Are demerara and turbinado sugar the same?

Answered by James Kissner

Demerara sugar and turbinado sugar are both types of cane sugar that have a similar flavor and appearance. While they are quite similar, there are a few key differences between the two.

1. Crystal Size: One of the main differences between demerara sugar and turbinado sugar is the size of their crystals. Demerara sugar has larger crystals compared to turbinado sugar. These larger crystals give demerara sugar a slightly crunchier texture when used in baked goods or as a topping on desserts. On the other hand, turbinado sugar has slightly smaller crystals, which are more similar in size to granulated white sugar.

2. Moisture Content: Another difference between the two sugars is their moisture content. Demerara sugar has a slightly higher moisture content compared to turbinado sugar. This higher moisture content can contribute to the slightly stickier texture of demerara sugar, making it a great choice for certain recipes where a chewier texture is desired. Turbinado sugar, with its drier crystals, is less sticky and can be more easily measured and poured.

3. Flavor Profile: In terms of taste, both demerara sugar and turbinado sugar have a rich, caramel-like flavor that adds depth to baked goods and beverages. However, demerara sugar is known for its more complex and robust flavor. It has a hint of molasses and a subtle toffee-like taste, which can enhance the flavor of dishes such as coffee, chocolate, and caramel desserts. Turbinado sugar, while still having a caramelized flavor, is slightly milder and may not offer the same level of complexity in taste as demerara sugar.

4. Usage and Interchangeability: Due to their similar flavor profiles, demerara sugar and turbinado sugar can often be used interchangeably in recipes. However, it’s important to consider the texture and moisture content differences when substituting one for the other. Demerara sugar’s larger crystals and stickier texture make it a great choice for toppings, such as sprinkling on cookies or crumbles. Turbinado sugar’s finer crystals and drier texture make it easier to incorporate into batters and doughs.

While demerara sugar and turbinado sugar are similar in many ways, including their flavor and origin from cane sugar, they do have distinct differences. Demerara sugar has larger crystals, higher moisture content, and a more complex flavor profile, while turbinado sugar has smaller crystals, lower moisture content, and a milder flavor. Despite these differences, they can often be used interchangeably, depending on the desired texture and taste in a recipe.