How To Make Homemade Brown Sugar

updated Feb 15, 2024

Homemade brown sugar is a simple combination of granulated sugar and molasses. Here's how to make both light and brown sugars at home.

Makes1 cup

Prep5 minutes

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Brown sugar is the sticky, fragrant sweetener that adds moisture and flavor to so many of our favorite baked goods, from chocolate chip cookies to banana bread. But if you find yourself staring into an empty box, don’t fret — you’ve likely got everything you need to make brown sugar from scratch.

So whether you need a cup or a pound, or light or dark, you’re just two ingredients away from it. Here’s how to make brown sugar at home.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup
Quick Overview

The Best Way to Make Brown Sugar

Wondering how to make brown sugar at home? It’s as easy as adding molasses to sugar. Here are a few ways to combine the sugar and molasses together:

  • Large bowl and fork. This is low-tech and easy — simply mix together molasses and granulated sugar in a bowl.
  • Zip-top bag. You can mix the molasses and sugar in a zip-top bag. Just make sure the bag is tightly sealed, then massage the mixture until combined.
  • Food processor. Giving the molasses and sugar a few quick pulses in the food processor is the fastest and easiest way to mix up brown sugar at home.

What Is Brown Sugar?

Although we often think of them as two totally different entities, brown sugar is simply sugar that contains molasses. The difference between white granulated sugar and brown sugar is how the sugar is processed. In granulated sugar, all of the molasses is extracted from it. In brown sugar, molasses is retained, creating a darker color with a rich, caramel flavor.

What’s the Difference Between Light Brown Sugar and Dark Brown Sugar?

The only difference between light and dark brown sugar is the ratio of molasses to sugar. Dark brown sugar has more molasses, so you’ll need more of it to make dark brown sugar at home. The following ratios (and the recipe below) yield 1 cup brown sugar, but the recipe can easily be scaled up. For example, you could use 1/4 cup molasses for every 1 pound of granulated sugar.

Light brown sugar: Use 1 tablespoon molasses for every 1 cup sugar.
Dark brown sugar: Use 2 tablespoons molasses for every 1 cup sugar.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup

How to Store Homemade Brown Sugar

Your homemade brown sugar can be stored in an airtight container, where it will keep well for up to one month. You can keep brown sugar soft with a terra cotta brown sugar saver or store it in a zip-top bag, making sure to squeeze out all the air.

How to Soften Homemade Brown Sugar

If you find that your homemade batch hardened over time, there are a few methods for softening brown sugar, but the quickest way is in the microwave.

Homemade Brown Sugar Recipe

Homemade brown sugar is a simple combination of granulated sugar and molasses. Here's how to make both light and brown sugars at home.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 1 cup

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    molasses (not blackstrap)


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  1. Measure 1 cup granulated sugar. Measure 1 tablespoon molasses for light brown sugar or 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar. Place the sugar and molasses in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.

  2. Pulse until the molasses is completely incorporated into the sugar, about 1 minute. Alternatively, place the sugar and molasses in a medium bowl and use a fork to slowly work the molasses into the sugar.

  3. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.