While the difference between light and dark brown sugar isn’t great, there are slight distinctions. Knowing how these two sugars differ can help better the results of your dishes and baked goods.
What Is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is a mixture of refined cane sugar and molasses. It’s basically white sugar with molasses added to it.
The molasses not only contributes to this type of sugar-containing nutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, but it also gives the sugar a stronger or richer flavor.
Light Brown Sugar
Light brown sugar is a light golden brown and has a mild and sweet caramel flavor. This kind of brown sugar has a smaller amount of molasses in it compared to brown sugar.
Sugar that is light brown can be used in a number of different recipes since it is an all-purpose sweetener.
Light brown sugar is common for baked goods like cakes, cookies, and muffins. For example, by using light brown sugar to make cookies, you can end up with soft and moist cookies.
Dark Brown Sugar
Dark brown sugar has more molasses. When you use dark brown sugar, the higher molasses content leads to a final product that is rich and has a slightly bitter flavor.
Key Differences Between Light And Dark Brown Sugar
Amount of Molasses
Molasses makes up about 3.5 percent of light brown sugar. Whereas, molasses makes up about 6.5 percent of dark sugar. The molasses content in dark brown sugar can result in baked goods that are moister than if you use the lighter brown sugar.
How the Sugar is Used
Light brown sugar can be used as a substitute for a recipe that calls for granulated sugar. Dark brown sugar is best for complex dishes.
Light brown sugar has a more mild flavor. While dark brown sugar has a richer flavor and can have a slightly bitter taste, the flavor of light brown sugar is similar to caramel or white sugar.
Lighter brown sugar is lighter and weighs less than dark brown sugar.
Dark brown sugar contains more moisture than lighter brown sugar.
Dark brown sugar is more acidic compared to the acidity levels in lighter brown sugar.
Can You Use Light And Dark Brown Sugar Interchangeably?
While light brown sugar and dark brown sugar can be used interchangeably in some cases, if a recipe calls for a specific kind of brown sugar to be used, that is what you should use.
Despite this, in many recipes, you can find that the shade of brown sugar you should use is not specified. With this said, you should assume that if a recipe is calling for brown sugar, the lighter brown version is the best choice unless you have a preference for darker brown sugar.
You should also consider the amount of brown sugar you need for a recipe. If a recipe requires a higher amount of brown sugar, you will notice more of a difference if you use the lighter brown sugar.
If you only use a small amount of brown sugar, then it is hard to tell the difference when you use one versus the other.For example, a cookie that is made using dark brown sugar will have a deeper and more syrupy flavor compared to cookies that are made using light brown sugar.
Which Is Healthier?
The nutrients in light and dark brown sugar are identical. Ultimately, how your body processes light brown sugar and dark brown sugar is the same.