The One Baking Ingredient You Should Never Splurge On

(Image credit: Laren Volo)

Just like winter, baking season is coming! While it’s super fun to mix up cookies, pies, gingerbread, and all those holiday treats, it can also get pretty expensive. Between fancy baker’s chocolate, nuts (nuts!), several types of flour, and vanilla extract, you can spend a small fortune stocking up your pantry.

Luckily, there’s one ingredient you don’t have to splurge on.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Sugar! Buy the cheapest sugar you can find at your grocery store and you’ll still get the same results as if you had splurged.

Sugar is ever consistent, always reliable — no matter what brand you buy and how much you pay. That’s what makes it your best bet for finding savings. You could spend $4.50 on a four-pound bag of granulated sugar, or $2 on something the same size from a different brand and you’ll get the same results when your recipe comes out of the oven. If you’re not impressed by the savings, consider this: According to the National Grocers Association, the average person spends around $150 a year on sugars for use at home.

Allow me to explain. All-purpose flours vary significantly from one company to another (an in-house brand versus a national brand, for example), as each will have a different amount of protein, gluten, color, and more. Different all-purpose flours yield different results. Not so with sugars. Sugars — including organic and vegan sugars — may be processed differently, but the results are always identical. You’ll get the same thing from Granulated Sugar A as you would from Granulated Sugar B. Same for Brown Sugar A versus Brown Sugar B.

Is there a difference between brands within categories of specialty sugars (think: muscovado and demarara)? It’s hard to say with complete confidence, because most come from countries other than the U.S., which often allow far more impurities in their sugars. Even more, they often don’t have the labeling we’re used to, so there really could, at least theoretically, be more variation among them.

But when it comes to our standard sugars (granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugar, and confectioner’s sugar), you can save money without worrying about brand-to-brand differences. I load up on sugar every month or so (I bake a lot!), choosing singularly based upon price.

More on Sugar

Are you brand-loyal when it comes to sugar? Or do you buy based on price?