How To Soften Brown Sugar

Brown sugar hardens when the moisture in it evaporates.

Unless properly stored, what was once a delicate, fluffy packet of brown sugar grains would have solidified into a dense brown lump strong enough to smash windows.

How To Soften Brown Sugar

It’s still safe to consume, but you won’t be able to precisely measure it for a recipe until it’s grainy and soft again.

All you have to do now is reintroduce some moisture and soften the brown sugar, and you’re ready to go.

Here are some ways that you can soften brown sugar and how to prevent it from happening again. 

Ways To Soften Brown Sugar

1. In The Oven

One of the first things you might attempt is baking your brown sugar to soften it.

All you need to do is preheat your oven to 250°F. Then, cover the solidified brown sugar with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.

This works by capturing the heat from the oven, causing the crystals in the sugar to split, causing the sugar to relax.

Check the sugar every five minutes and use a fork to break away any remaining hard portions. You may remove it from the oven once all of the clumps have disappeared.

However, you must allow the sugar to cool before using it.

2. In the Microwave

You can use a microwave instead of an oven if you don’t want to use your oven. In fact, this is the fastest technique to soften brown sugar.

The first thing you should do is purchase a microwave-safe bowl. Then, take a damp paper towel and wrap it over the bowl before placing it in the microwave.

This method works by transferring moisture from the paper towel into the sugar, which aids in separation.

Microwave on high for 20-second intervals, then use a fork to break apart tough clumps as you would in the oven.

3. With Apple Slices

It may sound unusual, but apple slices may be used to reactivate hardened brown sugar. Simply add a few apple slices in an airtight container and let for 24 hours to allow the brown sugar to melt.

Not only will this provide moisture to the brown sugar, but it will also add a hint of sweetness from the apple, giving it a fantastic punch in taste.

4. With Bread

Place a slice of fresh bread and the lumpy brown sugar in an airtight container. After a day or so, the sugar will have absorbed sufficient moisture from the bread to revert to its soft state. Take off the bread to avoid mold growth.

5. With Terra Cotta

Simply soak some terra cotta in water for around 20 minutes before placing it in an airtight container with the sugar.

By maintaining an optimal moisture level, the terra cotta brings the sugar back to life and prevents it from hardening again in approximately a day.

How To Soften Brown Sugar

Preventing Brown Sugar From Hardening

To avoid brown sugar from hardening once you’ve opened the package, store it correctly. Your brown sugar most likely arrived in a plastic bag or a carton with plastic packing inside.

In any scenario, once you’ve unwrapped the sugar, place it in an airtight container or seal it in a big resealable plastic bag to keep it wet.

This ensures that your brown sugar retains as much moisture as possible while being “scoopable” and ready for baking. You won’t have to use a brown sugar replacement this way.

As previously said, another approach to stop the sugar from hardening is to acquire a brown sugar saver. After you soak it, it is a little piece of terra cotta that you put  into the same container with the sugar.

Because of the porous quality of the terra cotta, it helps to keep moisture in. To keep the brown sugar soft, it only has to be redone every few months.

Does Brown Sugar Expire?

Brown sugar does not spoil since it does not promote microbial development. Brown sugar should be safe to use as long as it is not exposed to excessive moisture and is kept away from pantry pests.

How Long Does Brown Sugar Last?

Although brown sugar typically has a two-year shelf life, if you keep water and insects out of the container, it may stay much longer.

The ideal shelf life of brown sugar is thought to be around two years. The date on the label, which is sometimes stamped with the words “best-by” or “best-if-used-by,” indicates when that period ends.

This date is about quality rather than food safety and is not an “expiration date.” In other words, brown sugar keeps for a very long time after the expiration date.

Why Does My Brown Sugar Smell Weird?

Brown sugar, like other types of sugar absorbs various aromas, so if yours smells like something you keep close, it’s likely that your brown sugar also did. Additionally, it implies that the bag or container isn’t well sealed.

It’s advisable to get rid of it if the fragrance it emits is too overpowering. Otherwise, part of that smell will be released through your baked items, which is undesirable.

Does White Sugar Harden?

When exposed to moisture, white sugar, like any other type of sugar, hardens. Because dry heat might cause moisture to build in your white sugar, always store it in an airtight container to avoid moisture formation.

You can acquire it not just from high humidity, but also from improperly keeping them in the refrigerator.


The tendency of brown sugar to solidify and clump in the box creates a barrier for the amateur cook. Microwaving hardened brown sugar with a moist paper towel is the quickest way to soften it.

Brown sugar can also be softened in the oven or by leaving it out overnight with a slice of bread or an apple.

To keep brown sugar from hardening in the first place, put it in an airtight container with a piece of moistened terracotta to keep it moist.

Mark Williams