Demerara Sugar & Turbinado Sugar: The Difference | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Demerara Sugar & Turbinado Sugar: The Difference | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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TIP OF THE DAY: Demerara Sugar & Turbinado Sugar: The Difference

[1] Demerara sugar (photo by Glane | Wikipedia).

[2] Turbinado sugar (photo by Leena | Wikipedia).


Demerara sugar is natural brown sugar made by partially refining sugar cane extract.

It’s a more nutritious product than what we know as “light” and “dark” brown sugar. These are made by adding molasses to fully refined white sugar, which is stripped of its nutrients.

Molasses itself is a by-product of sugar cane refining. It’s the residue that is left after all the sugar crystals are extracted from the cane juice.

Demerara sugar is named after the Demerara colony in Guyana, a small independent state on the north coast of South America, where the style of sugar was first produced.

  • Demerara is very similar to turbinado sugar, made in Hawaii and popularized in the U.S. as Sugar In The Raw.
  • Both are sparkling tan to golden in color, which is the natural color of cane sugar before the color is stripped to white in the refining process.
  • Both are dry with pronounced crystals (turbinado is more coarse, demerara is more fine), as opposed to brown sugar, which is moist from the molasses.
  • And both are delicious when used in baking and to sweeten beverages, cereal, fruit and yogurt. In addition to sweetness, they add a bit of natural caramel or molasses flavor…which brings us to today’s tip.

    Quite a few dessert and candy recipes call for caramelized sugar, which means placing white granulated sugar in a pan and heating it until the sugar browns and takes on a caramel flavor.

    It’s easy enough to do, but you have to continuously stir the sugar so it doesn’t burn.

    But you can skip this step entirely by substituting demerara sugar.

    We also like the added flavor demerara sugar brings to cookies, cakes and blondies—more complex and less cloying.

    Note that in recipes requiring a cup or more of sugar, more butter or other fat needs to be added to compensate for the lower moisture compared to brown sugar.

  • See all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.
  • Consider giving bags of it as stocking stuffers to friends who love to bake (or who consume a lot of sugar in their coffee and cereal).

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