Brown sugar adds wonderful flavor to many baked goods and savory dishes. It's always good to make sure you have enough of all the ingredients you will need before you start making a recipe, but if you find yourself without either light or dark brown sugar, there are ways to make them at home. Brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses added; the darker the sugar, the more molasses and the stronger the flavor.

Homemade Brown Sugar How-To

1 Cup Light Brown Sugar

Combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

Combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup molasses

Softening Brown Sugar

When brown sugar is exposed to air it can solidify as it loses moisture and become very hard. You can prevent this by limiting brown sugar's exposure to air and dry conditions. Store it in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place in a nontransparent, airtight sealable container. If your sugar still becomes hard, here are a few ways to soften it.

To Use the Brown Sugar Right Away:

1. Place brown sugar in a microwavable bowl.

2. Drape with one or two damp paper towels.

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

4. Microwave on high for 10-second intervals until the sugar becomes soft.

5. Break apart with a fork and use right away.

To Use the Brown Sugar Later

1. Cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap, and let sit overnight at room temperature.

2. Place a wedge of apple or a slice of bread in the bag overnight. The sugar will absorb the moisture from these foods.


For more baking tips and recipes, check out "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook."

Comments (4)

Martha Stewart Member
June 25, 2013
I used blackstrap (Wholesome Sweeteners brand) and found it a little too rich for Pecan Bars. Just a little. I will cut back on the molasses next time. The flavor, though, was more nuanced and I can't imagine going back to buying brown sugar which is always getting hard or I'm running out of.
Martha Stewart Member
March 29, 2011
Does it matter is I use sorghum molasses, or should I use regular blacstrap molasses? I prefer sorghum's lighter taste.
Martha Stewart Member
February 10, 2009
I have a question about dark brown sugar and keeping it from hardining, I have no problem with light brown but can't seem to keep the dark soft any tips?
Martha Stewart Member
January 25, 2008