Homemade Brown Sugar

This homemade brown sugar recipe only requires two ingredients and ensures you never run out of brown sugar again! Yes, making brown sugar substitute is so simple and easy and better yet? It tastes just like what you buy at the store! Making Brown Sugar from scratch delivers moisture and rich, caramel flavor in your baked goods!

You’ll love adding brown sugar to these vegan chocolate chip cookies, because it makes them so moist and delicious!

A bowl holds brown sugar with a measuring spoon and small whisk coated in molasses beside it. The text on the image reads, "Homemade Brown Sugar."

My hubby created a shared reminder list on our iPhones for groceries. We can add to this list something any time. It’s ingenious. That’s my hubby. He’s handy like that. But somehow, even with this technological advantage at my fingertips, it never fails that I run out of something right in the middle of a recipe.

That’s the impetus behind today’s recipe for Homemade Brown Sugar. A batch of partially made chocolate chip cookie dough sat on the counter when I realized the brown sugar bowl was empty. I was either going to have to run to the grocery store (not literally, mind you), or improvise. You know what they say, necessity is the mother of invention!

I’m in luck because we almost always have some molasses on hand. I think it’s one of those things that every household should have — like chocolate chips, popcorn, or tooth floss. You just have to have it around!

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Adjusting how much molasses is used creates dark versus light brown sugar
  • The right ratio of molasses makes this brown sugar 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 ol’ sugar into brown sugar!

Or, said more accurately, molasses is what turns your regular old white sugar back into brown sugar. Because technically, sugar is a little more brown 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, brown sugar hasn’t always had such a pristine image. In the 1800s the processed sugar industry distributed pictures of microbes that exist in brown sugar and warned people not to eat it. The campaign was successful and led to the widespread adoption of white sugar over brown sugar.

Hmm. Big industry sells a lot of product 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 brown 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 from all of this is that when you need a little brown sugar and don’t have any on hand, 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 afterwards too. I love that Martha Stewart Vibe. It’s like I want to say to my friends, “See that brown 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 bowl full of white sugar sits next to a measuring spoon with molasses and a small wire whisk.

Brown Sugar Ingredients

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 for homemade brown sugar:

  • granulated sugar
  • molasses — we’ll change the amount of molasses used based on whether you want light or dark brown sugar.

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

It’s very simple to make a brown sugar substitute. Just follow these steps:

Step One: Granulated Sugar

Place granulated sugar in a bowl. Yes, that’s it for step one. You can do it!

Step Two: Add Molasses

Pour in the molasses and use a wire whisk to stir these together until well combined. It may help to get your fingers into the batch to work the molasses throughout the granulated sugar. Once it’s equally distributed, you’re ready to go!

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.

A hand holds a measuring spoon pouring molasses into a bowl of sugar.
A hand holds a spoon pouring molasses over a bowl of white, granulated sugar.
A hand holds a spoon pouring molasses over a bowl of white, granulated sugar.
A small wire whisk is being used to stir molasses and granulated sugar together.

Light Brown vs. Dark Brown Sugar

Wondering how to make 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. I just love how soft and tender cookies are with a bit of molasses added. However, there are those times when you don’t have any molasses in the cupboards. If you’re in need of brown sugar but don’t have molasses, no worries!

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 the recipe card below) and you’ll be certain your brown sugar is vegan.

Storage Tips

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

Brown Sugar Recipes

These are my favorite brown sugar recipes:

A small bowl holds brown sugar. Beside it is the wire whisk used to stir it and a measuring spoon with leftover molasses in it.

I hope you love this recipe as we do. Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!

A hand holds a spoon pouring molasses over a bowl of white, granulated sugar.

Homemade Brown Sugar

Don’t rush to the store, make your own homemade brown sugar for your baked goods, oatmeal, and more!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 148kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

Light Brown Sugar

Dark Brown Sugar

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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)

Notes

Nutritional estimate is provided for dark brown sugar.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Brown Sugar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148
% Daily Value*
Sodium 2mg0%
Potassium 97mg3%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Sugar 38g42%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

Enjoy!

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in 2013, but was re-posted to include new photos, recipe updates, and tips in 2020.

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4 Responses to Homemade Brown Sugar

  1. 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!

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