9 Best Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

In the world of baking, sugar is one of the most important ingredients. In fact, some bakers say that it’s more important than flour or eggs.

One of the many types of sugar that you can purchase is turbinado sugar. It is a form of non-centrifugal cane sugar and is also known as “Raw Cane Sugar.”

Turbinado is the rawest form of cane sugar because it doesn’t go through any further processing after being cut from the plant. As a result, it is less processed and has natural molasses.

But what if you are preparing a recipe that calls for turbinado sugar but doesn’t have any? Can you use something else in its place?

Luckily, there are many substitutes for turbinado sugar that you may already have or can get from your local grocery store.

Read this article to the end as I discuss the similarities and differences between these Turbinado sugar substitutes and what recipes you can use.

9 Best Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

The best substitutes for turbinado sugar are brown sugar and honey. You can also use caster sugar, demerara sugar, and coconut sugar as a sub for turbinado sugar.

Here are nine different types of sugars/sweeteners that can be used instead of turbinado sugar if you don’t have the original ingredient on hand.

1. Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a turbinado sugar substitute from the first pressing and an extra step where some molasses and sugar syrup are added to refined white cane sugar crystals.

This results in brown, caramelized cane crystals with a taste like butterscotch!

It’s also one of the most common Turbinado Sugar substitutes among bakers because it has a good flavor profile that goes well with many other ingredients.

You can use it in almost all the recipes where you’d normally use Turbinado. I personally like to use it for Gingerbread cookies and sprinkle it on whole-grain muffins that call for Turbinado.

2. Honey


Honey is a turbinado sugar substitute that comes from the nectar of flowers. It’s also a natural sweetener and can be produced by bees, humans, or other animals, depending on the flower it is collected from.

It adds color to your recipe; although it’s liquid, it can replace turbinado sugar in many ways.

One reason you may choose honey over Turbinado is that it has enzymes that help break down protein and fat, which helps with digestion. Honey also contains antioxidants that fight free radical damage.

Another reason is its availability and low price. You may already have a honey jar in your kitchen or can easily order it from your nearest store.

3. Dark Corn Syrup

Dark Corn Syrup

Dark corn syrup is a turbinado Sugar substitute made from dehydrated corn syrup solids. When used in cooking or baking, this results in a thick, brown liquid with a caramel-like flavor.

It’s often used as an ingredient in recipes and is especially popular on the East Coast of America due to their love affair with BBQ Sweet Potato Pie and Blueberry Ice Cream!

Both benefit from this liquid sweetener that gives Turbinado sugar a run for its money.

4. Caster Sugar

Caster Sugar

Caster sugar is the closest substitute for turbinado sugar on this list. It has a fine texture and is made up of crystal particles that are 5 to 10mm in size.

This makes it perfect for those who want to create Turbinado sugar coatings on their baked goods. It’s also known as Bar sugar or Soft Sugar. This turbinado sugar substitute goes well in cakes, frostings, and cookies.

5. Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is another turbinado substitute that needs no introduction at all! It is made by extracting the coconut juice and then caramelizing it through heat.

It contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium.

Using coconut sugar instead of turbinado also reduces your daily intake of refined sugar, which can lead to tooth decay over time. Coconut sugar has a softer texture than turbinado. 

So if you’re looking to use it as a replacement in recipes like the Turmeric Chia Seed Jam recipe, you’ll need to grind it down using a food processor until small-granular pieces form.

6. Demerara Sugar

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is made from evaporated raw cane juice crystals simmered.

The main differences between turbinado and demerara sugar are crystal size and appearance. Demerara sugar is light brown in color with large crystals, whereas turbinado sugar has smaller particles (like granulated sugar.)

The reason is that demerara never goes through the extra step of grinding, which gives it larger crystals and more flavor. Despite this, they are so similar in appearance that many people think Turbinado is a fancy name for light brown Demerara sugar.

So if you don’t have Turbinado on hand, try this Turbinado substitute and see if your homemade treats get better results than using Turbinado.

You can refer to this image to get a clear idea of what each type of sugar appears:

7. Maple Sugar

Maple Sugar

Maple sugar is another popular substitute and can be used in many desserts.

It is made from the sap of maple trees and is processed until it hardens. The major difference between turbinado and Maple sugar is temperature control, as turbinado sugar has more moisture in it when it’s packaged.

You may have used this naturally-sweetened product in the past before you realized its health benefits because many people use it as a replacement for white sugar in desserts.

It’s also an excellent manganese, zinc, calcium, and iron source.

8. Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado sugar is a turbinado Sugar substitute that comes directly from the sugar cane plant.

It enjoys a darker color because it hasn’t been processed into finely granulated sugars like other sugar substitutes on this list.

This makes it perfect for people looking to add naturally dark sweetness to their desserts without worrying about achieving a light texture, color, or flavor.

9. Palm Sugar

Palm Sugar

Palm sugar also goes by the names jaggery and jaggery sugar, and it comes from the sap of various palm trees like coconut and date palms.

It has a very rich flavor compared to regular sugar as you consume unrefined sugars from the plant itself.

This turbinado sugar replacement works well in baked goods like cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and cakes.

What is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado sugar is a glucose sweetener that consists of granulated sucrose crystals. It is made from the first pressing of the sugar cane plant and has a light golden brown color.

Due to its smaller crystal size, many bakers use turbinado sugar over cakes, muffins, and other baked goods. This is how it looks:

Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

Turbinado sugar retains its molasses content and has a fuller taste than many other kinds of sugars on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does turbinado sugar taste like?

Turbinado sugar has a coarse, dry, smooth, and slightly bitter taste profile compared to the brown sugar in its class.

The flavor of turbinado sugar is due to the molasses left on it during manufacturing. The molasses gives turbinado sugar a unique flavor that can be described as earthy, nutty, and slightly floral.

Turbinado sugar can be used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. It can be used as a topping for baked goods or stirred into coffee or tea. It can also be used in marinades and sauces to add a touch of sweetness and depth of flavor.

Turbinado sugar vs brown sugar vs white sugar

Turbinado sugar, brown sugar, and white sugar have different textures, flavor profiles, and uses. Brown sugar and white sugar are both “refined” sugars. In contrast, turbinado is unrefined for better flavor and texture. But they are all pretty interchangeable in recipes.

I think that’s enough information to help you decide which one of these great natural sugars to use for your next dessert! I use them interchangeably because I’m not too picky about these things.

No matter what you choose to use for your pie crust, brownies, or cookies, you’ll be satisfied with the results.

Demerara sugar vs turbinado

The main differences between turbinado sugar and demerara sugar are crystal size and appearance. Demerara sugar is light brown in color with large crystals, whereas turbinado sugar has smaller particles (like granulated sugar.)

Where can I buy turbinado sugar?

You can find turbinado sugar at most grocery stores in the baking aisle. It’s also a popular sweetener for top chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey.

Because of its unique flavor, texture, and health benefits, it’s more common than most other brown sugars.

Is turbinado sugar organic?

Turbinado sugar is organic and made from sugarcane – a non-genetically modified crop.

If you look at the packaging, it’s said to be “raw,” implying that turbinado sugar is minimally processed.

Is turbinado sugar the same as brown sugar?

Turbinado sugar is not the same as brown sugar.

Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar, while turbinado sugar is made by leaving molasses on the sugar during manufacturing. This gives turbinado sugar a more intense molasses flavor than brown sugar.

Turbinado sugar can be used as a substitute for brown sugar in recipes. However, remember that the flavor will be more intense, and the texture will be coarser. You may need to adjust the recipe by reducing the amount of liquid called for.

Can I use regular sugar in place of turbinado?

Yes, you can use regular white sugar in a 1:1 ratio instead of turbinado sugar. But if you do this, your food will have a different taste and texture than you’d get with true turbinado sugar.

Final Words

I hope this article has helped you find how to substitute turbinado sugar. If you have any tips or recipes using any of these turbinado sugar substitutes, please share them with me by leaving a comment below.

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

2 thoughts on “9 Best Turbinado Sugar Substitutes”

  1. I am confused about the difference between Turbinado sugar and Demerara sugar.
    Earlier in the article, you say: “The difference between turbinado and demerara is that the former has been ground into even smaller particles (like granulated sugar) … Many people think Turbinado is just a fancy name for light brown Demerara sugar.” So turbinado is smaller and lighter in color/molasses content than demerara.
    But then in the FAQs, you say: “Turbinado sugar has large, coarse crystals, while demerara sugar has smaller, more refined crystals. … turbinado sugar will add more molasses flavor to your recipe.” So here it’s saying the opposite from before, that turbinado has larger crystals and more molasses than demerara.

    I’ve gotten similar conflicting information across other websites so overall I’m just very confused about these two sugars. Help?

    • Hi K, sorry for causing confusion, and thanks for pointing out the mistakes. I’ve fixed the wrong part. To repeat, Demerara sugar is light brown with large crystals. Turbinado sugar crystals are noticeably finer.


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