Turbinado Sugar

sugar-1Agave nectar, maple syrup, honey – really great unrefined sweeteners to use in baking.  All definitely favorites of mine.  But sometimes a liquid sweetener just isn’t the best way to go.  It’s times like these I turn to turbinado sugar.

Turbinado sugar is an unrefined sugar made from sugar cane extract.  To produce it, freshly cut sugar cane is crushed to squeeze out its juice.  The juice is then evaporated and spun in a centrifuge, or turbine – hence the name – where the characteristic large crystals are born.  This process keeps the sugar cane together from start to finish, so in the end, many of vitamins and minerals and natural molasses flavor it contains stay put.

Turbinado sugar is sometimes compared to brown sugar because of its light bronze color and rich coating of sweet molasses.  Like brown sugar, it also tends to hold more moisture – which means moister baked goods for you!  But whereas turbinado sugar’s golden hue and molasses layer are naturally occurring, brown sugar’s are…man-made!  Brown sugar is actually just refined white sugar that has color and flavor added back to it.  Sneaky.

Sugar in the Raw is a widely known brand of turbinado sugar and Wholesome Sweeteners makes one too.  When baking with turbinado sugar, I just substitute it for equal parts refined white or brown sugar.  You can sometimes tell the difference, but in a good way!

Have you ever baked with turbinado sugar?

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25 Responses to “Turbinado Sugar”


  1. 1 VeggieGirl December 12, 2008 at 8:44 am

    As evidenced by the recipes featured on my blog, I ALWAYS bake with turbinado sugar :-)

  2. 2 ttfn300 December 12, 2008 at 8:53 am

    ah, I recently ran out of brown sugar, so I was looking for a more wholesome version. There was so much in the store but I did decide on some raw turbinado sugar!! phew, glad to know it’ll work :) I think I used it once this weekend, but I can’t for the life of me remember what for… so I guess I will be soon! thanks for the great info :)

  3. 3 HangryPants December 12, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I definitely want to start using this. Is it grainier in baked goods? I want to try to make some “healthier” christmas cookies, so we’ll see what I come up with.

  4. 4 Pearl December 12, 2008 at 10:59 am

    i’ve baked it once, but it was in something that involved a bit of liquid, so it melted easily – i’m afraid that if i use it in cookies, it will have bits and pieces of sugar “crunch,” which isn’t a texture that i’m looking for :)

    do you grind it? how do you use it? is it that easily replaceable for brown sugar? my mom bought it in bulk a few years ago when she ran a restaurant, and now it’s still all there. LOL

  5. 5 Megan December 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for this post, girl. I was curious about the difference turbinado sugar makes in baking as I see many bloggers use it in baked goods. I have a recipe (well a few actually) that call for turbinado sugar!
    Thanks. girl!
    Happy Friday! :)

  6. 6 Andrea [bella eats] December 12, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I LOVE turbinado sugar!!! I’ve only been using it for about a month, but it is now my #1 substitute in baked goods. I haven’t noticed a grainier texture in my baking, and I’ve used it in bread, apple crisp, cookies and brownies. I’m actually starting to wonder if I’ll ever use up the refined white sugar I have in my pantry!

  7. 7 sweetandnatural December 12, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    VeggieGirl - I noticed your BSI recipe has it too!

    ttfn300 - You’re right – there are SO many sugar options! I was on a roll for a while using liquid sweeteners, so I wanted to try a dry sugar – turbinado was the first I chose too. I think I’m going to get some evaporated cane juice next.

    HangryPants, Pearl - I’ve only used turbinado sugar in cookies so far, and it does add a little bit of texture to the mix. But it’s not crunchy and doesn’t distract from the cookie’s awesomeness. My bf actually likes it better than regular sugar. I’ve seen a bunch of recipes calling for turbinado sugar in cakes and sweet breads (and VeggieGirl does it all the time!), so I’m sure it works in softer baked goods as well. I’m going to give that a try soon!

    Megan - Glad it was informative. Happy Friday to you too! :-)

  8. 8 Dani December 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Just found your blog and have already got it bookmarked! I have the same motto as you when it comes to “real” food and can;t wait to try some of your recipes! Everything looks amazing:)

  9. 9 Angela December 13, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Fabulous post. Are you spying on me? I was just in the organic section of the grocery store yesterday thinking about Turbinado sugar! I was first introduced to it by Deb from Smitten Kitchen.
    Thanks for the info!

