Different Types of Sugar Explained


I don’t usually dedicate entire posts to events that I was invited to attend but this particular one that I went to was fascinating. It was all about sugar! All the different types of sugar to use for baking and cooking were on display as well as a few “new” sugars Tate & Lyle have developed. Forget wine tastings I want more sugar tastings!

Sitting in front of 10 different sugars is confusing and I had the brand manger explaining them all to me! Standing in the aisle and trying to decide which bag you need for your cake or pie can be tough so I’ve posted this handy guide to different types of sugar. I’ve based my guide on the new Tate & Lyle range which is probably more extensive than most brands. Check the label before you buy. I would recommend pure cane sugars rather than sugar made from beets (the packaging should make it clear which kind you’re buying).

Sugar Collage

Living in the UK we’re sometimes disadvantaged by choice of baking ingredients but I think we are miles ahead with our choice of sugars available at the supermarket. In America some of these types are branded as specialty sugars. I was really impressed with the Cake Hotel that Tate & Lyle made to launch their new range of sugar.

Granulated Sugar & Golden Granulated Sugar
About: Pure cane sugar. Sugar that you use everyday that melts and dissolves slowly. Golden granulated is sparkling gold color with a subtle caramel note.
Uses: Tea, coffee, baking, endless possibilities

Caster Sugar & Golden Caster Sugar
About: Pure cane sugar with superfine crystals that blend easily. Golden caster sugar is pale in color and has a light honey flavor.
Uses: Perfect for baking, cakes and meringues

Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
About: Pure cane sugar ground to a powder with an anti-caking agent.
Uses: Glazes and Buttercream frosting

Golden Syrup Sugar
About: Cane sugar mixed with Tate & Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Rich and bold flavor.
Uses: Fruit desserts and savory dishes

Demerera Sugar
About: Unrefined sugar. Fruity sweet spiced sugar with large glassy looking crystals
Uses: Hot drinks, decorative toppings for cookies, and fruit crumbles

Light Muscovado Sugar
About: Unrefined sugar. Aromatic flavor with a honey color, moist and crumbly texture
Uses: Brownies, muffins and breakfast treats

Light Soft Brown Sugar
About: Moist, quickly dissolving sugar with a subtle flavor.
Uses: Caramel sauces, fruit preserves

Dark Soft Brown Sugar
About: Toasted malty flavor sugar that dissolves easily with a moist texture.
Uses: Spiced fruity desserts and meaty stews

Dark Muscovado
About: Unrefined sugar. Intensely rich sugar with a molasses flavor with strong treacle and toffee notes with a fudge like texture.
Uses: Marinades, BBQ sauces and fruit cakes

This is a guide to get you started and not by any means an exhaustive list. I didn’t even get to Jam or preserving sugars! You may not find these sugars available at all stores and varieties with differ by brand and country.

I was invited to the Cake Hotel by Tate & Lyle and to try the sugar range. This is not a sponsored post, I just love sugar.

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  1. Great Guide! Thanks a lot :) I am also always confused which sugar best to use, I mostly go for my gut feeling 😛

    • It’s very confusing. I used to just grab whatever brown sugar the store had without really thinking about it. I think I’ll decide which kind I need before I go to the store from now on.

  2. What an interesting and useful event to be invited too! My sister (in the USA) asked me what muscovado sugar was and said she can’t get caster, super-fine, sugar at her local grocery store. Will be directing her to this post for some clarification!

    • This is where we’re spoiled in the UK. Demerera and Muscovado would be classified as “specialty” sugar in the US I think. Whole Foods might have a bigger choice for her.

  3. That tasting was such fun but i was on a sugar high for about a day afterwards!

  4. Great guide thank you! The Sugar Hotel sounds amazing, I was reading about it and was getting severe sugar cravings! Were you at the event where you could eat it?

    • I was. The meringue carpet was really beautiful and tasty. My second favorite was the bathtub filled with popcorn!

  5. H.R.H Princess Sophia

    I’m a recent convert to caster sugar. I love how it blends because its so fine, but it is not as readily available in the US. I have to special order it from New England or go to speciality baking stores. Its worth it though.


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