What Is Muscovado Sugar? Uses and Substitutes

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Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Share My Kitchen

Muscovado sugar, which is unrefined cane syrup, contains natural molasses. It has a rich brown color, similar taste to toffee, and a moist texture.

Why To Use Muscovado Sugar

It is usually used to enhance the flavor of confections such as cookies, cakes, and candies. But it can also be added to savory meals. Moreover, muscovado sugar is often considered an artisanal type of sugar. It is usually made using more labor-intensive processes than commercial brown or white sugar.

This article discusses muscovado sugar, its differences from other types of sugar, its use, and the best substitutes.

What is muscovado sugar?

Muscovado sugar (also known as Barbados sugar, khandsari or khand) is one of the least refined sugars.

It is made by extracting sugar cane juice, adding lime, then cooking the mixture to make the liquid evaporate, then cooling it to make sugar crystals.

The brown syrupy liquid (molasses), that is created during cooking, remains in the final product. This results in moist, dark brown sugar with the texture of wet sand.

How Does Muscovado Sugar Taste Like

The taste of muscovado sugar is complex due to molasses that gives the sugar hints of toffee and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Several companies that produce muscovado may also remove a bit of the molasses from their products to create a lighter variety.

Muscovado is also called an artisanal sugar since the production processes are relatively low-tech and labor-intensive. India is the largest producer of muscovado.

Is Muscovado Sugar Healthy?

According to the nutrition labels on muscovado sugar, it contains the same amount of calories as regular sugar, about 4 calories per gram. But, it also has trace amounts of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron due its molasses content.

Antioxidants Found In Muscovado Sugar

Molasses in muscovado also contain antioxidants, such as gallic acid and other polyphenols. These help to prevent cells from being damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals.

Antioxidants are good for your health as they have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases linked to free radical damage like diabetes and heart disease.

Although muscovado is slightly more nutritious than refined white sugar because of these antioxidants and minerals, it’s still sugar so it should still be limited for optimal health.

Consuming too much added sugar has been shown to increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25g of sugar daily and men consume only 37.5g per day.

However, some researchers believe that replacing white sugar with natural brown sugars like muscovado could increase the nutritional content of a person’s diet.

What makes it different from other sugars?

Here are some comparisons between muscovado and other commonly used sugars.

Granulated sugar

When you hear the term “sugar”, most people associate it with granulated sugar, also known as table sugar or white sugar.

This is the most common type of sugar found in sugar packets, and it is used in baking.

White sugar is created just like muscovado, but machines are used to speed up its production, and the molasses in the sugar is completely taken out by spinning it in a centrifuge.

This produces a white sugar that is resistant to clumping and has a texture that is similar to dry sand.

Granulated sugar has a neutral sweetness and no color since it does not contain molasses. However, it is not rich in minerals making it less nutritious than muscovado.

It is made from either sugarcane or sugar beets, unlike muscovado sugar. The nutrition label will show you the ingredient section.

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar that has molasses added to it after processing.

Dark brown sugar has more molasses than light brown sugar. However, the amount of Molasses in brown sugar is typically less than that in muscovado.

Brown sugar, similar to muscovado sugar, has a texture like moist sand, but a milder caramel-like flavor.

Turbinado and demerara sugar

Demerara and turbinado sugar are also made from evaporated sugar juice, but they are spun for a shorter period so that there are still molasses left.

Both sugars have large, light brown crystals with a dryer texture than muscovado sugar.

These sugars can be used to sweeten hot beverages such as coffee and tea. Plus, they can be sprinkled on top baked goods for added sweetness and texture.

Jaggery, rapadura, panela, kokuto, and Sucanat

Jaggery, rapadura, kokuto, panela, and Sucanat are all unrefined, cane sugars containing molasses that are very like muscovado.

Sucanat, a brand of unrefined sugar cane sugar, stands for “sugar cane natural.”

The production methods can be different among various manufacturers. For instance, panela is usually sold in solid blocks. On the other hand, rapadura is often sifted through a sieve for a loose, grainy sugar.

These five sugars are most like muscovado out of all those listed.

Popular uses of Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado sugar pairs well with darker baked goods and savory foods due to its rich, toffee-like flavor and burnt undertones.

Some popular uses for muscovado sugar include:

  • Barbeque sauce: to enhance the smoky flavor, use muscovado instead of brown sugar.
  • Chocolate baked goods: chocolate cookies or brownies can be made with muscovado.
  • Coffee: add to your hot coffee for a rich, complex sweetness that goes well with its bitter taste. 
  • Gingerbread: to make molasses even more flavorful, you can replace brown sugar with muscovado.
  • Glazes: if you want to add a wonderful toffee flavor to your meat glazes, use muscovado.
  • Ice cream: create a bittersweet caramelized flavor by using muscovado sugar.
  • Marinades: mix olive oil, acid, herbs and spices with muscovado sugar to marinate meats before grilling or roasting.
  • Oatmeal: for a rich taste, sprinkle it on warm oatmeal with nuts or fruit.
  • Popcorn: Warm popcorn can be topped with butter, coconut oil, and muscovado for a sweet-salty-smoky treat.
  • Salad dressing: add muscovado sugar to your dressings for a caramel-like sweetness.
  • Caramel or toffee: you can create deep molasses-flavored confections when you add muscovado sugar.

To reduce moisture loss, muscovado sugar must be kept in an airtight container. If the sugar hardens, you can cover it with a damp paper towel for a night to soften it.

How To Substitute Muscovado Sugar? 

You can substitute muscovado sugar with jaggery, rapadela, kokuto, or Sucanat since it is an unrefined brown sugar. They can be substituted in equal quantities.

Dark brown sugar is the next best replacement. However, it has a milder taste, lower molasses content, and a finer texture.

If you’re out of options, you could also mix 1 cup (200g) of white sugar and 2 tablespoons (40g) of molasses to make a homemade substitute.

Granulated white sugar, which doesn’t contain any molasses, is the worst alternative.


Muscovado sugar, also known as Barbados sugar, khandsari or khand, is an unrefined sugar cane that still contains molasses. Therefore, it has a dark brown color and has a texture that’s similar to wet sand.

It is most similar to unrefined cane sugars such as jaggery or panela. However, brown sugar can also be a substitute.

Muscovado gives baked goods, marinades and glazes an additional dark caramel taste. Plus, it can be used in warm beverages such as coffee. Even if it is less refined than white sugar, it is still recommended to consume muscovado in moderation to minimize your added sugar ingestion.


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