Is Demerara Sugar the Same as Light Brown Sugar?

Demerera sugar in bowl

Sugar is a common recipe ingredient, but there are many different types of sugar and many different uses for them. The typical white sugar, like the one we might add to our coffee, is refined, and made from the sugar beet plant.

White sugar can be ground to make finer varieties such as icing sugar and caster sugar. Other sugar varieties are made with the same white sugar base but then ingredients such as molasses are added to change the colour and flavour.

Is Demerara Sugar the Same as Light Brown Sugar?

No, light brown sugar is made by mixing white sugar with molasses, whereas demerara sugar is a raw and minimally processed sugar made from sugarcane.

Light brown sugar
Light brown sugar

Can Demerara Sugar Be Used as a Substitute for Light Brown Sugar?

In terms of flavour and sweetness demerara can make a good substitute for light brown sugar.

It may not mix into batters as well due to its larger crystal size and so the mix may remain grainy.

This usually resolves itself during baking, but it is worth being aware of. It is a similar colour to light brown sugar so should not affect the look of the dish.


What Are the Different Types of Sugar?

There are several basic sugar types that it is useful to understand:

  • White sugar – The most common sugar and can be bought ground to a finer texture. Neutral in flavour.
  • Light brown sugar – Often used in cookies, this sugar is a mix of mostly white sugar with a small amount of molasses added, giving it a slightly caramel flavour.
  • Dark brown sugar – This has twice as much molasses as light brown sugar but has the same white sugar base. The added molasses mean it is darker in colour and richer in flavour. It is used in baking for things such as rich fruit cakes or sticky toffee puddings.
  • Muscovado sugar – This sugar is similar in flavour and colour to light brown sugar, but it contains naturally occurring molasses and it is an unrefined sugar.
  • Demerara sugar – This sugar is a light brown in colour and is less refined than white sugar. It is extracted earlier in the production process than white sugar, but it comes from the same plant as white sugar. It is considered a raw sugar. It has large grains which give it a crunchy texture.
Muscovado sugar on spoon
Muscovado sugar

Does it Matter What Sugar I Use?

With so many varieties it can be hard to know which sugar to use for which purpose.

The sugar you choose can make a difference to the overall result of the dish you are creating. Sugars vary in taste and texture so using a different one to what the recipe calls for can be a risky choice.

However, whilst using a different sugar can change the flavour of a dish it is usually not in a way that is detrimental to it, and it is still a good way to add the sweetness needed.


Is Demerara Sugar Healthier Than Other Sugar?

There is much debate over the healthiness of different types of sugars. Because demerara is less processed than white sugars and is a raw sugar rather than a refined one, it does retain more trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. Overall, in terms of health it is still recommended to use it sparingly.