What is Brownulated Sugar?

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2013

How does Domino's Brownulated sugar compare with regular brown sugar?

With its loose, dry texture and larger grain size, Domino’s easy-pour, nonclumping Brownulated Light Brown Sugar resembles active dry yeast. One cup of Brownulated sugar weighs 1 ounce less than 1 (packed) cup of regular light brown sugar, and the bag advises subbing it cup for cup rather than ounce for ounce.

Doesn’t an ounce less sugar make baked goods that are less sweet? Not necessarily. When we used the volume measurement to substitute Brownulated sugar for conventional Domino brown sugar in brown sugar cookies, butterscotch cookies, and pecan bars, we found the samples to be just as sweet. Brownulated sugar is in fact sweeter than the regular stuff, but tasters noted that it lacked “molasses backbone.” Brownulated sugar also had a drying effect: The brown sugar cookie dough was crumbly, and the cookies didn’t spread well in the oven. And the butterscotch cookies looked freckled because the Brownulated sugar didn’t disperse properly. Only the moist interiors of the pecan bars weren’t compromised.

The only ingredient listed on the bag of Brownulated sugar is brown sugar, so why the big differences in flavor and baking properties? When we inquired, Domino didn’t offer an explanation, but here’s our theory: Brownulated sugar is most likely made from a concentrated sugar solution (which accounts for the extra sweetness) that is spray-dried—a process that typically produces lighter, larger, and more porous particles that absorb more moisture during cooking. The larger particles dissolve readily in high-moisture environments (like that of the pecan bars) but not very well in drier cookie doughs. Our overall take? The convenience of Brownulated sugar is overrated. We’re sticking with the sticky stuff.

BROWNULATED SUGAR: Not recommended for most recipes.

BROWN SUGAR: Our choice for baking.