How to Soften Brown Sugar Quickly, Because You Need Cookies, Like, Yesterday

how to soften brown sugar quickly

Brown sugar is pretty magical. Not only does it make your favorite chocolate chip cookies taste caramel-y and complex; it also gives them a pleasingly chewy texture that can’t be achieved with granulated sugar alone. The only shortcoming? It has a tendency to get clumpy and rock-hard right when we need it the most. Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. Here’s how to soften brown sugar quickly, because cookies wait for no one.

How to soften brown sugar quickly:

Depending on when you want to use the brown sugar, you can choose one of a few easy softening methods, none of which require running out for a fresh bag.

If you need soft brown sugar ASAP: Place the hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it in a damp (not sopping) paper towel and microwave it in 10-second intervals. A couple blasts of heat will turn it into the pliable stuff you know and love, but don’t go too far or it could melt. You can also blitz hard brown sugar in a high-speed blender or food processor, but be careful: Too hard and it could damage the blade.

If you have time to plan ahead: Place a piece of white sandwich bread on top of the brown sugar in an airtight container and seal it tight. In about 24 hours, it'll be soft. (This method also works with a few apple slices or marshmallows.)

To prevent the problem in the first place: The best way to please the brown sugar gods? Store opened brown sugar in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. A sturdy Ziploc storage bag wrapped securely with a rubber band will work, but we’re partial to the OXO Good Grips POP containers which have a tight seal and can be decked out with a ceramic brown sugar keeper to maintain moisture (if you’re fancy).


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...