Turbinado Sugar: Everything You Need to Know

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Fun fact: turbinado sugar comes from the Spanish word turbina, meaning the centrifugal process of making sugar. Another fun fact? The brown sugar in your local supermarket aisles or coffee shops labeled raw sugar is turbinado sugar.

These brown crystals are irregular and thicker than normal sugar crystals, and they’re just what you need to step up your baking game.

Curious? Let’s take a deeper dive.

What is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado sugar is a form of brown sugar sourced from sugar cane juice. It undergoes the initial stages of processing similar to other sugars, except the processing is cut around the time where you’re supposed to remove all of a sugar’s molasses.

So, turbinado sugar retains some of the natural molasses, making its crystals look light to pale brown and have a larger surface area than other sugars. It’s also moister and more flavorful than regular sugar, making it perfect for your baking needs.

So, now that you’re more familiar with this type of brown sugar, let’s discuss its health and nutritional factors. After that, we’ll also see where we can buy turbinado sugar and talk about alternatives or substitutes.

Turbinado Sugar
Turbinado Sugar

Benefits of Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is a less refined version of white sugar and brown sugar.

It’s not exactly raw sugar, as some people may call it. It still undergoes processing that actually helps prevent contamination and removes the dirt and other things raw sugar may possess. However, compared to brown sugar and standard table sugar, it undergoes less processing.

Less processing means it still retains some antioxidants from the molasses left in it. So, you may receive little benefit from turbinado’s antioxidants, but don’t expect too much since it’s just a tiny amount. Of course, the tiny amount is still more than what brown or white sugar can give.

Technically, the benefits of turbinado sugar sway more on the ways you can use it for baking rather than the ways it can help your health. Remember, sugar is always still sugar, no matter its form.

When using turbinado sugar for baked goods, you can rely on it to add a crunch to your creations. It gives your dishes a nice texture since it doesn’t fully dissolve in the thin batters of cookies, muffins, and bread.

Of course, make sure your thin batters don’t need smooth outcomes. Otherwise, creating things like mousse or whipped cream will have a totally different outcome than the intended ones. Likewise, don’t expect turbinado to caramelize as well as other brown sugars.

That aside, turbinado also benefits your baking needs if you want a richer flavor. For example, if you’re baking a cake, you can use turbinado. You don’t have to worry about the not dissolving part – in thick batters, turbinado sugar dissolves just fine.

Turbinado Sugar Uses
Turbinado Sugar Benefits

How to Use Turbinado Sugar

You can use turbinado sugar to substitute both white and brown sugar. Likewise, you can use it in recipes that call for richer flavors, darker colors, or better textures.

Baking Using Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado has a low level of moisture, which makes it perfect for cakes and other baked goods. It’s also a great substitute for white sugar if you want to decrease the sweetness or add more texture.

You can use turbinado in dark chocolate recipes because the added flavor of caramelized sugar enhances the flavor of the chocolate. Similarly, you can use it as an alternative to brown or white sugar in fruit pies because its texture makes it easier to mix into your pie dough.

Cooking Using Turbinado Sugar

If you’ve never tried cooking with turbinado before, it might be time for an experiment. Find a recipe and use turbinado in place of regular or brown sugar. It should be used in a recipe that includes butter because the butter will melt the flecks of caramelized sugar into syrup.

As mentioned before, you can use turbinado in recipes to add flavor and texture. While it’s not typically used as the sole sweetener, you can substitute it for white sugar in recipes that call for equal amounts.

Other things you can use turbinado sugar on includes cereals, muffins, scones, baked sweet potatoes, barbeque marinate, candied nuts, baked fruits, beverages, and as a body scrub or facial exfoliant.

Turbinado Sugar Uses
Turbinado Sugar Uses

Where to Buy Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is widely available in local supermarkets. But if you’re looking for turbinado sugar recommendations online, here are our top picks:

1. Sugar Lab Turbinado Sugar Cubes

Turbinado Sugar: Everything You Need to Know 1


Sugar Lab’s version would be convenient for you if you love sugar cubes! It’s all-natural, vegan, non-GMO, and high quality, and it’s best used for teas, coffee, milk, chocolate, cocktails, and other beverages.

Of course, it comes in convenient 12-pack to-go boxes, so you can just take one with you wherever you need to go. If you’re someone who’s conscious of your sugar intake and the type of sugar that you consume, you can carry this around so you can manually add turbinado to your drinks.

2. Inauca Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado Sugar: Everything You Need to Know 2


Inauca’s Turbinado Sugar will work well for you if you need something Kosher. It’s from Colombia, and you can buy it in convenient 2-pound resealable packages. So, if you like the convenience of not needing to transfer your condiments in a jar or if you don’t have space for jars, try Inauca. It’s not cubed sugar this time, so you can easily use this sugar for baking.

