Make your own (almost) sugar-free brown sugar

Never buy brown sugar sweetener again.

All right, so molasses is only almost sugar-free, but pair your favorite sweetener together with natural molasses and you have a reduced-sugar sweetener to sub into any recipe that calls for brown sugar.

To boot, making your own just feels more natural somehow. Plus, you’ll save money since molasses has a long shelf life and pretty much any sweetener is easier to find than a brown sugar sweetener–and cheaper, too.

Tip: See my hacks for making your own cream cheese, and for making your own sweetened condensed milk.

The recipe? Um. Simple.

Reduced Sugar Brown Sugar

For every cup [equivalent] of your favorite sweetener , add 1 Tbsp of molasses. Mash with a fork to incorporate molasses. Store at room temperature in a sealed bag. Refrigerate for longer storage.

Yeah, I know. It is simple but it works, and it’s wonderful. I’ve already used the brown sugar in several recipes and give it the total thumbs the hell up.

Below is an easy conversion list, complete with nutritional information that I put together because I love you. No, really. I do. (In a totally non-stalker who would never chew your face kind of way. I mean otherwise awkward.)

While the carb amounts might seem high, consider that those numbers are divided out over the entirety of the dish. It’s really not that bad. To save carbs, go with the Truvia, whose carbs are totally canceled out by the sugar alcohols of the erythritol.

For a 1:1 sweetener/sugar equivalent (Here I chose your standard 1 carb per Tbsp sweetener):

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar = 1/4 Tbsp molasses + 1/4 cup sweetener = 8 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar= 1 tsp molasses + 1/3 cup sweetener= 10 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar =1/2 Tbsp molasses + 1/2 cup sweetener = 16 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar= 3/4 Tbsp molasses + 3/4 cup sweetener =  24 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 1 cup brown sugar =1 Tbsp molasses + 1 cup sweetener = 32 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener

For Truvia (3/4 tsp = 2 tsp sugar equivalent):

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar =1/4 Tbsp molasses + 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Truvia= 4 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar=1 tsp molasses +  2 Tbsp + 1 tsp Truvia=  5 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar =1/2 Tbsp molasses + 3 1/2 Tbsp Truvia = 8 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar =3/4 Tbsp molasses + 5 Tbsp Truvia = 12 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener
  • 1 cup brown sugar = 1 Tbsp molasses +1/3 cup + 1-1/2 Tbsp Truvia = 16 added carbs to your recipe from sweetener

Doesn’t that look like fun? The texture is wonderful and the flavor is spot on.

What recipe basics/hacks would you like to see recreated to keep you out of the stores?

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  1. Would that be fancy Barbados molasses(which is truly delicious!) ….or black strap (which I have never tasted!)??? Both are on every store shelf here in Canada! Molasses never goes bad, it is pure sweetness….keeps forever. I grew up on the fancy Barbados molasses as a child it was breakfast…..on buttered toast with tea! My father’s favourite!…what a memory!

    I fried four very small smoked sausages, due to the fact the package’s best before date is tomorrow, so I added chunks of onion and red pepper flakes… there is something to nibble on all day. Plus nestle water and crystal light’s pink grapefruit and tangerine flavour.

    I prepared a box of lemon jello….while the sausages were frying slowly! Lately during the evening, I crave a little something, something…and I do not always want a protein shake…besides, last night….well, there are not enough words in the English language to describe how amazingly wonderful my sirloin steak was! Dusted liberally with garlic salt and pepper and annointed with all spice and seared in sweet butter, and as for the big finale …squirted with a few drops of fresh lemon juice! Yum, yum! What a delight! Two hours later….I was craving jello, of all things!

    By the way, marvelous Jamie, do you have any jello “variations on a theme” recipes???
    Just asking….all I know is the recipe on the box!


    • Blackstrap is typically considered the best, but I say use the one with the least carbs. If it’s not the blackstrap, choose it instead.

      I do have a Jell-o takeoff, but it’s taking a little tweaking. It uses herbal tea as the flavoring, but the stevia as the sweetener is just so-so. I am going to try it again.

      • sherry jozwiak says

        Jamie, Thank you so very much for the ideal sugar recipes. I can no longer find ideal in any of my local stores. I am out of my white ideal so will be making your recipe up. Again thank you so much. Sherry

  2. Tami Brower says

    Sounds great!! I will have to try this for sure. the only kind of brown sugar sub they have here is made with saccharine and I cant stand the stuff. Thank you!

    • Tami, what I love about it is that you can even use it with any sweetener that measures cup for cup, whether that’s Ideal, erythritol, xylitol or even Truvia.

  3. This is so great Jamie! Clever, clever! Fall is cookie season, and now I can do the low-carbish, almond flour versions that will make me a hero in our low-carb house!

    • I was tired of hunting down brown sugar sweeteners. It’s not easy to find them, and they tend to cost even more than the standard. This way at least you have options. I love options! I am playing with some other things now for baking.

