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Ne-Mo’s Baking Basics: Types of Sugar

One of the most important ingredients you can use in your baking is sugar, but it does much more than sweeten desserts. There are 11 commonly used varieties of sugar, and each serves their own unique purpose in baking and cooking. Besides sweetening your favorite recipes, sugar can also enhance the flavor of other ingredients, add a specific type of texture, and serve as garnish or decoration. Different types of sugar can tenderize dough, stiffen egg whites in meringues, and lend a golden brown color to baked goods; in bread baking, sugar also activates the yeast that helps the dough rise.

Make your day (or someone else’s) a little sweeter when you incorporate these sugars into your baking recipes:

Granulated Sugar

Made from sugarcane and sugar beets, this highly refined, multi-purpose sugar is the most common type used in baking and cooking. Also called white sugar, the fine crystals don’t cake together, which makes it easy for measuring and dissolving into liquids.

Confectioners Sugar

Also called powdered sugar and 10x sugar, this type of sweetener is made from the refined granulated variety that has been ground into a fine powder. It also contains cornstarch, which prevents any lumps or caking together. Because it easily dissolves into liquids, confectioners sugar is used for icing, glazes, and decorations for pastries and other desserts.

Sanding Sugar

Also referred to as decorating sugar, this type of sweetener has much larger crystals than regular granulated sugar. About the same size as pretzel salt, the large crystals are sweeter and more heat resistant than white sugar. Its coarseness also adds a bit of texture to candy and baked goods. Available in a rainbow of fun colors, sanding sugar is also perfect for decorating cakes and cupcakes.

Cane Sugar

Unlike regular white sugar, this variety is made only from sugarcane and is minimally processed, which gives it a darker color and slightly larger grain. It can be used in place of white sugar for a hint of caramel and a chewy, moist texture in cookies and cupcakes.


This type of raw cane sugar has been minimally refined, giving it large crystals with a light brown color and a natural molasses flavor. It works best as a flavorful coffee and tea sweetener; it also makes a crunchy and sweet topping for muffins, cookies, scones and much more.

Turbinado Sugar

Another type of minimally processed raw cane sugar, this variety has large, medium-brown crystals, which makes it look like brown sugar, although they are not the same thing. Similar to regular cane sugar, it has a delicate flavor that works well as a sweetener for beverages and desserts.

Light Brown Sugar

Often mistaken for turbinado sugar, this type of refined white sugar contains a small amount of molasses, which has been added in order to create a wet, sandy texture and a hint of caramel flavor. You can use it for making a long list of baked goods like cookies, cakes, and brownies; it also can be used to add sweetness to savory foods such as marinades, barbecue sauces, and meat glazes.

Brown Sugar

The darker counterpart to the light brown variety, brown sugar is also made from refined white sugar but in this case, more molasses is added to produce a dark brown color and a stronger, more intense flavor. It also adds moisture to the batter, which can give baked goods a chewiness on the inside and a crispy, satisfying crust, the quintessential texture of soft batch cookies. Depending on the flavor you want to achieve, both light and dark brown sugar can be used in the same recipes.


A type of unrefined sugar, muscovado is minimally processed without removing the molasses, which gives it a rich and complex flavor. Compared to standard brown sugar, muscovado is much stronger, making it a go-to sweetener for savory sauces and marinades. When you want a more intense flavor in your baked goods, it can also be a substitute for dark brown or light brown sugar.

Caster Sugar

A superfine type of granulated white sugar, the tiny crystals of caster sugar dissolve much quicker in liquids than standard size granules. Use it to sweeten cocktails, syrups, or anytime you need to sweeten liquids in your baking or cooking.

Pearl Sugar

Also called nib or hail sugar, the pearl variety is a type of refined white sugar that has a milky color and a hard, coarse texture. Because it maintains its shape in high temperatures, pearl sugar is used to decorate cookies and other Scandinavian-style baked desserts.

When you choose the best sugar for your recipes, it can take your baking from average to out-of-this-world delicious. From the baking experts at Ne-Mo’s Bakery, here’s to ‘baking’ the world a better place!

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