Browning Sugar: Follow These Easy Steps

Browning sugar creates a browning sauce that colors and flavors many Caribbean dishes.

The flavor is smoky and molasses-like.

So, it is the perfect addition to stews and the ever-popular fruit cake.

While browning is an essential ingredient in these Caribbean recipes, you won’t find a bottle in my pantry… or in my mom’s.


Because we make it from scratch right before we use it. It is so quick and easy.

Here’s a little more on browning and how to make it.

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What is Browning Sauce?

Browning or browning sauce is a dark brown, almost black sauce that is used to season and flavor meats, stews, soups, fried rice and even cakes.

It is made by heating and melting sugar (usually brown sugar) before adding hot water to stop the color from darkening further.

Browning sauce adds an interesting flavor to food. It tastes a bit like molasses with a smoky, slightly sweet taste. That’s why it’s so, so good in stews.

What You Need to Make Browning

You only need two ingredients: brown sugar and boiling water.

I prefer to use brown sugar because it undergoes less processing and bleaching and the sauce develops a richer, more molasses-like taste. But you can also use white sugar for this recipe.

Try this dark brown sugar from Amazon:

Wholesome organic brown sugar

Boiling water is very important to create the sauce. Cold water will cause your heated sugar to clump and make it much harder to work with.

You can make any amount of the sauce using a two to one ratio: two parts sugar to one part water.

Browning sugar: Ingredients

How to Make Browning Sauce

Here’s a quick summary on how to make browning from scratch:

  • Melt brown sugar over low heat.
  • Stir to prevent it from burning.
  • Add hot water once the sugar reaches the desired color.
  • Use immediately or cool and store in the fridge.

Let’s get into more details now.

Add brown sugar to a heavy pot on low heat. Stir occasionally. The sugar will begin to melt and caramelize.

Melting sugar for browning sauce

When the sugar is fully melted, it’s time to stir more often to ensure even heating. The sugar will bubble and develop darker and darker shades of brown.

If it begins to smoke, remove from the heat for a couple moments until it stops (but it’s ok if it smokes a little).

Melted sugar for browning
Darker brown sugar

Very quickly thereafter, the sugar will become very dark brown to almost black. At this point, remove from the heat.

Making browning

Add a tablespoon of boiling water. Be very careful! Sugar will splutter and can give a nasty burn. Continue to stir while adding more water.

If your water is cool, the sugar will clump together. If this happens, heat the sauce until the clumps dissolve.

Finished browning sugar

Once your browning is the desired consistency you are finished. You can leave to cool before bottling.

Or you can cook with it immediately. Add in raw meat – like chicken – to make stews (yummy stewed chicken!) or pour the browning over stir fried veggies.

You can also leave it to cool before adding to fruit cake batter. There are so many uses for browning sugar!

If you don’t have the time or wondering where to buy browning sauce, then pick up these on Amazon:

Here’s a short video on making the sauce.

Browning Sugar Recipe

Browning Sugar Or Browning Sauce (quick and easy)

This browning sugar recipe creates a rich, flavorful browning sauce that adds a molasses-like, smoky taste to many Caribbean dishes. It also acts like a natural food coloring (it’s brown though!)
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: browning sauce


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup boiling water


  • Add sugar to heavy pot on low heat.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • When the sugar completely melts, stir more often to ensure even heating.
  • When the sugar develops a dark brown to almost black color, remove from heat.
  • Add a tablespoon of boiling water CAREFULLY and stir.
  • Continue adding water until the browning sauce reaches the desired consistency.
  • Cool and bottle. Or use immediately in Caribbean dishes.


  • If the sugar begins to smoke before it develops its dark color, remove from heat until it stops. Then, place on stove and continue the steps.
  • If the sugar clumps when water is added, heat the sauce until the clumps dissolve.

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