Does Brown Sugar Go Bad?? How Long Does It Last?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Posted on October 10th, 2022

If you’re worried about adding brown sugar to your coffee and forgot how long it has been left out, let’s figure this out!

If you keep brown sugar packaged tightly in a cool, dry place, it won’t go bad.

brown sugar

After a while, it may begin to clump, but this isn’t an indication of deterioration, and you can quickly remedy hardened brown sugar.

Brown sugar’s taste and overall quality do change over time, but it’s usually safe to use much past the “expiration” date.

Can brown sugar go bad?

No. Brown sugar, like other varieties of sugar, can last eternally if it isn’t exposed to air and moisture and bugs are kept at bay. After opening, some manufacturers insert a two-year best-before date.

Brown sugar will not go rancid after two years, although the taste and texture will vary slightly. Brown sugar can only deteriorate if it has been contaminated owing to incorrect storage.

Other types of sugar, such as white and powdered, are the same. However, there are a few occasions when you should toss your brown sugar and start again. Let’s have a look at them.

When it comes to brown sugar, how long does it last?

Brown sugar has a two-year shelf life, but if you keep insects and water out of the container, it can survive eternally. Those two years are an estimate of how long brown sugar will keep its best quality.

And the date printed on the label, which is usually designated “best-by” or “best-if-used-by,” marks the conclusion of that period.

That date is not an “expiration date” because it pertains to quality rather than food safety. To put it another way, brown sugar preserves for a long time after the expiration date on the label.

If your brown sugar has been sitting in storage for a few years, it may not be the best in terms of quality, but the difference in taste will be small at best. Brown sugar lasts indefinitely and can even be reconstituted if it turns hard.

However, it is at its best after two years. Brown sugar’s shelf life is determined by the best-before date and how it is stored.

How to know if brown sugar is still safe to consume?

brown sugar

Look for the following signs that your brown sugar is safe to use:

  • Insects, larvae, or eggs are in the package. They occasionally make their way into the container or bag, indicating that the product is no longer safe to eat.
  • Mold or any other type of organic growth is prohibited. If water gets inside the box and mold or another organic growth develops, the sugar is ruined.

Those are the classic indicators of brown sugar deterioration, and if you see one of them, toss it out.

However, there are some other indicators that you should be aware of. Consider the following:

  • Sugar is clumped together. Brown sugar has more moisture than white sugar, which causes the sugar to harden if the moisture evaporates. It’s a natural reaction, and you can still eat the sugar. 
  • Sugar has an unpleasant odor. Sugar absorbs other odors, so if your brown sugar smells like one of the things you keep close, it’s likely that it absorbed that odor. This also indicates that the bag or container is not properly sealed. It’s advisable to get rid of it if the smell it emits is too strong. Otherwise, your baked items will emit part of that stench, which is undesirable.

If you don’t have any brown sugar, use 1 tablespoon of molasses with 1 cup of white granulated sugar to make your own. After giving this mixture a good stir, your homemade brown sugar will be ready to use.

When brown sugar is used in a dish, how long does it last?

Brown sugar is one of the last components to expire in any meal, although it does so along with the other ingredients it is incorporated with.

What is the best way to soften hard brown sugar?

If brown sugar is stored for an extended amount of time or is not sealed tightly enough, it will dry up and develop clumps. While solidified brown sugar isn’t ruined, it’s nearly impossible to work with, and it’s for this reason that you’d like to soften it.

Softening clumped brown sugar isn’t difficult, thankfully. There are two approaches you can take.

Manual softening

There are several methods for manually softening clumped brown sugar. Breaking it down with a fork, putting the clumps in a bag, and crushing it against a wall or counter with an electric mixer or a blender are some of the more popular methods.

The concept is the same for all of them: you break the clumps apart with brute force. The biggest advantage is it works instantly, allowing you to use the brown sugar granules straight immediately.

Restoring moisture in clumped sugar

This one is about supplying molasses in brown sugar with a fresh source of moisture. There are two options here:

  • Fill the jar with an apple wedge, a slice of fresh bread, an orange peel, or a few marshmallows. Brown sugar will soften over time as it absorbs moisture from either of these things. The process takes at least a couple of hours to complete.
  • Microwave the sugar on high for 30 seconds after covering it with a damp paper towel. If you don’t have access to a microwave, an oven will suffice. Please keep in mind that the sugar will solidify as it cools, so get as much as you need as soon as possible.

The preferable alternative is to soften the sugar by providing it with a fresh supply of moisture, as this tackles the fundamental problem.

The primary disadvantage is that it takes some time, which is inconvenient if you need brown sugar straight away.

Contamination issues

Until now, we’ve only discussed the benefits of brown sugar, such as its long shelf life and near-immortality in normal settings. Despite this, its seductive sweetness makes it more vulnerable to pest contamination.

Ants and other creatures, like us, can’t get enough of the sweetness. As a result, bug contamination is the most prevalent occurrence, particularly if the sugar is not stored in an insulated container. If you see bugs in the sugar, toss it instead of eating it.

While this does not necessarily mean that the sugar has been spoiled, the bugs may bring diseases and bacteria. We recommend storing the sugar in an airtight container to avoid sentencing yourself to this fate.

Proper storage of brown sugar

Brown sugar may be stored properly and utilized for many years. While brown sugar is commonly stored in a pantry, the placement may not be ideal for brown sugar storage.

As a result, we’ve compiled a list of storage options to keep it from spoiling.

Store in a cool and dry place

Brown sugar should be kept in a temperature-controlled environment. Brown sugar’s texture is ruined by high temperatures. While this does not necessarily make it harmful to eat, brown sugar does become ugly.

We don’t mean you should keep the sugar in your mini-fridge or counter-depth refrigerator when we suggest cooling. The cool temperature of a fridge, when combined with the moisture, will cause the sugar to harden dramatically.

Brown sugar is commonly stored in cabinets, pantries, and other convenient locations in the kitchen. When storing sugar in your kitchen, keep it away from your induction range or oven, as this could cause the sugar’s texture to be altered.

Also, keep the sugar away from the water. Sugar builds bonds as an effective moisture absorber, resulting in huge clusters.

However, this does not mean that the sugar has gone bad, but simply that mixing it properly has become a difficult task.

Use insulated containers or sealed bags.

It’s not a good idea to open the brown sugar package right after you buy it. If you’ve already opened it, pour the sugar into an enclosed bag or an insulated and airtight container to keep it away from bugs.

The sugar will harden if the air is trapped in the container because it can absorb a lot of moisture from the air. As a result, employing the hardened version can be difficult because it’s a tasty substance that’s frequently contaminated by bugs like moths, ants, moths, and flies.

Brown sugar goes bad more often than not as a result of contamination by these critters. As a result, storing it in an airtight container or plastic bag can make all the difference in terms of keeping it safe for years.

Sugar saver

A sugar saver is a device that keeps the moisture content of brown sugar at the proper level, preventing it from clumping. The only disadvantage is that you must soak it before placing it in the container, and you must resoak it if it dries out.

Typically, this means every 3 to 6 months. A sugar saver can also be used to keep cookies or marshmallows moist. If you leave the saver dry, it will absorb any moisture from spices.


Brown sugar, if stored properly, can last you for years. However, if pests make their way to your brown sugar, it’s safe to throw them straight into the garbage. Remember: it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.