How To Keep Brown Sugar Soft

If you bake a lot then you know there are certain ingredients in your kitchen that will frustrate you endlessly.

One of these is brown sugar. A versatile and flavorsome product but notorious for getting clumpy and drying out when you’re not looking. 

How To Keep Brown Sugar Soft

So we are going to look at how to keep brown sugar soft and restore it if it does harden.  

Why Does Brown Sugar Harden?

Brown sugar is made from white sugar that has been coated in molasses. The taste is great, and it has a savory dimension that other sugars don’t have. But it will also harden in the blink of an eye. Why is that?

Molasses loses moisture and when it does the sugar crystals tend to stick together forming clumps. This is especially true if the brown sugar is in an unsealed bag or a container that is not airtight. 

Ways To Keep Brown Sugar Soft

So how do you keep brown sugar soft? There are some obvious ways and then there are the less than obvious and somewhat peculiar ways of keeping brown sugar soft. 

Let’s take a look at them all. 

Airtight Container

Putting your brown sugar straight from its packaging into an airtight container will keep it soft. As soon as you open the bag transfer the contents into a sealed glass jar or plastic container with an airtight lid. 

This prevents any air getting into the sugar and drying out the molasses. Avoid using metal containers as the moisture from the sugar can cause them to corrode. 

As counterintuitive as it may sound, brown sugar should be stored in a cool, moist area. Most baking ingredients are best in a cool, dry area, but not so for brown sugar. Although it must be in an airtight container first. 

Bread Slices

By storing brown sugar in a container with a slice of bread you will be able to keep the brown sugar soft.

This works because the sugar is able to draw moisture from the bread and so doesn’t dry out and harden. 

You will need to check the condition of the bread slice on a regular basis and provide a fresh one when necessary.

Over time the sugar will absorb all the moisture from the bread, and it will harden. Simply take it out and replace it with a fresh slice. 

Use Marshmallows

So what do marshmallows have to do with brown sugar and how on earth can they possibly keep brown sugar from drying out and hardening?

Well it turns out the same way that bread keeps brown sugar soft. The sugar absorbs the moisture from the marshmallow and remains soft. 

Just pop one or two marshmallows into the brown sugar container and let them work their marshmallowy magic.

Remember to check occasionally if the marshmallows have dried out and replace them as necessary. 

Apple Slices

If you need to soften brown sugar, and you don’t have any bread or marshmallows you can use apple slices instead.

Put one or two slices of apple into the container of brown sugar and if it has lost any moisture it will draw it out of the apple and be replenished. 

Don’t forget to take the apple slices out after a couple of days and your brown sugar should be as good as new. 

Brown Sugar Bear

A wonderful and cute invention is the brown sugar bear. This little terracotta bear can be soaked in water for twenty minutes and put into your container of brown sugar. 

As well as being the cutest way to keep your sugar from hardening this little guy will keep your brown sugar moist for between three and six months. It is made from food safe clay and is perfectly reusable.

It can be used dry to draw moisture out of things you want to keep dry. 

How To Moisten Hardened Brown Sugar

How To Moisten Hardened Brown Sugar

If you do go to use your brown sugar and find that it is as hard as granite there are a few ways you can get it soft and usable again. 


Put your hardened brown sugar in a plastic bag and sprinkle a few drops of water over it. Don’t overdo the water though as too much will dissolve the sugar. 

Close up the plastic bag and leave for a couple of days. The water will soften the sugar as it makes its way through the contents of the bag. 

Another method is to wet some kitchen paper and then wring out the excess water.

Place the damp paper towel over the top of the brown sugar in the container and replace the lid. Leave overnight and in the morning the sugar should be softened. 

Food Processor

If you don’t have time to wait overnight or a few days for your brown sugar to soften you can use a food processor to break up the lumps. 

Put the sugar in the food processor and use the pulse function to break up the hardened sugar. You can then use a sieve to filter out the larger pieces to render it usable again. 


If you don’t have a food processor you can use your microwave to soft brown sugar. Transfer the brown sugar to a microwaveable plastic bag. 

Now wet a piece of kitchen paper and wring out the excess water. Place the damp kitchen paper folded up in the bag with the sugar. Seal the bag and microwave for around 20 seconds. 

Check the sugar and if it is not as soft as you would like, microwave it for another 20 seconds. 

In Conclusion

There are a few ways to keep your brown sugar soft, essentially by keeping it in a glass or plastic airtight container. 

However, if you find that your brown sugar has gone clumpy or hard you also know how to get it soft enough to use again. 

We hope you have found this guide helpful on how to keep your brown sugar soft. 

Mark Williams