Can You Make Cookies without Brown Sugar?

When asking the question, “can you make cookies without brown sugar?” you might be wondering if it’s possible to only use white sugar in your cookies.

If you’re wondering about using sugar in your cookies at all, check out our guide on other substitutions in cookies here.

But let’s say you’re trying to make your favorite chocolate chip cookies, which call for brown sugar, and you look in the pantry and – gasp – you have none!

Maybe you ate it all, or maybe you just don’t really keep brown sugar on hand.

What do you do?

Can you make chocolate chip cookies without brown sugar? Can you make any kind of cookies without brown sugar?

The answer is a resounding yes, and we’ll talk more about why in a second!

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What Does Brown Sugar Do in Cookies?

Brown sugar is basically white sugar mixed with molasses, which does a few things to cookies.

It makes them:

  • chewier
  • denser
  • moister
  • softer
  • a bit flatter
  • and with more depth of flavor

Often, brown sugar is used in recipes like chocolate chip cookies for that chewiness, as well as things like gingerbread for the depth of flavor.

It does physically change the look of the cookie as well, making them a bit darker (which makes sense since the sugar is a darker color!)

Example of a chocolate chip cookie made with brown sugar!

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Can I Use White Sugar Instead?

Luckily, the answer is yes: you can use white sugar instead of brown sugar in cookies.

The only thing you’ll need to be aware of is how white sugar interacts differently in cookies than brown sugar.

You can expect lighter colored cookies, for one, as well as cookies that are a bit fluffier (the white sugar helps with the rise while the brown sugar keeps them denser).

Using white sugar instead of brown sugar will also often give you a cookie that’s a bit drier and more crispy, as it will have less moisture.

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How to Use White Sugar instead of Brown Sugar in Cookies

Using white sugar instead of brown sugar is incredibly easy, as all you need to do is swap it out cup for cup.

If the recipe calls for 1/4 cup white sugar, then go ahead and use 1/4 cup brown sugar. Wallah!

You can also do a 50/50 split or another ratio, just swapping out as much white sugar as you want for brown sugar.

The alternative option, if you really want to make sure that your cookies turn out great, is to actually use a recipe that isn’t formulated with brown sugar like these white sugar chocolate chip cookies.

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Can I Leave Brown Sugar Out Completely with No Replacements?

The final question that might come to your mind if you’re not furiously searching for regular sugar with no success is whether you can simply leave out sugar altogether from a recipe that calls for brown sugar if you have no white sugar to substitute it with.

The answer, sadly, is no.

Sugar is an essential component to cookies, and while there are plenty of cookie recipes that naturally don’t use sugar like these oatmeal banana cookies, you’re going to have a hard time making your existing cookie recipe and just leaving the sugar out.

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