8 Best Demerara Sugar Substitutes

Posted on

Demerara Sugar Substitutes



Prep time

Cooking time

Total time


This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Have you ever experienced getting halfway through a recipe for the perfect Apple crumble or Demerara shortbread cookies and just realized you’re out of this brown sugar? 

Well, a lot of people have! And it is NOT funny. 

Reaching a point of no return, you might be tempted to use any sugar at your disposal swiftly. 

But not every sugar is suitable for replacement, which is why we have done the tedious research work and bring you only the best demerara sugar substitutes at your fingertips.

Light brown sugar, muscovado sugar, turbinado, sanding sugar, coconut sugar, plain white sugar, white sugar plus molasses, and white sugar plus maple syrup are all great options that can be used to replace demerara sugar.

Stay tuned, and you might discover a preferable alternative to your beloved demerara sugar. 

What Is Demerara Sugar?

When it comes to the sugar community, one sugar that has left behind footprints of note is the Demerara Sugar. 

Demerara Sugar is a large sparkling golden crystal with a crunchy texture produced from sugarcane. This sugar is a big name, especially for bakers, because it is a great topping for desserts due to its crunchy texture. 

And most demerara sugar today comes from Mauritius in Africa. But you can readily get them in the grocery stores. 

You will love sprinkling, whether for beverages or decorating crumbles, flapjacks, cheesecake bases, and biscuits. And aside from that, it adds a unique flavor to everything that needs sweetening.

But if you don’t have them on hand, some good alternatives you can use are Light brown sugar, Turbinado sugar, and coconut sugar. 

Although, there are a few practical combinations you can use in a pinch as a stand-in for demerara sugar — many of which you may have in your kitchen pantry. 

Best Demerara Sugar Substitutes

1. Light brown sugar

There is a slight difference between light brown sugar and Demerara sugar. 

But I know baking minds are more concerned about that extra crunch. Well, that is why you should consider lighting brown sugar your best bet. 

The only difference is molasses.

Both light brown sugar and Demerara sugar contain molasses; only demerara has over 2X that.

And because of the increased molasses, demerara sugar is darker in color, has slightly more moisture and acidity, and has a pronounced caramel flavor.

Yet you can use both interchangeably. 

Swapping demerara sugar for a recipe that calls for light will give your end product a darker shade, more robust taste and might affect the texture as well, especially if it’s a recipe that calls for much sugar. 

And you know how baking cakes are sensitive to moisture and density. The difference between both sugars could affect how well the cake rises.

2. White sugar plus molasses

Demerara Sugar is like the exotic version of white sugar. 

Less refined, larger Grains; more taste — but white sugar could be having all of that with a small tweak. Add some molasses and see what happens to the taste and appearance.

It will be as though you swap in brown sugar instead. With that, you can use it extensively in baked goods and savory dishes. 

But how do you make this combination — the curiosity kicks in. 

Well, to make your little brown sugar, all you need is 1 cup (200 grams) of granulated white sugar and one tablespoon (15 ml) of molasses. Then mix. 

If you want a darker color like the Demerara sugar, increase the molasses to 2 tablespoons (30 ml). And just like that — you have made a brown sugar.

3. Muscovado sugar

Another alternative you might want to consider is Muscovado sugar. It has a toffee flavor that matches all recipes. Besides, it is less refined and contains much molasses-like the Demerara sugar, making it a great substitute. 

Although, it is heavy in molasses content, which means higher moisture, caramel flavor, and darker shade. In addition, it is stickier, which could make it clumps. Despite that, you can swap it equally for demerara sugar in almost all recipes. 

Muscovado sugar is a great fit for topping ice cream, mixing in any cake recipe, and plain Greek yogurt with just about any savory dishes. 

But for baking goods, you need to sift it before mixing into your batter or dough to remove any clumps. I have seen many pro Chefs and home cooks improve their integration for a recipe using an electric mixer. 

That helps too. 

This is also a specialty sugar with a higher price tag, so use it respectfully. 

4. White sugar plus maple syrup

Mixing it up with maple syrup is plan B if you don’t have molasses on hand. 

I know. I know. I know. Brown sugar is traditionally made using a mix of molasses with granulated white sugar. But you aren’t doing too much either using maple syrup, as it has almost no change to your final product. 

Just grab a cup (200 grams) of granulated white sugar with one tbs (15 ml) of pure maple syrup and mix properly. 

