Cane Sugar vs Granulated Sugar for Baking: A Definitive Guide to Help You Decide

When it comes to baking, granulated sugar and cane sugar are two common options. However, both of these sugars have a few key differences, which may make one more appealing than the other. For example, granulated sugar is typically less expensive and dissolves more easily. On the other hand, cane sugar is less processed and has a richer taste. Granulated sugar and cane sugar are both types of white refined table sugar that are most commonly used in cooking, baking, or anything else that calls for sweetening.

While these two options are refined sugars with different origins, granulated sugar is also a more general term for all types of white table sugar. So, how can you figure out which one to use? Here are our tips for choosing between cane sugar vs. granulated sugar for baking.

Granulated Sugar

Granulated Sugar
Granulated Sugar

Granulated sugar, also called white sugar, is a refined form of table sugar that is commonly made by crushing either sugar cane or sugar beets into a syrup and then removing the liquid and drying the remaining granules. It’s then refined with a final polishing step to remove any remaining molasses. The refining process removes any trace of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients from the original sugar cane or sugar beet, turning them into pure sweeteners that have almost no nutritional value.

Granulated sugar is considered a general term for all types of white table sugar, though there are some specific varieties of granulated sugar that are often used for cooking or baking. Sucrose is the main ingredient in granulated sugar and it’s also sometimes labeled as plain, refined, or natural white sugar. When you’re reading ingredient lists, you can also look out for corn syrup or molasses to know if it’s a type of brown sugar instead of granulated white sugar.

Granulated white sugars get their texture from the size of their granules and differ in size according to the type of process used to make them. For example, there are large grain, small grain, and extra fine grain granulated sugars. Large grain sugars tend to dissolve easily when baked, which makes them ideal for bar cookies and other recipes where you want distinct edges on your baked good. Small grain sugars tend to be preferred by bakers because they dissolve easily without leaving large crystals behind.

Cane Sugar

Cane Sugar
Cane Sugar

Cane sugar is a whole cane plant juice that has been evaporated and refined to produce a sweetener similar to granulated sugar. This natural sweetener is considered less processed than granulated sugar, but the refining process still removes most of the nutrients that are present in the whole cane plant.

Cane sugar also comes in various textures, such as powdered and crushed, which can make it easier to incorporate into recipes. This can be a nice advantage over granulated sugar if you are looking for something a bit more intricate in texture.

While both cane sugar and granulated sugar are suitable for baking, cane sugar is known for having a richer taste and more depth because it is minimally processed. If you are looking for something with more depth of flavor than granulated sugar, cane sugar might be a better option for you. However, if you are looking for something that dissolves easily or is less expensive, then granulated sugar may be your best bet.

What Is the Distinction Between Cane and Granulated Sugar?

Cane Sugar vs Granulated Sugar: What's the Difference
Cane Sugar vs Granulated Sugar: What’s the Difference

Despite some significant differences, it’s difficult to distinguish between cane sugar and granulated sugar in a recipe that calls for both.

This is because both granulated and cane sugar come from the same plant, sugarcane. The degree of similarity between them may vary depending on the amount of sugarcane utilized in the manufacturing process.

The flavor would be the primary distinction between the two. While not always sweeter, cane sugar has a stronger flavor than granular sugar, particularly white sugar.

Difference in Taste

While different brands of granulated sugar and cane sugar can both taste sweet and neutral, the taste of the two is quite different. Granulated sugar is a very neutral-tasting white table sugar that is highly refined to remove impurities. Cane sugar, on the other hand, is minimally processed and is often extracted from beets or sugarcane before it’s turned into granulated white sugar. This means that cane sugar has a richer flavor with hints of molasses and has a bit of texture due to some of the non-sugars left in the final product.

The fact that cane sugar has more texture may make it more suitable for certain baking projects. For example, if you are making cookies, you may like the more pronounced texture that cane sugar can add to your dough. On the other hand, if you’re making a cake or muffins where texture isn’t desired, granulated sugar will work well here. And, because granulated sugar dissolves more easily in batters, it’s usually a better option for baked goods like cakes and cookies.

Appearance

When comparing cane sugar vs. granulated sugar, one of the first things you’ll notice is the appearance of the two sugars. Granulated sugar is a fine powder made by grinding down sugarcane and then processing it. Cane sugar, on the other hand, is a minimally processed whole cane flower or cane juice that retains its shape after harvesting. It is also typically less processed and made without additives or chemicals.

