Types of Sugar

Types of Sugar

Publish Date September 12, 2022 4 Minute Read

Though you probably have one or two types in your pantry, you might be surprised to learn just how many varieties of sugar there are—and the more often you bake, the more types of sugar you may come across. In this article, we’ll learn where sugar comes from, what makes granulated sugar different from turbinado, what gives brown sugar its color and much, much more. Plus, we’re sharing some of our favorite, sweet-as-sugar recipes.

What is Sugar?

To begin, what even is sugar? Though there are technically four main types of sugar, including glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (dairy sugar), when most folks say “sugar” they’re talking about sucrose, also known by the names table sugar, refined sugar and white sugar. Sucrose, which is a disaccharide made of equal parts glucose and fructose, is produced both naturally and commercially and is a key ingredient in many of our favorite treats. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of sugars you might come across in your cookbooks.

What is Granulated Sugar?

Open your pantry and you’ll probably find a bag of granulated sugar. This highly refined, multi-purpose variety is the most common type of sugar. It features fine crystals that don’t stick together or caramelize too quickly, and dissolve easily in liquid. Granulated sugar is great for pastries, cakes, stirring into drinks and more. Test out the uses of granulated sugar by whipping up one of these decadent desserts:

  • Strawberry Puff Pastry Tarts: Creamy, warm strawberry filling is wrapped in a light and flaky dough for a handheld treat that’s loaded with delicious flavor from first bite to last.
  • Boston Cream Pie: This classic dessert isn’t actually a pie at all! Instead, it’s a light sponge cake filled with a vanilla custard and topped with a rich chocolate glaze.
  • Pecan Cheesecake: The hardest part about preparing this creamy cheesecake is waiting for it to cool!

What is Cane Sugar?

Though it’s often likened to granulated sugar, cane sugar is made exclusively from the sugarcane plant and is minimally processed. When comparing cane sugar vs. granulated sugar, you may notice the crystals in cane sugar are slightly larger and darker in color, due to the molasses and trace minerals that have been retained. Cane sugar is widely used in the culinary arts and makes a great alternative to granulated sugar. Give this variety a try by indulging in one of these sweet treats:

What is Brown Sugar?

Unlike white sugar, brown sugar contains molasses, which gives it its characteristic dark color, moist texture and richer flavor. The amount of molasses determines if the sugar will be light or dark brown. To make your own brown sugar, simply mix one cup of white sugar with about one teaspoon molasses for light brown sugar, and two teaspoons for dark. When comparing brown sugar vs. white sugar, you’ll notice brown sugar adds a deeper, more complex sweetness. Light brown sugar is great for baking sweets, while dark brown sugar is ideal for savory foods such as baked beans and barbecuing. Get to know this type of sugar with one or more of these tasty recipes:

How to Make Apple Blondies

This apple blondies recipe is one of our favorite apple dessert recipes to make.

What is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado sugar, which is also made from the sugarcane plant, retains some original molasses, giving the sugar crystals a darker color and subtle caramel flavor when compared to white sugar. This partially refined sugar holds up well under heat, making it a great option for a wide range of baking and cooking opportunities. Although turbinado sugar is relatively popular, it may come with a higher price tag than the more well-known varieties. If your recipe calls for it and you’re out, you can easily make a turbinado sugar substitute by blending together an equal amount of brown and white sugar. Learn how to use this variety with one of these must-try treats:

What is Powdered Sugar?

Did you know that powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar) is actually granulated sugar that’s been pulverized into a light and fluffy powder? Powdered sugar dissolves easily at room temperature and is great for glazes, buttercreams, frosting and any other recipe where a silky-smooth texture is vital. Whether you’ve used it before or you’re working with powdered sugar for the first time, we recommend tempting your taste buds with one of these classic bites:

  • Gingerbread Biscotti: Full of warm and comforting spices, this biscotti will fill your home with the scent of gingerbread as it cooks.
  • Cherry Almond Snack Cake: A cherry-studded snack cake is topped with a vanilla glaze and sprinkle of toasted almonds for something a little sweet, a little tart and totally satisfying.
  • Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting: Ideal for any occasion, these classic treats are easily customizable yet also perfectly delicious as-is.

How to Measure Sugar

Since there are so many textures, sugars should be measured differently. To measure granulated sugar, simply use a dry measuring cup to scoop the sugar straight from the container. When measuring brown sugar, use a spoon to pack the sugar into a measuring cup, patting it down to ensure you get the right amount. For powdered sugar, spoon the sugar into your dry measuring cup but refrain from patting it down. If you’re scaling recipes up or down, check out our measurement conversion chart to ensure you’re getting the right amount every time.

For more sweet baking tips and tricks, head over to our large collection of recipes, where you can find easy-to-make desserts for any and every occasion. Remember to check out our digital coupons and weekly ad for deals on everyday favorites.

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