3 Ways to Soften Brown Sugar (and Keep It That Way)

updated May 2, 2019
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Ah, yes. The age-old question that plagues us all: How on earth do I keep my brown sugar from getting all hard and crumbly like some sort of fossilized molasses treat?

One would think perhaps I would have figured this out by now, but no — alas, I cannot learn. Store in an airtight container, you say? Put a tiny terra cotta thingy in it? What sort of prepared person do you think I am?

Perhaps my goal should be to prevent the problem in the first place, but for now I’m giving in to the fact that I might never learn to stop storing this sweet sugary goodness in the original packaging. Surprise, I’m human!

Okay, so how do I avoid re-crumbling this stuff by angrily beating it with a rolling pin? (Tip: Not an effective method.) To find out, I’ve done a good old-fashioned dive down the rabbit hole that is Google and here’s what people have to say.

1. Store it with bread.

If you have the foresight to know you’re going to need brown sugar in the next day or so, this method works. Seal brown sugar in an airtight container or plastic storage bag with a slice of any ol’ sandwich bread. The bread will become stale, imparting the moisture to the brown sugar.

2. Store it with apples.

Basically the same idea as the bread concept, but will add a nice fall flavor! Place brown sugar alongside a few apple slices, and a day or two later it’s all good.

Graham Cracker Cookies (Image credit: Lauren Volo)

3. Microwave it.

Place hard brown sugar in a bowl and top with a dampened paper towel. Microwave for 20 to 25 seconds a pop. Don’t get overzealous with the time, as the brown sugar will eventually melt into a goo, but this method works fast.

Then, transfer it to an airtight container.

No matter which method you use, once your brown sugar is nice and soft again, you can keep it that way by storing it properly. The goal is to prevent the moisture in the sugar from evaporating again, so you’ll want to store it in the most airtight container you have — learn how to store it here.

How do you soften brown sugar? Do you have some sort of secret grandma trick passed down from generation to generation? Tell us!