Is brown sugar gluten free? It sure is! Get ready to bake something delicious!
Keep reading to learn what brown sugar is and how to store it properly to avoid cross-contamination.
What is brown sugar?
Brown sugar is a staple when it comes to baking. It’s got a richer flavour than white sugar, so it’s perfect for making chewy chocolate chip cookies or a Gluten Free Pecan Pie. You can also add it into marinades or stews for a slightly sweet, rich flavour!
Brown sugar is simply white refined sugar that has molasses added to it. When making refined sugar, manufacturers boil sugar cane or sugar beets. This process creates sugar crystals and thick, sticky molasses.
Molasses is super flavourful, but it’s not sweet - so sugar manufacturers add molasses back to the sugar crystals. Tada - you’ve got brown sugar!
Brown sugar is just refined sugar crystals and molasses, so it’s naturally gluten free. (As always, be sure to check product labelling for any warnings about cross-contamination during manufacturing or packaging.)
The difference between light and dark brown sugar
Brown sugar comes in many different types, each offering a different texture and flavour.
The main difference between light and dark brown sugar is the molasses content. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than the lighter version, so it will offer more moisture, acidity and flavour in recipes. (But you can more than likely just substitute one for the other in a recipe. I do it all the time.)
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of brown sugar, all of which are naturally gluten free:
- Dark brown sugar: contains more molasses, so it will be slightly more acidic and will offer a deeper flavour.
- Light brown sugar (or golden sugar): contains less molasses, so it won’t have as deep a flavour as dark brown sugar, but you can substitute them just the same without a massive impact to your bakes.
- Turbinado sugar: is considered a raw brown sugar and the crystals are much larger. Turbinado sugar has much less molasses than both dark brown and light sugar, so it won’t offer much flavour or moisture to your baked goods. Your cookies and pies may turn out drier if you use Turbinado sugar.
- Demerara sugar: the crystals in Demerara sugar are even larger than Turbinado, so it’s a great option for finishing baked goods (like rolling for molasses cookies or sugar sprinkles on a cake or muffin). You can use Demerara and Turbinado sugars interchangeably without an impact on your baked goods, since they have a similar moisture content.
Brown Sugar Brands
Have a craving for something sweet and want to bake with brown sugar? Here are some of your brand options (most of which have been in my pantry at one point or another).
- Red Path: offers golden yellow sugar, dark brown sugar, demerara style sugar and organic raw Turbinado sugar.
- Lantic / Rogers: find their Old Fashioned brown sugar, golden yellow sugar, demerara sugar and raw sugar at your local grocery store.
- Wholesome: this brand offers organic versions of light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, and raw cane Turbinado sugar.
- Camino: another organic brand that sells Muscovado dark brown sugar. (Be careful: their Turbinado sugar has a “may contain wheat” warning. So sad.)
Make your own brown sugar!
Brown sugar is just simply white sugar crystals and molasses, so it’s super easy to make your own brown sugar at home.
Add 1 cup of granulated sugar into a bowl and then mix in 1 tablespoon of molasses.
It’s that easy! Store in an airtight container, as the brown sugar will dry out quickly.
How to store brown sugar
Because brown sugar contains a lot of moisture, it can easily dry out. Store brown sugar in an airtight container, or seal any bags with clips, ties or an elastic band.
Ever had your brown sugar turn into a hard lump in the cupboard? Yep, me too. It’s dried out and needs to have a little moisture added.
To do that, add in a piece of gluten free bread (bread holds lots of moisture), or use a Terra Cotta brown sugar saver previously soaked in warm water. The moisture from the bread, or the brown sugar saver will absorb into the sugar and get rid of any hard lumps.
A note about bread in brown sugar: some people will obviously use regular wheat-based breads in their brown sugar to prevent it from hardening. If someone is baking for you, or you are baking using someone else’s ingredients, always make sure no wheat bread has made its way into the bag.
Brown sugar is naturally gluten free, but can become contaminated with gluten if a slice of wheat bread is added to help retain moisture.
Bake these using brown sugar
All this talk about brown sugar has got me craving something sweet. If you’re in the same boat, make these recipes using naturally gluten free brown sugar!
- Gluten Free Gingerbread: Nothing smells more like the holidays than a fresh batch of these in the oven. With both brown sugar AND molasses - the rich taste is amazing.
- Gluten Free Pecan Pie: This pie is perfect for your next Thanksgiving or family get together. It’s rich and nutty with just the perfect amount of sweetness.
- Gluten Free Cookie Dough: the best way to eat cookies without any baking. It’s eggless and uses toasted flours, so there’s no risk that you’ll get a bellyache from eating this raw dough.
Other baking FAQs
Before you bake, read through these common baking questions about other ingredients.
- Is butter gluten free? It sure is. Check out this post.
- Is sugar gluten free? Yes, just like brown sugar, all sugars are naturally gluten free. Just check the labels for any cross-contamination warnings.
- Are eggs gluten free? Yes, they are gluten free. There’s no wheat, barley or rye in eggs, as they come from chickens.
- Is milk gluten free? Yes, cow, goat and sheep milk are naturally gluten free. (Check labels if any flavourings are added.) Non-dairy milks such as cashew, soy, and almond are naturally gluten free, but check the labels on products before you purchase. Oat milk is a special case and most often isn’t gluten free, so check out everything you need to know right here.
- Is honey gluten free? Yes, honey is naturally gluten free.