How To Soften Hard Brown Sugar


5+ Easy Ways To Soften Brown Sugar - A Cozy Kitchen

How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar is a step-by-step tutorial on softening brown sugar. Duh. Have you ever gone to your pantry wanting to make cookies and then realize that the brown sugar is totally hard? It’s such a bummer.

I found about 5 or 6 bags of hard brown sugar and I wanted to do something about it!

My grandmother never taught me to do this. I learned about this years ago from Google and Instagram.I’m pretty sure I was baking at midnight (my favorite time to bake) and wanted to make cookies (obviously), only to find that the brown sugar was hard and looked like McDonald’s chicken nuggets.

If this isn’t obvious advice to you and you really would like to know how to save your brown sugar, continue…

5+ Easy Ways To Soften Brown Sugar - A Cozy Kitchen

There are a few methods on how to soften brown sugar:

The Best Ways To Soften Brown Sugar:

Option 1 to Soften Brown Sugar

  • Using an apple. You can actually place a sliced apple into your brown sugar bin and the moisture from the apple should transfer to the brown sugar. (But then your brown sugar sort of has an essence of apple?)

Option 2 to Soften Brown Sugar:

  • Using clay tiles. They sell clay tiles specifically for keeping brown sugar moist. Most bakeries use these and they are very effective. (Definitely the move but didn’t feel like going to the nursery.)

Option 3 to Soften Brown Sugar:

  • Microwaving the brown sugar. You can always add the brown sugar and a drop of water or two to a bowl. And then turn the microwave on high for 1 minute. This works like a charm. (I don’t own a microwave. I know, I know…)

Option 4 to Soften Brown Sugar:

  • White Bread! This is my favorite method. Grocery stores should really sell a few slices of bread, instead of a loaf. I’d be pretty into it.

How to Soften Brown Sugar with Bread:

  • I added the blocks of brown sugar to a bowl and added a slice of bread I cut in half.How To Moisten Brown Sugar
  • I wrapped the bowl in plastic and since I wanted to time the whole process, I wrote the time I started on the plastic wrap.

How To Moisten Brown Sugar

  • When I returned nine hours later, only half of the brown sugar had softened. And the bread felt dry and stale. All of the bread’s moisture had transferred to the brown sugar. MAGIC!


  • Some of the brown sugar was still dry so I added one more slice and left it overnight.

How To Moisten Brown Sugar

  • When I woke up in the morning, all of the brown sugar was soft.

You’ll need two slices of white or wheat bread. And normal, store-bought bread works best!

Why Does Brown Sugar Go Hard?

First we have to discuss, what is brown sugar. Each granule of sugar is coated in a thin layer of molasses. That’s really what brown sugar is: brown sugar coated and mixed with a bit of molasses. When the sugar is fresh and moist, the molasses that coats it, slips against the other granules easily. When it looses its moisture, that molasses hardens.

Is Hard Brown Sugar Bad?

The good news with hard brown sugar is that it can easily be re-hydrated. Molasses can absorb moisture from either bread or a clay plate or water (see above) and then you can proceed to use it in whatever recipe or way you like.

My Favorite Recipes that Use Soft Brown Sugar!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies

5+ Easy Ways To Soften Brown Sugar - A Cozy Kitchen

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Terry May 19, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    While it is years later since your original post, I sure do appreciate your helping me with my hardened brown sugar. Thank you so much!

  • Reply Kate February 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

    You can also break into manageable chunks and chuck in the food processor and using the chopper blade break it all up. And if you are baking you may already have the processor out already.

  • Reply jenny September 28, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Isn’t it great? Bread has been my ‘go-to’ save for years. But sometimes when you have those “BUT I NEED THE BROWN SUGAR NOW!!!” it’s frustrating. I bought one of those terracotta bears (they have a flower one too) that is sold anywhere they kitchen equipment. You soak it in water (about a half an hour) and it keeps your BSugar soft for a really long time. The good thing is that when the terracotta bear/flower finally loses all it’s water the bread trick works much faster because it will never get THAT rock hard. Just a Family and Consumer Science teacher sharing her two cents!

  • Reply Terri September 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Add a slice of bread to your homemade cookies and they stay nice and soft.

  • Reply Pamela Downer September 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Once I open the bag, I put a slice of apple in it.

  • Reply Donna giblin September 27, 2013 at 9:55 am

    You can leave a slice in your container or bag the entire time and it stays soft so you won’t have to soften it. That’s the way my grandmother did it, that’s the way my mother did it, that’s the way I do it! Hope this helps.


  • Reply Alison at NOVA Frugal Family September 23, 2013 at 6:01 am

    My mom always put the bread into the brown sugar…she also used that with oatmeal cookies if they got a little dried out in the container. I laughed at your part of the post that said that people were rolling their eyes at common sense advice but not everyone knows it. I had a mother who taught me most of the recipes and cooking that I use today so I was really lucky 🙂

  • Reply christine July 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    you can also use a damp paper towel resting on the top, it’s worked in the past for me and no wasting foods – yay!!

  • Reply Evi May 9, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Awesome tip, thanks for sharing! Will have to try that out sometime- I definitely have a “hard brown sugar” problem once in a while!

  • Reply Abby April 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I read that bread tip a few years ago, and I use it 24/7 now! I always have a slice of bread in there–I just change it out every other week or so.

    And I’ve also seen half-loaves of bread in a few chain supermarkets (Kroger, etc)…that’s pretty close to a few slices! 🙂

  • Reply Francesca April 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

    This trick also works with softening cookies. I just pop a slice of bread in a container with homemade cookies, and they stay soft and moist!

  • Reply Marjorie Taylor April 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    The bread might work but I really needed it right away. The way spoken about here takes much longer than I want to shoot for. Thanks for the tip but no thanks.

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