Skip to Content

How To Soften Brown Sugar-4 Distinctive & Easy Ways

Quick Answer: How Do You Soften Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is a type of sugar that has been processed from raw sugar. It is often sold in a cone or cube shape and has a darker color than granulated sugar. There are a few different ways to learn how to soften brown sugar. One way is to let it sit out for a day. Another way is to heat it in the oven at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. The last way is to mix it with hot water and let it sit for 10 minutes.

There’s nothing more annoying than when you’re all ready to bake something and you think you’ve got all the ingredients and you go to measure out the brown sugar, and it’s hard as a rock. 

Heck, it doesn’t even have to be baking. Ever gone to sprinkle a little sweetener onto your favorite cereal and you find yourself staring into a container of hard crystallized sugar?

We’ve all been there and it’s not ideal- especially when we’re in a time crunch. 

Luckily, when this happens, all hope is not lost. In fact, softening brown sugar can be achieved in a variety of ways, so there’s a solution available to everyone. 

 Foolproof Ways To Soften Brown Sugar

Before we get into the methods part of reviving your sugar, let’s talk about what actually causes brown sugar to go hard. 

When brown sugar is exposed to air, it causes the moisture to be absorbed. When this happens, the crystals begin to clump together, leaving you with chunks of rock-hard sugar. 

In this article, we are not only going to share with you how you can remedy this, but also how you can prevent your brown sugar from going hard in the first place. 

We promise reading these tips will be sure to make your day a little sweeter (hehe). 

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using The Microwave? 

When your brown sugar is no longer edible, a great way to soften it up is by using a microwave

This approach is super quick and easy and can be completed in two different ways. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using The Microwave? 

Pro Tips

  • It’s imperative that when completing the first method, you do not add too much water to the second bowl. An excessive amount of water will cause the brown sugar to absorb too much moisture. This may lead to sugar that is too damp in texture.
  • The 30-second and 20-second time frames are just an estimation. The total time can alter depending on how much brown sugar you are trying to soften.
    • We recommend not adding too much brown sugar to the bowl at once. If necessary, complete the steps more than once. 
  • For the second method, it is essential that you only ring out your dishcloth or paper towel after getting it wet, as this approach will only be successful if your towel is damp. 

RELATED: How To Identify Brown Sugar And Cane Sugar

How To Soften Brown Sugar In The Oven? 

If you have a little extra time on your hands, or don’t have a microwave in your possession, softening your brown sugar in the oven is also highly effective. 

This method can be a little trickier than some of the other ones as it can easily lead to melted brown sugar, so make sure to check out the following tips to avoid any mishaps. 

Pro Tips

  • Do not skip the foil step! Wrapping foil around your brown sugar will ensure it doesn’t cook too quickly. 
  • Make sure to keep an eye out for the sugar and check on it every two minutes. Leaving it too long in the oven may cause it to melt. 
  • Be careful when removing the foil. It will be very hot!

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight?

Sometimes it’s not the kitchen appliances you need to fix your problems. No, sometimes something as simple as bread, marshmallows and apple slices will do the trick!

Leaving your hardened brown sugar with one of these food items overnight is ultra simple and takes minimal effort, so you can spend less time prepping and more time relaxing!

Make sure you plan ahead with this one, though, as it requires a little more extra time than the others. 

Pro Tips 

  • Using bread, apple slices and marshmallows aids in softening bread because the moisture from each of these food items gradually gets sucked back into the sugar.
    • This approach, however, takes time, which is why it is vital that you allow the sugar to sit overnight. 
  • After 24 hours, if your sugar is not yet sufficiently soft, allow it to sit with the bread, marshmallows, or apple slices for an additional 24 hours. 
  • This method can also be completed using an airtight, resealable plastic bag. 

RELATED: Can You Eat Sugar Snap Peas Raw?

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using A Food Processor? 

Like the microwave method, using a food processor to soften your brown sugar is great for when you’re in a hurry. 

It’s simple, effective and will get the job done quickly so that you can get those cookies in the oven faster! 

There are a couple of steps required for this approach, so make sure you read the following instructions carefully:

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using A Food Processor? 

Pro Tips

  • Most food processors should break up the hardened brown sugar chunks sufficiently, but if this is not the case with yours, a fine mesh sieve will allow you to separate those stubborn pieces from the softened crystals. 
  • Make sure not to pack the food processor too full as it will not be able to blend effectively.
    • If you have a lot of sugar to break down, we recommend processing them in segments so you don’t overload the food processor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Prevent Brown Sugar From Going Hard?

While all of the previous methods are easy to implement, if you can avoid your brown sugar from getting hard in the first place, why not?

There are several ways to prevent your sugar from crystalizing:

  • Airtight Container: as soon as you buy brown sugar, remove it from the bag and store it in an airtight container in a cool, moist area. If you don’t have a container, a resealable plastic bag will also work. This means of storage is great as it will ensure your brown sugar doesn’t lose too much moisture. 
  • Terra Cotta Brown Sugar Savers: these terra cotta disks work wonders when it comes to keeping brown sugar soft and can be purchased in most kitchen supply shops. To put these to use, simply store them in an airtight container with your sugar, sit back and let the magic happen. 
  • Marshmallows/Bread Slices: just as marshmallows and bread slices will help to soften brown sugar once it is already hard, it can also keep brown sugar soft and prevent chunks from forming. Once you buy your brown sugar, leave a slice of bread or a few marshmallows in a container with your sugar and you’re good to go!

