Home Articles How to Soften Brown Sugar (5 Easy Ways)

How to Soften Brown Sugar (5 Easy Ways)

Wondering how to soften brown sugar? I have you covered!

We’ve all run into the dilemma of having brown sugar bricks.

You’re ready to get baking, but your brown sugar resembles a building material more than a cooking ingredient. 

Soft Brown Sugar

Dried out brown sugar doesn’t mean that your sugar has gone bad. It means that it’s in dire need of a little bit of moisture. 

So, how can you soften brown sugar? 

If you need to quickly soften brown sugar for a batch of late-night chocolate chip cookies, check out these clever tricks! 

Why Does Brown Sugar Get Hard?

To understand how to renew your sugar, you first need to know why it gets hard. 

Brown sugar is refined sugar infused with molasses. That’s where it gets its lovely brown coloring. 

The sugar crystals in brown sugar become hard when exposed to air.

When the moisture content evaporates, it turns your fluffy brown sugar into a solid sugar brick. 

As soon as you rip open your bag of brown sugar, you’ve started the hardening process.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that your brown sugar has gone bad! It simply means that it has lost its moisture content.

To revive your brown sugar, you need to infuse it with moisture.

You can either add some heat from the oven or microwave or get more creative. 

These tricks below are great ways to revive your hardened brown sugar, saving you yet another trip to the store. 

How to Soften Brown Sugar

A Person Using an Oven

1. How to Soften Brown Sugar in the Oven

The oven method is quick, easy, and one of the most effective ways to revive your brown sugar. 

With your oven set at a low temperature (250 degrees Fahrenheit works best), place your brown sugar in an oven-safe bowl.

After a few minutes, carefully remove your bowl and try and loosen it up with a spoon.

If it’s still hard, pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes and constantly check in on it. 

If you’re in a hurry, avoid the temptation to kick up the oven’s temperature. Higher temperatures will cause the sugar to melt. 

A Person Using A Microwave Oven

2. How to Soften Brown Sugar in the Microwave

The microwave method may not be the most effective, but it’s undoubtedly the fastest. 

Place your brick into a bowl, and cover it with a damp paper towel.

The water content in the paper towel helps to infuse lost moisture in your sugar. 

Run your microwave in short 10-second bursts, and then try and break it up with a spoon.

While the microwave method is fast and easy, you mustn’t nuke it for too long. 

If you run your microwave for longer than 10 seconds, you risk melting your sugar. 

3. How to Soften Brown Sugar with Bread

Bakers found the bread method to be the best solution, but it takes time. It also wastes a slice of bread.

This method is fool-proof and won’t run the risk of melting your sugar. 

Bread has a high moisture content, and it likes to sweat that moisture into your sugar.

Place a slice of bread into an air-tight container with your sugar, and let it sit out on the counter overnight. 

The following day, remove the bread and loosen your sugar with a fork. 

4. How to Soften Brown Sugar with Terra Cotta

Hardened brown sugar is such a problem among bakers that there’s a line of products to combat this problem.

Terra cotta sugar savers are a simple (and less wasteful) way to infuse moisture into your parched sugar. 

Soak a terra cotta brick in water for 15-20 minutes, then pop it into an air-tight container.

While some leave their terra cotta out overnight, others have found that they loosen sugar in a few hours. 

Plus, you can use a terra cotta saver as a prevention method.

Place a soaked saver into your bag of brown sugar, and it helps keep it moist for months.

They’re cheap and convenient!

Apple Slices in a Bowl

5. How to Soften Brown Sugar with an Apple Slice

If you’re baking an apple crumble, you can likely spare a single apple slice to resurrect your brown sugar. 

The apple slice method works just like the bread method. Place an apple slice into an air-tight container with your brown sugar.

The moisture content of the apple will infuse your dehydrated sugar with moisture. 

Once your sugar is fluffy, discard the apple slice.

This method is super simple, and you won’t run the risk of accidentally melting your brown sugar. 

Brown Sugar in a Jar

How to Store Brown Sugar

The best solution for hardened brown sugar is prevention!

I store all of my sugars in clear plastic containers with tight lids.

Not only does this method help keep moisture out, but it also looks so nice and organized.

Opting for clear containers makes it easy to identify brown, powdered, or granulated sugar at a glance.

Plus, they look so pretty, I keep them out on the counter!

Storing sugar in air-tight containers prevents your sugar from drying out and also keeps it fresher for longer. 

No matter what style of container you use, it’s essential that it has an air-tight lid.

Brown sugar hardens when exposed to air, so a tight lid is critical. 

In a pinch, a good old-fashioned freezer bag works, too. Just be sure that it has a tight seal so no air can enter. 

If you don’t use brown sugar very often, you can also store it in your freezer.

In the panty, brown sugar is best when used within 18 months. In the freezer, you can keep it indefinitely. 

How to Soften Brown Sugar

Learn how to soften brown sugar using 5 easy methods! From the oven to the microwave, you’ll never have to deal with brown sugar bricks again.


  • Hard brown sugar


  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. (Be sure to keep the temperature low. Higher temperatures may melt your sugar).
  • Place sugar brick in an oven-safe bowl or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Heat sugar for 2-3 minutes, and loosen the brick with a fork.
  • If sugar is still hard, repeat the process until the sugar has retained its lost moisture.
  • Once revived, store extra brown sugar in an airtight container.
How to Soften Brown Sugar

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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