The quickest way to soften brown sugar. Use this simple method when you have a hard block of brown sugar and need to use it in a recipe right away.

Closeup of Brown Sugar in a Bowl

Find What You’re Looking for:

Have you ever been in the middle of making a recipe and found your brown sugar is a hard brick? There’s no time to run to the store, and the brown sugar is right there (ahh!)—all you need is the quickest way to soften it.

This just happened to us while making Strawberry Pretzel Salad. The pretzel crust uses brown sugar, and when we grabbed it out of the pantry, ours was rock hard. We used this simple way to soften brown sugar, and it really works!

Let’s Soften Brown Sugar, Fast!

Follow these easy steps for a quick way to soften your brown sugar.


Add brown sugar to a microwave-safe bowl.

Place your hard brown sugar into a microwave-safe bowl.

Hard Brown Sugar in White Bowl


Top with Damp Paper Towel.

Lay a damp paper towel over the brown sugar. This will create moisture and help soften the sugar. (Make sure it is not dripping wet, or your brown sugar will be wet.)

Damp Paper Towel Over Bowl of Brown Sugar


Microwave in increments. Break up with a spoon.

Pop the bowl into the microwave and set it for short increments, around 15-30 seconds at a time. Use a spoon to start breaking up the brown sugar each time. Continue this process until the brown sugar reaches the desired softness.

Stirring Brown Sugar with a Wooden Spoon
Softened Brown Sugar in White Bowl

That’s it! With this simple method, you’ll have softened brown sugar ready to use in your recipes in just a matter of minutes. No need to run to the store. It’s quick, easy, and incredibly effective!

Hard Brown Sugar (Left) Soft Brown Sugar (Right)


Here’s what you’ll need for this quick method.

  • Hard brown sugar
  • Microwave-safe bowl and spoon
  • Damp paper towel
  • Microwave

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about softening brown sugar.

Why does brown sugar become hard?

Brown sugar hardens due to loss of moisture over time. Exposure to air can also contribute to this process, causing it to form clumps or become a solid mass.

How should I store softened brown sugar to prevent it from hardening again?

To keep brown sugar soft and prevent it from hardening again, store it in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Adding a small slice of bread or a terra cotta brown sugar saver to the container can also help maintain its moisture content and prevent clumping.

Soft Brown Sugar in White Bowl with Measuring Cups in Background

Delicious Recipes with Brown Sugar

Let us know how this trick works for you in the comments! Do you have any other quick ways to soften brown sugar?

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