Nothing is more disappointing than opening your cupboard to discover your bag of fluffy, soft brown sugar has hardened into a solid, unusable lump! Learn How to Soften Brown Sugar and have it back in action for all sorts of tasty recipes. See below for helpful tips, plus 20 recipes that use brown sugar at the end of this post!
What is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is granulated white sugar with added molasses. The two are mixed together until each granule of sugar is covered with molasses. The only difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses used.
In a pinch, you can make your own brown sugar at home. For light brown sugar mix 1 cup of white sugar with 1 tablespoon of molasses. For dark brown sugar, mix 1 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of molasses.
Why Does Brown Sugar Go Hard?
Brown sugar goes hard when the moisture in it evaporates. It is important to store brown sugar in an airtight container to prevent this from happening. When brown sugar is stored incorrectly (ie. not airtight), your package of soft sugar can quickly become a hard, unappealing lump as the natural moisture in the granules evaporates. While it’s still technically safe to eat, hardened brown sugar is impossible to measure properly and is difficult to use in recipes because the lumps don’t break down the way sugar normally would.
Easy Ways to Soften it Up Again
If you’ve opened your pantry to find a bag of lumpy, hardened brown sugar, never fear! There are a few easy remedies that you can try that should soften your sugar back up – and prevent it from happening again.
In the Microwave
By far the quickest way to soften brown sugar in a pinch is in the microwave. Place the dried-out lump of sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover the bowl with a damp paper towel. Microwave the sugar in 10-second bursts, breaking it up with a fork in between, until it’s grainy and soft again.
Two notes of caution: Be careful when handling, as the sugar can become very hot! Secondly, whatever you do, don’t over-microwave it, as this will cause the sugar to melt.
With a Slice of Bread
This next method takes a bit longer. Place the lumpy brown sugar along with a slice of fresh bread in an airtight container, and leave it for 24 hours. The sugar will absorb the moisture from the bread and should return to a soft, crumbly texture. Don’t forget to take the bread out of the container afterward, so that it doesn’t become moldy! Just leave it in there long enough to rehydrate your brown sugar.
With an Apple Slice
This method works the same way as the bread slice! Follow the same directions, only using a slice of apple instead (also remembering to remove it after 24 hours).
With a Piece of Terracotta
Terracotta has become a crafty solution for maintaining moisture in brown sugar! Soak a piece of (clean) terracotta in water, and after about 20 minutes place it in an airtight container with the hardened sugar lump. Leave it for a day or so, and the sugar will be revived. Terracotta can be left in with the sugar to prevent it from lumping again – you can even find terracotta “sugar savers” (affiliate link) in many kitchen supply stores.
Storing Brown Sugar
Now that you’ve revived your brown sugar, it’s time to store it properly! Store brown sugar airtight and in a cool and dry location (like a pantry, and not the fridge). This will keep it soft, grainy, and ready to use.
20 Recipes that Use Brown Sugar
Are you ready to use your brown sugar? Here are 19 easy recipes to put your sugar to work!
Breakfast & Dinner
A little caramelized flavor goes a long way when it comes to these easy breakfast recipes and savory dinner ideas!
Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso Latte (Starbucks Copycat)
Learning how to make your favorite Starbucks drinks at home is peak DIY! Get your practice in with this easy copycat recipe for an iced brown sugar latte with shaken espresso, made with oat milk.
Garlic Brown Sugar Baked Chicken Breasts
You only need a handful of ingredients, among them brown sugar, garlic, and spices, to make this easy baked chicken for your next weeknight dinner. This is some seriously flavorful and juicy chicken, ready to pair with tons of sides!
These easy desserts are rich and delicious, featuring brown sugar as the star ingredient!
Homemade Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts
You’ll be so impressed with this easy recipe for homemade Pop Tarts, you’ll never go back to the store bought version! Made with buttery cinnamon brown sugar filling surrounded by crumbly pastry, these Pop Tarts are the best kid-friendly breakfast.
Grandma’s Nut Cup Cookies
An authentic cookie recipe that’s stood the test of time! This family spin on pecan tassies will have everyone raving over these wonderful cream cheese cookie cups loaded with walnuts and brown sugar.
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