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.

Granulated sugar - This type of sugar (pure sucrose) is naturally white. No bleaching agent is added at any time during the refining process. This is the most common form of sugar used in households and commercial food products. It is available in a number of different crystal sizes.  

Icing sugar - It is powdered granulated sugar, with a touch of cornstarch (gluten-free) added to prevent caking that would otherwise occur when icing's very fine particles absorb moisture from the air.

Brown sugars - Often referred to as 'soft sugars', brown sugars are produced by crystallizing the golden coloured syrup or by mixing molasses syrups with pure white sugar crystals. 

Liquid sugar - Includes liquid sugar and liquid invert sugar, which are predominantly produced in industrial quantities for use by food manufacturers. 

Specialty sugars - Includes Demerara-style, 'Plantation Raw', Organic, and Golden Syrup. 

An extended list of some of the types of sugar are listed below.

Sugar Description Alternative Names Uses
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

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
Burnt Sugar

Sugar caramelized by cooking at a high temperature

Not available for purchase, but can be made at home

Caramelized Sugar Prepared in specialty foods requiring a special flavour and colour (e.g.. crème caramel dessert)
Caramelized Sugar See Burnt Sugar    
Caster (Castor) Sugar See Superfine Sugar    
Coarse Sugar

Granulated sugar having a larger crystal size

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

  Used in making fondants, confections and liquors
Confectioner's Sugar See Icing Sugar    
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

Brown Sugar

Used as a specialty item for household baked goods

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

Evaporated Cane Sugar

Lightly golden, granulated cane sugar with a slight molasses flavour. Produced from milled sugar cane through a single-crystallization process. The filtered, clarified sugar cane juice is evaporated into a syrup, crystallized and dried.

Used as a sweetening agent similar to light brown sugar, golden yellow sugar, turbinado sugar and other specialty sugars that retain more molasses. Contains trace minerals and vitamins which are not significant in relation to nutrition requirements; has the same number of calories as table sugar.

Dried cane syrup, Cane syrup solids, Turbinado sugar, Evaporated cane juice (misleading term as this is a sweetening syrup, not a juice.) Used in baked goods, on top of hot cereal, and to sweeten beverages, smoothies, or plain yogurt.
Fondant Sugar See Icing Sugar    
Fruit Sugar See Superfine Sugar    
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

Refiner's Syrup, Refined Sugar Syrup Used in recipes as a syrup topping
Golden Yellow Sugar See Brown Sugar    
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)

Refined Sugar, Sucrose, Table Sugar, White Sugar

General household use

Used in bread, pastries, candy & processed foods

Icing Sugar

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

Confectioner's Sugar, Fondant Sugar, Fondant Icing Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Pure Icing Sugar, Super Icing Sugar Used in special glazes, icings for cakes and donuts, and some sweet pastries
Liquid Invert Sugar Mixture of glucose and fructose when sucrose is broken down in solution  

Mainly used in soft drinks

Also used in confectionery, canning and baking

Used by food industry; not available for purchase by consumers

Liquid Sugar Granulated white sugar dissolved in water Liquid Sucrose, Sucrose Syrups

Used in beverages, jams, candy, ice cream, syrups, and cooked fondants (i.e. fudge)

Used by food industry; not available for purchase by consumers

Molasses

By-product of sugar cane and sugar beet refining processes

Dark coloured syrup

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

Table or Fancy Molasses, Refiner's or Blackstrap or Cooking Molasses, Syrups

Baking, yeast production

Rum or other alcohol production as a fermentable carbohydrate

Animal feeds and related applications

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

Barbados Sugar Specialty product used on cereal, in puddings & fruit cakes, in marinades & sauces, or in coffee or tea
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

 

Used in place of granulated white sugar

For example, in cooking, baking, or on cereal and in coffee, tea and other beverages

Pearl Sugar Lumps of refined sugar particles Decorative Sugar, Sanding Sugar Used mainly in the baking and confectionery industries to sprinkle on top of baked goods
Plantation 'Raw' Sugar See Turbinado-style sugar    
Powdered Sugar See Icing Sugar    
Raw Sugar Raw sugar is a sticky brown sugar produced at a sugar mill by extracting cane juice from sugar cane, then partially purifying the sugar through boiling, evaporation and re-crystallization. It looks like soft brown sugar but contains impurities that require it to be refined before meeting local health standards. Not to be confused with “sugar in the raw”, which is a specialty refined sugar   This product is not sold to consumers because it does not meet Canadian Standards for health and hygiene
Refined Sugar syrup See Golden Syrup    
Refiner's Syrup See Golden Syrup    
Sanding Sugar See Pearl Sugar    
Soft Sugar See Brown Sugar    
Sugar See Granulated Sugar    
Superfine Sugar Crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar Bar Sugar, Berry Sugar, Castor Sugar, Extra Fine Sugar, Fruit Sugar, Instant Dissolving Sugar, Ultrafine Sugar

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

Table Sugar See Granulated Sugar    
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

Plantation Sugar, Sugar in the Raw, Washed raw sugar

Used for hot beverages

Can be used as a finishing touch for cookies, pastries and cobblers

White sugar See Granulated Sugar