Learn how to make brown sugar at home with only two ingredients! It’s super soft, full of flavor, and you can make it as dark or light as you need depending on your recipe. It’s perfect for families on a budget that love to bake!
Have you ever started a recipe only to realize you’re completely out of brown sugar? That used to be me. But ever since I learned how to make brown sugar at home, I actually haven’t gone back to store bought brown sugar again!
Not only does my homemade brown sugar stay soft for way longer than the store bought stuff, it also makes my baking even better. I like to make up a big batch of brown sugar so I always have some on hand.
So if you want a crazy good store bought brown sugar substitute, or you’ve always wanted to learn how to make homemade brown sugar, you just have to try this recipe.
There’s only two ingredients! Yes, really! All you need is white granulated sugar and full flavor molasses.
You can make a light or dark brown sugar by changing the amount of molasses in the recipe. If you want to make lighter brown sugar (golden sugar), you use a bit less molasses. For dark brown sugar, add a bit more.
How to Make Brown Sugar
First, add your sugar to a large mixing bowl. An electric mixer or food processor makes mixing your homemade brown sugar easier, but you can do it by hand too.
Now you’re going to add about a third of your bottle of molasses. The amount you add will change how light or dark the molasses is.
Mix for about 5 minutes with an electric mixer, scraping the sides. You can add more molasses now if it’s not dark enough, and mix again.
For a smaller batch, you can mix the 1 cup of white sugar and your molasses into a bowl by hand.
It should look like brown sugar now!
That’s it, you’re done! Store in an airtight container, or go bake something with it right now. You know you want to!
Does Homemade Brown Sugar Save Money?
Yes! Three 10lb bags of sugar only cost me $14. Then I added a $6 bottle of molasses, which is all I needed to make 30lbs of brown sugar. Total cost: $20 for 30lbs
On the other hand, store bought brown sugar is about $2.20 for a 2lb bag. That’s about $33 to make 30lbs! Total savings: $7
Do you have to mix it together or can you just add the white sugar and molasses to your recipe?
It depends on what you’re making. Something with a wet batter, like gingerbread, won’t be affected if you add the sugar and molasses separately while substituting brown sugar.
A recipe like chocolate chip cookies, though, will come out better pre making your brown sugar and then adding it in place of brown sugar in the recipe instructions.
Sulfered or unsulfured molasses?
Unsulphured molasses is regular molasses. It’s extracted from mature sugarcane, and is a byproduct from refining sugar. Since the sugarcane was allowed to mature before being processed, it doesn’t need preservatives.
Sulfured molasses is made from young sugarcane. To preserve the sugarcane before it’s processed, sulfur dioxide is used as a preservative.
Since it’s more natural, I always recommend people use unsulfured molasses in their baking or brown sugar recipes.
- Homemade brown sugar should be stored in an airtight container. If stored properly, it should keep up to two years.
- A food processor or electric mixer makes this recipe easier to mix. You could also do it with two spatulas or even mix it up with your hands!
- Commercial brown sugar recipes have a 3.5% molasses to sugar ratio by volume for light brown sugar and 6.5% ratio for dark brown sugar. So this is the closest measurement to that.
- If your brown sugar goes hard, you can toss a slice of bread into the container to soften it up. You can also soften brown sugar by microwaving it in 20 second increments covered with a moist paper towel.
Recipes using Homemade Brown Sugar
Now that you have all the brown sugar you need, it’s time to put it to use! Start small with this 3 Ingredient Cream Cheese Apple Dip or use it to make this Freezer-Friendly Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp. I also love using my homemade brown sugar to make Homemade Pop Tarts with Brown Sugar Glaze and it’s the secret ingredient for making Ah-freaking-mazing Brown Sugar Fudge. Or you can really put it to the test with my Master Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.
Do you love your homemade brown sugar? Or maybe it saved your baking! If this recipe worked for you, tag me in your picture on Instagram @happymoneysaver and use the hashtag #happymoneysaver!
How to Make Brown Sugar
- 5 lbs bag of granulated white sugar
- 12 oz jar of molasses
- Mix together to make dark brown sugar.
- How to store: It should be stored in an airtight container. If stored properly, it should keep up to two years.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp molasses
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 tsp OR 1 tbsp molasses
This post was published on October 3rd, 2011 and was updated with clearer instructions, tips and pictures on February 23rd, 2021.
Never throw out brown sugar that has become hard. The easiest way to make hard brown sugar soft again is to put the block into a large bowl and break up the “brick” as best you can but it’s not crucial. Then, take two sheets of paper towels and fold them together into a quarter (fold in half once then fold that in half). Dampen with warm water and squeeze most of the water out but not entirely, just until it’s not drippy. Lay this over the brown sugar, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for a few hours. You can break it up and stir it every hour or so until it’s completely soft again.
I also make my own brown sugar and it is a snap and less expensive than purchasing it in the stores.
This doesn’t seem like it would be more cost effective than just buying the brown sugar. Molasses is expensive. And as mentioned before, you are basically adding what was taken out. I think it would be good for when you’re in a pinch, but that’s it.
Kris G. says
I’m really excited about this because we are moving to Central America to work at a children’s home. Their brown sugar is nothing like ours (dry). It should be much easier to pack some molasses than to pack a supply of brown sugar. Thank you for the tip.
So many people I’ve told about making your own brown sugar.
Husband of the lady I shared it with, said, “What did you do to these Chocolate Chip cookies? There are the best you’ve ever made!” Funny, all she did was just make up some homemade brown sugar and used it in the recipe. She said, she is going to do that from now on.
I am excited about trying this! I would think this would be healthier, or just as healthy as regular brown sugar, because even though the white sugar has the nutrients stripped, the molasses does not, so you are adding vitamins and minerals back in. Either way, it is a great “helpful hint” for when you are out of brown sugar.
Thanks for the idea, Karrie! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened my cabinet to make cookies (usually late at night, to be delivered the next day!) and have discovered that I was out or almost out of brown sugar. (Where DOES that stuff go??) This is a great way to get out of a pinch!
One of your readers posted about a bread slice in with their brown sugar to keep it moist, which is what I have done for the longest time, but I sometimes end up with crumbs in the sugar. I haven’t tried it yet, but I read on Pinterest that you can put marshmallows in with brown sugar to help it stay moist. I just thought I’d pass the idea along for your readers. Thanks again!
One very quick way to moisten up a container of dried brown sugar is to add a slice or two of peeled apple to it. In a few hours it is moist and usable. I imagine it would mold if left in the container longer than a day or so.
Yes, Constanca, I do realize that it is not natural brown sugar. Thanks so much for pointing that out so nicely. 🙂
I didn’t realize that sugar in the first place was “healthy”. I am pretty sure that whether you are using brown or white sugar you are still ruining your teeth and eating items that aren’t good for your body. Just sayin’….
All I can tell you is that my baked goods come out wonderful using this method, and if anyone is out of brown sugar at home, but have white this is a wonderful quick way to substitute.
I wounder if you couldn’t get the same taste to your baked goods by adding a little extra molasses to the store bought brown sugar? I’m just playing the devils advocate and saying that you may be adding more molasses back in than would normally be taken out to make a 5lb bag of sugar. Also even though sugar is generally considered bad, brown sugar is usually considered less bad since it isn’t processed as much.