9 Best Substitutes For Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado Sugar Substitute

In the grand tapestry of sweetening agents, Muscovado sugar stands as a unique and captivating thread. Known for its deep, rich molasses flavor, moist texture, and high mineral content, this unrefined sugar brings a depth and complexity to dishes that refined sugars often fail to match. Whether you’re baking decadent cookies or simmering a tangy barbecue sauce, Muscovado sugar’s robust flavor profile and unique characteristics make it a treasured ingredient in kitchens worldwide.

Yet, it might not always be easy to find on grocery store shelves, or maybe its strong flavor isn’t quite what your recipe needs. That’s where substitutes come into play. The world of sweeteners is vast and varied, offering plenty of alternatives that can mimic the taste and texture of Muscovado sugar, and in some instances, even improve upon it. This article aims to illuminate these alternatives, providing you with detailed, practical insights to empower your culinary decisions.

What is Muscovado Sugar?

Muscovado sugar, also known as Barbados sugar, is an unrefined sugar made from sugarcane. Its dark brown color and sticky texture are a result of leaving in some of the natural molasses during processing. Muscovado sugar is rich in flavor, boasting hints of toffee and a slightly bitter undertone. It’s popular in recipes for cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats due to its ability to add depth and moisture. Additionally, its strong flavor makes it a good choice for savory dishes like barbecue sauces and marinades.

Your Quick Guide to Substitutes For Muscovado Sugar

  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Sucanat
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Jaggery
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses

Best Substitutes For Muscovado Sugar

Diving into the world of sugar substitutes, each option presents its own unique set of characteristics that might make it the perfect stand-in for muscovado sugar in your recipes.

Dark Brown Sugar

Dark brown sugar is perhaps the most readily available and closest substitute for muscovado sugar. Just like muscovado, dark brown sugar is rich in molasses content, which gives it a similar moist texture and deep, caramel-like flavor. This makes it ideal for any recipe calling for muscovado, as it can provide the same rich sweetness and moistness to baked goods.

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Although it’s a refined sugar, the molasses added back into dark brown sugar during processing imparts a complex flavor profile that can rival the unrefined muscovado. Additionally, the granularity of dark brown sugar is often finer, which may result in smoother batter or dough in some recipes.

However, it’s worth noting that while dark brown sugar can replicate the overall effect of muscovado sugar, the intensity of flavor might be slightly less. To combat this, you can consider adding a touch of molasses to the recipe to enhance the depth of flavor.

Light Brown Sugar

Light brown sugar can also serve as a substitute for muscovado sugar, particularly when the latter’s intense flavor might overpower a recipe. Light brown sugar, as the name suggests, has less molasses content than dark brown sugar, resulting in a lighter color, less moisture, and a milder taste.

This makes it a suitable choice for recipes where a hint of caramel sweetness is desired without the overpowering intensity of muscovado or dark brown sugar. Light brown sugar can seamlessly blend into the background, allowing other ingredients to shine through.

Yet, it’s important to remember that using light brown sugar may result in baked goods that are slightly less moist and rich than when using muscovado sugar. Just like with dark brown sugar, a dash of additional molasses can help bridge this gap.


Sucanat, short for “Sugar Cane Natural,” is an unrefined cane sugar that closely resembles muscovado in terms of flavor and texture. Sucanat is made by crushing the sugarcane, extracting the juice, and then heating it to create unrefined granules.

Because of its minimal processing, Sucanat retains a strong molasses flavor, which closely mimics the robust flavor profile of muscovado sugar. Its coarse granules also contribute to a similar texture, making it a good one-to-one substitute for muscovado in most recipes.

However, it’s important to note that Sucanat’s strong flavor may be overwhelming in delicate desserts or baked goods where a lighter touch is needed. It’s best suited to recipes where a bold sweetness is appreciated.

Demerara Sugar

Named after the Demerara region in Guyana where it was originally produced, Demerara sugar is a type of raw cane sugar. It’s characterized by its large, crunchy granules and light amber color. Its flavor profile is less intense than muscovado sugar, presenting a mild toffee flavor instead of a strong molasses one.

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While Demerara sugar may not replicate the full-bodied flavor of muscovado sugar, its distinctive crunch makes it a great choice for sprinkling atop muffins, cookies, or crumbles where a textural contrast is appreciated.

