Can You Substitute Raw Sugar for White Sugar in Baking?

Last Updated on July 29, 2023 by Lauren Beck

As a seasoned baker, I’ve often encountered the dilemma of running out of white sugar mid-recipe. In such moments, the question arises: 

Can you substitute raw sugar for white sugar in baking? Join me as we delve into the realm of sweet possibilities and uncover the truth behind this common conundrum.

Can You Substitute Raw Sugar for White Sugar in Baking?

Yes, you can substitute raw sugar for white sugar in baking. Raw sugar retains more molasses and has a slightly different flavor. 

Use equal raw sugar, but be aware that the final results may have a slightly different texture and taste. 

Granulated cane sugar is a closer alternative. Choose based on your preference and desired outcome.

What Is Raw Sugar?

Raw sugar is a minimally processed form of sugar that retains more natural molasses than white sugar. 

It is made by extracting juice from sugarcane or sugar beets, evaporating, and crystallizing. Raw sugar crystals have a golden color and a slightly larger grain size compared to white sugar.

Benefits of Using Raw Sugar

Using raw sugar in baking can offer some potential benefits:

  • Flavorful Complexity: Raw sugar carries a subtle caramel-like flavor due to the retained molasses. It can add a hint of depth and complexity to baked goods.
  • Natural Appeal: Raw sugar is less processed, making it an appealing option for those seeking a more natural and less refined sweetener.

How Much Raw Sugar to Substitute for White Sugar?

Sugar on a Glass

When substituting raw sugar for white sugar in baking, it’s important to consider the differences in sweetness and moisture content.

As a general guideline, you can use an equal amount of raw sugar for white sugar in recipes. 

However, remember that the final product’s texture and taste may be slightly altered due to the differences in sugar crystals.

Does Raw Sugar Taste the Same as White Sugar?

Raw sugar does not taste exactly the same as white sugar. Its molasses content imparts a subtle, earthy flavor. 

While this can enhance the complexity of certain baked goods, it may also alter the taste compared to using white sugar. 

The level of taste variation will depend on the recipe and personal preference.

What Is the Best Substitute for White Sugar in Baking?

Granulated cane sugar is a suitable option if you prefer to substitute white sugar with a sweetener that closely resembles its taste and properties. 

It shares similar characteristics with white sugar and can provide a nearly identical flavor and texture in baking.

Why Is White Sugar Important in Baking?

White sugar serves multiple functions in baking beyond simply sweetening the final product [1]:

  • Structure and Texture: The fine crystals of white sugar contribute to the structure and texture of baked goods by incorporating air during creaming and aiding in moisture retention.
  • Browning and Caramelization: The ability of white sugar to brown and caramelize during baking adds desirable color, flavor, and texture to various treats like cookies and cakes.

How Does White Sugar Affect Baking?

White sugar plays a critical role in the chemistry of baking:

  • Moisture Control: White sugar attracts and retains moisture, helping to maintain the desired texture and tenderness in baked goods.
  • Leavening Agent Activation: White sugar interacts with leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda, aiding in the rise of baked goods.


In the world of baking, the question of substituting raw sugar for white sugar arises often. While making the swap possible, it’s important to consider the flavor and texture differences that raw sugar brings. Its retained molasses adds complexity but alters the final results. 

Granulated cane sugar is a suitable alternative if you desire a closer match. Ultimately, the choice depends on personal preference and desired outcomes. 

So, embrace the sweet experiments, explore the possibilities, and let your taste buds guide you to the perfect balance of sweetness in your baked creations.


Lauren Beck
Latest posts by Lauren Beck (see all)

Leave a Comment