What’s the difference between turbinado, Demerara, and Sugar in the Raw? Are they interchangeable?
Turbinado and Demerara sugars, both of which are light brown and have large crystals, are often referred to as “raw sugars” because they are less processed than granulated white sugar. These sugars include some of the residual organic materials that are removed during the processing of granulated sugar. Demerara is named for a former Dutch colony in Guyana that was the original source of the sugar. Turbinado is named for the centrifuges or turbines in which it is spun to remove some of the plant material to partially refine it. For its part, Sugar in the Raw is a brand of turbinado sugar. When we tasted these sugars side by side, some tasters found the Demerara sugar more “assertively molasses-y” or “caramel-y” than the turbinado, but the differences were subtle. The color of these sugars varies, depending on the brand. Neither sugar dissolves as readily as granulated sugar so we avoid them in batter or dough. But as a crunchy topping for muffins or cookies, they are interchangeable.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Turbinado and Demerara sugars are interchangeable. There are slight differences in flavor and color, but they are equally good for sprinkling on baked goods or stirring into coffee. We don’t recommend using either in batters or doughs.