Many people think of brown sugar as a healthier, tastier alternative to processed white sugar. Whether it tastes better or not is a personal opinion, it is not necessarily any healthier. Most brown sugar on the supermarket shelves is simply regular white sugar with molasses added for color and flavor.
Is there a good brown sugar substitute keto? There are commercially produced brown sugar substitutes that fit into a keto diet, and it’s reasonably easy to make your own as well. If you like the taste of brown sugar and want to include it in your keto meals, you can.
Brown sugar is sweet and flavorful, and sometimes people who are eating keto miss the taste. If that’s the case, you can purchase keto-friendly brown sugar substitutes or create them in your kitchen using keto-friendly ingredients. You don’t have to give up the taste of brown sugar to be healthy.
What Is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar was originally just a raw version of white sugar. It retains some of the molasses that is removed when refining the white sugar. Brown sugar used to be the “regular” sugar sold in stores. White sugar was fancier and it was considered a luxury.
In the late 1800s, white sugar manufacturers claimed that brown sugar was infested by microbes (which is not untrue; they are everywhere, but they are harmless and ubiquitous). The success of this campaign eventually led to white sugar being considered the “normal” sugar and brown sugar being relegated to the back of the shelf.
Now, because the sales of white sugar dramatically outpace the sales of brown sugar, it’s actually easier for sugar manufacturers to focus on making white sugar and then adding the molasses back in to create brown sugar.
Brown sugar that is packaged and sold in stores must contain at least 88% sucrose. Light brown sugar must have at least 3.5% molasses and dark brown sugar must have at least 6.5% molasses.
Natural sugar is the original brown sugar. It retains some of the molasses present in the partially evaporated cane juice.
Is Brown Sugar Keto?
There is no kind of sugar that is keto-friendly, and that includes brown sugar. A single tablespoon of brown sugar contains approximately 13.5 grams of sugar carbohydrates. For many people, depending on their desired macros, that can be well over half the allotted daily carbs.
What Is a Keto Substitute for Brown Sugar?
Commercially available keto substitutes for brown sugar include:
- Sukrin Gold Brown Sugar Alternative: This sweetener is made of all-natural ingredients including erythritol, stevia, and malt. The texture, flavor, and aroma are similar to commercial brown sugar, and it can be substituted 1:1 in recipes. A two-teaspoon serving has 8 grams of sugar alcohols and zero net carbs.
- Truvia Brown Sugar Blend: This brown sugar substitute is made with stevia, erythritol, sugar, and molasses. It bakes and browns just as well as regular sugar. A one-teaspoon serving has 2 grams of sugars and 2 grams of sugar alcohol for 2 grams of net carbs.
- Brown Erythritol: Brown erythritol is usually sold as an unbranded generic product and may require a little sleuthing to find. A two-teaspoon serving has 8 grams of sugar alcohols and zero net carbs.
Is Swerve Brown Sugar Keto-Friendly?
Brown Swerve is made with erythritol, oligosaccharides, fruit juice concentrate, and natural flavors. It is a keto-friendly 1:1 substitute for commercial brown sugar and it bakes very nicely. A one-teaspoon serving has 4 grams of sugar alcohol and zero net carbs.
How to Make Keto Brown Sugar at Home
If you would like to make your own keto-friendly brown sugar substitute at home, it’s easy to do. Mix together erythritol, maple extract (for color and flavor), and stevia glycerite (for sweetness and softness).
Some keto cooks report that artificial maple extract actually produces a flavor closer to commercial brown sugar. You can substitute monkfruit and a bit of vegetable glycerin for the stevia.
Or you can mix keto-friendly maple-flavored syrup into your sweetener of choice. You’ll need to store this in a container with an airtight lid. Different brands of syrup will have different colors and consistencies.
If you are willing to accept a minimal amount of sugar carbs in exchange for a more authentic taste and texture, stir some blackstrap molasses into erythritol.
What Are Other Names for Brown Sugar?
Depending on the country of origin and degree of refinement, it may be sold as panela, rapadura, jaggery, muscovado, piloncillo, turbinado, demerara, or raw sugar. Sugar that is less refined retains more molasses, and is darker and more flavorful.
Muscovado is the darkest and least refined of these sugars. Japanese kokuto is a lump sugar that is so dark that it is referred to as black sugar instead of brown, although it does lighten somewhat when it is broken into smaller pieces.