How To Make Brown Sugar at Home

updated Apr 27, 2020
How to Make Brown Sugar

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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Small bowl and measuring spoon of brown sugar
Credit: Joe Lingeman

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.

Although we often think of them as two totally different entities, brown sugar is simply granulated sugar that has been enhanced with molasses. So whether you need a cup or a pound, or light or dark, you’re just two ingredients away from brown sugar at home. Here’s how to make it.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

What’s the Difference Between Light Brown 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: Joe Lingeman

The Best, Easiest Way to Make Brown Sugar

There are a few ways to combine the sugar and molasses. You can use a large bowl and fork, which is low-tech and easy. You can also mix it up in a zip-top bag — make sure it’s tightly sealed, then massage the mixture until combined. But giving it a few quick pulses in the food processor is the fastest, easiest way to mix up brown sugar at home.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Storing and Using Homemade Brown Sugar

Your homemade brown sugar can be used right away for baking or cooking, or it can be stored in an airtight container, where it will keep well for up to one month. Just as you would with store-bought brown sugar, lightly pack it into your measuring cups whenever you use it.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
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Here's how to make homemade brown sugar.

How to Make Brown Sugar

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

Makes1 cup

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    molasses (not blackstrap)



  1. Measure out the granulated sugar and molasses. Measure 1 cup granulated sugar. Measure 1 tablespoon molasses for light brown sugar or 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar.

  2. Combine the sugar and molasses. Place the sugar and molasses in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. 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. Use or store the brown sugar. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.

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