How to melt brown sugar on the stove?

In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how to melt brown sugar on the stove?’ Also, we will compare white sugar with brown sugar and look into the stages of sugar melting or cooking.

How to melt brown sugar on the stove?

Brown sugar just like regular sugar can easily be melted over stovetop but one thing to keep in check is the presence of some moisture to facilitate proper melting and a keen eye watching over it to prevent the sugar from clumping, scorching and giving you a hard time.

The best option here is to heat gently with a little moisture and keep a candy thermometer alongside. Just before the sugar reaches 360 degrees F or 180 degrees C, remove and stir continuously to get proper heat distribution along with uniform melt.

How is brown sugar different from regular sugar?

As previously described, regular sugar is just sucrose crystals with no molasses. It undergoes the process of further refining which removes all of the brown liquid, the molasses, while the brown sugar has the molasses added back into after processing or is less refined which retains some of the molasses owning it to its distinct brown color.

If we consider the nutritional profile of both sugars then brown sugar has slightly more minerals and fewer calories than regular sugar. Flavour-wise brown sugar has more rich, deep, caramel-y, toffee-like notes while white sugar is generally just sweet.

For deeper insight on brown sugar’s potential to be a natural sweetener, please refer here.

Or, to learn about the types of sugar available in the market and which is the healthiest, please refer here.

What is brown sugar?

Brown sugar or jaggery is the unrefined and initial sweet compound you get while processing sugar. Just like regular sugar it is composed of sucrose but has a little to more molasses in it. This presence of molasses sets brown sugar apart from regular sugar and because of this brown sugar is sweeter with a bit of nutty flavor notes.

What is the science behind melting sugar?

When we melt sugar, the sugar molecules start decomposing at a temperature range within 184 – 186 degrees C or 363 – 366 degrees F.

When the sugar is gently heated, it produces a phenomenon called ‘apparent melting’. To put simply sugar crystals do not actually melt but undergo a reaction called ‘inversion’ in which the two sugar molecules – glucose and fructose – start to decompose, exposing or making themselves available for caramelization.

Caramelization consists of two phases. In the first phase, with increasing heat, the structure of sugar starts to change. This change is easily observable when we see the sugar start to melt. At this point, the second phase also kicks in and starts eliminating water molecules.

This results in a process called ‘beta- elimination’ that leads to the formation of hydroxymethylfurfural – a substance that deepens the color and more of a caramel flavor.

If the heating is continued, nothing but the carbon will remain which signifies that your sugar is completely and irreversibly burnt.

If you are interested to know the effect of moisture content on the melting points of different sugar, please here.

How is sugar melted?

When sugar is combined with water and heated a simple sugar syrup is formed. As the temperature rises, water starts to evaporate resulting in a higher concentration of sugar in the solution. The higher the sugar concentration the more brittle the cooled syrup gets.

This is important knowledge for confectioners or you are first to make candy, as certain sugar concentration is needed for different final products.

Below the chart maps out different stages syrup undergo;

Sugar syrup stagesTemperature in degrees FTemperature in degrees CUses
Thread stage215 – 230102 – 113Syrups, preservatives.
Soft-ball stage240115Fondant, fudge.
Firm-ball stage245118Caramel candies.
Hard-ball stage250 – 260122 – 127Marshmallow, nougat.
Soft crack stage270 – 290132 – 143Taffy.
Hard crack stage300 – 310149 – 154Butterscotch, brittle.

Other FAQs about Sugar that you may be interested in.

How to Make Sugar Glass without Corn Syrup

Is powdered sugar icing sugar?


In this brief article, we have covered ‘how to melt brown sugar on the stove?’ and also seen the difference between brown and white sugar. Also the stages a sugar syrup goes through is also briefly discussed.

Hopefully, you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


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