If you’ve ever run out of brown sugar right before you make a recipe, you’ll know what a pain it is. Made with just two simple ingredients (white granulated sugar and blackstrap molasses), you can make your own light brown sugar in less time than it takes to find your keys. This is one of those back-pocket recipes you’re going to want to keep handy for your holiday baking and the rest of the year too!

Three jars of homemade light brown sugar using the recipe for How to Make Your Own Brown Sugar.

It’s difficult to explain how poor of a recipe reader I am.

Is that the most ironic statements or what? I mean, I DEVELOP recipes as my job.

I should have a better handle on how I prepare to make new recipes. Call it my undiagnosed adult onset ADD or just plain overexcitement at making new recipes, but it’s a fault I’ve accepted years ago.

To that end, I’ve had to come up with lots of ways to swap ingredients. I often need to fit the ingredients I have on hand, rather than the ones the recipe calls for. And that’s because I never picked up the correct ingredients at the grocery store because I didn’t read the recipe before going. UGH!

Simple ingredients needed to make your own brown sugar.

How to Make Brown Sugar

Brown sugar tends to be the ingredient I most often and unknowingly run out of. And yes, it’s a major pain!

I’ve been using this method with just 2 simple ingredients to make brown sugar for YEARS. And it’s such an easy one that you’re going to keep coming back to if you’re as forgetful as me.

Here’s how to make brown sugar (Be sure to keep scrolling to the recipe card below for the full list of Ingredient amounts and Instructions.):

First, the two simple ingredients you’ll need are white granulated sugar and blackstrap molasses.

PRO TIP BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Make a large batch of brown sugar – more than you’ll need for a single recipe. See the FAQs below for how to store brown sugar.

Mixing up a batch of your own brown sugar. There is a green spatula in the stand mixer bowl to scrape the blackstrap molasses from the side of the bowl.

STEP 1: Place the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the blackstrap molasses over the sugar.

STEP 2: Mix on low speed until the molasses starts to incorporate. Gradually increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until all of the lumps have disappeared. You’re going to need to scrape the sides of the bowl several times to help the molasses blend into the sugar.

ANOTHER PRO TIP: Drape a clean kitchen towel over the mixer and bowl to prevent the sugar from launching out of the bowl while mixing.

A hand is holding some of the homemade light brown sugar.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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How to Make Brown Sugar Soft. You can soften hard brown sugar 2 ways. One way is to gently warm it in the microwave at medium power with a damp paper towel over the bowl, just until it softens. The other way is to drop a slice of bread into the container and seal it. After a couple of hours, the sugar will have soaked up the moisture from the bread and the bread will harden. Discard the hard bread.

How to Store Brown Sugar. Always, ALWAYS store brown sugar in an airtight container. This could be a food storage container like an OXO Good Grips POP Container, a mason jar or saved jam jar, or even in a ziptop bag.

How Long Can You Store Brown Sugar? You can safely store brown sugar in an airtight container until about 2 months past the Best Buy date on the original package.

How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft. To prevent brown sugar from hardening between uses, my foolproof method is to slip a slice of apple peel into the storage container. One peel will keep the brown sugar soft for weeks before the peel shrivels and needs to be replaced.

Do You Need a Mixer for this Recipe? I always make brown sugar with my stand mixer because it beats the molasses evenly into the sugar. You could also use a hand mixer to do this. As a last resort, you can mix the ingredients by hand but it’s tricky to do because it takes some elbow grease to get the molasses to evenly incorporate without leaving lumps.

Light Brown Sugar or Dark Brown Sugar? Using this method, you can make light brown sugar and dark brown sugar. The only difference between the two sugars is that dark brown sugar has one tablespoon molasses than light brown sugar.

The Importance of Brown Sugar in a Recipe

There are two main reasons why recipes call for brown sugar:

  • Flavor. Brown sugar has a depth of flavor that granulated sugar doesn’t have. That’s due to the molasses.
  • Chewy texture. The molasses in brown sugar adds moisture to the sugar, leaving it softer than plain granulated sugar. When using brown sugar in a recipe with a higher ratio of brown sugar to granulated sugar, your baked goods will end up on the chewy side.

A great example of how brown sugar changes the chewiness in a recipe is with chocolate chip cookies. The Tollhouse chocolate chip recipe calls for an equal amount of brown sugar and granulated sugar. Along with 2 sticks of butter, you’re left with cookies with a bit of crisp and crunch.

Light brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl while making your own brown sugar recipe.

America’s Test Kitchen’s original thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe has less butter and a higher ratio of brown to granulated sugar than the Tollhouse recipe. These two factors leave you with cookies that have chewy centers and just slightly crispy edges. They’re perfect!!

Excellent Brown Sugar Recipes

These are some of our favorite recipes that are heavy on the brown sugar:

Three jars of homemade light brown sugar using the recipe for How to Make Your Own Brown Sugar.

How to Make Your Own Light Brown Sugar (or Dark Brown Sugar)

Yield: approximately 1 cup (packed)
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes

Make your own brown sugar with just two simple ingredients: white granulated sugar and blackstrap molasses. Use this recipe to make light brown sugar or dark brown sugar when you unexpectedly run out and need some in a pinch.


  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (unsulphered) - See Note below.


  1. Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the molasses over the sugar.
  2. Beat on low speed for about 20 seconds and then gradually increase the speed to medium. You'll need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula a few times to help the molasses incorporate evenly. You don't want lumps of molasses here.

STORAGE: Store leftover brown sugar in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Drop an apple peel into the container(s) to keep the brown sugar soft and replace when the peel gets dried and shriveled.


  1. To make dark brown sugar, increase the molasses to 2 tablespoons for every cup of granulated sugar.
  2. I highly recommend making a few cups of brown sugar and storing it in an airtight container.

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Leave a Comment

  • Mare
    November 29, 2023 at 12:19 AM

    By far the easiest way to keep brown sugars moist is to get a puck or any piece of unglazed clay… even a piece of the broken terra cotta clay flower pot, (avoid sharp edges). You simply soak the puck or clay piece in warm water for an hour, or more then dry it off well with terrycloth towel or the like. Then put that piece in with your pot of brown sugar. This is good for months if your jar is well sealed.
    In kitchen stores, hardware stores or the kitchen department of some stores, you can actually find small clay pucks just for this purpose.
    Out of interest, I will add that you can buy larger clay pucks that you soak and dry the same way, then …you out a towel in your bread basket, over the big puck, and your buns will stay warm if you cover them with the corners of the towel. Makes a lovely difference to have warm bus.

    • Tara
      November 29, 2023 at 11:23 AM

      Great suggestion here, Mare! I’ve seen the clay pucks before and have heard great things about them.