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Cane Sugar Vs Granulated Sugar: What’s The Difference?

There are many different types of sugar that are available and this can make choosing the right type a difficult task.

Many of them can seem to be the same and serve the same purposes but each variety is different from the others.

Two of the most common types of sugar are cane sugar and granulated sugar, so what is the difference between them?

Cane Sugar Vs Granulated Sugar: What’s The Difference?

If you can learn the difference between the different types of sugar, you can best understand and choose the right sugar for you and different purposes. 

There are many differences between cane sugar and granulated sugar and in this article, we will look at what they are.

Let’s get started!

What Are The Differences Between Cane Sugar And Regular Sugar?

The differences between the two types of sugar are not always easy to spot.

Other types of sugar, such as brown sugar, are visibly different in many different ways but this isn’t the case with cane sugar and regular sugar.

However, that doesn’t mean that the differences don’t exist or aren’t worth learning about. Let’s look at some of these differences in more detail.


One of the major differences between the two is that the ingredients used to make the two sugars can be different.

Cane sugar is always made purely from sugarcane. This is pretty easy to remember because of the name of the sugar.

Granulated sugar, however, can be made from other ingredients. It’s often a mix of both sugarcane and sugar beets instead of being pure sugarcane.

As granulated sugar is made from a mix of ingredients and cane sugar isn’t, cane sugar is usually considered to be a purer and natural sugar. Granulated sugar, however, is considered processed sugar.


As cane sugar is natural and not as heavily processed as granulated sugar is, it has a more intense flavor.

This difference in flavor isn’t always easy to spot, especially if the sugar is being used in a recipe and is competing with other flavors.

You should be able to tell the difference between the two sugars if you try them in isolation, however.

Taste a few granules of cane sugar and then granulated sugar, with a sip of water in-between to cleanse your palate.

When you taste-test the two sugars in this manner, you should be able to taste the difference.


Granulated sugar is available in both white and brown sugar varieties. The white version of granulated sugar is very white and pure whereas cane sugar has a slightly more yellow tone to it.

When the two sugars are placed side by side this color difference will be quite noticeable.

Even when they’re separate, if you’re familiar with both you will probably be able to tell the difference between them due to the coloration.


This is another noticeable visual difference, although it’s not quite as noticeable as the differences in color. 

The granules of cane sugar tend to be a little bigger than the granules of granulated sugar. This is because the cane sugar granules are less processed.

As they’re bigger granules, cane sugar granules will typically take a little longer to melt than granulated sugar will do.

Cane Sugar Or Granulated Sugar: Which Should I Choose?

Cane Sugar Or Granulated Sugar: Which Should I Choose?

As we just learned in the section about their differences, cane sugar is less processed and is more natural than granulated sugar.

This might lead you to think that cane sugar is always a better choice than granulated sugar but this isn’t always the case.

The differences between the two sugars mean that they are both suited to different tasks.

Before you choose whether you want to use cane sugar or granulated sugar, you should take into account several factors and what result you desire.

For Rich Flavors

If you want a richer and more intense flavor in your cooking, then you should opt for cane sugar. It is known for being more intense than granulated sugar and will add this intensity to any dish it is used in.

However, as many people can’t tell the difference between cane sugar and granulated sugar, this isn’t as big a factor as you might think.

Many people that are unfamiliar with the two sugars won’t be able to tell the difference between a cake made with cane sugar and one made with granulated sugar.

For Color

Cane sugar has a yellowish blonde tint to the granules and depending on your dish, this color difference can bleed into the final product and result in changing the color of your dish.

If you’re worried about this happening you should choose granulated sugar as its white tone won’t interfere with the color of your dish.

However, if the final dish already has a yellow tone to it, you may prefer to use the more yellow cane sugar. If color is of great importance to you, choose the sugar that best matches the end result.

For Baked Desserts

In most circumstances, we would recommend granulated sugar in baked desserts.

This is not only because of the color difference we just mentioned but also because of the size of the granules. 

As cane sugar is less processed, it has larger granules than granulated sugar. This means that cane sugar takes longer to melt and when baking, this can cause issues.

You will see that many baked desserts specify granulated sugar in their recipes and we would advise following this instruction where you can.

Is Cane Sugar Sweeter Than Granulated Sugar?

We’ve mentioned several times throughout this article that cane sugar has a more intense flavor than granulated sugar, but does that mean it is sweeter?

In most cases, no, it doesn’t. Cane sugar tastes a lot more like unrefined sugar cane as it is closer to it than the more processed granulated sugar. It has a taste that is similar to molasses and can be quite rich.

On the other hand, with granulated sugar that has been made with a mix of sugarcane and sugar beets, you will notice the flavor is less intense and less like sugarcane.

Can Cane And Granulated Sugars Substitute Each Other?

In broad terms, yes, they can. They’re basically made from the same ingredient in sugarcane and despite the addition of sugar beets to granulated sugar, their sugar molecules are very similar.

They have some differences as we’ve discussed, but their characteristics are generally similar.

Changing cane sugar for granulated sugar or vice versa will not destroy any recipes you make or make them inedible. 

Any differences will be minor so feel free to substitute them for each other as you need to.

Which Type of Sugar Is Healthier For People On A Diet?

Although cane sugar is often marketed as being a healthier alternative to granulated sugar, the two sugars are so similar that there is little to no difference.

They’re basically the same when it comes to nutrition and chemistry and have the same calories.

If you want to choose a healthier sugar, you’re best avoiding both cane sugar and granulated sugar and choosing something else.

Final Thoughts

Cane sugar and granulated sugar have many differences but they are all relatively minor. Cane sugar is made from pure sugarcane whereas granulated sugar uses sugar beets as well.

Their color, taste, and granule size are all different but the sugars behave in very similar ways in recipes.

We hope that the information in this article will help you understand the differences between cane sugar and granulated sugar.

Jess Smith