How to Soften Sugar (including brown sugar and white sugar)

If you love making pastries then you know that sugar is one of the basic ingredients you need.

Often times, people prepare their Ingredients to make cookies, cakes, souffl├ęs among others only to be caught in the dilemma of having to buy granulated sugar.

But, picture this:

The shops are far away and you can’t get there in the night. You remember that you have some hardened sugar in the house. The only trick here is to soften it. Which leads us to our topic how to soften sugar.

There are 2 kinds of sugar white and brown. We are going to check the process of softening each aside from the other.

But first:

The only reason that makes sugar to harden is mostly the storage method used


How should you store brown sugar?

brown sugar

While sugar whether white or brown is not a friend of lacking moisture, it’s important to note that brown sugar is quick to lose that moisture and the safest mode of storage is just an airtight container. Easy right?

Here is the secret you need to know: brown sugar has so much moisture and when placed in the open air, it quickly loses the moisture thus making it hard.

Can sugar go bad?

Sugar when properly stored can have an infinite shelf life. It’s hard to say it’s spoilt for a certain duration of time.  Therefore, it’s advisable to follow the expiry dates set by the manufacturers. The most important thing to note is that even if it gets to the expiry date if it was properly stored, it will never develop a strange smell or change its taste.

How to soften brown sugar

There are more than 10 methods of softening brown sugar but we will venture on 5. Brown sugar quickly hardens when it loses its moisture making it hard to measure for a delicate recipe.

If you wish to avoid the processes below, then you need to concentrate on the storage.

Using a microwave

Things you need:

  • Microwave
  • Paper towel
  • The hard-brown sugar
  • Water
  • A bowl


In a clean bowl, place the hardened brown sugar.

Take your paper towel and wet it by spraying water on it. Be careful not to make it too wet to tear.

Cover all sides of the bowl top and place into a microwave.

Use low heat in the process.

In about 10-15 seconds the sugar should soften.

Use a fork to check whether you still have some hard sugar. Take it back to the microwave for about 5 more seconds.

Note, you must be very careful because the sugar can easily melt if subjected to high heat. Use your newly softened sugar and store the remaining in an airtight container for future use.

Furthermore, if you are in a hurry to use your sugar, this is the most appropriate method.

Using an oven

Another instant option is the oven. Some people believe the paper towel might burn in the microwave.

While that is not true its hard to change an individual’s belief. How about using an oven instead?

Things needed

  • An oven
  • Baking tray
  • Aluminium foil
  • The hardened sugar


Evenly spread the foil on the baking tray.

Place the hardened sugar on the baking tray and cover it with the same foil.

Ensure you fully cover the sugar for good results.

Preheat the oven to about 250 degrees F. You can confirm the temperature using an oven thermometer.

Place the baking tray in the oven and time it for 10 minutes.

Take it out to see if it is soft. If not take it back for another 5 minutes.

Use the amount you need to and store the rest in an airtight container.

Using bread

  • Plastic wrap
  • Hardened sugar
  • A slice of bread


In your clean bowl, place the hardened sugar.

Tear the slice of bread into 4 parts then place on top of the sugar.

Use your paper wrap to cover the bowl completely.

Let it stay there overnight.

The next morning remove the wrap and bread pieces and find softened sugar.

Use the amount you need to and store the rest in an airtight container.

Using apple

  • Hardened brown sugar
  • Apple slices
  • Paper wrap


In a clean bowl place, the sugar and slice your apple then place 2 slices on top of the sugar.

Cover the sugar with a paper wrap and let the sugar absorb the apple moisture.

Remove the paper wrap and discard the apple slices.

Use your ready softened sugar and store the rest in an airtight container.

Note that, if you like the taste of apple then this sugar will be fine for you because it may hold the apple smell.

Use moist paper towel

  • Paper towel
  • Paper wrap
  • Hardened sugar
  • Water


Fold your paper into 2 and soak in water but careful that it doesn’t tear.

Squeeze the excess water.

Place it on top of your hardened sugar in a bowl ensuring it covers the better part of the sugar.

Use the paper wrap to cover the bowl.

Let it rest for 2 to 3 days.

Remove the paper towel and you have your soft sugar to use then store in an airtight container.

How to Soften White Sugar

 white sugar

It’s important to understand that most of the methods used to soften brown sugar can soften white sugar. We are therefore not going to repeat those similar methods rather check some new ones.

Use a pestle and motor

You see, sugar is not as hard as stone so you can use a pestle and motor to manually pound it. The other alternative in this category is to use a rolling pin on a flat surface.

The only drawback to this method is that you will have a messy work with sugar pieces spreading all over. In fact, it’s a faster method to soften the sugar.

You can use a coffee grinder/blender/food processor

If you own a coffee grinder then softening sugar should not be a problem.

Place the sugar in the coffee grinder. Confirming the measurement that the grinder can hold to avoid spoiling it.

Grind the sugar according to your manufacturer’s instructions till it gets soft.

Use a food steamer

This is an essential tool in your kitchen that you can use to soften the sugar.

Things you need

  • A microwave fit bowl
  • Hardened sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Food steamer


Fill the steamer with water.

Place the hardened sugar in the bowl.

Go ahead and place the sugar bowl in the pot making sure that the water reaches half of your bowl.

Cover the steamer while ensuring you maintain the heat within the steamer.

7 minutes is sufficient for the process but continue to check and confirm that it has water.

Using a fork, confirm if your sugar has softened enough then remove and use while storing the remainder in an airtight can.

Use a microwave

Take a microwaveable bowl and place the sugar in it then sprinkle some water on the sugar.

Place it in the microwave over high heat for about 10 seconds.

Remove from the heat source and let it cool then crash the remaining pieces with a fork and use it while storing the remainder.

Using a stove

Place a saucepan of water on the stove and then an empty pan on top of the pan with water.

Pour the hardened sugar into the empty pan and let the water boil with the pan of sugar on it for about 10minutes.

Remove the sugar from the heat source and let it cool down then crush it to its original state.

Important points to remember

Whether it is white sugar which is known to be dry or brown sugar known to be moist always keep them in an airtight container. This increases its shelf life.

Sugar is known to have a very long shelf life. It can survive for years when properly stored and animals like ants or bees do not die in it. However, even if it hardens, it will still serve the purpose if you use the above methods to soften it, you will find the quality to be the same.

Bacteria can’t attack sugar, it’s naturally a preservative. You don’t need to refrigerate it.


From the discussion above, you realize that there are very many methods that you can use to soften your hardened sugar.

Depending on the tools you have and the urgency of the sugar, you can choose the one that works best for you.

You don’t need to discard the sugar just because it has hardened. Besides it never expires. You can use it in the hardened or soft form. In fact, the only enemy of sugar here is the ants because once they die in the sugar then you will have to discard it.

With all this said:

You should always keep your sugar in an original state to avoid the above procedures. Understand that while its hard to avoid sugar in many recipes it is a source of very many health-related illnesses and should only be used sparingly.

1 thought on “How to Soften Sugar (including brown sugar and white sugar)”

  1. I would take your article more seriously if there were less misspellings of words or less words that ran together. You need to proofread better. The info sounds workable, just need to correct the wording.


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