Brown Sugar vs White Sugar: What’s the Actual Difference

Brown sugar vs white sugar—what’s the difference between these two titans of the baking aisle? Well, they may seem very different, being totally different colors and moisture levels and all, but there actually aren’t that many differences between brown and white sugar! Let’s talk white vs brown sugar and figure it out, once and for all. 

What’s the difference between brown sugar and white sugar?

The main difference between white sugar and brown sugar is the presence of molasses. Brown sugar includes molasses, which gives it a distinctive flavor, color, and moisture level that makes it stand out from regular white table sugar. Due to the molasses inclusion, it’s more like wet sand while white sugar is more like dry sand.

Can I substitute brown sugar for white sugar?

According to Better Homes and Gardens, in most baking recipes, you can substitute brown sugar for white sugar in a complete one-to-one ratio. This means if your recipe calls for one cup white sugar, it can easily be swapped for one cup brown sugar. Nutritionally, as well, there is little difference to using one over the other. The sweetness level will be exactly the same, but do be warned that using brown sugar instead of white sugar or vice versa may change the texture of your baked goods. There is also “dark brown sugar,” which is made with double the molasses of standard brown sugar for a richer flavor. 

Brown vs white sugar: How to store them

One other difference between brown sugar and white sugar is that white sugar can be stored with no real consideration. Just close the box, pop it in the cupboard, and forget about it until the next time you need it. Brown sugar, with its higher moisture, must be stored in a sealed bag or container to make sure it doesn’t dry up and turn into a solid mass of sweetener. Be sure to keep your brown sugar in an airtight container, or else start keeping a chisel in your kitchen next to the spatula and soup ladles! 

When all is said and done, we really shouldn’t be facilitating any beef when it comes to white sugar vs brown sugar. They have more in common than not. In fact, I’m officially lobbying to change the title of this article to “Brown Sugar and White Sugar: Friends Forever,” if only to parlay it into a potentially wildly successful children’s book franchise.  

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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