Sugar – What’s in a Name?


The first thing to know is that, in many cases, there are a bunch of different names for the same product. If you know the names for different sugars, you are well ahead of the game.

In some cases, like brown sugar or icing sugar, you can just make your own at home using regular granulated sugar.

We have compiled this information from the Canadian Sugar Association to help separate and define the many types of sugar found in the consumer market.

Sugar produced from sugar beet or sugar cane is identical. The process of extracting and purifying sugars from sugar cane and sugar beet however allows for the production of a large variety of sugars. Sugars may differ in colour, flavour, sweetness and crystal size. Each of these characteristics allows sugar to perform a variety of functions in food products, in addition to providing a sweet taste.

Brown Sugar

White moist granulated sugar blended with small quantities of pure sugar syrups (molasses) selected for colour and taste.

The differences in colour and flavour between brown sugar depend on the amount of molasses present. The more molasses, the stickier the crystals, darker the colour and stronger the flavour

Sugar refiners can produce brown sugar from boiling refinery cane syrups until brown sugar crystals form, or by blending molasses syrup with white sugar crystals.

Other Names:

Brilliant Yellow Sugar, Dark Brown Sugar, Demerara-style Sugar, Golden Yellow Sugar, Light Yellow Sugar, Muscovado Sugar, Plantation Raw Sugar, Soft Sugar, Yellow Sugar


Used in baked goods as dry mixes, meat glazes, and condiments.

Granulated Sugar

Pure sucrose.

The most common form of refined sugar, made from sugar cane and sugar beet.
Sold in varying crystal or granule sizes including: Coarse, Medium, Fine, Extra Fine (or Special Fine, Verifine), Ultrafine, Superfine (or Fruit Sugar, Fruit Powder, Powdered Sugar, Instant Dissolving Sugar).

Other Names: Refined Sugar, Sucrose, Table Sugar, White Sugar

Uses: General household use. Used in bread, pastries, candy & processed foods.

Burnt Sugar

Sugar caramelized by cooking at a high temperature. Not available for purchase, but can be made at home.

Other Names: Caramelized Sugar

Uses: Prepared in specialty foods requiring a special flavour and colour (e.g.. crème caramel dessert).

Coarse Sugar

Granulated sugar having a larger crystal size.

Highly resistant to colour change and breakdown (into glucose and fructose) at high temperatures.

Uses: Used in making fondants, confections and liquors.

Muscovado Sugar

Dry crystal sugar made by crystallization of dark syrups (similar to Demerara-style).

Crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than regular brown sugar.

Produced at an early stage of the refining process where not all plant pigments and flavours are removed. Ranges from light to dark brown and has a strong molasses taste.

Other Names: Barbados Sugar

Uses: Specialty product used on cereal, in puddings & fruit cakes, in marinades & sauces, or in coffee or tea.

Demerara-Style Sugar

Very moist granulated sugar having a heavy molasses coating (golden brown crystal sugar).

A specialty light brown sugar, with large golden crystals which are slightly sticky.

Other Names: Brown sugar

Uses: Used as a specialty item for household baked goods.

Often used in tea, coffee or on top of hot cereals.

Golden Syrup

Table syrup containing sucrose and invert sugar (sucrose broken down into its two component sugars, glucose and fructose).

Made from selected blended refinery cane syrups, which are thickened by evaporation. Not to be confused with Golden Corn Syrup.

Other Names: Refiner’s Syrup, Refined Sugar Syrup

Uses: Used in recipes as a syrup topping.

Liquid Sugar

Granulated white sugar dissolved in water.

Other Names: Liquid Sucrose, Sucrose Syrups

Uses:  Used in beverages, jams, candy, ice cream, syrups, and cooked fondants (i.e. fudge). Used by food industry; not available for purchase by consumers.

Icing Sugar

Finely ground granulated sugar, which contains approximately 3% cornstarch (gluten-free), an anti-caking agent to prevent clumping.

Other Names: Confectioner’s Sugar, Fondant Sugar, Fondant Icing Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Pure Icing Sugar, Super Icing Sugar

Uses: Used in special glazes, icings for cakes and donuts, and some sweet pastries.

Turbinado – style Sugar

A semi-refined specialty brown sugar. It is a raw sugar that has been processed (double washed) for human consumption.

Its molasses coating gives it a golden colour and mild caramel taste. Found in restaurants and specialty shops.

Other Names: Plantation Sugar, Sugar in the Raw, Washed raw sugar

Uses: Used for hot beverages. Can be used as a finishing touch for cookies, pastries and cobblers.


A dark coloured syrup which is a by-product of sugar cane and sugar beet refining processes.

Generally, molasses from refineries requires further processing to meet the food grade standard (to be packaged and sold in the grocery store).

Other Names: Table or Fancy Molasses, Refiner’s or Blackstrap or Cooking Molasses, Syrups.

Uses: Baking, yeast production. Rum or other alcohol production as a fermentable carbohydrate. Animal feeds and related applications.

Superfine Sugar

Crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar.

Other Names: Bar Sugar, Berry Sugar, Castor Sugar, Extra Fine Sugar, Fruit Sugar, Instant Dissolving Sugar, Ultrafine Sugar

Uses: Excellent for sprinkling over fruit or cereals, or in creamed mixtures, meringues and baking.

Superfine Sugar is used commercially in powdered preparations and dissolves easily in cold beverages. Used in the preservation of fruits.

Pearl Sugar

Lumps of refined sugar particles.

Other Names: Decorative Sugar, Sanding Sugar

Uses: Used mainly in the baking and confectionery industries to sprinkle on top of baked goods.

Organic Sugar

Grown where sustainable agriculture is practised, for example, crop rotation, effective soil conservation and natural biological pest control (no pesticides or artificial fertilizers).

Made from cane syrups that are filtered and cleaned using only natural herbal extracts and vegetable purifiers.

Uses: Used in place of granulated white sugar. For example, in cooking, baking, or on cereal and in coffee, tea and other beverages.

We hope this helps untangle the sugar web.

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