What Is Muscovado Sugar and How Is It Used?

Muscovado sugar in a bowl

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Is your sweet tooth curious about this trendy ingredient? Muscovado sugar is often confused with brown sugar, but is much more interesting than the average sweetener. Find out if muscovado sugar (and all other added sweeteners) can have a place in your diet.

What Is Muscovado Sugar?

Muscovado sugars are unrefined cane sugars made from sugar cane juice that has been evaporated and crystallized. This creates a rich, deeply colored sugary crystal with a sticky consistency and heaps of molasses built in. The sugar is coarse and granular, similar to damp sand; the abrasive texture also allows for a pleasant crunch. While it does resemble brown sugar, the production process is very different. Granulated sugar is processed to be stripped of molasses to create the fine white crystals most of us associate with sugar. In order to create light or dark brown sugars, a portion of molasses is added back afterwards. This multi-step process gives brown sugar an equally sweet yet slightly dull flavor when compared to muscovado.

Muscovado production is a global business, with India and Colombia making up more than 70 percent of the world's production.

Muscovado sugar contains 15 calories per teaspoon—the same amount as granulated sugar. But the production process retains small amounts of several minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.

Test Your Sugar IQ

Sugar is already in the public’s crosshairs, but remains a mysterious ingredient for many reasons. To help set the record straight, here are some facts that are important to recognize when it comes to the sweet stuff:

  • Added sugars are ADDED ingredients placed in foods to add sweetness during processing or preparation.
  • According to the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the major sources of added sugar in the American diet include sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks), desserts and sweet snacks, coffee and teas, and candies.
  • There are more than 20 types of added sugars commonly added to foods including granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup.
  • Most added sugars contain the same amount of calories, about 15 per teaspoon.
  • Added sugars are carbohydrates.
  • In contrast to the added variety, naturally occurring sugars are found in dairy products and fruit. These foods also contain fiber or protein, they are also nutrient-rich and less likely to cause sugar spikes in the blood.
  • Less refined added sugars such as honey and maple syrup do contain a trace mineral content but should not be considered a go-to source of minerals in the diet.

How Much Is Too Much?

The current daily value for added sugars is 50 grams based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This comes out to be about 400 calories. This is the same guidance from the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guideline for Americans that recommends that no more than 10% of calories come from added sugars. The best way to avoid over-consuming added sugars is to check food labels and limit sweets.

Where to Find Muscovado

Look for muscovado sugars in specialty food shops or online gourmet retailers and spice markets. A one pound package costs about $6.00 to $7.00 per pound, compared to an equal portion of granulated sugar costing about $1.00 per pound.

10 Ways To Use Muscovado

The smoky and caramelized flavor of muscovado sugar can be used for several sweet and savory applications. Light and dark varieties have similar flavor elements but dark has a more flavorful edge, tasting a little like licorice. Light muscovado may hold up to high temperatures better since it has less molasses. For these reasons, opt for light muscovado when making simmered down recipes such as glazes, chutney, and caramel sauce. Hungry yet? Here are even more ways to use muscovado sugars in everyday recipes.

Add a few sprinkles of muscovado to dry rubs and wet marinades for beef, lamb, and vegetables like potatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers. Combine light or dark muscovado with dried spices, vinegar, and a splash of oil.

Dipping Sauces
Take advantage of the earthy elements of this sweetener to add depth to a fruit and yogurt dip or add an element of smoky sweetness to your favorite hummus recipe.

Salad Dressings
Make a bolder balsamic vinaigrette by combining 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar along with minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk in a few teaspoons of muscovado and store in the fridge for up to one week.

Give freshly popped kernels a kettle corn essence for a lot less calories. Drizzle hot popcorn with a small amount of melted salted butter that’s been spiked with a few teaspoons of muscovado.

Yogurt Parfaits
In a wide mouth jar or glass, layer plain Greek yogurt with fresh seasonal fruit and chopped nuts. Top the parfait off with a dusting of muscovado sugar.

Coffee + Tea
Whether it is Chai tea, black coffee, or an almond milk latte, muscovado is an ideal sweetener option for hot beverages. Since it does have such a powerful flavor you can use less to save calories—a little goes a long way.

Chocolate and muscovado are a match made in dessert heaven. Chewy brownies are begging for that rich molasses flavor.

Swap in muscovado for brown sugar in your favorite cookie recipe. Slightly reduce the liquid in the recipe for the best cookie dough consistency.

Glazes for Meats
Whisk together muscovado, citrus juice and few shots of soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce into a thick and glossy glaze for ham and pork roast.

Cook chunks of apple, mango, or pineapple with raisins and spices like cardamom, allspice, and salt. Pour in a splash of apple cider vinegar for acidity and a hefty dose of muscovado. Cook into a thick and jammy chutney and once cooled and chilled, serve with whole grain crackers and a chunks of sharp cheese.

Caramel Sauce
Muscovado is ideal for a caramel sauce and while a sweet sauce like this isn't exactly healthy, you can avoid the preservatives and thickeners found in store-bought brands by making it homemade. Boiling down creates a potent and edgy caramel sauce to drizzle over frozen yogurt or for dipping salted pretzels.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Heart Association. Sugar 101.

By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is an author, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc.