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How to Soften Brown Sugar

Have you ever gone to bake something, like your favorite chocolate chip cookies, which call for brown sugar only to grab your brown sugar and it is dried out and hard as a rock? I have good news for you!

You can still use it! I am going to go over a few ways how you can soften brown sugar so that you can still bake those delicious cookies.

Whether it’s in one big rock or it has started clumping, you can reverse this by adding moisture back into it.

how to soften brown sugar

How To Soften Brown Sugar 3 ways

Softening brown sugar is easy and depending on how quickly you need it will depend on what method you might want to use. Brown sugar is simply white sugar-coated with molasses.

The reason that it clumps together is that over time the moisture evaporates which causes the sugar crystals to stick together.

Whether you store your brown sugar in an airtight container or not it will eventually harden over time.

This doesn’t mean that it has gone bad or that you need to throw it away. You just need to add moisture back into it.

1. Microwave

Using the microwave to soften brown sugar is the fastest method. There are two ways of softening brown sugar in the microwave.

Place your hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and choose one of the following 2 next steps.

  • Get a paper towel or dishcloth wet and then ring out all of the extra water. You only want the towel to be damp. Lay it over the bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds. or…
  • Fill another microwave-safe bowl about 1/3 full with water and place it in the microwave next to the bowl of brown sugar. Microwave for about 30 seconds. I prefer this method because you don’t know what’s in the paper towel.

Use a fork to mix it up a little and break up the clumps. If you find that you need just a few more seconds, add another 15 sec at a time.

Make sure you don’t overdo it as we aren’t wanting to cook the brown sugar, only soften it.

2. Oven

If you aren’t in a time crunch but do need it relatively soon you can soften brown sugar in your oven. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, put your hardened brown sugar in foil and wrap tight, then place it on a baking sheet in case it drips.

Check on it every 5 minutes or so until it is soft. Make sure to wear an oven mitt because it is going to get HOT. Allow for the brown sugar to cool off before adding it to your recipe.

3. Overnight

Adding bread (or believe it or not apple slices) to an airtight container with your hardened brown sugar and letting it sit overnight will soften it. The moisture from the apples or bread will slowly be added back into your brown sugar.

You can also make your brown sugar soft again by leaving it out on the counter overnight in a bowl with a dampened dishtowel laid over it. Again, the key to softening brown sugar is adding moisture back into it.

These methods, however, take time.

How to keep brown sugar soft

The best way to keep your brown sugar soft is to make sure that it has moisture. Keeping it in an airtight container is important. The less air the better to prevent it from drying out.

If you keep it in a food storage bag you want to make sure to get out as much air as you can before zipping it closed.

Its been proven that terra cotta will keep brown sugar from hardening. They sell discs specifically for this but you can also use a broken part of a terra cotta pot as well.

Soak the terra cotta in water for about 30 minutes. Completely dry off the disc or piece and place it in with your brown sugar

It retains water and will keep moisture in the container and prevent clumping.

You will have to soak the terra cotta every few months to keep moisture in because that will eventually dry out.


Yes, brown sugar is still good when it is hard. Brown sugar is sugar crystals coated with molasses and when it dries out the crystals stick together and the molasses hardens.

All you need to do is reintroduce a little moisture and soften the brown sugar and you are good to go.

The brown sugar gets hard when it isn’t stored properly and gets too much air to it. The molasses sucks the moisture out and when it dries out it turns into a solid rock of sugar.

This causes the sugar crystals to then stick together like glue and become hard as a rock.

how to soften brown sugar

How to soften brown sugar

A few ways to soften brown sugar using the oven, microwave or simply leaving it out overnight. Here are step-by-step instructions for each method.
4.72 from 7 votes
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 836 kcal


  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Dishcloth
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glass bowl


  • Brown sugar
  • 1 slice of bread


Microwave with a towel

  • Place your hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl
  • Wet a paper towel or dishcloth and ring out the excess water, then lay it over the bowl with the brown sugar.
  • Place in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • Using a fork break up the clumps and add a few more seconds if needed.

Microwave with a bowl of water

  • Place your hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and into the microwave.
  • Place another microwave-safe bowl in the microwave next to the brown sugar about 1/3 full of water.
  • Microwave both bowls for about 30 seconds.
  • Break up the brown sugar with a fork.

Oven Method

  • Preheat your oven to 250°F
  • Wrap your hardened brown sugar tightly in tin foil and then place it on a baking sheet.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes and check on it. Be sure to wear oven mitts as it is going to be hot.
  • Add another 5 minutes if needed but don't overdo it.


  • Place a slice of bread (or apple slices) into an airtight container with the brown sugar.
  • Let it sit out on the counter overnight and the moisture from the bread (or apples) will loosen your brown sugar.


Serving: 1gCalories: 836kcalCarbohydrates: 216gProtein: 1gSodium: 62mgPotassium: 293mgSugar: 213gCalcium: 183mgIron: 2mg
Keyword 3 ways to soften brown sugar, best way to soften brown sugar, soften brown sugar in the microwave, soften brown sugar in the oven, soften brown sugar overnight
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