  4. Hi Jamie, not trying to sound brand new, but if doing this with Splenda, would the number of carbs fall under the first one, the sugar equivalent?

    • Hi, Erica. You don’t sound new; you sound like someone who ants to be informed. I used Ideal Sweetener (erythritol + Splenda) as the gauge, but most sweeteners measure about the same. The molasses costs 16 carbs per tablespoon, so you can figure in any sweetener using that gauge.

  5. Great idea!! If you want to splurge I’m addicted to the Lankata sweetener. It’s a mix of erythritol and Lou han guo (monk fruit). I could eat it by the spoonful it’s so good! Really expensive though. Supposedly there are more things coming with monk fruit. It’s orange and really adds that brown sugar taste. I’m hoping with more options it’ll get cheaper. This is a great alternative if not using too much. Thanks!

    • I love cheaper, Faye, and I’d love to see more sweetener options out there. Right now, Ideal is pulling out of Kroger stores, which leaves me with fewer sweetener options. At this point, I’m so annoyed, I’m looking at options to create my own. I’m so over companies disappearing on us. It shows even more that we have to depend on ourselves for this stuff.

  6. I need to try this. I tend to stay away from things that call for brown sugar. Thanks!

    • The bonus is that you could, technically, just sub brown sugar for regular sugar in almost any recipe anyway, but that little bit of molasses is what delivers the zing!

  7. Holy cow, you are a mind reader. This was my next thing to tackle, after the simple syrup. And with all the conversion list you can make only what you need and not have to store it.
    WOOO HOOO. Thank you.

  8. Okay, now just how did you know I have been going store to store looking for a brown sugar sub? Which no one is carrying anymore..

    Thank you Jamie…your timing could not have been better. 🙂


  9. Hey Jamie – I am a bit confused by this “To save carbs, go with the Truvia, whose carbs are totally canceled out by the sugar alcohols of the xylitol.” I thought Truvia was Erythritol, stevia and natural flavors?? I am very careful to keep anything with xylitol out of my house since it is poisonous to dogs. I really like Truvia and use it often so I just wanted to check with you, since I think this is a really great idea! Thanks

    • Oops. I meant Erythritol. Truvia isn’t xylitol. You could, however, use xylitol as your cup-for-cup sweetener in lieu of Truvia.

      • I love brown sugar!! This is awesome!! And the Truvia break down makes me even more excited cause its the first and only sweetener I can use that doesn’t give me some sorta off side effect.. and then that led me to erythritol, which I also love.. btw use powdered erythritol in your ice cream recipe’s, it turns out amazingly.. but I do have a question, did you use packets when you measured out the truvia? If not, what did you use? I have never found it in bulk…? Do you know how many packets equal a cup? I have not mastered the art of sweetener conversions lol. …Thank for your recipe’s!

  10. Wow, thanks. I have the Kroger brand now and rarely use it. Has something in it that not only tastes off, but the smell is off, not bad, just don’t want to use it. Kind of pricey, too. Sometimes, though a recipe just calls for brown sugar. This is wonderful and I don’t even have to have a whole lot sitting around. I know I would refrigerate it and use the Truvia. Thank you again!

  11. Another great idea from you. Thanks so much.

  12. Just made the substitute using the Truvia option. Tastes great. I was making a new recipe for a rub for the brisket we are smoking tomorrow. This worked out so well, quite a few of the rub recipes use brown sugar as one of the most important ingredients, your invention makes it easy for me!!! Thank you so much.

  13. Hi Jamie,
    In response to your question about “What recipe basics/hacks would you like to see recreated…. I would love to use some of the pricey syrups …but hate to buy a whole bottle when (knowing me) I may use it once or twice and not use it again.
    I love your recipes and am just sorting through how to do the “Wheat Belly” low carb, gluten free thing.
    Also tried your turkey recipe earlier this week to use up Thanksgiving leftovers…so instead of making turkey patties- used leftover turkey and followed the rest of the recipe.
    UMMM.. Ummmm good! Thanks so much!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Lyndy-Lou! I agree that SF syrups would be fab to recreate!

      I am also super happy that you were able to make the dish with actual turkey. I so love turkey! I prefer it wayyyy over chicken.

  14. Is making brown sugar with Truvia and molasses ok for a diabetic to have I like making peanut butter cookies but I must give up sugar

  15. I just add 1/4 teaspoon of maple extract to any recipes calling for brown sugar substitute. Your method seems better.

  16. You. are. amazing. I think I might actually be able to bake and follow low carb after all!

  17. Sandra Dowkes says

    I’m confused. If I use brown sugar Splenda, why would I bother to add a T of molasses? If I use the T of molasses with white sugar Splenda, then I understand because then I’m making it brown sugar, right? THEN I’d be saving money!

  18. Jamie,

    I have one question? When using Truvia its not the Truvia baking blend correct.

    • Hi, Lisa. Good question. You are 100% correct. The Truvia baking blend contains sugar. I don’t use it. I prefer the regular Truvia (more concentrated, with erythritol + stevia).

