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Sweeten Your Treats: 5 Best Pearl Sugar Substitutes

Have you ever had Belgian waffles? Chances are if you have, they were topped with pearl sugar.

This unique ingredient is known for its ability to withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for use in baking.

But what is pearl sugar, and what can you use as a substitute if you can’t find it at your local grocery store?

Keep reading to discover everything you need about pearl sugar, including the five best substitutes for this unique ingredient.

What is Pearl Sugar?

what is pearl sugar

Pearl sugar is a type of decorating sugar often used in European baking.

It is made from refined sugar that has been compressed into small, round pearls.

Pearl sugar is usually white but can also be found in other colors.

It is available in various sizes, from large pearls to tiny granules.

Pearl sugar can be used to add decoration and sweetness to baked goods.

It is often used on top of cakes, pastries, and cookies.

It can also be used to make decorations for cakes and cupcakes.

Pearl sugar is very hard, so it does not melt or dissolve easily.

This makes it ideal for decorating purposes.

When using pearl sugar, it is important to sprinkle it on top of the baked goods before they are cooked.

If you add it after the baked goods have been cooked, the sugar will not stick and will just fall off.

Pearl sugar can also make a crunchy topping for ice cream or pudding.

Just sprinkle a few pearl sugar on top of your favorite dessert, and enjoy.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pearl Sugar

If you’re looking for a Pearl Sugar substitute, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are five substitutes that will work in a pinch.

1 – Raw Sugar

raw sugar

One of the great debates in the baking world is whether raw sugar or pearl sugar is the better choice for baked goods.

While both types of sugar have pros and cons, raw sugar is a good substitute for pearl sugar in many recipes.

Raw sugar is less processed than pearl sugar, so it retains more of its natural molasses flavor.

Depending on the recipe, this can be a good or bad thing.

Raw sugar may be too strong in recipes where you want a light, delicate flavor.

However, raw sugar can be a great choice in recipes where you want a deep, rich flavor.

In addition, raw sugar is less likely to burn during baking, so it’s a good option if you’re worried about your baked goods turning out too dark.

On the other hand, Pearl sugar is completely refined and has very little flavor.

This makes it a good choice for delicate recipes where you don’t want the sugar to overpower the other ingredients.

Pearl sugar also doesn’t melt as easily as raw sugar, so it’s perfect for sprinkling toppings that need to retain their shape.

2 – Sanding Sugar

sanding sugar

Sanding sugar is a type of sugar that is commonly used to decorate cakes and other desserts.

It is made by grinding sugar crystals into a fine powder.

The sugar is then mixed with cornstarch or other starch to prevent it from clumping.

Sanding sugar can be found in various colors, including white, pink, blue, and green.

It is often used to decorate cookies, cupcakes, and cake pops.

It can also be used to make colorful designs on the tops of cakes.

3 – Coarse Sugar

coarse sugar

Coarse sugar, also known as Turbinado sugar, is unrefined sugar with a large grain size and golden brown color.

It is made from raw sugar cane juice that has been heated and then cooled to form crystals.

Coarse sugar has a molasses-like flavor and is often used in baking or as a dessert topping.

While it does not dissolve as easily as refined sugar, its unique flavor and texture make it a popular choice for many recipes.

So next time you are looking for a little something extra in your baking, reach for some coarse sugar and see what all the fuss is about.

4 – Demerara Sugar

demerara sugar

Demerara sugar is a type of unrefined sugar that is typically used in baking and cooking.

It is named after the Demerara region in Guyana, where it was first produced.

Unlike refined sugars, Demerara sugar has a large grain size and a darker color.

It also has a molasses-like flavor that makes it ideal for use in recipes that call for brown sugar.

In addition to baking, Demerara sugar can also be used to sweeten coffee and tea.

It is also sometimes sprinkled on desserts such as cakes and muffins.

Because of its unique flavor and texture, Demerara sugar is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways.

5 – Decorating Sugar

Decorating sugar is a fun and easy way to add extra flair to your desserts.

There are endless possibilities when decorating sugar, so get creative and have fun.

One simple way to decorate sugar is to use food coloring.

Simply mix a few drops of food coloring with granulated sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar is evenly colored.

If you want to get more creative, you can use cookie cutters to create shapes out of colored sugar.

Another option is to use edible glitter or sprinkle it on the sugar for a bit of extra sparkle.


If you’re looking for a crunchy topping for your baked goods, any of these substitutes will do the trick.

But if you’re hoping to add some sweetness or flavor to your dish, you’ll need to pick a different ingredient entirely.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you need the pearl sugar for.

Depending on what you’re looking for, any of these substitutes should work well in place of pearl sugar.

Keep an eye on the final product, as some of these substitutes may change the flavor or texture slightly.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pearl Sugar

Recipe by Andrew Gray Course: Substitutes


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Cooking time


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  • Raw Sugar

  • Sanding Sugar

  • Coarse Sugar

  • Demerara Sugar

  • Decorating Sugar


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

Recipe Video

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