Skip to Content

Palm Sugar vs Brown Sugar (What You Need To Know)

Palm Sugar vs Brown Sugar (What You Need To Know)

Brown sugar and palm sugar are both great ways to sweeten up all sorts of recipes. And if you are wondering which to use and what the differences between them are, you will learn everything you need to know right in this article.

When it’s time to do some baking in my kitchen, I often reach for either brown sugar or palm sugar (and sometimes both!) But if you are not familiar with baking with either of these dessert enhancing sweeteners, no need to fear.

What are the Differences and Similarities between Brown Sugar and Palm Sugar

top view of bowl of brown sugar with a spoon in it

Let’s cut right to the chase. In many recipes, you can use these two types of sugar interchangeably.

But before you do so, it’s important to understand how they are similar as well as different so you can be sure to use the right one (and in the right way) for your particular recipe.

If you are unsure if palm sugar or brown sugar is well suited for what you are baking, make sure to read on for the complete palm sugar vs brown sugar guide.

What is Palm Sugar

container and scoop of palm sugar

Don’t be surprised if you’ve recently been seeing palm sugar pop up in more recipes. This wonderful sweetener has been rapidly growing in popularity and can be found called for in many wonderful desserts and baked goods.

Palm sugar is produced from the sap of palm trees. To create this wonderful sweetener the sap is boiled down until it reaches a syrup like consistency it is then dried into hard crystal like pieces that are then ground into course pieces.

Palm sugar offers a color and consistency that is quite similar to brown sugar, demerara sugar or turbinado sugar but it is not as moist. That means it does not offer the signature tackiness of brown sugar.

Palm sugar offers a wonderful flavor with notes of caramel and butterscotch. Because of it’s complex flavor, palm sugar can be used in many of the same recipes as brown sugar.

Palm Sugar Uses

plate full of homemade chocolate chip cookies

With it’s high burn temperature and low melting point, palm sugar is an exceptional option for all types of baking.

Palm sugar also darkens a baked recipe, much like brown sugar does. This makes palm sugar an ideal option for baking cookies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and so much more.

Palm sugar also provides a wonderful flavor when caramelized. Keep in mind that due to it’s brown color, it’s color will not darken much when heated. Therefore, you will need to use a candy thermometer and remove your palm sugar from heat when 320 degrees is achieved.

What is Brown Sugar

glass container of light brown sugar and bowl of palm sugar

Brown sugar is a rich flavorful sweetener that is produced by adding molasses to refined granulated sugar. This addition provides the signature dark color and high moisture content this kitchen staple is known for.

Brown sugar generally can be found in both light and dark types and both are popular baking ingredients used in many types of recipes.

Related: Baking with dark and light brown sugar

Brown Sugar Uses

homemade peanut butter cookies on table

Brown sugar is one of the most popular sweeteners used around the world. It has more uses than can be listed here, but it’s safe to say you’ve had many desserts made using brown sugar.

With a low melting point and high burn temperature, brown sugar is an ideal baking sugar. It provides a deep flavor that offers notes of molasses and caramel and a high moisture content.

Brown sugar’s moisture content is quite a bit higher than palm sugar, and that is the biggest difference between these two popular sugars.

Like palm sugar, brown sugar will darken the color of your final dish.

Can you Substitute Brown Sugar for Palm Sugar

bowl with palm sugar viewed from above

Yes, brown sugar can be used instead of palm sugar in most recipes. Brown sugar provides a similar flavor and level of sweetness making it ideal for any recipe calling for palm sugar.

The primary consideration when substituting palm sugar with brown sugar is the moisture of your recipe. Because brown sugar has a higher moisture level than palm sugar, you may need to reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients. This is best achieved by starting with 1/2-3/4 of your liquid ingredients and adding more if your mixture is too dry.

Related: Palm sugar substitutes

When swapping brown sugar for palm sugar, use a 1:1 ratio.

Bottom Line

Both palm sugar and brown sugar are great ways to sweeten any baked good. They both provide a complex flavor that is quite similar to each other. They also provide a darker color to any recipe they are added to.

Both palm sugar and brown sugar can be used in place of the other in most recipes. The primary thing to watch out for is the moisture content of your final recipe. Because brown sugar is “more wet” than palm sugar, you may need to reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients used in your particular recipe.