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substitute dark brown sugar for light brown sugar

Can you substitute dark brown sugar for light brown sugar?

Published on July 28, 2020

Did you know there are several types of sugar you can choose for cooking? The most popular ones are white sugar and brown sugar. However, brown sugar also has two types: dark brown sugar and light brown sugar.

Although both are under the group of brown sugar, which is considered better than white sugar, there are slight differences between these two types of sugar.

If you want to know whether you can substitute dark brown sugar for light brown sugar, firstly you need to know the differences between these two sugars.

Brown sugar Vs. White sugar

Now, what are the differences between brown and white sugar? Here is another question that may come to your mind while you are checking out a recipe and see that you need to use brown sugar. There are minimal differences between these two types of sugar.


The main difference is their colour. As their name indicates, white sugar is white and brown sugar is brown! That’s when you can recognise these two in the first place.

But except for their colours, the calories in brown sugar are less than the ones in white sugar. However, it’s not that significant. Every 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of brown sugar has 15 calories, and the same amount of white sugar contains 16.3 calories.

Although it’s not that big difference, that makes a change in a higher amount. The other difference between brown and white sugar is their taste. The molasses in brown sugar gives it a strong caramel flavour, on the other hand, the taste of white sugar is classic sweetness.


What is brown sugar?

Brown sugar is a type of refined soft sugar that contains 95% sucrose and 5% molasses. Because of its molasses content, brown sugar is considered healthier than white sugar because it contains higher calcium, iron, potassium, and fewer calories.

Nowadays, brown sugar is mostly used in different cakes and desserts’ recipes to make them more enjoyable for people who are on a diet or don’t want to consume white sugar.

But in different recipes, you may see that you need to use dark brown sugar or light brown sugar and get confused about what they are and what differences they have. And the frequently asked question at this moment might be: Can I use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar?

Brown Sugar Nutrition Facts

Brown sugar calories380
Carbohydrate98 g
Potassium133 mg
(per 100 grams)

What are the differences between dark brown sugar and light brown sugar?

The main difference between dark brown sugar and light brown sugar is that the light one has fewer molasses than the dark one.

Normally, light brown sugar contains 3.5% molasses, and dark brown sugar has 6.5% molasses, which is nearly doubled the light one. That’s the molasses in brown sugar that makes the colour darker or lighter. The more molasses it has, the darker it gets.


The second most significant difference between these two types of sugars is that the more molasses in the sugar makes more intensive flavour for it. Therefore, dark brown sugar is normally sweeter than light brown sugar.

Which one to use?

Commonly, if a recipe says you need to add brown sugar to what you’re cooking, it’s better to use light brown sugar because it’s not as sweet as the dark one. However, you can always use these two types of sugar instead of each other.

For example, if you don’t have dark brown sugar and your recipe specifies dark brown sugar as the main ingredient, you can add light brown sugar and white sugar to make it as sweet as the dark one.

For every cup of dark brown sugar in your recipe, you can add 2/3 cup white and 1/3 cup light brown sugar to make it sweeter. However, if you don’t care about the intensive sweetness of what you’re making, just substitute the light one for the dark one.

Moreover, if you have neither light nor dark brown sugar, you can always make it yourself.

How to make brown sugar at home?

It’s so easy to make brown sugar at home. You only need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsulfured molasses

These ingredients are for light brown sugar. If you want to make dark brown sugar, you only need to add 2 tablespoons of molasses for every 1 cup of white sugar because it’s the molasses that makes the colour of sugar darker.

  1. First, mix the sugar and molasses in a large bowl. It’s better to do it with an electric mixer on medium speed to make sure they are completely combined.
  2. Put it in an air-tight container in a dark and cool place.

Is brown sugar good for Diabetics?

Although brown sugar is considered healthier than white sugar because of its higher level of calcium and iron, brown sugar has the same effect on the blood sugar level that white sugar has.


Therefore, it is not a good alternative for diabetics. People with diabetes should still care about the amount of their brown sugar intake.

Bottom Line

Brown sugar is used in many recipes these days. This type of sugar is always a great alternative to white sugar, which is considered unhealthy. But as a healthier sweetener, brown sugar has found its way in many kitchens. However, it’s still not recommended for diabetics to use brown sugar in their daily diet.

They should still be careful about the amount of sugar they take, no matter it is white or brown. Two types of brown sugar are only different in their colour and sweetness.

The light brown sugar has a moderate flavour and lighter colour, and the dark brown sugar has more intensive sweetness with a darker colour. They both can be used interchangeably. However, the different sweeteners can change the taste and texture of the final product.

PS. This article is written based on the research that Natural Moreish content team has done on different blogs, websites and articles. Natural Moreish doesn’t suggest acknowledge or claim the information on this post.


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