How to Measure Sugar

Did you know how you measure sugar for a recipe makes a difference when you’re baking? Depending on the kind of sugar you are using you may need to use different methods for measuring it. So, I’m explaining how to measure sugar for baking so you don’t have to guess if you’re doing it right.

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It’s all about sugar today – how to measure sugar, to be specific! There’s a lot of talk about how to measure flour when you bake (spoon and level!) but did you know how you measure sugar matters, too? I know, it never ends, right? But, let me assure you, once you read through my tips, you’ll be a sugar measuring pro! How you measure sugar depends on the type of sugar you’re using and I’m decoding it all for you.

Unless a recipe specifies otherwise, these are the common ways to measure sugar for baking. So, when in doubt, use these tips! 

What Kind of Sugar are we Talking About?

Before we get to measuring let’s break down the different kinds of sugar you might need for a recipe:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Sticky sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, molasses and agave

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these types of sugars are commonly used in baking. They are all different so it makes sense that they need to be handled differently when you’re baking, so let’s get into it. First up: granulated sugar!

how to measure all kinds of sugar

Best Way to Measure Granulated Sugar

The best way to measure granulated sugar is also the easiest: just grab your dry measuring cup and use it to scoop the sugar right out the container. Just be sure to level it off so the sugar is completely filling the cup. So, for granulated sugar: scooping is great!

What’s the Correct Way to Measure Brown Sugar?

Unlike granulated sugar, the scoop method is not the best way to measure brown sugar. Instead of scooping brown sugar you want to pack it into a dry measuring cup.

Read all about brown sugar here and how to substitute brown sugar!

  • Spoon the brown sugar into the measuring cup.
  • Using the back of the spoon, press on the brown sugar so it’s packed into the cup. Use a dinner knife or other straight edge to level off the excess sugar.
  • When you empty the measuring cup the packed sugar should hold its shape.

The reason why you want to pack the brown sugar is so all of the air is squeezed out. All of the air can alter the total amount of sugar in the cup so, for brown sugar: packed is best!

What about Powdered Sugar?

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioner’s sugar, is measured the same way you measure flour: spoon and level.

  • Spoon the powdered sugar from the package to your dry measuring cup. Don’t pack the sugar into the cup, just lightly spoon it in.
  • Use a straight edge, like a dinner knife, to level off the top of the sugar so it’s even with the top of the cup.

Using the “spoon and level” method for measuring powdered sugar ensures you don’t end up with too much sugar in your recipe. So, remember: for powdered sugar, spoon and level is best!

sugar canisters

How to Measure Honey and Other Sticky Ingredients

Many recipes call for sticky sweeteners like:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Agave

For these sweeteners you will need to use a liquid measuring cup. Unlike the other sugars we’ve covered, you don’t want to use dry measuring cups because, well, the ingredients aren’t dry. So, be sure to break out your liquid measuring cups when a recipe calls for one of these ingredients.

If you’ve ever tried to measure one of these sticky sweeteners you know it can be really tough to get all of it out of the measuring cup. So, here’s a tip: spray your liquid measuring cup with cooking spray before adding the sweetener. All of it will slide right out of the cup so you get all of the ingredient in your recipe. 

Let’s Review!

  • Granulated sugar: scooping is fine.
  • Brown sugar: packed is best.
  • Powdered sugar: spoon and level for best results.
  • Sticky sweeteners: Use a liquid measuring cup and spray it first.

I think you’ll find when you follow these tips, you’ll get great cookies, cakes, and other desserts. These are the measuring methods I use for my recipes all the time. I hope you’ve found it helpful! 

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