    Angela
    http://www.ohsheglows.com

  10. 10 Lindsey (Mrs. LC) December 13, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Just saw this post – I just posted a recipe of some blueberry muffins I made with turbinado sugar this morning! :)

    Not sure if I’ll be able to submit a BSI recipe, busy week and couple of days, but I will if I have time! :)

  11. 11 sweetandnatural December 13, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Andrea [bella eats] – Glad to know it is so versatile!

    Dani – Welcome! I’m so glad you like it. :-)

    Angela – I have been known to have ESP. :-P

    Lindsey (Mrs. LC) – You’re muffins look great!

  12. 12 Lindsay December 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    i sadly never have baked w/ turbinado sugar – im missing out big time!

  13. 13 biz319 December 13, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve never cooked with it before, so I am no help!

  14. 14 jenn December 16, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    this was totally helpful! i am making some plum cakes for christmas gifts & was hoping that substituting turbinado sugar wouldn’t make them grainy. thanks for the very timely info!

  15. 15 sweetandnatural December 16, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Lindsay, biz319 – Try it out! I think it makes baked goods very moist. :-)

    jenn – Ooh – those sound great! Let me know how they turn out!

  16. 16 bobbi December 24, 2008 at 1:04 am

    never even heard of this stuff…lol

  17. 17 sweetandnatural December 24, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    bobbi – I’m becoming more and more a fan of turbinado sugar as I continue to use it. Let me know if you ever try it!

  18. 18 Kathie in Louisiana January 8, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I just used turbinado and it completely changed the taste of the recipe. It was for pumpkin bread. You could taste the molasses and almost gave it salty flavor. My recipie does not call for ginger, if it did, we would have been good – the taste was ‘good’, but I set my bar very high on taste, and my pumpkin bread is usually ‘butt kick’n’.

  19. 19 sweetandnatural January 8, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Kathie in Louisiana – I’m sorry you weren’t totally happy with your pumpkin bread! Like I said, I think you can sometimes tell the difference when using turbinado sugar – depending on what you’re baking – but I happen to like that difference! Everyone has unique tastes though. If you want to try another natural sweetener with pumpkin bread, can I recommend honey? I have a pumpkin honey muffin recipe under my recipes tab that is really tasty, or you could substitute it for sugar in your butt kick’n recipe! The honey flavor goes wonderfully with pumpkin and the honey itself keeps the bread very moist.

  20. 20 mar March 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    weird… when i lived in latin america what we call brown sugar didn’t exist over there. they had white sugar (“azucar blanca”) and turbinado sugar which they called, depending on the country “azucar rubia” or “azucar morena” (“blonde” or “brunette” sugar!). i wonder why that is…

  21. 21 Laura January 30, 2011 at 1:49 am

    I just used the turbinado sugar in my Chocolate Chip Cookies. It did remain slightly grainy. I am not quite sure why, when others had such good luck with it. I would love to hear thoughts ~

    I baked them at 375, and I did a direct substitution for the granular sugar.

    Thanks!

    • 22 sweet + natural June 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Laura – Turbinado sugar does add a bit of graininess to the texture of cookies just because it’s a chunkier sugar. I enjoy this texture, but if you don’t, try using Sucanat (I find it to be softer) or maple syrup (reduce other liquids in the recipe) or a combo of the two.

  22. 23 Mr H July 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Re: graininess: could you put the measured portion of the turbinado into a spice grinder? I was also thinking dissolved it a bit in the liquid ingredients before adding. I use it in ice cream with vanilla paste (awesome).

  23. 24 Jeni August 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I am on the anti-candida diet which allows for no sugar or sugar substitutes except for stevia. Also, I can only have brown rice. My question is, how would you suggest I make chocolate chip cookies using stevia, turbinado and brown rice flour? I have never baked with any of these and I am nervous to attempt because everything I have to use is organic and that would be an expensive fail if they didn’t turn out. I am aware that the semi chocolate chips have sugar in them but I just wanted to make something that I wouldn’t feel so bad about eating when I need a sweet fix.


  1. 1 She Says: Double Download Day! | Hangry Pants Trackback on December 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm
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