What Is Muscovado Sugar? Unveiling The Sweet Mystery

muscovado sugar vs brown sugar

Do you know?

India is the largest producer and consumer of muscovado sugar.

According to Wikipedia, India produces 58% of the world’s, followed by Colombia at 14%, Myanmar at 9%, Pakistan at 6%, Brazil at 4%, Bangladesh at 3%, and China at 3%.

What is muscovado sugar?

Muscovado sugar is a type of unrefined or partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor.

It is characterized by its rich brown color, moist texture, and strong molasses flavor. It’s like a more intense version of brown sugar, with a deeper, almost caramel-like taste.


  • Appearance: Dark brown, moist, with a coarse or fine texture depending on the processing method.
  • Flavor: Rich, caramel-like, with hints of toffee, licorice, and molasses.
  • Taste: Sweet with a complex depth, due to the molasses content.
  • Nutritional profile: Contains higher levels of minerals like iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium compared to white sugar. May also have slightly more antioxidants due to the molasses.

How is muscovado sugar made?

Made from sugarcane juice that’s evaporated until crystals form, leaving a mixture called massecuite (crystals + molasses).

Two main production methods:

  1. Traditional: Manually crystallizing massecuite by cooling and stirring/pressing (labor-intensive).
  2. Centrifuged: Partially refined using centrifuges to separate some of the molasses.

What are the varieties of moist sugar?

There are two main types:

1. Light Muscovado:

  • Color: Lighter brown, with a hint of golden yellow.
  • Flavor: Milder, with subtle notes of caramel, toffee, and rum.
  • Molasses content: Lower than dark muscovado, resulting in a drier and less sticky texture.

2. Dark Muscovado:

  • Color: Deep, dark brown, almost black in some cases.
  • Flavor: Strong and complex, with pronounced caramel, toffee, rum, and licorice notes. Some might even detect a hint of smokiness.
  • Molasses content: Higher than light muscovado, leading to a moist and sticky texture.

Beyond these two main types, some additional “sub-varieties” exist, depending on the specific production methods and regional variations:

  1. Extra Light Muscovado: Even lighter than light muscovado, with a barely noticeable molasses content and a very subtle flavor.
  2. Barbados Muscovado: Known for its intense molasses flavor and slightly coarse crystals.
  3. Mauritius Muscovado: Often praised for its smooth texture and balanced sweetness.
  4. Demerara Muscovado: Sometimes categorized as a separate type, it has large, golden crystals and a rich, but not overpowering, molasses flavor.

Is it healthy?

Whether it is “healthy” depends on your perspective and dietary goals. Here are its pros and cons:


1. More nutrients than white sugar.

It retains some minerals and trace amounts of vitamins due to minimal processing. These include calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

2. Antioxidants.

The molasses content also contributes some antioxidants, which help fight cell damage caused by free radicals.

3. Complex flavor.

Compared to white sugar, it has a richer, deeper flavor that can enhance dishes and reduce the need for additional sweeteners.

4. Natural alternative.

Some people prefer using it as a natural, less processed alternative to refined white sugar.

Important considerations:

1. Still sugar.

Despite its slightly higher nutrient content, it is still sugar and should be consumed in moderation. It has nearly the same number of calories (4 per gram) as white sugar.

2. Not a significant source of nutrients.

The amount of minerals and antioxidants in it is small and unlikely to make a significant impact on your overall nutrient intake unless consumed in large quantities, which is not healthy.

3. May not be suitable for everyone.

People with diabetes or those managing blood sugar levels should limit their intake of all added sugars, including muscovado.


It can be a flavorful and slightly more natural alternative to white sugar, but it’s important to remember that it’s still sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

Related: 4 reasons you should switch to a Plant Based Diet?

Substitutes for Muscovado sugar

muscovado sugar

Here are some substitutes that you can use:

1. White sugar + molasses.

Combine 1 cup white sugar with 1-2 tablespoons molasses for a similar flavor and moisture to light muscovado. Adjust the molasses amount for a darker muscovado flavor. This is a versatile and readily available option.

2. Dark brown sugar.

This offers a similar molasses content but has a finer texture and milder flavor compared to muscovado. It’s readily available and a good substitute for most baking applications.

3. Barbados or Demerara sugar.

These are partially refined sugars with a rich caramel flavor and slight crunch. They have less molasses than muscovado but can add texture and depth to cookies, cakes, and crumbles.

4. Jaggery.

This unrefined cane sugar with a strong molasses taste and coarse texture can be a good substitute for dark muscovado in baking. It’s not as readily available.

5. Turbinado sugar.

This partially refined sugar has larger crystals and a slightly sweet, caramel flavor. It’s a good choice for sprinkling on muffins or topping biscuits for a touch of sweetness and crunch.

6. Coconut sugar.

This natural sweetener has a slightly caramel-like flavor and a moist texture. It’s not as molasses-rich as muscovado. It’s a good option if you’re looking for a low-glycemic alternative.

Muscovado sugar vs. brown sugar: which is better?

Muscovado sugar and brown sugar are both types of cane sugar that contain molasses, but they differ in their production methods, color, texture, and flavor.

Here are some of the main differences between muscovado sugar and brown sugar:

Point of differenceMuscovado sugarBrown sugar
Method of productionIt is an unrefined or raw sugar with no molasses removed during the production processIt is a refined white sugar that has molasses added back to it after the refining process.
ColorIt has a dark brown color that ranges from light to dark depending on the amount of molasses present in it.The color of brown sugar is light brown, which depends on the amount of jaggery present in it.
TextureIt has a high moisture content and a coarse texture that resembles wet sand. It is sticky and sticks together easilyBrown sugar has a lower moisture content and a finer texture. It is also sticky and sticks easily, but not as much as muscovado sugar.
FlavorIt has a strong, complex, and earthy flavor with notes of toffee, caramel, and smoke. It also has some bitterness and acidity, like jaggery.It has a lighter, sweeter, and smoother flavor than muscovado.
Sugar. It also has notes of caramel and vanilla derived from the molasses.

According to USDA FoodData Central, muscovado sugar contains higher levels of minerals, including potassium and calcium, than brown sugar.

The sugar line

Muscovado sugar is an unrefined type of cane sugar that has a dark, dark brown color and a moist, sticky texture. It has a complex and earthy flavor that is sweet, bitter, and spicy with notes of toffee, caramel, smoke, and spice. Depending on the desired flavor and texture, it can be used in baking, cooking, or sweetening beverages.

It has some health benefits compared to white sugar because it contains more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, it is still an added sugar that should be consumed in moderation to avoid health risks.

Give it a try and see for yourself how it can transform your recipes!

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