By Erin Huffstetler | 05/21/2020 | No Comments
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Here’s how to substitute granulated sugar in recipes, if you’re out, or trying to avoid refined sugars.
How to Pick the Right Granulated Sugar Substitute
White granulated sugar (also known as table sugar, white sugar or regular sugar) is a highly-refined sugar that’s made from sugar cane, sugar beets, or a combination of the two. While mostly thought of as a sweetener, it also contributes to recipes in other ways. It leavens baked goods; makes foods moist; helps with browning; and improves texture. In some recipes it even serves as a preservative. So, substituting granulated sugar isn’t as straightforward as replacing one sweetener for another. To get good results, you may need to tweak other ingredients in your recipe, or adjust the bake time and temperature. The following substitutions take all of that into account, so you don’t have to.
Warning: If you’re trying to replace the granulated sugar in a canning recipe, it’s best to start with a recipe that’s been written and tested to work with that particular sweetener. Altering canning recipes can have dangerous results.
Granulated Sugar Substitutes
(also called castor sugar or superfine sugar)
Caster sugar is just granulated sugar that’s been ground to a finer consistency, so it’s an excellent substitute for granulated sugar. Use one cup of caster sugar in place of one cup of granulated sugar. No other recipe adjustments are necessary. Since the sugar crystals aren’t quite as big, you may find that cakes made with caster sugar have a slightly finer crumb.
Replace one cup of granulated sugar with one cup of tightly packed light or dark brown sugar. The molasses in the sugar will change the flavor, color and texture of your recipe in subtle ways. Cookies made with brown sugar, for example, will be darker and chewier than usual. If you have both light and dark brown sugar on hand, use light. Since it contains less molasses, you’ll notice fewer differences. Since brown sugar contains granulated sugar, this is a good option for recipes that call for creaming butter and sugar together. It’ll create the air pockets that cakes need to leaven properly.
Have a package of Turbinado sugar or Demerara sugar in your pantry? Use it as a one-to-one replacement for the granulated sugar called for. These raw sugars have larger sugar crystals than granulated sugar, and contain some molasses, so they’ll behave a bit differently in your recipe. Expect the molasses to make your baked goods more moist, and to add a subtle molasses flavor. The larger sugar crystals could make your baked goods fluffier, or they could make them more dense. It just depends on the recipe. Grind your raw sugar in a food processor or coffee grinder for a minute or two to make the grains smaller, and it won’t do either. Raw sugar is an excellent substitute, if your recipe calls for creaming butter and sugar together. It also works well in candy recipes.
Another Granulated Sugar
Coconut sugar or maple sugar can be used as a 1:1 replacement for the white granulated sugar called for in a recipe. Date sugar can also be used, as long as the recipe doesn’t call for dissolving or melting sugar (since it isn’t capable of either). Baked goods made with these alternative sugars are likely to turn out denser and drier, than those made with white sugar. If you’re looking for a sugar to use in candy recipes, coconut sugar or maple sugar will work. Expect a change to the flavor profile, if you use maple sugar in your recipe.
(also called confectioners sugar, icing sugar or 10X sugar)
Use 1-3/4 cup of unsifted powdered sugar (or 2 cups sifted) in place of one cup of granulated sugar. This will give your baked goods a smoother, denser consistency, but will maintain the proper level of sweetness. Since powdered sugar contains a small amount of cornstarch, it could cause sauces and puddings to thicken faster than expected. Stay close to the stove, so you can pull your dessert, as soon as it’s ready.
To use honey as a substitute for one cup of granulated sugar, use 3/4 cup honey + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (this will counteract the acidity of the honey). Then, reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup. If no other liquid is present, add 1/4 cup flour instead. Honey caramelizes and burns faster than granulated sugar, so reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and stay close to the oven. Your baked goods may bake faster than the recipe says, and are likely to turn out softer and denser than you’re used to.
To replace one cup of granulated sugar with molasses, use 1-1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap) + 1 teaspoon baking soda. Then, reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 1/3 cup. If there aren’t any other liquids in the recipe, add 1/3 cup of flour instead. Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and be ready to pull your baked goods out early. Molasses will change the color and flavor of your recipe considerably. So, consider whether molasses will play nicely with the other ingredients in your recipe, before you proceed. To temper the strong flavor of molasses, try a 50/50 mix of molasses and another liquid sweetener, like maple syrup or honey.
To use maple syrup as a stand-in for one cup of granulated sugar, use 3/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Then, reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by three Tablespoons to compensate for the additional liquid. If the recipe doesn’t contain any other liquids, add three Tablespoons of flour instead (assuming you’re making a baked good). Maple syrup caramelizes at a lower temperature than granulated sugar, so reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees, and watch your baked goods closely. They may bake faster than usual. Maple syrup works well as a substitute in baked goods, candy, ice cream and pudding. Since it can’t be creamed with butter, cakes made with maple syrup will be denser.
Pull out that bottle of light corn syrup that you keep on hand for pecan pie, and use it in place of the granulated sugar in your recipe. For the best results, use 3/4 cup corn syrup in place of one cup of granulated sugar. Then, reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup to compensate for the extra liquid. If there aren’t any other liquids, add 1/4 cup of flour instead. Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and be ready to pull your baked goods early, since they may bake faster. Cookies made with corn syrup will turn out chewy, rather than crispy. It’s also worth noting that corn syrup isn’t as sweet as granulated sugar, so your recipe will taste less sweet than intended.
How to Reduce the Sugar in a Recipe
Looking for a sugar substitute because you need, or want, to reduce the sugar and calories in a recipe? Then, you may not need a substitute at all. Just reduce the sugar called for in a recipe by 25%, and you probably won’t even notice the difference.
If you have a recipe that you make regularly, continue reducing the sugar, until you hit the point where the color, flavor and texture of the finished product starts to suffer. When you find what works best, make a note on the recipe, so you can repeat the results.
Baked goods made with significantly less sugar will be lighter in color, and more dry and crumbly in texture. It probably comes as no surprise that they’re also be less sweet.
Warning: Do not reduce the sugar in recipes when making pickles, or canning other low-acid foods. In this situation, the sugar is likely being used as a preservative to prevent food spoilage.
Sugar-Free Sugar Substitutes
Want to replace the sugar in a recipe with a sugar-free sweetener? Then, it’s best to consult the packaging or manufacturer website for recommendations.Print
- Caster sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar, date sugar, powdered sugar, honey molasses, maple syrup or corn syrup
To replace 1 cup of granulated sugar, use:
– 1 cup caster sugar
– 1 cup tightly packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1 cup raw sugar (Turbinado or Muscavado sugar)
– 1 cup coconut sugar, maple sugar or date sugar (date sugar doesn’t melt or dissolve)
– 1-3/4 cup unsifted powdered sugar (or 2 cups sifted)
– 3/4 cup honey + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (Reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup, or add 1/4 cup flour, if there aren’t any other liquids. Then, reduce oven temp by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.)
– 1-1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap) + 1 teaspoon baking soda (Reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 1/3 cup, or add 1/3 cup flour, if there aren’t any other liquids. Then, reduce oven temp by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.)
– 3/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. (Reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 3 Tbsp, or add 3 Tbsp flour, if there aren’t any other liquids. Then, reduce oven temp by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.)
– 3/4 cup light corn syrup (Reduce one of the other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup, or add 1/4 cup flour, if there aren’t any other liquids. Then, reduce oven temp by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Do not substitute the sugar in canning recipes. Altering canning recipes could have dangerous results. Instead, find a canning recipe that has been written and tested to work with the sweetener that you want to use.