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Can I Substitute Muscovado Sugar for Brown Sugar?

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

There are many forms of sugar, ranging from white granulated sugar to darker sugars like brown sugar. Another type of dark sugar you hear less about is muscovado sugar. Because of its darker color, it has some similarities to brown sugar. Can you substitute muscovado sugar for brown sugar in recipes?

What Is Muscovado Sugar?

Muscovado sugar is sometimes called Barbados sugar because it hails from Barbados, the Caribbean island where it was first produced more than three centuries ago. The production of muscovado starts with cane juice (also called field syrup), which is boiled until it reaches the desired concentration.

Manufacturers then cool the syrup and allow it to crystallize on trays or in large containers over several weeks or months. Then, they separate the crystals from the remaining liquid and package it into bags or boxes as muscovado sugar.

Muscovado is one of the least processed sugars you can buy.

Muscovado vs. Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar coated with molasses. It, too, has a strong molasses flavor, but less so than muscovado, the bolder of the two. Muscovado's molasses flavor is more robust than brown sugar with stronger butterscotch tones. It's also darker in color than regular brown sugar.

Muscovado vs. Demarara Sugar

Don’t confuse muscovado sugar with demerara sugar, which also has a dark color but is more refined. Demerara sugar is also less moist.

It Has a Butterscotch Flavor

People use muscovado sugar when they want to add a butterscotch flavor to a dessert or recipe. For example, this sugar works well for creating a dark-colored glaze on baked goods. It’s a natural for baked goods and ice cream, too. It has a moist and granular texture as opposed to the the fine powdery texture of white granulated sugar or brown sugar.

Nutritionally, it contains trace minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron—but not enough to have a significant impact on your body’s mineral status. It also contains some antioxidants. Whether the quantity is high enough to have health effects is unclear.

Is It a Good Substitute for Brown Sugar?

If you don’t mind the more robust flavor, you can use muscovado sugar as a substitute for brown sugar in recipes, especially in baked goods like cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats.

Be aware that dark muscovado sugar may have a licorice-like taste and can impart that flavor to foods. You may want to experiment with the amount of muscovado that you add to your recipe to get the desired level of sweetness.

How to Use Muscovado as a Brown Sugar Substitute in Baking

You can use muscovado sugar in place of brown sugar and enjoy the stronger molasses flavor. You might enjoy the recipe even more because of the added flavor and additional moisture and texture.

Since muscovado sugar tends to clump, use a sifter to eliminate clumps before using it in a baking recipe.

Use an equivalent amount of muscovado sugar for brown sugar in your recipes. Some people use half muscovado sugar and half white granulated cane sugar or brown sugar. Adding muscovado sugar also adds more moisture than brown sugar and can improve the texture of baked goods.

Muscovado Sugar in Beverages

Depending on how you like your beverages to taste, you can use this sugar as a sweetener. It adds a faint hint of caramel and molasses to coffee or tea. It works best in strong, dark teas like Assam black tea.

The rich caramel flavor can enhance the taste of beverages, but it may be overpowering in fruity beverages or light herbal or white teas. Some people add it to lemonade for a sweet kick, but you might notice caramel or butterscotch undertones when you sip it.

Being coarser and more granular, muscovado sugar doesn’t dissolve in liquids as easily as granulated sugar. It will dissolve easier in hot beverages than iced ones but expect to do some stirring to dissolve it.

Since this sugar contains more molasses than brown sugar, it tends to clump when you add it to beverages. Add it slowly and, preferably, to warm beverages. If you’re used to brown sugar, you may notice your beverage looks darker with this sugar. That’s due to the higher molasses content.


  • "What Is Muscovado Sugar? Uses and Substitutes - Healthline." 21 Apr. 2020,
  • Jaffé WR. Nutritional and functional components of non centrifugal cane sugar: A compilation of the data from the analytical literature. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2015;43:194-202. doi:10.1016/j.jfca.2015.06.007

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.