Sucanat is the trademarked name for a sugar that is called rapadura by the Portuguese and panela by Spanish-speakers. It is a specific form of evaporated cane juice developed by a Swiss company called Pronatec that would founded by Albert Yersin. While it was once widely touted as being a nutrient-rich food, the reality is that Sucanat is neither more nor less healthy than other sugars; however, it does have some unique qualities. To replace it, you will need to find another form of sugar with some or all of Sucanat’s characteristics. Here are some of the best options for Sucanat substitutes.
Your best bet: Evaporated cane juice
Sucanat is not the only evaporated cane juice, it is just the only one made with the method pioneered by Albert Yersin. There are several other brands of evaporated cane juice that have similar physical properties as Sucanat, and a similar flavor profile. All will have the same light brown color that arises from the fact that they all retain some of their natural molasses content. This makes them different from brown sugar, which consists of white sugar with added molasses to ensure a consistent flavor and color. Evaporated cane juice is very similar to Sucanat, but not exactly the same. Among the difference is the fact that its flavor is not quite as strong as that of Sucanat.
Another difference is the crystal size, evaporated cane juice crystals are fine but Sucanat crystals are somewhat larger. Despite those differences, evaporated cane juice can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Sucanat in most applications.
A decent second choice: Turbinado sugar
Sugar in the raw is a well-known brand that is similar to Sucanat in that it does not undergo much processing. It actually falls into the turbinado category of raw sugar. Like Sucanat, turbinado sugar has larger crystals that will take longer to break down. The big difference between turbinado sugar and Sucanat is that turbinado sugar does undergo some amount of processing in that the juices are extracted and boiled before being spun in a centrifuge to remove a significant portion of its molasses content. It is therefore referred to as minimally processed sugar rather than unprocessed sugar. The result is a sugar that is not quite as dark or flavorful, but that still retains many of the characteristics that make Sucanat useful. You can use turbinado sugar as a 1:1 substitute for Sucanat in most applications.
In a pinch: Muscovado sugar
Depending on where you are, you may know muscovado sugar as Barbados sugar. This sugar is often described as unrefined. Light muscovado is comparable to dark brown sugar though it is very different since muscovado sugar has not had its molasses removed and then added back in. Muscovado sugar does not get spun in a centrifuge like turbinado sugar, which means that it retains much more of its molasses content. As a result, its texture is moist and its flavor is strong. Some may even find it slightly bitter.
As a very dark sugar, it may not work in dishes where you want Sucanat’s shade of brown; however, it will provide strong caramel notes and is a great substitute in certain applications like dry rubs for meat and barbecue sauces. Use muscovado sugar as a 1:1 substitute for Sucanat.
Dark brown sugar is white refined sugar with added molasses. Dark brown sugar has the benefit of being easier to find than the options above, while still remaining a decent Sucanat substitute. Because it consists of refined white sugar, it is not free of animal products and is not suitable for vegan dishes.