Sugar mix

Types of sugar from cane and beet

Types of sugar produced from cane and beet sugar

Different types of sugar from cane and beet can be produced with a variety of characteristics, such as differing colours and crystal sizes. 

These different types of sugar enable sugar to perform a range of functions in foods and drinks, in addition to providing sweetness and varying flavours. The type of sugar chosen, both in the home and in food manufacturing, is usually based on taste and functional qualities.

Bowls of different types of sugar

Different types of sugar

Find out more below, about the different types of sugar and their main usage occasions.

White sugars

White sugar is used in food production, at home and in professional kitchens. It is naturally white. Below are some of the different types of white sugars available:

Sometimes called table sugar, this is the type of sugar most people are familiar with and is the type you would typically find in your sugar bowl. It is often used in baking in products such as cakes and biscuits and is also used to sweeten tea and coffee.

Caster sugar (sometimes called superfine sugar) is a type of granulated sugar which has finer crystals. These smaller crystals dissolve more easily and enable smooth textures, beneficial when making foods like meringues, mousses, or creamed mixtures for cake baking. Caster sugar can also be used for sweetening cold drinks like lemonade.

Sometimes called icing or confectioners’ sugar, this sugar is finer still having been ground to a smooth, fine powder. It contains a small amount of corn starch to prevent clumping. Powdered sugar is often used in icing, confectionery or whipping cream.

Brown sugars

Brown sugars contain some molasses which contributes to their characteristic colour and flavour. The more molasses, the stickier the crystals, the darker the colour and the stronger the flavour. In general, brown sugars contain more moisture so they tend to clump together more. This moisture offers useful functionality, for example it helps baked goods such as cookies retain their chewy texture.

Light and dark brown sugars are made by mixing varying quantities of molasses with white sugar or by boiling a brown sugar syrup. Light brown sugar offers a mellow, caramel flavour. It is useful in sauces and baked goods, such as sponge cakes. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses, so has a deeper colour and stronger flavour, making it ideal for foods as diverse as gingerbread, baked beans and meat glazes.

Demerara sugar can be made by dehydrating the syrup extracted from sugar cane. It is a light brown sugar, with large, golden crystals which is slightly sticky due to the molasses. It can be used in speciality baking and is delicious in coffee due to its soft toffee flavour. 

Also known as Barbados sugar, muscovado sugar is very dark brown, coarser and has a stronger flavour than other brown sugars. It is an unrefined cane sugar in which the molasses has not been removed. It has a depth of flavour that can be very useful in marinades, savoury dishes and baked goods such as fruit cakes. 

Although sometimes called raw sugar, this type of brown sugar is partially refined. The surface molasses has been washed off leaving a light brown sugar with a mild caramel flavour, which has large crystals. It can be used for hot drinks and to provide a crunchy topping for cookies, muffins or pastries. 

Liquid sugars

Liquid sugars offer different functionality to other types of sugar due to their consistency and pouring qualities. They provide a range of flavours.

Popular in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, golden syrup is produced from liquid sugar and invert sugar – sugar that has been partially broken down into its component parts glucose and fructose. It has a golden colour as its name suggests, and a sweet caramel-toffee like flavour. It can be used in a variety of baked goods.

Treacle is a darker syrup, with a deeper colour, very thick texture and rich flavour, with hints of liquorice and smokiness. It can be used in baking, traditional puddings and savoury sauces or glazes.