3. Sugar in the Raw Natural Cane Sugar

Turbinado Sugar: Everything You Need to Know 3


If you’re always on the go and would love nothing more than to just grab a packet of sugar, tear it off, and use it, Sugar in the Raw’s Turbinado might be for you. It comes in 100 5-gram packets, so you can take it anywhere or use it anytime without worrying about where to store it.

4. Batey Natural Sugar Turbinado

Turbinado Sugar: Everything You Need to Know 4


If you want natural cane sugar but are against the sugar factories in the US, you can opt for Batey’s Turbinado, which comes from Colombia. It comes in 2-pound packs that you’ll need to transfer in containers, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using turbinado to bake.

5. Wholesome Sweeteners Turbinado

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Wholesome Sweeteners’ unrefined golden sugar crystals are under a Climate-Friendly Pledge, so they were made sustainably to prevent harming nature. They come in 1.5-pound packs, and they’re perfect if you’re using them on baked products, beverages, or as sprinkles.

Substitutes for Turbinado Sugar

Just like how you can substitute brown or white and other sugars, you can substitute other sugars for turbinado. Turbinado sugar alternatives include agave nectar, brown rice syrup, date sugar, and honey.

Agave Nectar

When using agave nectar to substitute turbinado sugar, use an equivalent amount of agave in place of turbinado. Also, note that agave syrup dissolves faster than turbinado, so you can also use it as a turbinado alternative if you’re baking a recipe that needs quick-dissolving sugar.

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup works as an equal substitute to turbinado sugar, too. The difference is that brown rice syrup has lower calories and carbohydrates, so you’ll like this alternative if you appreciate the lowered stats.

Date Sugar

Date sugar or date syrup also substitutes turbinado equally. Date sugar looks similar to brown sugar but doesn’t taste like brown sugar because it lacks molasses. However, it can pass as an alternative to turbinado due to its natural sweetness and nice texture.


You can easily find honey everywhere, but make sure you’re buying natural honey and not honey-flavored syrup. When substituting honey for turbinado, you can use the same amount but remember that since honey is liquid, you’ll need to reduce your recipe’s liquid by three tablespoons.

Turbinado Sugar Substitutes
Turbinado Sugar Substitutes

How to Store Turbinado Sugar

You can’t just store turbinado sugar anywhere, especially if you bought a big pack of it. So, when storing turbinado sugar, remember that you need to put it in an airtight container unless it comes in a resealable pack or separate packets or sachets.

If you store turbinado in a container that isn’t airtight, it’ll end up absorbing the moisture in your environment, and that will clump and harden the crystals. It’s just like any other sugar in that way, so store it with care unless you’re okay with using hardened sugar cane crystals.

Moreover, store turbinado at room temperature or lower so it doesn’t melt. It’s not really a problem if it naturally melts – you can still use it for baking or cooking. However, if it melts due to contact with direct heat, it’ll harden once it cools down.


Is turbinado sugar healthy?

Sugar is okay in moderation. Turbinado sugar is still sugar, so we can’t exactly say it’s healthy. However, it is a slightly better alternative than standard white or brown sugar. It doesn’t go through extensive processing like regular sugar, and it contains about 70 calories per tablespoon compared to white sugar’s 97 calories.

What does turbinado sugar taste like?

Turbinado sugar has a subtle caramel flavor with hints of molasses.

What is the difference between turbinado sugar and regular sugar?

Turbinado is made from sugar cane’s first pressing, therefore keeping more of the plant’s natural flavors and color. Its crystals are typically darker in color, coarser, and larger in grain size compared to processed regular or brown sugar.

Is there a difference between turbinado sugar and cane sugar?

Any sugar made from sugar cane is cane sugar. So, turbinado is a form of cane sugar. There are other forms of cane sugar as well, such as white sugar, whole cane sugar, raw sugar, and others.

Is turbinado sugar vegan?

Since turbinado sugar isn’t as refined as white or brown sugar, it doesn’t come in contact with bone char and is said to be vegan.

Is turbinado sugar good for diabetes?

Turbinado has the same nutritional value as regular sugar, so it’s not good for diabetic patients. You can consume it in moderate amounts, but don’t think of it as a healthier, more suitable substitute for regular sugar.

Where can I buy turbinado sugar?

Turbinado sugar is packaged and labeled as raw sugar in local supermarkets. However, if you want to shop online, see our suggested products above.

Final Thoughts

Turbinado sugar comes from sugar cane but isn’t as refined as regular sugar, and it’s perfect for baking goods that need nice textures. So, if you want to switch up your sugar and up your baking game, why not try turbinado sugar?

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