  19. You should try Lucuma powder ( which has a caramel taste ) and Yacon syrup or powder. Both are natural and low glycemic. Too many people rely on ‘sweetners’ which actually excite your insulin levels causing cravings. research both of these and you will be amazed at the benefits!
    Enjoying your recipes!

  20. Hi Jamie. Not su much a reply, but a question instead. In your Truvia breakdown, you state: “For Truvia (3/4 t. = 2 Tsp sugar equivalent)”. Is the “b” missing in Tsp, or is the “T” accidentally capped? Thaks for all the great recipes! – Julie

  21. Hi. Recently subscribed to your blog. Regarding this brown sugar recipe, is it okay to use a milder molasses. Thank you.

  22. do you have a recipe to make your own Swerve sweetener? Also I see your recipes use a lot of Splenda, my doctor has advised me not to use splenda; can the splenda be replaced by Stevia and get the same results in cooking? If so do you know how it affects the carb count?

  23. Hi
    Since I am trying to avoid white and brown sugar – I tend to use raw honey. Aim to bake a Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free chewy oatmeal cookies. The recipe here states 1 cup of brown sugar – Your substitute says ‘ 1 tblspn of black strap molasses & 1 cup of sweetener’. Does this mean 1 tblspn of molasses and 1 cup of raw honey?
    Love your site!

  24. Sheri Armstrong says

    I just made 1 cup of the brown sugar mixture using 1 cup Splenda to 1 Tbsp. molasses…it’s AWESOME!!

    • I made . A cup starting out with 1cup splenda and . 1 tbsp molasses. It yielded about 1/3cup. Does that sound right?

      • I know this comment is like so old, but I thought I’d chime in because it is an interesting phenomena. Splenda brand sweetener is made with powdered maltodextrin. It is very fluffy and that accounts for it being easy to measure volume to volume ratios same as sugar. However if you add any liquid to it, that volume measure breaks down as the maltodextrin fluff just completely absorbs into the liquid. If you’ve ever played with sugar and water, say by pouring water into a clear container and then adding a large volume of sugar, you will see that sugar adds to the overall volume making the measure go up. Splenda does not, it doesn’t displace the water the same way sugar does. So because you use Splenda and not some solid crystalline sweetener like xylitol or Erythritol, then the Splenda just wilted down into it’s unfluffy state. That is unfortunate if you need only a fraction of a cup( whip out your calculator! what fraction of 1/3 is 1/4?) , but doesn’t matter if you planned to use 1 cup equivalent in a recipe cause you’d just add it all. Happy Saturday!

  25. Hey, Jamie…I like to use a sweetener (in packets) called NatraTaste. I just measured out a packet, and it’s a slightly rounded 1/4 tsp. = 2 tsp. sugar, therefore 24 packets = 1c. sugar, sweetness-wise. How much molasses would I need to add to that? (This one’s for pumpkin pie, and I usually rely on the brown sugar for the flavor, as the only other spices I use are vanilla and cinnamon since my mom’s got a sensitivity to nutmeg and ginger.)

  26. hmmmmm I wonder…could you substitute honey for molasses and coconut sugar for sweetener?

  27. This is a great recipe although for diabetics not so good. Molasses has more sugar in 1 tablespoon than brown sugar itself

  28. I’m confused when you say “add a carb” or “only adds 8 carbs”. Are you talking about grams of carbohydrates? or serving portions (used in some diets)?

  29. Joseph L Metro says

    Tried this today, Christmas Eve for pressure cooker apple butter. Awful. Terrible. Had to try and salvage hours of work.
    What DOES taste great, recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups brown. Instead, I use 1 cup brown, 1 1/2 cups Truvia. MMM, just like the real thing.

  30. I put my Truvia-like sweetener and the molasses in the food processor… and presto, it was exactly like brown sugar (taste & appearance).

  31. If a recipe calls for Brown AND white sugar, do you need to lessen the extra sweetener since you’ve already added some mixed with the molasses? I know a little goes a long way!

  32. I saw the Ideal brand brown sugar sweetener slowly disappearing from the store shelves, and bought a bunch when I did see it. I recently ran out, and have been searching for it ever since. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Ideal brand brown sugar sweetener was my go-to sweetener for oatmeal, baked beans, and any baking recipes needing brown sugar.

  33. Great info & love your recipes!.

  34. Hi to you!
    I just found your site today. Last night I experimented with making a brown sugar “blend” as I wanted a product both low in carbs and low on the glycemic index. Some recipes just don’t work without some portion of it being a sugar.
    I use cococnut palm sugar, which I have been using in home made bread and other baked goods.
    My daughter and I are both hypoglycemic and cannot use any sweetener that metabolizes like white sugar. Splenda in small amounts seems to work for me, so today I am going to experiment with my “product”—lol.
    I never thought of using molasses. Where is it on the glycemic index compared to palm sugar??
    Thank you for your great site.


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