Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

Running Out of Turbinado Sugar? Then Try These Substitutes

Turbinado is a minimally processed sugar that is light brown in color. This sugar retains much of the natural molasses found in sugarcane juice. Find out what can be substituted for this sugar in a recipe, if you happen to run out of this sugar or could not find it in your local market.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Turbinado sugar is a less processed version of sugar, that retains much of the flavor of sugarcane or molasses. As compared to granulated sugar, it holds more moisture in it, and its crystals are larger than the crystals of granulated sugar. It is light brown in color, and looks similar to brown sugar.

This sugar is often considered better than the granulated sugar in terms of calories and nutrition. As it undergoes minimal processing, it is considered healthier than the granulated refined sugar. For making this sugar, sugarcane is first crushed to extract its juice, which is then allowed to evaporate. When the juice evaporates, the large crystals of turbinado sugar are left behind. For making granulated sugar, these sugar crystals are further refined or processed.

Turbinado Sugar Nutrition

It is considered to be a healthier alternative to the refined white sugar, due to its low calorie content. 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar contains 11 calories, while the same amount of white granulated sugar contains 16 calories. Moreover, this sugar is not highly processed, for which it retains much of the molasses, and the vitamins and minerals found in the sugarcane juice. About 100 g of turbinado contains approximately 85 mg of calcium, 100 mg of potassium, and 23 mg of magnesium. It also contains a small amount of iron and phosphorus.

Turbinado Sugar Vs. Brown Sugar

Turbinado and brown sugar can look a bit similar, but they are quite different. Brown sugar can be unrefined or partially refined sugar, and its brown color is due to the presence of molasses. Brown sugar is usually produced by adding molasses to refined sugar, and bone char. Bone char is produced from animal bones, and is used in the sugar refining process. On the other hand, turbinado is nothing but the sugar crystals that are left behind when the sugarcane juice is allowed to evaporate. For this reason, many vegetarians like to use it in place of white and brown sugar.


It is usually substituted with light brown sugar, raw sugar, and demerara sugar. Light brown sugar looks a bit similar to turbinado sugar. There are basically two types of brown sugar - light brown and dark brown sugar. Light brown sugar contains about 3.5% molasses, while dark brown sugar contains 6.5% molasses. Usually, light brown sugar is considered a better substitute of turbinado, though dark brown variety can also be used for this purpose.

Raw sugar, on the other hand, is the unrefined sugar. It is made simply by extracting sugarcane juice and then allowing it to evaporate. The resulting sugar crystals are then separated and dried to produce the granules. Like turbinado, it retains molasses, and is brown in color.

Demerara sugar is a type of unrefined sugar, that is made by boiling the sugar cane juice. The process yields sugar crystals, which are then separated from the plant residues with the help of a centrifuge machine. The sugar crystals obtained thus are coarse, and light brown or golden in color. Demerara sugar is more commonly used in beverages and baked goods.

Like turbinado, its substitutes are also less processed, and hence contain the flavor of molasses, which accentuates the taste and flavor of baked goods. They also retain the vitamins and minerals found in sugarcane juice, and so, they are considered much healthier than the regular refined granulated sugar.