Because of this, cane sugar will often have a more rustic appearance than granulated sugar. It can also range in color from light yellow to dark brown, depending on how much it’s processed and how long it’s been on the shelf. Granulated sugar, however, is almost always white since it’s so heavily processed.

This makes cane sugar a good choice if you’re looking to avoid additives or if you prefer a more natural sweetener for your baking. Granulated sugar does have some unbleached versions available for those looking for an unrefined option, but those are less common.

Cost

Cane sugar is typically more expensive than granulated sugar, but this may not be the case for all brands of sugar. For example, the average price of a 5-pound bag of Domino cane sugar is about $7. By comparison, the average price of a 25-pound bag of Domino granulated sugar is about $10. So, you can see that cane sugar is significantly pricier on a per pound basis.

However, it’s also important to consider that many recipes call for less granulated sugar than cane sugar. For example, a recipe that calls for one cup of granulated sugar will require 1 1/2 cups of cane sugar. So, you might actually end up using less cane sugar than granulated sugar in some cases. This means that the cost per recipe may not be as different as you might expect.

It also depends on where you are purchasing your ingredients, as some grocery stores may have better deals on certain products than others. If you’re looking for even more ways to save money on your baking ingredients, check out our guide to shopping for baking supplies on a budget.

Milling Process

While granulated sugar is a more general term for all types of white table sugar, cane sugar is a specific type of refined sweetener that is made from extracting and evaporating the liquid from crushed sugarcane. This process produces a sweetener that is minimally processed, which can make it more appealing for some bakers. However, it’s important to note that not all cane sugars are alike.

For example, some brands have been stripped of their minerals and molasses during the milling process. If you’re looking for a minimally processed sweetener that still has some nutritional value and flavor, you should look for organic cane sugar. However, organic cane sugar does cost more than regular cane sugar because it’s less processed and therefore more labor intensive to produce.

If you’re looking for a general term for white refined table sugar, granulated sugar refers to any type of refined white table sugar that has been ground into fine crystals. This includes refined beet sugar, along with organic cane sugar. Granulated sugar is produced by dissolving sugarcane juice or beet juice in water, cooling the mixture until it crystallizes, then milling the crystals until they are fine enough to be called granulated.

Which is better for baking and pastry?

For baking and pastry, both cane sugar and granulated sugar are excellent choices. However, there are a number of elements that could influence your decision. When deciding between cane sugar and granulated sugar, consider the following criteria:

In terms of taste

As previously said, the difference in flavor should be the primary motivator when deciding between the two.

Cane sugar is perfect for those who enjoy a sugary flavor with a molasses sting, but granulated sugar is better for those who want to sweeten their pastries without a specific taste in the sugar.
In terms of ease of use

Refined sugar has been thoroughly purified, making it considerably easier to melt. As a result, granulated white sugar is a good choice if you want a sugar that is easy to work with regardless of flavor.

In terms of color and appearance

If the recipe requires a specific color or consistency, such as meringue or whipped cream, you should use white granulated sugar.

Granulated sugar is also available in a variety of hues for different types of recipes that require a darker tint for the pastry.

Can cane sugar and granulated sugar be used interchangeably?

Yes, cane sugar and granulated sugar are made of the same type of sugar molecules, thus they essentially have the same qualities in terms of sweetness and overall flavor.

As a result, if you don’t have one, you may easily substitute the other without affecting the recipe’s results significantly.

Which Type of Sugar Is Healthier for Dieters?

While some corporations promote cane sugar as a healthier alternative to white sugar, they are chemically and nutritionally identical. As a result, they have the same number of calories and are both broken down into glucose and fructose.

Cane sugar and granulated sugar have healthier substitutes.

If you wish to substitute cane sugar or granulated sugar with a healthy alternative, you might try any of the following, which are all low or zero calorie and have no effect on your blood glucose level:

  • Extract of monk fruit
  • Extract of stevia
  • Xylitol (not safe for pets)
  • Date paste and honey (not suitable for all recipes, but can work for baking)

Final thoughts

No matter which type of sugar you choose to use for baking, the main thing is to use it in moderation. Sugar is a source of empty calories, so try to cut back on the amount you use in any recipe. As long as you understand the differences between cane sugar and granulated sugar and how each type of sugar will affect your baking, you can make a decision that works best for your tastes and needs.

With a little experimentation, you’re sure to find the perfect balance of sweetness and texture in your baked goods. So go ahead and give both a try to find out which type of sugar works best for your favorite recipes.