Why Does Brown Sugar Get Hard?

When brown sugar is exposed to a lot of air, the moisture in it evaporates, causing the crystals to come together and form large, hardened chunks.

This is because brown sugar is covered in a thick syrup known as molasses. Molasses makes the crystals more malleable and vulnerable to slipping over and sticking to one another. 

This is especially true for fresh brown sugar, which is why it’s so important to follow one of the suggestions provided in the previous question. 

Is Brown Sugar Still Okay To Eat When Hard? 

Yes! Brown sugar is perfectly safe to eat when hard, however, it is not terribly pleasant (and may cause your dental bill to go up). 

If you do find your brown sugar has hardened, we suggest putting into practice one of the approaches provided throughout this article! 

Can You Freeze Brown Sugar?

Yes, brown sugar can be easily stored in the freezer for up to a year and a half or sometimes even longer!

The best way to freeze your brown sugar is by placing it in an airtight container or resealable bag in an area of the freezer where it will not be exposed to strong odors (brown sugar easily takes on the flavors of other foods)

When you want to use the brown sugar, simply remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw for as long as necessary. 

If you notice any crystallization, take a spoon and stir the sugar to try and remove it. If the chunks persist, follow one of the methods provided in this article. 

how to soften brown sugar

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using The Microwave?: Method 1

Prep Time: 30 seconds
Total Time: 30 seconds
Difficulty: Easy

2 microwave-safe bowls are filled with brown sugar and water and put in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds, or until the brown sugar has softened.

Materials

  • Brown sugar
  • Water

Tools

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe bowl x2

Instructions

  • Retrieve 2 microwave-safe bowls
  • Place your brown sugar in one of the bowls 
  • Fill the other bowl with water ⅓ of the way 
  • Place both bowls in the microwave, directly beside each other 
  • Microwave for approximately 30 seconds, or until your brown sugar has softened 

how to soften brown sugar

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using The Microwave?: Method 2

Prep Time: 20 seconds
Total Time: 20 seconds
Difficulty: Easy

The hardened brown sugar is placed in a microwave-safe bowl and covered by a damp towel, before being set in the microwave for approximately 20 seconds or until the brown sugar has softened.

Materials

  • Brown sugar

Tools

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Damp dishcloth or paper towel

Instructions

  • Retrieve a microwave-safe bowl, as well as your brown sugar 
  • Place the hardened brown sugar in the bowl 
  • Dampen a paper towel or dishcloth and lay it over top of the sugar 
  • Place it in the microwave for approximately 20 seconds, or until the sugar is sufficiently softened
How To Soften Brown Sugar In The Oven

How To Soften Brown Sugar In The Oven?

Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Sugar is wrapped tightly in foil and then placed on a baking sheet at 250 degrees Fahrenheit until it is soft. 

Materials

  • Brown sugar

Tools

  • Oven
  • Baking Sheet
  • Foil

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Take out a baking sheet 
  • Place your hardened brown sugar on a sheet of foil 
  • Wrap the foil around the sugar tightly 
  • Place the foil-wrapped sugar onto the baking sheet 
  • Place in the oven 
  • Check on the sugar every couple of minutes until it is sufficiently softened 

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight?: Bread

Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Brown sugar is placed in an airtight container with a slice of bread overnight until the sugar is soft.

Materials

  • Brown sugar
  • Slice of bread

Tools

  • Airtight container

Instructions

  • Place your hardened brown sugar in an airtight container 
  • Set a slice of bread into the container and close the lid tightly 
  • Allow the brown sugar to sit with the bread overnight 
  • Once the sugar is soft, you can remove the bread!

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight?: Marshmallows

Prep Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Brown sugar is placed in an airtight container with a few marshmallows overnight until the sugar is soft.

Materials

  • Brown sugar
  • 4-5 marshmallows (large)

Tools

  • Airtight container

Instructions

  • Place your hardened brown sugar in an airtight container 
  • Set a few marshmallows into the container and close the lid tightly 
  • Allow the brown sugar to sit with the marshmallows overnight 
  • Once the sugar is soft, you can remove the marshmallows!

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight

How To Soften Brown Sugar Overnight?: Apple Slices

Prep Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Brown sugar is placed in an airtight container with apple slices overnight until the sugar is soft.

Materials

  • Brown sugar
  • Apple slices

Tools

  • Airtight container

Instructions

  • Place your hardened brown sugar in an airtight container 
  • Set a few slices of apple into the container and close the lid tightly 
  • Allow the brown sugar to sit with the apple slices overnight
  • Once the sugar is soft, you can remove the apple slices.
How To Soften Brown Sugar Using A Food Processor

How To Soften Brown Sugar Using A Food Processor?

Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Hardened brown sugar is broken up into smaller chunks using a food processor and then broken down even further using a fine mesh sieve. 

Materials

  • Brown sugar

Tools

  • Food processor
  • Fine mesh sieve

Instructions

  • Retrieve your food processor and hardened brown sugar
  • Place the brown sugar in the food processor
  • Begin blending until all of the hard chunks have been broken up 
  • Remove brown sugar
  • If there are still smaller chunks you would like to get rid of, put the sugar through a fine mesh sieve
Jess Smith
Skip to Instructions