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Ask a Foodie: Dark and Light Brown Sugar – What’s the Difference?

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CubedSugarQ. Dear SavorSA:  I have been wondering what the difference is (aside from the color) between light and dark brown sugar?  If a recipe specifies one, can you use the other?  If a recipe doesn’t specify, what should you use?  — Alison

A. Dear Alison: This is a good question. I know I always seem to have one type in the cupboard when the recipe is asking for the other kind. Both light and dark brown sugar are flavored with molasses, which gives the sugar a soft texture.  The darker sugar will have a stronger taste of molasses, so a cook might just decide which flavor would be preferable.

Usually, light brown sugar is called for more often, so if a recipe doesn’t specify I assume it is light brown sugar. Also, if you have only dark brown sugar, you could mix it half and half with granulated sugar to cut down some on the molasses taste. Good luck!

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2 Responses to “Ask a Foodie: Dark and Light Brown Sugar – What’s the Difference?”

  1. I’ve always been curious about the volume difference between the sugars. I’d like to use demura sugar in my recipes, but wonder if the larger crystal size effects the product (similar to kosher vs. regular salt). Any ideas?

  2. Bonnie says:

    Demerara sugar is a raw, dry, coarse-textured sugar from the Demerara area of Guyana. You can substitute this lightly colored sugar straight across for white granulated sugar, turbinado sugar or light brown sugar. If a really fine type of sugar is called for such as powdered or caster sugar, which is similar to ultrafine sugar, it might not work, or at least will change the texture of the product. Also, you might not want to use demerara in pale foods, such as whipped cream, as it might discolor it. But, that might not matter if you like the textural aspect.