One Simply Terrific Thing: Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools, kitchen goods, and ingredients that make life better!

Because of my job as a baker and recipe developer, I have a well-stocked pantry full of specialty ingredients most folks don’t use on a regular basis.

But for anyone wanting to take their baked goods up a notch, I recommend getting some turbinado sugar. This specialty ingredient can take a regular home-baked good to the next level!


Turbinado sugar (sometimes sold by its brand name, Sugar in the Raw) came onto the scene back in the 90s, when it started to appear at coffee shops across the nation. But it wasn’t until the last 10 to 15 years that you could buy it in bags at regular grocery stores, like white and brown sugar.

This specialty sugar is a blond-colored coarse crystal sugar that is less refined than table sugar. Unlike white granulated sugar, which is refined and boiled several times to remove all the molasses, turbinado sugar is boiled once and then processed through a centrifuge to spin off the excess moisture. The centrifuge, called a turbine, is what gives turbinado sugar its name!


Due to its unrefined nature, turbinado sugar has a slight molasses flavor that is more rounded and complex than regular white sugar’s simple sweetness. It’s great in hot beverages like coffee and tea, and it adds a great crunch and texture when sprinkled over oatmeal or yogurt.

Turbinado sugar also makes a fantastic addition to baked goods!

Sprinkle a tablespoon over pies before baking for a professional look and taste; top muffins with a generous pinch to give them a “bakery-style” appearance, or try adding a tablespoon to a crumble, crisp, or on top of a cobbler.

You can even use a tablespoon or two of turbinado sugar in place of white granulated sugar in cookies like sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, or oatmeal raisin cookies. The sugar’s large crystals won’t melt, so the cookies get some extra texture and crunch, making them all the more special.

Unlike brown sugar, turbinado sugar won’t harden, which means it will last until you use it up. (And a bag often lasts a long time, especially if you are only using one or two tablespoons of it at a time.)

You can find turbinado sugar online, as well as at well-stocked grocery stores or specialty stores like Trader Joe’s.

Go get some!