Demerara Sugar vs. Brown Sugar: What's the Difference?

Demerara sugar, brown sugar, white sugar, granulated sugar, sugar cane, turbinado sugar, coconut sugar, muscovado sugar ...the list goes on and on when it comes to the different types of sugar used in baking and cooking. If you're a carbohydrate fan like most people, it's hard to resist the allure of old fashioned simple syrup, the toffee flavor of golden brown sugar, or the classic flavor profile of caster sugar. And hey, if you enjoy your sweets with a glass of milk, you can at least say you're getting some calcium and magnesium. When it comes to demerara sugar and brown sugar specifically, what's the difference? Let's explore what makes these sweeteners unique.

What is Demerara Sugar?

Demerara sugar is made from sugar cane and originated in Guyana in South America -- although, most that you'll see available now comes from Mauritius in Africa.

It's made up of large grains and has quite a crunchy texture, and can be used to decorate baked goods like cakes and muffins. Demerara is a great natural sweetener for coffee, too.

"It naturally contains a small amount of molasses, which gives it a light brown color and caramel flavor," Healthline reports. It goes through little processing, so it still has some of the vitamins and minerals that can be lost when regular white sugar is produced.

What is Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product and naturally brown because of the "presence of molasses" in the sugar crystals, according to Wikipedia. Natural brown sugar has residual molasses content, while commercial brown sugar is made by adding that distinct molasses to refined white sugar.

There is both light brown sugar and dark brown sugar, depending on the natural molasses content or added molasses. "Natural brown sugar, raw sugar, or whole cane sugar are sugars that retain a small to large amount of the molasses from the mother liquor," Wikipedia says.

Most importantly, turbinado, demerara sugar, and raw sugar are natural brown sugars. Unrefined sugar and mildly centrifuged sugar tend to have a stronger molasses flavor than other sugars.

Where Can I Find Demerara Sugar?

If you have a recipe that calls for demerara sugar, have no fear. It might not be as hard to get a hold of as you may think.

Demerara sugar is available at some grocery stores, although you might have better luck at specialty ones. Plus, you can find it on Amazon. Happy sweetening!

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