What Is Coconut Sugar?

Learn more about this delicious sweetener.

When shopping for sugar or your favorite sweetener, you may have seen coconut sugar on the shelf alongside granulated sugar and brown sugar. Coconut sugar is harvested from the sap of a coconut tree. Because coconut sugar comes from the sap and the not the coconut, there's no trace of a distinct coconut flavor. In fact, coconut sugar has a slight molasses, butterscotch-like flavor, making it a bit more nuanced than brown sugar, but with a similar richness and depth. Read on to learn more about this exciting new sugar alternative.

Coconut Sugar

What Is Coconut Sugar?

Coconut sugar, or coconut palm sugar as it's often called, is produced from the sap of coconut palm trees. Coconut trees are largely farmed in Indonesia, the Philippines, and other regions in Southeast Asia. Being a fruit-bearing tree, there is an ongoing cycle of production. Unlike palm oil, which requires cutting down the tree, coconut sap can be harvested without harming the tree. To make coconut palm sugar, the milky sap is reduced until it crystalizes. It is then turned into granules. The cooking process gives it a brown color. In its organic form, coconut sugar is devoid of added chemicals and additives and contains no preservatives. Its light amber color, caramel taste, and granulated texture resembles both brown sugar and raw sugar.

What Does Coconut Sugar Taste Like?

Contrary to what you may think when you hear the name, coconut sugar doesn't taste like coconut. You may find the taste of coconut sugar is similar to brown sugar with caramel and toffee flavors. It's texture is similar to granulated sugar.

How to Buy Coconut Sugar

You'll find coconut sugar in the baking aisle of your grocery store alongside the other sweetener options. It's often packaged in bags labeled as coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar. You may see coconut syrup or palm sugar, these are both different than granulated coconut sugar.

Is Coconut Sugar Healthy?

Coconut sugar is less processed than refined sugar and may contain small amounts of nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. However, it doesn't contain enough of each to be considered a good source of those minerals especially given the volume of coconut sugar you'd need to consume to see benefits.

Coconut sugar does have a lower glycemic index (GI) than white sugar. The glycemic index measure how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. The lower the GI of a food, the less it may impact blood sugar. White table sugar has a glycemic index of around 60 and coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 54. However, since it still contains fructose, calories, and carbs you should treat it as you would granulated sugar.

How to Use Coconut Sugar

When it comes to swapping coconut sugar for refined sugar, there's no math required. It's an easy one-to-one ratio. Coconut sugar also has a low melting point and high temperature tolerance, so it won’t burn easily. Like brown sugar, coconut sugar has a higher moisture content, which helps keep cakes and cookies moist. Also like brown sugar, coconut sugar can clump during storage—use a food processor or sifter to remove any large lumps. The caramel flavor is wonderful in baked goods, sauces, pancakes, and as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. Coconut sugar is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine in both sweet and savory recipes. Try our Sweet Potato Brownie recipe that's sweetened with coconut sugar.

How to Store Coconut Sugar

Store coconut sugar as you would regular granulated or brown sugar. Our Test Kitchen recommends storing it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, like your pantry. When stored properly, coconut sugar will last for up to one year. If the coconut sugar develops clumps, simply stir to break them apart.

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  1. Glycemic Index. (2023) https://glycemicindex.com

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