How to Soften Brown Sugar


When I reorganized my baking pantry, I made a vital mistake: I stored my brown sugar in a container with a broken latch. It wasn’t airtight, and brown sugar loses moisture quickly, so I was soon left with a dry, hard, packed mass of brown sugar. This isn’t exactly conducive to baking, but I didn’t want to toss the entire container out.  Luckily, hardened brown sugar is easy to remedy!

Here’s the best way to soften brown sugar:

Transfer the brown sugar to an airtight container.  Cover it with a layer of plastic wrap, pressing it down against the top surface of the sugar, and top the plastic wrap with a damp paper towel.  Seal the container and allow the brown sugar to sit for a day or two.  At the end, the brown sugar will be soft again, and it will stay that way.  Seal it up…airtight this time! It should stay soft.

But if you are in a pinch and need soft brown sugar ASAP, try this:

Microwave the brown sugar in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel for 15 second intervals until soft. As the brown sugar cools, it will harden again, but this will make it soft enough to measure out and work with.

To avoid hardened brown sugar altogether:

Store it in an airtight (truly airtight– no cracks in the lid like I accidentally did!) container. Store in a cool, dark place.

Have any food storage questions for me?


  1. says

    I SO need to do this. My brown sugar always gets hard and becomes incredibly annoying to try to use. Great tip!

  2. says

    I’ve found that since I started making my own I don’t have a problem with it getting hard since I only make a little extra each time. I store it in a glass pyrex with tight fitting lid but not more than 1 cup at a time.

      • says

        It’s really simple, I learned it from Alanna Chernila’s book, The Homemade Pantry. You mix regular white sugar with molasses (2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on how dark you want it) with a fork until its fully incorporated and fluffy. Takes a few minutes to get it mixed well but I love being able to control the darkness and not storing all sorts of brown sugar.

  3. says

    I am definitely doing this. My brown sugar always ends up hard as a rock, even when I put it in a ziploc bag. I end up putting it in a coffee grinder to turn it into a fine poweder when I use it, lol. Now I won’t have to anymore!