'Sugar' refers to sucrose, a carbohydrate found naturally in most fruits and vegetables. Sucrose is the major product of photosynthesis, a natural process that allows plants to turn sunlight into energy. Sucrose is the most abundant sugar found in nature, and occurs in the greatest quantities in sugar cane and sugar beets, which are used to produce sugar for use at home and in food products. Whether produced from cane or beet, the result is the same: pure sugar. 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.

Canada's Food and Drug Regulations require that "sugar" meets the standard of at least 99.8% pure sucrose. This is distinct from all other sugars and sweeteners including high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, and honey, as well as non-caloric sweeteners that are regulated as food additives. 

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 Juice

Misleading term used to describe lightly golden, granulated cane sugars with a slight molasses flavour. Processed from milled sugar cane through a single-crystallization process. The filtered, clarified sugar cane juice is evaporated into a non-food grade syrup. The syrup is filtered to remove impurities, crystallized by boiling under vacuum, then the sugar crystals are washed and separated in a centrifugal 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.

Cane syrup solids, Turbinado sugar, Organic cane sugar

See: US FDA Guidance that the ingredient should be declared on food labels as a sugar using more truthful non-misleading descriptors.

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, Refiner's 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


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 practiced, 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    


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