make your own brown sugar

There are few baked goods and/or frostings not improved by the addition of brown sugar but if your kitchen is anything like mine — that is, woefully understocked most of the time — you’ve probably needed it before and not had it. Fortunately, you can make your own with a combination of molasses and regular sugar. To make one cup of light brown sugar, combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses; to make one cup of dark brown sugar, combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup molasses; the food processor works great for this, if you have one. Now bring on those brown sugar shorties!

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22 comments on make your own brown sugar

  1. Amy

    I read your blog regularly, and this morning (yes, Thanksgiving morning) I was once again happy that I do. I was preparing my ham and reached in the cabinet for the brown sugar and came up empty. I ALWAYS have brown sugar! I grabbed a bag of powdered sugar yesterday because I wasn’t sure I had any in the pantry, but I didn’t even consider the possibility of being out of brown. Well after I cussed a little I remembered this post, grabbed the molasses (which I also ALWAYS have, so I guess I was lucky to find it in the pantry today) and my ham is currently smelling up the house. My whole family thanks you! Hope you have a wonderful holiday.


  2. sarah ledoux

    count me in with nina. i feel like the dumbest person alive for not realizing that you have a tips section, and even better, a tips RSS feed. now i can have two SK RSS feeds. my life suddenly has meaning! [i wouldn’t say no to an edible-cheek RSS either, as that kid of yours is beyond adorable and hearkens me back all of 11 months when mine was that small!]

    all hail the smitten kitchen.

  3. Kathy in St. Louis

    That there February 25 comment is spam!

    Hey, Deb, I just made up a big batch (a pound or so?) of brown sugar to refill our brown sugar container. Rather than assembling the blender (the food processor’s packed away), I used my hands to mix it up — it works perfectly that way.

  4. Ada

    I made dark brown sugar as per your measurements above, and I found it was too brown, if that makes sense. It was darker and moister than the store-bought kind. I think I’ll just aim for light brown next time. (Useful tip though, it saved me when I went to make cinnamon buns!)

  5. kathy in St. Louis

    Also – the stand mixer, fitted with the whip and set on the lowest speed, does a good job of mixing large quantities of sugar and molasses.

  6. Aislinn

    IMO, this tastes better than regular brown sugar. We had to make this once for peanut butter cookies, and now I use the molasses/sugar instead of brown sugar every time I make those cookies. Husband is baking up a batch now, delish!

  7. amy

    I just made over two cups of this, and a bowl and a fork worked beautifully for lazy old me who did not want to get out the food processor or stand mixer for just this. I may never buy brown sugar again. that bottle of ‘grandma’s molasses’ lasts forever!

  8. I have done this many times and it works perfectly, however, I don’t use the blender or processor.

    Since I keep my sugars in the cupboard, I bought a Domino white sugar yellow canister and put a big red B on side with red nail polish to identify the brown sugar canister, and poured off about 2 cups of sugar. I bought the same canister of plain white original Domino white sugar and refill it as needed. A big glass jar would work just as well, but be sure it has a non-rusting tightly fitting lid.

    I add 1.5 cups dark unsulphered molasses, cutting it into the white sugar with two table knives held in one hand, until it’s roughly blended, under a minute. Then I let it set a few hours. Then shake the sealed canister about 30 seconds, and stir with the two knives, turn it over, lid down and let it set another few hours. Then I shake, stir and let it set upright. Repeat as needed. The knives separate any big clumps of molasses and the liquid molasses slowly disperses throughout the white sugar during these hours. Once the molasses is mixed into the white sugar, it stays that way. This is fast and easy, and I don’t have to clean the blender.

    You can also pour off a bit of this plain white sugar or even this brown and add good quality vanilla or a vanilla bean to make wonderful vanilla sugar.

  9. #13 Valerie. It keeps as long as store bought brown sugar. See below how I made mine. Mine doesn’t get dried out. Stir or shake if you get lumps. I made a big batch as described in my post and used it off and on for 8 months before it’s gone. It was the same quality throughout. It was stored in the room temperature cupboard, tightly covered, in the Domino yellow canister.

  10. Janet

    Two questions:

    1>If I need the brown sugar for a recipe (ie your red wine velvet cake :) – can I just add the molasses and sugar directly, without “making” brown sugar first?

    2>I see you recommend 1/4 cup molasses per one cup sugar for dark brown sugar. A few other sites recommend half that amount (ie 2 tbsp) for dark brown sugar. Can you comment on that?


  11. teresa yep

    Deb, you have so many great hacks, some of which are embedded in recipes. Would it be too much to ask to put a separate category/link on your website so we can find them all?

    Keep up the hard work. My diet doesn’t ruin itself, you know.