What is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado Sugar is a natural type of cane or beet sugar that has been mildly processed in some manner. The result is an unrefined, minimally processed organic product though it is not certified as such. It is lighter in color and flavor than refined white sugar and also retains trace minerals that many health-minded individuals believe contribute to general health and wellbeing.

What Is Turbinado Sugar?

What Is Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado Sugar History

Sugar cane has been grown in Asia and South America for centuries. About 5,000 years ago, people began to extract the juice from the plant by crushing it in mills. Juice was then boiled down to a solid form for storage and transport. While it’s not clear where or when turbinado sugar originated, it is likely that the process was developed in the mid-19th century, after steam power became a common source of energy.

About Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is a raw sugar that’s minimally processed. It is made from the first pressing of the sugarcane plant. This process preserves many of the natural nutrients that are normally stripped out during commercial refinement. The term turbinado comes from the Spanish word for turbine, because it was once dried using turbine-like machines.

Because it’s usually produced using less pesticide and fertilizer than refined sugars, it’s often considered to be healthier than other types of natural sweeteners. Turbinado sugar is also known by many other names including demerara and raw sugar.

While turbinado sugar is sometimes used as a direct substitute for white sugar in baking, it does have some distinct differences that you should be aware of before using it.

Nutritional Benefits of Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado has more in common with brown sugar than it does with white sugar. It retains some of the same nutrients found in its source, most notably iron, potassium and calcium. The benefits of Turbinado sugar can be mentioned as follows:


A single teaspoon of turbinado contains about 18 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Calories: 18
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0.1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.6g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 4.6g
  • Protein: 0g


Turbinado sugar retains some of the trace minerals found in natural cane juice. These include calcium and magnesium, and although the amounts are small — about four milligrams per teaspoon of turbinado sugar — they are at least more than white table sugar’s zero milligrams. Turbinado also has potassium and phosphorus in trace amounts. These minerals are better sources in other foods and beverages, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products.


Darker sugars contain more antioxidant compounds than lighter ones because they retain more of the molasses from which they are made. Antioxidants help your body protect itself from free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease. The antioxidants found in molasses include selenium, manganese and copper as well as vitamin B-6; these help your body fight free radicals by neutralizing them before they have a chance to cause harm.

The Different Types of Turbinado Sugar

Different Types of Turbinado Sugar

There are three main types of turbinado sugar that are used in cooking: Raw, Demerara and Muscovado. All three of these sugars contain a small amount of molasses (which gives them their flavor and color), but each is different in terms of where they come from, what they taste like and how they are processed.

Raw Sugar

This is the type of sugar that is most often used as a substitute for white granulated sugar in baking and cooking. It is a light tan colored sugar with large crystals, which makes it perfect for sprinkling atop baked goods or using as a replacement for white sugar when making cookies or cakes.

Demerara Sugar

This type of sugar originates in Guyana and has large, pale brown crystals. It is less processed than raw turbinado sugar so it contains more molasses (and therefore has more flavor). It also has a slightly sticky texture which makes it work well when sprinkled on top of baked goods or added to coffee or tea.

Muscovado Sugar

This is the darkest, most flavorful type of turbinado sugar. The crystals are very small and the consistency is like that of brown sugar. It works well when used as a replacement for brown sugar in baking or cooking. It has an extremely strong molasses flavor that works well in baked goods and sauces like barbecue sauce or steak marinades. It’s often sold as an expensive gourmet product.

How To Use Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado sugar can be used as a replacement for regular brown sugar. It can also be used in recipes that call for regular granulated sugar. You will want to use less turbinado sugar than the recipe calls for in order to get the proper sweetness.

You can also use turbinado as a topping for muffins, cakes and other sweet treats. If you are baking something with a lighter color, such as cookies, turbinado is a good choice because it does not change the color of doughs when it is baked (as opposed to molasses, which will darken the baked goods).

Turbinado is commonly sprinkled on top of foods before they are cooked in order to add a bit of sweetness and crunch to the top layer. Because it does not melt easily, it can be used as an anti-stick coating when baking things like cookies or muffins.

You can also use turbinado sugar to make candied nuts. Melt butter and brown sugar together, then toss raw nuts in the mix and coat them evenly. Then spread onto a baking sheet and bake until they look done (about 10 minutes).

In addition to its culinary uses, turbinado sugar makes a wonderful body scrub! You can mix it with other ingredients such as olive oil or honey to make your own body scrub at home. It can be used on a daily basis, and it will help exfoliate dead cells and detoxify your skin while moisturizing it at the same time.

Making your own body scrub out of natural ingredients is healthier and much cheaper than buying commercial products which are full of chemicals, preservatives and artificial fragrances. Once you try this quick and easy recipe, you will find yourself reaching for this natural product again and again!

Turbinado Sugar Recipes

Turbinado sugar is perfect as a substitute for white or brown sugar in any traditional application. There are many interesting Turbinado Sugar recipes you’ll want to try!

1. Turbinado Sugar Cookies


  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Cream together butter or margarine and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.
  2. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture.
  3. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
  5. Cool slightly on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

2. Caramelized Turbinado Sugar Pork Chops

Caramelized Turbinado Sugar Pork Chops


  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 boneless pork chops
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Method 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread turbinado sugar on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes or until the sugar is almost melted. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Break into pieces with a wooden spoon or meat tenderizer. Place turbinado sugar in a plastic bag; add the olive oil and pork chops. Close bag tightly, squeeze to coat chops, and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally. The next day, remove chops from bag, reserving marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Discard remaining marinade.
  • Method 2: Heat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. Place pork chops on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes per side, until browned and slightly pink in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

3. Turbinado Sugar Body Scrub Recipe


  • 1/2 cup of Turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of baby oil
  • 1/4 cup of sweet almond oil
  • 2 teaspoons vitamin E oil


  1. Combine the ingredients together in a bowl. If you want to be extra thorough, you can mix the ingredients with a hand mixer.
  2. Store the scrub in an airtight container until you are ready to use it.


Turbinado sugar is a first-rate sweetener, with a rich color and natural sweetness set apart from the other sugars by its crunchy crystals. It’s also a source of calcium and iron, which can make up for the lack of these necessary minerals from other foods in your daily diet. And if you’re concerned about snacking in front of your kids, turbinado sugar can help you relax and let go of the guilt that comes with eating those snacks in front of your children, because you know that it will still be a healthy choice.

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