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 sugars 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 you don’t have any? Can you use something else in its place?

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

The best turbinado sugar substitutes are Brown sugar, Honey, Caster sugar, Coconut sugar, Demerara sugar, Maple sugar, Muscovado sugar, Dark corn syrup, and Palm sugar.

Read this article to the end as I talk about the similarities and differences between each of these sugars and in what recipes you can use them.

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 large crystals, many bakers tend to use turbinado sugar on top of cakes, muffins, and other baked goods. This is how it looks:

Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

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

9 Best Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

Here are 9 different types of sugars/sweeteners that can be used in place 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 that comes 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 amongst bakers because it has such a good flavor profile that goes well with so 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 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 what type of flower it was collected from.

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

One reason you may want to 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 jar of honey 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. This results in a thick, brown liquid that has a caramel-like flavor when used in cooking or baking.

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

Both of which 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 juice of coconuts and then caramelizing that juice through heat.

It is rich in 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 otherwise 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 that have been cooked slowly.

The difference between turbinado and demerara is that the former has been ground into even smaller particles (like granulated sugar) while demerara never goes through the extra step of grinding which gives it larger crystals and more flavor!

Many people think Turbinado is just a fancy name for light brown Demerara sugar.

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

7. Maple Sugar

Maple Sugar

Maple sugar is another popular substitute and it can be used in so 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 source of manganese, zinc, calcium, and iron!

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 having to worry 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’re consuming unrefined sugars straight from the plant itself.

This turbinado sugar substitute works well in baked goods like cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and cakes!

What Does Turbinado Sugar Taste Like?

The taste of turbinado sugar is a little less refined than the rest of the brown sugars in its category. Its flavor can be described as coarse, dry, smooth, and slightly bitter.

It’s also a lot more flavorful than white sugar because of this!

It doesn’t have as much moisture as other brown sugars either which helps it to retain its flavor and not become overly sweet or soft.

Turbinado Sugar Uses

Turbinado sugar is used in many delicious recipes.

It goes well with baked goods like gingerbread cookies, pancakes, cakes, and other desserts! You can use it as an ice cream topping too!

Turbinado sugar is my favorite in many recipes like carrot cake, gingerbread cookies, buttered rum sauce, bread pudding, and cranberry orange muffins!

Turbinado Sugar vs Brown Sugar vs White Sugar

Turbinado sugar, brown sugar, and white sugar all have different textures, flavor profiles, and uses.

But they are all pretty interchangeable in recipes. Brown sugar and white sugar are both “refined” sugars. While turbinado is unrefined for better flavor and texture.

I think that’s enough info to help you make a decision on which one of these great natural sugars to use for your next dessert!

I usually just use them interchangeably because I’m not too picky when it comes to these things!

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

Turbinado vs Demerara Sugar

Demerara and turbinado are often confused with one another because they are both similar products that pack the same flavor and texture punch!

But if you look closely, there are two important differences:

  • Demerara sugar crystals are larger and lighter in color
  • Whereas, turbinado sugar is sold in slightly finer crystals and is less sticky than demerara

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 of choice for many 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?

Yes, 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 and brown sugar are interchangeable in recipes, but it isn’t the same as regular brown sugar.

It has a much coarser texture and doesn’t have the same molasses sweetness as traditional brown sugar has.

Can I Use Regular Sugar in Place of Turbinado?

Yes, you can use regular white sugar in a 1:1 ratio in place 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 out on how to substitute turbinado sugar. If you have any tips or recipes using any of these 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...

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