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How to Substitute Sugars and Other Sweeteners

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2005

If you have to do it, do it well. Here are some tips for sweet substitutions.

Granulated Sugar

This staple has no substitute.

Brown Sugar

Granulated sugar and molasses make a close approximation.

To Replace: 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses
To Replace: 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar ground in a food processor for 15 seconds

Powdered Sugar

Because it contains cornstarch, powdered sugar should not be used for either brown or granulated sugar in most recipes.

To Replace: 1 cup powdered sugar

    1 cup granulated + 1 teaspoon cornstarch ground together in blender (not food processor)
Caution: This works very well for dusting over desserts, less so in icings or glazes.

Liquid Sweeteners

Replacing some of the sugar in a recipe with honey, molasses, or maple syrup to add an extra dimension of flavor is a simple matter, provided you account for the extra moisture.

To Replace: sugar with liquid sweetener

    Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of liquid sweetener added

Caution: As liquid sweeteners vary in moisture content, acidity, and even sweetness, it is usually not a good idea to replace more than half of the sugar in a recipe with a liquid sweetener.

Granulated Sugar: No substitutions can be made for this kitchen staple