Cane Sugar vs Brown Sugar: How Do They Compare?

Sugar cane is the most often used sweetener in baked goods because it increases browning, texture, taste, and fragrance.

In this sweet essay, we explain the distinction between two forms of sugars derived from sugar cane that are sometimes confused with one another: cane sugar and brown sugar.

Although they seem and feel similar, we can tell that their molasses concentrations are substantially different. So, let’s take a closer look at what makes these sugars unique.

Difference Between Cane Sugar and Brown Sugar

The primary distinction between sugar cane and brown sugar is the manufacturing technique and molasses content. Brown sugar is made by combining molasses and white sugar and comprises around 6.5% molasses. Molasses leftovers from the refining process are already present in cane sugar, which typically comprises up to 14% molasses.

Molasses is a viscous, black syrup-like fluid that is produced during the sugar production process. The sugar cane is crushed during this process, and the juice is removed and boiled. Once the sugar crystals begin to form, they are extracted from the liquid, and the remaining syrup is referred to as molasses.

Sugar cane is used to make cane sugar. Cane sugar comes in three varieties, each with a distinct degree of molasses concentration:

  • Unrefined cane sugar: This sugar is extremely little refined, retaining 8 to 14% molasses.
  • Raw cane sugar is mildly refined and includes 2 to 3% molasses.
  • Refined cane sugar: As the name implies, this is totally refined sugar with no molasses (this is the stage at which molasses can be blended back in to generate brown sugar).

Brown sugar is manufactured from sugar cane or sugar beets. Brown sugar is categorised into two varieties based on the amount of molasses put back to the refined sugar:

  • Light brown sugar has a lower molasses concentration of around 3.5%.
  • Dark brown sugar has a higher molasses concentration of around 6.5%.

Aside from molasses content, brown sugar and cane sugar vary in taste, texture, color, use, price, and nutritional value. So let us study their differences and determine whether there is a clear leader on this issue.

Molasses affects the density, weight, and wetness of sugar. Sugars with a greater molasses content are more granular than those with a lower concentration. However, refined cane sugar provides the best texture. The crystals in raw cane sugar are medium-coarse, whereas unprocessed cane sugar and brown sugar have the biggest crystals.

Color: Raw cane sugar is golden-brown, unrefined cane sugar is dark brown, and refined sugar is white. Light brown sugar, as the name implies, has a light-brown hue comparable to raw cane sugar, and dark brown sugar has a color close to unrefined cane sugar.

Taste: Both cane sugar and brown sugar are sweet, but the sweetness level varies depending on the amount of molasses present, and each variety may have a distinct taste profile. Dark brown sugar and unprocessed cane sugar are the sweetest sugars, with a caramel taste. Both raw cane sugar and light brown sugar have a vanilla flavor. The sweetness of refined cane sugar is similar to that of normal sugar.

Cooking: Cane sugar may be used directly from the box and does not need any further preparation. It’s in cookies, ice cream, caramel syrup, cakes, and other desserts. Cane sugar melts at high temperatures, making it ideal for meat glazes. It may also be used as a crunch garnish on top of cookies and cupcakes.

Brown sugar, like cane sugar, can be used directly from the package and does not need any special preparation. Because brown sugar has more moisture, press it down firmly in the measuring cup. Brown sugar imparts a subtle caramel taste to pies, cakes, puddings, cookies, and muffins. It also adds moisture to baked goods.

Because of its bigger crystals, brown sugar is used as a crispy topping on puddings and cookies. Brown sugar is used in salad dressings and vinaigrettes because of its pleasant sweetness. It balances the flavor of a smokey BBQ sauce. Brown sugar works well as a replacement for processed cane sugar in coffee. Like cane sugar, it can be used as a glaze on meats.

Cane Sugar vs. Brown Sugar Comparison Table

Category Cane Sugar Brown Sugar
Type of plant Sugar cane Sugar cane or sugar beets
Presence of molasses Natural molasses Added molasses
Types Unrefined: 8 to 14% of molasses Raw: 2 to 3% molasses Refined: 0% molasses Light-brown: 3.5% molasse Dark-brown: 6.5% molasses
Texture Unrefined: large crystals Raw: medium crystals Refined: fine crystals Large crystals, bigger than cane sugar
Color Unrefined: dark-brown Raw: light-brown Refined: white Light-brown and dark-brown
Taste Unrefined: the sweetest Raw: medium sweetness Refined: basic sweetness Light-brown: the sweetest Dark-brown: medium sweetness
Cooking usage Used right out of the package. Included in cookies, ice cream, caramel syrup, cakes, and glaze for meat recipes. It may also be used as a crunchy garnish on top of cookies and cupcakes. Used straight from the box. It adds moisture and more caramel flavor to pies, cakes, puddings, cookies, and muffins. Used as a crispy topping over puddings and cookies. It’s included in salad dressings, vinaigrettes, and BBQ sauce. It’s a cane sugar substitute in coffee and as a glaze on meats.

Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?

According to the nutritional profile, white (refined) cane sugar has the greatest calories. Except for this little variance, all sugars are chemically identical. As a result, no sugar is preferable to the other.

