Turbinado Sugar: What It Is, Is It Healthy, and More

turbinado sugar

If this is your first time hearing the name turbinado sugar, it is nothing unusual.

Most people may know what turbinado sugar looks like, but they may not know that this is the name for this sugar. It is usually known as raw sugar as it is derived directly from sugar cane.

However, you have probably seen turbinado sugar. In fact, you may even have used it in your hot beverages in coffee shops.

The name of this sugar comes from the Spanish word ‘turbina’, which describes the spinning process through which this sugar is made.

Turbinado Sugar – All You Should Know

What Is Turbinado Sugar?

So, what is turbinado sugar, and what makes it any different from dark brown sugar or granulated sugar?

The difference lies in the level of processing of these sugars.

Whether we use light brown sugar or white sugar, there is a significant amount of processing involved in these sugars.

Turbinado sugar is much less processed than other sugars. It comes from the initial compression of sugar cane, allowing it to keep more natural molasses flavors.

The syrup that comes from pressing sugar cane is boiled and spun to form crystals of turbinado sugar.

The crystal size of turbinado sugar is larger and coarser than other sugars. The flavor is better-rounded due to the amount of natural molasses that remains in turbinado sugar.

Raw turbinado sugar is minimally processed and is branded as a healthier alternative to other sugars.

What Is The Difference Between Turbinado Sugar And Regular Granulated Sugar?

Granulated sugar, also known as white sugar or regular sugar, is the sugar that we use in our everyday lives.

It is what we add to our morning coffee or tea, on crème brûlée, to make whipped cream, in cookie dough, and other baked goods.

White sugar can be made from sugar cane or sugar beets.

It has been processed to such an extent that the natural molasses are no longer present in the sugar.

At the same time, turbinado sugar is minimally processed and made from the first pressing of sugar cane.

Is Turbinado Sugar The Same As Brown Sugar?

It can be easy to confuse turbinado sugar and brown sugars. There are, however, differences between the sugars.

However, brown sugar has similar nutritional values to turbinado sugar.

The similarity and confusion come from the presence of molasses in both brown sugar and turbinado sugar.

There are various differences between brown sugar and turbinado sugar, from the processing to the moisture content.

rown sugar has extra moisture compared to turbinado sugar. Using brown sugar, whether light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, in your baking will provide a moist texture.

If you substitute turbinado sugar in your baking, you may need to add moisture unless you prefer a crumbly texture.

To make brown sugar, the sugar is first processed into white sugar by removing the molasses.

Once the sugar has been fully converted to white sugar, brown sugar is made by adding molasses, and the amount returned determines if you have light brown sugar or dark brown sugar.

Both brown sugar and turbinado have brown crystals; the difference lies in the size of these crystals. Turbinado sugar has larger crystals compared to brown sugar.

These large raw sugar crystals prevent turbinado sugar from having a smooth texture in certain recipes.

Both brown sugar and turbinado have molasses flavor. Turbinado has a subtle caramel flavor that accompanies the molasses flavor.

This subtle caramel flavor can be a great addition to baked goods, and you may find that a recipe calls for the use of turbinado sugar in place of regular sugar.

The brown color of these sugar is similar, but because brown sugar is more refined than turbinado sugar, the color can vary slightly.

Turbinado sugar has more of a golden hue to its crystals than brown sugar. The darker color of brown sugar may be due to the addition of molasses back to the raw sugar.

Can You Substitute Turbinado Sugar For Brown Sugar?

Many recipes require the use of brown sugar, especially for baked goods. You do need to remember that turbinado sugar has large crystals, which can make it harder for the sugar to dissolve. Additionally, the molasses in brown sugar gives it a much stronger taste compared to the sugar turbinado.

Can You Substitute White Sugar For Turbinado Sugar Crystals?

The sugar turbinado can be used in place of regular sugar.

Usually, you will need the same amount of turbinado sugar in a recipe as regular sugar.

The main difference will be the stronger flavor of the sugar turbinado.

The color will also vary from white sugar as the sugar turbinado is brown.

Using an equal amount of sugar turbinado for pastry dough requires you to make the crystals of sugar smaller and dissolve them better.

In certain recipes, the same amount of sugar turbinado can be used in place of standard sugar.

For recipes like spice rubs and pourable batters, turbinado sugar can easily replace regular raw sugar in a recipe.

It is essential to keep the taste of turbinado sugar in mind when using it to replace a different sugar in a recipe.

Substitutes for Turbinado Sugar

If you are looking for a turbinado sugar substitute, you have many options to choose from.

Just as you can use turbinado sugar in place of a different sugar, you can replace turbinado sugar with a different sugar.

For someone with a sweet tooth who also wants to reduce their daily intake of daily calories, this replacement can work in a pinch.

One turbinado sugar substitute is the use of equal amounts of brown and white sugar. These are mixed together to provide a quick alternative to turbinado sugar.

Demerara sugar is another great replacement for turbinado. The difference between demerara sugar and turbinado is the crystal size.

Demerara has a less fine crystal. It rarely requires the use of special alterations to a recipe to make the recipe turn out correctly.

You may also attempt to use light muscovado sugar in the place of turbinado.

To make a recipe work, you need equal amounts of light muscovado sugar.

Muscovado sugar is much higher in moisture than turbinado sugar, and this needs to be kept in mind when creating a recipe.

Are Turbinado Sugar Crystals Bad For Diabetics?

For people with diabetes, one of their main concerns with the foods that they eat is added sugars and the weight gain that follows after eating such refined foods.

For them, every recipe that they follow needs to be altered to fit their lifestyle.

For this reason, many people may look for ways to change a recipe to make it healthier for their condition. Some people choose to replace refined sugar in their recipe with turbinado.

However, you do need to keep in mind that turbinado is still sugar. It may be less refined than standard sugar, but it is still sugar.

So when making a recipe that requires the use of sugar for someone with diabetes, it should be used sparingly to avoid hyperglycemia.

Of course, turbinado sugar is a much better option than any sugar that has been refined.

It can be used in trace amounts to help someone with diabetes get the taste of sweetness from their dessert or meal without having to compromise on their health.

Uses For Turbinado Sugar

There are many uses of turbinado sugar.

Like sugar, it can generally be used to sweeten drinks and meals. For turbinado, in particular, its best use is for toppings, as this sugar crystal is much larger in size compared to regular sugar.

Due to the size of the crystals of turbinado, it works very well as a topping on hot meals such as cream of wheat or oatmeal.

It can also be used on roasted dinner sides like roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.

You can add it to your drinks in place of your standard sugar packets.

It will provide you with a similar amount of sweetness that you usually get with the use of your regular sugar.

When baking or cooking with turbinado, you need to keep in mind the changes between turbinado and granulated or brown sugar.

As such, you need to make the necessary alterations to your recipes to accommodate for the taste, texture, and moisture content.

Where To Buy Turbinado Sugar?

If you are trying to buy turbinado sugar, you don’t have to worry about looking very far.

You can find this sugar in any local grocery store.

It can be purchased in the form of packets or cubes. Whether you are looking to buy just enough for your home or in bulk, it is easy to find turbinado sugar.

Once bought, remember to store the sugar properly to avoid it from spoiling.

Keep the sugar in an air-tight container, and this will prevent the sugar from going hard.


Turbinado sugar is a less refined a healthier option than other sugars available on the market.

It can easily be incorporated into a number of different recipes after a few alterations are made. It can be a great choice of sweetener for your meals and drinks.