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Brown sugar is a versatile and surprisingly useful ingredient, but since you don’t use it super often, it has a tendency to go hard. Here’s how you can easily keep your brown sugar soft so that it remains usable for months at a time!

For ways to use up brown sugar, make sure to try Nana’s Buttery Brown Sugar Syrup! Or for a real sweet treat, why not make Brown Sugar Caramel Cream Cinnamon Buns?

brown sugar in a clear jar and a white bowl with a white spoon.

How To Keep Brown Sugar Soft

Brown sugar is an essential ingredient in many recipes, usually in things like desserts, sauces, and glazes. Unfortunately, thanks to its rather unique composition of molasses and sugar, it has a tendency to harden and become difficult to work with.

This hardening happens because it evaporates water into the air, thickening the mixture, and turning it almost crumbly and, in some cases, as hard as a rock.

Don’t give up hope, though; there are a few ways to try and keep your brown sugar nice and soft. It really just depends on how you store it!            

Method #1: Storing Brown Sugar In An Airtight Container In A Dry Cupboard

One of the simplest ways to keep brown sugar soft is to store it in an airtight container in a dry cupboard. This method works best if you live in a relatively dry climate, but any well-sealed container in a well-placed cupboard can work well.

The whole key to storing brown sugar is to try and keep the brown sugar away from the air, which is the thing that causes it to harden. The air soaks up leftover moisture in the sugar, drying it out and turning it hard.

To make this method nice and simple, just keep your brown sugar in an airtight container, such as a mason jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure the container is completely dry before you add the brown sugar as well; if you recently cleaned it, give it a quick drying with a paper towel.

Once stored, seal the container tightly and store it in a dry cupboard and it should be just fine.

Method #2: Store White Bread Cubes In With The Brown Sugar

Another way to keep brown sugar soft is to add a few white bread cubes to the container. This method works by using the bread to gradually release moisture into the sugar, as the sugar is hygroscopic. It wants to absorb available water in the air, so any water that evaporates away from it gets replaced by the water in the bread.

To use this method, take a slice of white bread and cut it into small cubes. Add the cubes to the container with the brown sugar and seal the container tightly.

This method works really well, but make sure to check the container periodically and replace the bread cubes as needed. Also, keep an eye on the bread crumbs, because if there is enough moisture, you do run the risk of the bread developing mold, which is something you really don’t want to introduce to your food.

Method #3: Store A Few Marshmallows In With Brown Sugar

You can also keep brown sugar soft by adding a few marshmallows to the container. This method works in much the same way as the bread cubes, by releasing moisture and keeping the brown sugar soft.

To use this method, just add a few marshmallows to the container with the brown sugar and seal the container tightly. Check the container periodically and replace the marshmallows as needed.

Keep in mind that if there is a ton of moisture, your marshmallows run the risk of starting to break down and melt, so make sure to replace them!

Method #4: Purchase A Brown Sugar Softener

Finally, as a real last resort, you could purchase a brown sugar softener, which is a specially designed terra cotta disk that you soak in water and then add to the container with the brown sugar. This disk helps to regulate moisture and keep the brown sugar soft.

To use a brown sugar softener, soak the disk in water for 15-20 minutes, then dry it off and add it to the container with the brown sugar.

Over time, this little disk releases water and keeps the brown sugar soft, so long as you check the container periodically and re-soak the disk as needed.

What To Do With Hard Brown Sugar

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, it can’t be prevented.  

If you find that your brown sugar has hardened, there are a few things you can do to soften it up so that you can use it.

One method is to microwave the brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl with a damp paper towel over the top for 20-30 seconds. Alternatively, you can place the brown sugar in a sealed plastic bag with a slice of bread or a damp paper towel and leave it overnight.

If you really need to use it fast, you can just try blitzing it with a food processor to break it down and get it into little pieces. Given enough time in the food processor, it will break up and be usable, allowing it to be used in all kinds of recipes.

brown sugar in a clear jar with a flip lid
Brown sugar in a small jar.

Different Ways To Use Brown Sugar

While most people just use brown sugar as a darker, more intense replacement for sugar, there are actually a ton of different ways to use brown sugar in recipes.

Here are just a few to get you started.

A classic use for brown sugar is to use it to provide the sweet flavoring for some glazed or candied carrots.

The brown sugar works perfectly with the natural flavor of carrots, allowing for a delicious, sweet, and tangy side dish.

Everyone has their own favorite BBQ sauce, but why not learn how to make your own? With a few ingredients and plenty of brown sugar, you can make a really amazing BBQ sauce that is way better than anything from the store.

A Christmas classic and for good reason, some brown sugar glazed ham not only makes for a tasty, sweet, and surprisingly intensely flavored dinner, but it also gives some really great color as well!

Looking for more great How To Guides? Try these out:

How to Fix Broken Buttercream

How to Make Ganache

How to Ripen Bananas

Happy Cooking

Love,

Karlynn

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How to keep brown sugar soft

Easy ways to keep your brown sugar soft so you can use it easily in your favorite recipes.
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brown sugar in a clear jar and a white bowl with a white spoon.
Prep Time
5 minutes
Course
ingredient
Cuisine
American
Equipment
Air tight container
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Equipment

  • 1 Air tight container

Instructions
 

  • Method #1: Storing Brown Sugar In An Airtight Container In A Dry Cupboard: One of the simplest ways to keep brown sugar soft is to store it in an airtight container in a dry cupboard.
  • Method #2: Store White Bread Cubes In With The Brown Sugar: To use this method, take a slice of white bread and cut it into small cubes. Add the cubes to the container with the brown sugar and seal the container tightly.
  • Method #3: Store A Few Marshmallows In With Brown Sugar: To use this method, just add a few marshmallows to the container with the brown sugar and seal the container tightly. Check the container periodically and replace the marshmallows as needed.
  • Method #4: Purchase A Brown Sugar Softener: Finally, as a last option, you could purchase a brown sugar softener, which is a specially designed terra cotta disk that you soak in water and then add to the container with the brown sugar. This disk helps to regulate moisture and keep the brown sugar soft.

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

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  1. Rick D. says

    Like your site have gotten some good recipes from your postings. I have a vacuum sealer that has an accessory port. The company sells an accessory that can vacuum seal canning lids on mason jars. 2 sizes the wide mouth works best the regular size you have to put 2 lids on for it to work but it keeps the brown sugar soft when sealed. which goes with your first tip for keeping it soft. Also great for dry pasta
    and other food items. Does not substitute for actual canning though.

  2. Paula Hunter says

    Karlynn, my mom taught me to use the crusts of bread to keep brown sugar soft, even in a plastic sealable bag. I brush off any small crumbs before putting it into the container with the sugar. I place the crust cut side out, not touching the sugar, so that when it dries out after doing its job keeping the sugar moistened, there will be less chance that dries bits of the bread will break off and leave breadcrumbs in the sugar.
    I think bread cubes would be more likely to break down when they dry out and leave breadcrumbs in the sugar, since they are porous and don’t have a tough exterior like the crust does.

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