White Vinegar vs. White Wine Vinegar: Nutritional Profile

Category (1 tbsp) Calories Carbs Sugar
Refined cane sugar 16.3 4.2g 4.2g
Raw cane sugar 15 4g 4g
Unrefined cane sugar 15 4g 4g
Light-brown sugar 15 4g 4g
Dark brown sugar 15 4g 4g

Can I Substitute Cane Sugar for Brown Sugar & Vice Versa?

Cane sugar and brown sugar have little distinctions in culinary uses, so you may use cane sugar in any recipe that calls for brown sugar.

The meal will still be sweet with pure cane sugar, but it will lack the warm and slightly smoky taste of molasses. Furthermore, the hue will be lighter. When replacing for one another, use a 1:1 ratio.

If you want a stronger taste and more color in your meal, choose brown sugar and unrefined cane sugar. If you like a sweet taste without the spiciness of molasses, white cane sugar is the finest choice. Honey, simple syrup, corn syrup, and coconut sugar are also viable substitutes.

Storage & Shelf Life

Sugar has an infinite shelf life if kept properly since it cannot go bad.

Brown sugar, unprocessed sugar, and raw cane sugar must be kept in an airtight container to retain their moisture content. If not, they may get harder as the fluid evaporates.

As long as they are kept properly, these sugars do not have a shelf life. However, when eaten within two years, the quality is at its peak.

Put a piece of bread in the sealed jar with the sugar if it turns too hard. A piece of bread may absorb sugar moisture, maintaining its original texture. Remove the piece of bread after a day or so.

Buying Cane Sugar & Brown Sugar: Which One Is More Accessible?

Cane sugar and brown sugar are both available in the baking area of any supermarket.

Refined (white) cane sugar is the most widely available, since it is sold in every grocery store’s baking section. Unrefined cane sugar, on the other hand, may be more difficult to locate, although it is nearly always available in specialty food shops. If not, you may always buy it online from somewhere like Amazon.

The more organic the sugar, the more costly and difficult to get it is. unprocessed cane sugar is more costly than raw and refined cane sugar, as well as light and dark brown sugar, since it is in its purest, most unprocessed form.


This concludes our sugary discussion!

Both of them are good possibilities with a wide range of applications, notably in baking. Both include molasses, but in different amounts, and none is healthier than the other, despite the fact that refined (white) cane sugar has slightly more calories.

Cane sugar may be substituted for brown sugar and vice versa. Use raw cane sugar or light brown sugar if you want a vanilla taste. Choose unrefined cane sugar or dark brown sugar to give your treats a caramel taste.

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Which is better cane sugar or brown sugar?

Many individuals feel that sugar substitutes such as honey, brown sugar, and molasses are healthier than cane sugar. But that is not the case. While some include trace minerals, they are all simple carbohydrates that your body utilizes for energy. The truth is that your body does not need any more sweets.

Can I replace brown sugar with cane sugar?

Sugar made from cane

Cane sugar, as an alternative to brown sugar, has a reduced molasses concentration, which affects the flavor, color, and texture of your baked goods. For this reason, light brown sugar is preferable than dark brown sugar as a replacement.

Is cane sugar same as brown sugar?

While both sugar beets and sugar cane are used to produce white granulated sugar, only sugar cane molasses is utilized to produce brown sugar. Brown sugar gets its color from molasses from sugar cane, with less required for light brown sugar and more for dark brown sugar.

Which kind of sugar is healthiest?

When it comes to sugar being healthy for your health, natural sugar or stevia is the greatest choice. Aside from weight reduction, they have several health advantages to offer. It contains all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your body need. Stevia is also recognized as the finest sugar for weight reduction.

Is cane sugar the healthiest sugar?

However, although raw cane sugar is sometimes touted as a healthier alternative to ordinary sugar, there is no discernible difference between the two. In reality, both are chemically similar and composed of sucrose, a molecule created by units of simple sugars such as glucose and fructose (3).

What does sugar cane do to the body?

Sugarcane is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which may help enhance your immunity. Flavonoids – assist the body fight malignant cells, particularly prostate and breast cancer. Sugarcane juice is very beneficial for digestive and liver issues.

What sugar is closest to cane sugar?

Sugar derived from beets. Cane sugar is created from sugar cane, while beet sugar is derived from the root of the sugar beet plant. Once processed, these products are chemically equivalent. Both are made entirely of sucrose.

What is a good brown sugar substitute for diabetics?

Sugar made from dates.

It adds fiber and minerals to your dishes since it is made from whole fruit. Dates are an excellent brown sugar alternative because they retain some of the moisture from their fruit form.

What is a healthy alternative to brown sugar?

Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar are all options.

Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar are all appropriate alternatives for brown sugar with a few easy recipe tweaks.

What is the best sugar to bake with?

Granulated sugar, often known as white sugar or table sugar, is the most commonly used sugar in baking and cooking. Granulated sugar has a white hue, is highly refined, and has a fine texture. Because of their propensity to dissolve quickly into a liquid or batter, finely powdered sugars are useful for baking.

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