When using Demerara sugar as a substitute for muscovado in recipes, consider the texture and flavor implications. It might not provide the same moisture or depth of flavor, but it can lend an appealing crunch and a touch of sweetness.


Jaggery is a traditional unrefined sugar used widely in Asian and African cooking. It is made by boiling down sugar cane or palm sap and then allowing it to cool and harden into a block. Jaggery has a rich, complex flavor, akin to a blend of buttery caramel and slightly bitter molasses, making it a suitable stand-in for muscovado sugar.

However, because it often comes in a block, jaggery needs to be grated or chopped before using, which might add an extra step to your recipe preparation. Its color can also vary, from golden to dark brown, which could affect the final color of your dish.

Despite these slight challenges, jaggery’s robust flavor and natural sweetness can enrich your recipes, making it a worthy alternative to muscovado sugar.

Coconut Sugar

Derived from the sap of the coconut palm, coconut sugar boasts a unique flavor profile characterized by hints of caramel and a slight nuttiness. Its flavor is not as bold or bitter as muscovado, making it a suitable substitute when a milder sweetness is preferred.

Coconut sugar’s granules are similar in size and texture to those of muscovado, providing a comparable mouthfeel in baked goods or other dishes. However, coconut sugar lacks the high moisture content of muscovado, which may affect the overall moistness of some recipes.

Regardless, its gentle sweetness and the added bonus of a slightly lower glycemic index make coconut sugar a versatile substitute for muscovado.

Maple Syrup

For those seeking a liquid substitute for muscovado sugar, maple syrup can be a delicious option. It offers a sweet and slightly woodsy flavor that can complement many recipes. Since it’s a liquid, replacing muscovado sugar with maple syrup requires some recipe adjustments to account for the extra moisture, usually by reducing other liquid ingredients.

Maple syrup might not provide the same texture or rich, molasses-like flavor as muscovado sugar, but it brings its own unique qualities to the table. Its natural sweetness and slightly smoky undertones can enhance a range of dishes, from baked goods to marinades and sauces.

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Honey is another liquid alternative that can stand in for muscovado sugar. Its sweetness varies based on the type, with darker varieties offering a more robust flavor that can somewhat mimic the depth of muscovado sugar. Like maple syrup, using honey will require recipe adjustments to compensate for the extra liquid.

Although honey lacks the distinctive molasses note of muscovado sugar, its floral undertones and natural sweetness can add a unique dimension to your dishes. It works particularly well in recipes where a smooth, liquid sweetener is preferable.


Molasses is the dark, sweet, syrupy byproduct of sugar production, and it’s precisely this ingredient that gives muscovado sugar its distinctive flavor. As a substitute, molasses provides the same rich, bold flavor as muscovado sugar.

However, because molasses is a liquid, you’ll need to adjust the amounts of other ingredients in your recipe to maintain the correct consistency. Keep in mind that molasses is also significantly sweeter than muscovado sugar, so use it sparingly to prevent your dish from becoming overly sweet.

Molasses is best used in recipes that call for a deep, robust sweetness, such as gingerbread, baked beans, or barbecue sauces.

Substitutes for Muscovado Sugar: Nutritional Profile

Here’s a quick glance at the nutritional profiles of the mentioned substitutes for muscovado sugar, based on a ¼ cup serving size:

Dark Brown Sugar208 kcal0 g54 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Light Brown Sugar209 kcal0 g54 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Sucanat210 kcal0 g52 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Demerara Sugar210 kcal0 g54 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Jaggery240 kcal0 g60 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Coconut Sugar180 kcal0 g48 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Maple Syrup210 kcal0 g54 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Honey255 kcal0 g68 g0 g0 gGluten-Free
Molasses240 kcal0 g62 g0 g2 gGluten-Free

*All values are approximate.

Wrapping it up

Muscovado sugar’s unique flavor and texture indeed make it a culinary gem. But if you find yourself without it, remember there are several worthy substitutes you can turn to. Each substitute, with its distinct characteristics, can add a unique spin to your dishes. Choosing the right alternative depends largely on your recipe requirements and personal flavor preferences. Whether you choose a refined or unrefined substitute, a solid or liquid form, make your choice based on the flavor profile, texture, and the moisture content you desire for your dish. Happy experimenting in your kitchen adventures!

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