What is Turbinado Sugar: Benefits and Substitutes

If you want to use and eat less white sugar then turbinado sugar is one option. It’s less processed than white sugar and has natural molasses compared to the added molasses of brown sugar.

Turbinado Sugar provides more nutrients than highly-processed white sugar

Are you eating too much white sugar? The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 8.5% of the world now has diabetes. One of the main problems is white sugar, which is processed from the natural sugar cane. When the body processes refined sugar, it causes your blood sugar levels to spike. There are healthier options. Many people think “brown sugar” is healthier but it’s actually just white sugar with added molasses. A better option is turbinado sugar, which is only slightly processed. As always, the “fresh is best” rule applies so it’s better when the sweeteners you pick are closet to the sugar cane plant.

You might have seen Turbinado sugar in some recipes. There’s no doubt this sugar has health benefits versus white sugar. It’s not quite raw sugar that’s made directly from sugarcane. This means you’ll get more nutrients than white sugar. There are other benefits in terms of how the sugar looks and works. The bottom line is it’s a good idea to use less sugar when cooking and eating due to it being highly processed. Turbinado is one of the best substitutes for white sugar since it’s closer than other types of raw sugar. The key is to learn the facts about it.

What Is Turbinado Sugar?

The main types of sugar most people know about is white and brown. In fact, several types of sugars are available on the market. They’re mostly based on how much processing is done to make them. One of the least processed types is turbinado.

It’s just as important to talk about what this type of sugar isn’t. Turbinado sugar is less refined than white sugar. It’s also not muscovado sugar, which is raw type from sugarcane. It has a light brown color but it’s also not really “brown sugar,” which is just white sugar with molasses added.

Turbinado sugar is made from the first “pressing” that’s done to the sugar cane. This helps it to keep most of the natural molasses and flavor from the plant. The syrup made from the pressing is then boiled in order to make crystals.

Let’s talk about the crystals. They’re thicker and darker than brown/granulated since there’s less processing done. The main benefit of this sugar versus white sugar is it has a molasses flavor that’s a little richer.

Turbinado sugar offers various health benefits. It’s less processed than other types like white and brown. For example, white sugar is highly processed and white brown sugar just has molasses that have been added. Less processing means more nutrition and that’s always a good thing.

Turbinado could technically be included in the category “brown sugars,” which includes light and brown sugar. This group sometimes even includes muscovado/sugar. That said, keep in mind there’s a world of difference between brown-colored sugar that’s molasses-coated white sugar and more natural ones like turbinado.

Turbinado can be used for various purposes. It’s especially good for general sweetening and topping foods.

You can also buy it in different packaging including single-serve, sugar cubes, and bulk. Make sure to store it in an air-tight container.


Benefits of Turbinado Sugar

All types of real sugar have pros and cons. Here are some of the main benefits of turbinado:

1. Healthier

Health experts recommend minimizing how much-added sugar people consume. That even includes types that are less processed.

However, if you’re going to add some sugar to iced tea or oatmeal it’s a good idea to pick some healthy choices. Turbinado provides more nutrients than highly-processed white sugar. It’s even a better option than brown sugars since it keeps natural molasses when processed.

2. Texture/Color

When picking sugar these are some of the most important issues to take up. Turbinado offers a few benefits in these areas. It’ less coarse than raw sugar so it’s often a better option when baking. In fact, in many situations, you could use it instead of white sugar.

Another plus of this guar variety is it offers more color than white sugar. So, when you want to add some color to foods and drinks it’s a better option than the white stuff since white is the absence of all colors.

3. Substitutes

Turbinado is a good option for a substitute for white sugar in particular. The texture is a little thicker so it’s not a good option or some kinds of baking, for example. However, the main benefit is it offers a natural molasses flavor that you don’t get from regular refined sugar.

4. Uses

You can use turbinado for many applications. It’s often used for topping food and general-purpose sweetener. Here are some of the specific options you have:

Sprinkle on whole-grain muffins and quick breadDry spice rub for grilling/smoking meat/poultry
Body scrubCandied nuts like almonds/pecans
Sprinkle on roasted carrots/beets or baked sweet potatoesTop cream of wheat and oatmeal
Graham cracker pie crustSweeten tea, coffee, etc.
Top piesWhole-grain toast
Baked fruit like apple, or pear halvesSprinkle on sugar cookies

Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

1.White Sugar

When using other types of sugar, you should know when you can substitute turbinado for other sugars. There are also some cases when you could use other types of sugar in place of turbinado.

You can usually replace white sugar with turbinado when following recipes, for example. In most cases, you can also use the same amount of sugar.

Take note that sometimes white sugar is better. For example, when making a citrus dessert like lemon pie you should consider white sugar instead.

This is greatly due to turbinado having larger crystals. In some kinds of baking, this means it won’t dissolve as well with the other ingredients, which can affect the texture.

An interesting experiment in a test kitchen found that turbinado sugar worked well in recipes with cakes and others with moist batters. However, it didn’t work as well with dry mixtures like cookies since it didn’t dissolve as well.

In other cases, turbinado’s molasses flavor is a better option for apple pie, bran muffins, and even barbecue sauce.

2. Brown Sugar

You can also use turbinado as a substitute for recipes that include brown sugar. Make sure to add moisture with apple sauce or honey so the baked goods don’t get too dry.

3. Muscovado/Demerara

If you want to use turbinado as a substitute for these raw sugars just add little molasses to it. This will add moisture and flavor of the dark sugars.

4. Turbinado Substitute

You can even use a turbinado substitute when a recipe calls for it. Mix ½ brown sugar and ½ white sugar to replace it.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t an exact substitute since white and brown sugar are both highly processed. However, it will work as a substitute for the thicker texture and richer flavor of turbinado sugar.

Turbinado Sugar provides more nutrients than highly-processed white sugar

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