Browning Sugar (2 Ingredient Make at Home Recipe!)

gluten free & dairy free

Browning sugar, also called browning sauce, is a traditional Caribbean recipe. It's used in a variety of dishes and is easy to make at home!

November 17, 2023
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This Browning Sugar recipe couldn’t be easier. Homemade browning sauce is traditionally used in Caribbean and Jamaican recipes and is often times referred to as burnt sugar. 

browning sugar

This sugar browning recipe is:

  • easy to make
  • gluten free
  • dairy free
  • better than store bought
  • so delicious
  • preservative and caramel color free
browning sugar

Browning Sugar – What is it?

Browning sugar is commonly used in dishes like Sarawak black cake, brown stew chicken, brown stew fish, stir fried veggies, flan, and more.

Its taste is slightly sweet but since it’s “burnt”, adds a unique savory depth of flavor that can’t be found in other recipes. 

Not only is it used to add flavor, but the sauce adds a unique brown-black color to dishes as well.

The easiest way to describe it would be that it’s a type of caramelized sugar sauce. 

browning sugar

Browning Sugar – Ingredients

Dark brown sugar – Dark brown sugar works the best in my opinion. I like using organic brown sugar. Demerara sugar works great too and is actually less processed than brown sugar.

Water – Super hot water to be exact. We will be adding water into the melted sugar, so the hotter the better (boiling) so it doesn’t cause the sugar to seize.

Browning Sugar – How To Make

This browning sauce recipe uses 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Can you believe this Caribbean burnt sugar is ready in just 10 minutes? Here’s how to make it:

First, add your granulated sugar to a heavy pot over low heat. An enamaled pot or stainless steel pot work great for this recipe. 

Next, use a spoon or spatula to spread the sugar out evenly on the bottom of the pot.

Turn the heat to medium just until the sugar starts to melt. Then reduce the heat down to low.

Then, continue stirring the sugar every so often to avoid burning.

Once the sugar is melted, increase the heat back to medium until the sugar mixture darkens in color and bubbles up.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the boiling water a little at a time, mixing well each time.

Finally, carefully transfer your homemade browning sugar into a glass container to use for later, or add immediately into whatever recipe you’re using it for.

Browning Sugar – Troubleshooting

Problem – My sugar got clumpy after I added the water, what happened?

Most likely the temperature of the water was significantly lower than the temperature of the sugar. Meaning the water was too cold. So when added to hot sugar, it will form clumps. 

Solution – Just reheat the mixture over medium low heat until all the clumps have dissolved. It’s likely that the sugar is too far gone and you will have to start over if this doesn’t work. Make sure when you’re adding the water to the melted sugar – that it’s hot!

Problem – The browning sauce turned out way too thick and is hard to scoop out. 

Your sugar was left on the heat too long and crossed over from caramel temperature to candy temperature.

Solution – You can try to add a little more water to the browning sugar mixutre over low heat, and remove from the heat as soon as the water has mixed in completely. However, it may be in your best interest to just start a new batch. Make sure to remove the sugar mixture from the heat as soon as it turns a dark brown color and starts to caramelize. Leaving it on the heat too long will overcook the mixture. 

More troubleshooting tips

Problem – My burnt sugar tastes bitter what did I do wrong?

Solution – There is a sweet spot between perfectly melted down sugar and burnt sugar. When in doubt, turn the heat down. A little steam is okay and will occur – especially when adding the water, but the mixure should not produce excess steam. Also, be sure to stir it more often next time to prevent burning.

Problem – My sugar boiled over the pot and made a mess.

Solution – Boiled sugar tends to grow and bubble up pretty high. Use a larger pot than you think you’ll need and make sure it has tall sides.

browning sugar

FAQ’s

Q: How do you burn sugar to make browning?
A: Browning sugar is easy! Follow the easy steps above and you’ll have homemade browning sauce in no time!

Q: Is browning and burnt sugar the same?
A: These terms are usually used interchangeably, yes.

Q: Can you use white sugar for browning?
A: You can. However brown sugar is recommended for its depth of flavor the molasses adds. If you’d like to use white sugar, add 2 tablespoons of molasses to the sugar before browning.

Q: How do you store browning sugar?
A: Browning sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge. Glass mason jars work very well for storage, are plastic free, and easy to get the sugar sauce out of. They are also great for fridge storage and don’t take up a lot of space. 

I hope this answers all your questions for how to make browning with sugar. Let me know if you have any other questions!

browning sugar

Browning Sugar – Tips

1. I like to start the initial melt on medium heat, then turn it down to low to finish melting completely. Once it is completely melted, I turn the heat back up to medium and allow it to bubble up and darken in color. When in doubt – keep the heat low so your sugar doesn’t burn. It may take some practice to get this recipe right.

2. Adding the water will create steam, which may cause the hot sugar to splash. PLEASE be careful and aware to avoid getting a steam or sugar burn. Hot sugar will stick to the skin. Use a long handled spoon to stir, so your hand can be as far away from the sugar as possible.

3. If you decide making your own version of burnt sugar browning sauce isn’t for you – you can always buy it! Wondering where to buy browning sugar? There are some popular brands on Amazon like this one, and this one, but I can’t really find one I recommend because they all have preservatives and caramel coloring. Just another reason to make your own!

Follow me on Instagram and tag @simply_jillicious if this how to make browning sugar recipe was helpful!  I’d love to see it!

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More easy recipes:
Steel Cut Pumpkin Oatmeal
Healthy Peanut Butter Balls
Maple Popcorn

browning sugar

Browning Sugar

Browning sugar, also called browning sauce, can be used in a variety of dishes from chicken and sea food, to cake! You'll love how easy it is to make at home. It's cheaper and healthier than buying store bought.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Add the sugar to a heavy pot with high sides over medium heat, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. An enamaled pot or stainless steel pot work great for this recipe. 
  • Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the heat down to low.
  • In a separate pot, boil some water. Keep it at a low boil until it's time to use.
  • Continue occasionally stirring the sugar until the it has completely melted.
  • Once melted, continue heating until it darkens in color (but doesn't burn) and bubbles up (see post for photos)
  • Add in the water a little at a time, stirring until well incorporated each time. Be cautious of hot sugar and steam burns – adding the water will cause the sugar mixture to sputter. So be careful!
  • Once all the water is mixed in, use immediately for your recipe or store in a glass container in the fridge until needed.

Video

Notes

Please read the post for lots of tips and troubleshooting!
Steam will occur, but it should be fairly low. Too much steam is a sign the heat is too high or your sugar is burning.
Both hot sugar and steam can burn you! Please be careful!

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 69kcalCarbohydrates: 17gSodium: 6mgSugar: 17g
Author: Jill from Simply Jillicious
Calories: 69kcal
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: browning caramel sauce, browning sauce, browning sugar, browning sugar sauce, Caribbean browning sugar, homemade browning sugar
Diet: dairy free, gluten free, vegan

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