’t have molasses in the cupboards.

You can substitute maple syrup for the molasses using the recipe below, and it works like a charm.

Vegan Brown Sugar

Some vegans avoid regular granulated sugar because it can be processed with bone char. Use vegan granulated sugar as the base of this recipe (such as the link to the recipe card below), and you’ll be sure your brown sweet sugar is vegan.

Is Brown Sugar Expensive?

Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to refined white sugar. This extra step and additional ingredients make it more expensive than white sugar.

How much is brown sugar? It varies in price based on demand, supply, and your location, but you can usually find a standard 16-ounce bag of brown sugar for around $2.

But making your own is more affordable. Why? Because a jar of molasses typically costs less than $5. You can make a lot of brown sugar with one jar and some granulated sugar!

Storage Tips

Store this sugar in an air-tight container. Because of the moisture from the molasses, you should add a terra cotta sugar gadget or a slice of bread to prevent the sugar from clumping. When properly stored, this sugar will keep for months.

Brown Sugar Recipes

Use your homemade brown sugar in any of these delicious vegan recipes:

Looking down on a bowl full of homemade brown sugar.

That’s it for this homemade brown sugar. Enjoy!

A white measuring cup holds homemade brown sugar.

DIY Brown Sugar

Out of brown sugar? Don't rush to the store! Make DIY brown sugar infused with molasses at home. This sugar is perfect for your baked goods, oatmeal, and more!
5 from 3 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 148kcal


Light Brown Sugar

Dark Brown Sugar


  • Place the white sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the molasses and stir until well combined. You may need to get your fingers involved to break up bits of molasses and distribute it throughout the sugar.
    A hand holds a measuring spoon, drizzling molasses over a bowl of sugar.
  • Store in a nontransparent air-tight container. It will keep for months, however, it's recommended to add a brown sugar device or a slice of bread to prevent the brown sugar from clumping.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)


Nutritional estimate is provided for dark brown sugar.
Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 97mg | Sugar: 38g | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.3mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in 2013, but was re-posted to include new photos, recipe updates, and tips in 2021.

4 Responses to Homemade Brown Sugar

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKiran @ KiranTarun.com Reply

    5 stars
    Something as simple as making own brown sugar is often taken for granted. Thanks for sharing!!


  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnna {Herbivore Triathlete} Reply

    5 stars
    I love this Marly! I agree, Martha Stewart should totally be a verb, I love that feeling of making stuff from scratch.
    It’s funny, in my house the rice and sugar are always brown (I buy Florida crystals and they’re tannish). My kids were shocked the first time they saw white rice and sugar, asked me what was wrong with it!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAverie @ Averie Cooks Reply

    I love that you posted this. I feel like many people are surprised to hear that brown sugar is white + molasses. I put this in my cookbook and love your post. Pinned!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks Averie! I had a feeling you made your own brown sugar too!

5 from 2 votes

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