Tah-dah! You have a brown sugar substitute that can trick even a professional chef. Make a brown sugar substitute that can fool even the most sophisticated palette.

5. Turbinado

Turbinado is another amazing demerara sugar substitute since it is less refined and has many molasses. 

But both cane-sugar taste and look slightly different, though. 

Demerara sugars us a molasses-like flavor, whereas turbinado sugar is subtler with a caramel-like taste. 

In terms of consistency, turbinado sugars aren’t sticky because it is not moist. However, demerara sugar does. 

Despite that, Turbinado sugar will substitute demerara nice and clean, especially for sprinkling, thanks to its non-sticky texture. 

Therefore, it will be excellent for baked goods, sweet beverages, and savory dishes. 

6. Coconut sugar

Made from the sap of coconut trees, you will have a taste of that coconut flavor. So except you are not very big on coconut flavors, it is a great substitute for dark brown sugar.  

They look and taste similar but slightly darker than demerara — you won’t even notice the difference in a recipe. Coconut sugar is more of a healthier option, as it contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals that you can’t get from most sugar out there. 

You can easily make a 1:1 ratio swap. But note that coconut sugar can make certain baked goods denser or dried than normal. 

For this reason, most people prefer adding extra fat like butter or oil to the recipe to help improve the moisture content. Some melt the coconut sugar on a stove before adding it to a recipe. 

Either way is suitable.

7. Sanding Sugar

Sand sugar is also a good demerara sugar substitute, especially for decorating cakes, cookies, muffins, candies, and other types of sweets. 

It has a shape like the large Demerara sugar crystals, perfect for visual appeal and crunch.

Furthermore, the sanding comes in various colors and glitter — choose what’s best for your recipes. 

They make a great addition to your kitchen pantry arsenal, as you can use them to decorate and garnish desserts and goodies like cakes and many more. 

Aside from that, you can need it for other things too. 

More importantly, it won’t take you anything to get these, even though it’s a specialty sugar. 

They are affordably sitting in the baking section of most grocery stores.

8. Plain white sugar

When put in a tough spot, let’s face it, the most logical option is white. So when all else fails, it will cost you nothing, falling back to granulated white sugar. 

Don’t bother about the color or taste. You know white sugar isn’t brown like the other substitutes, but use it since it is all you’ve got. 

They won’t ruin your recipe. Besides, it is affordable, easily available in all supermarkets, and offers the same sweetness you would get from Demerara sugar. 

Unfortunately, YES, there will be a change in some flavor notes and texture. Because demerara has larger grains, darker shade, and molasses flavor, it might affect the final result. 

For instance, demerara adds a dense chewiness to most baked goods. But when replaced with white sugar, it ends up slightly crisper. 

But most people are skeptical about how less healthy white sugar can be. However, it is not significantly less healthy than your initial pick. Both contain sucrose and pose the same health risks when consumed in excess. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is brown sugar and Demerara sugar the same?

They are not the same thing, though very similar, which is why you can be used them interchangeably. Normal brown sugar is moist, dark, and is used for any recipe why you want a molasses kick. However, Demerara sugar is darker, has large crystals that give a crunchy texture, and is stickier. 

What is Demerara sugar called in America?

Have you ever heard of the term “dark brown sugar?” Well, they are referring to demerara sugar. They both mean the same thing, but Americans call it dark brown sugar. 

Between regular sugar and demerara sugar, which is healthier? Health-wise, demerara sugar is considered a healthier alternative because it is less processed than regular. 

Therefore, it retains a significant amount of vitamins and minerals. Even at that, both types consist of sucrose, have equal calories count, and have similar effects on your blood sugar levels.

What happens if you take excessive sugar?

Excessive sugar intake is heart-threatening even though it’s the healthiest sugar there is. Because the extra insulin in the bloodstream affects the arteries, causing their walls to inflame, grow thicker, and become stiff. 

This puts pressure on your heart, which in the long run can lead to heart diseases, like heart attacks, heart failure, or strokes. 


So, there you have: The 8 Best demerara sugar substitutes — mostly all-natural, color and flavor alike, and used for similar purposes. Hence any of these alternatives will stand in for demerara sugar.

However, if you’re too obsessed with dark brown sugar and can’t get it around, the Turbinado, light brown, and Muscovado (in a pinch). They all have that crunchy texture perfect for your baked goods and traces of molasses flavor.

But if you feel for a light brown sugar instead, you can challenge yourself for a homemade version. All you need is White sugar and maple syrup.

Related Posts:


You might also like these recipes