What’s Browning Sauce? How to Make it Under 10 Cents?

Browning sauce, Caribbean browning sauce, brown sauce, or burnt sugar are the same. Browning sauce can be as simple as solely consisting of burnt sugar to as complex as composed of a varying combination of ingredients such as molasses, raisins, dates, apples, tomatoes, vinegar, vegetable concentrates, garlic powder, and spices. The taste can be either tart or bitter-sweet.

By large, browning sauce is a blend of vegetable concentrates, seasonings, and caramelized or charred sugar when it comes to developing some secret flavors in the sauce. Sugar (can be brown or white) is the main constituent of browning sauce.

Browning Sauce Uses

Browning sauce is served as a condiment with food in America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Caribbean islands (West Indies, for example), and Africa. It’s used to flavor and color various foods, including gravy, stew, meats, and even cakes, especially rum cakes.

You can also add browning sauce to soups and other sauces. Adding one or a half teaspoon of browning sauce doesn’t alter the flavor much but gives your food a distinct, brownish hue. 

Seasoned connoisseurs always remember to brush browning sauce onto slow-cooked meats to give them a brownish appearance. (Cooking meat low and slow releases nitrates of the meat proteins, sealing oxygen inside and allowing the meat to retain its characteristic pink color even when you’ve cooked the meat to the point of breaking down its connective tissue.)

Adding too much browning sauce always results in a bitter flavor. Therefore, measure carefully before adding browning sauce to a finished dish.

Browning sauce is also used as a topping on Christmas cakes.

How to Make Browning Sauce at Home?

Making homemade browning sauce is easier done than said. 

The following browning sauce recipes are easy to make and have an edge over store-bought browning, i.e., homemade browning sauces lacking additives and preservatives present in store-bought browning sauces.

Caribbean-Style Browning Sauce Recipe

The Caribbean-style browning sauce adds extra color and sweetness to your steaks. The Caribbean-style browning sauce gives your beef cubes a dark brown color and a smoky, molasses-like flavor. You’ll prefer this recipe if you love Caribbean cooking.


1 tablespoon cooking oil (you can use any cooking oil with a moderate flavor)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup of water

Step 1: Heat the cooking oil

Just pour a tablespoon of cooking oil into your cooking pot and heat it over low heat until it begins to crisp. Avoid reheating or overheating the oil. Reheating cooking oil is dangerous because it releases toxic free radicals. For this reason, you should always use fresh cooking oil. On the other hand, overheating the oil causes it to evaporate.

Step 2: Add the brown sugar

When the oil begins to crisp, it’s time to add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir the mixture well until it’s homogenized.

Step 3: Melt the sugar

Heat the mixture until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize. Soon the sugar will turn into a dark brown paste. Continue stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula until it begins to smoke.

When the mixture starts smoking, you should turn down the heat.

Step 4: Add Hot Water

Now add hot water little by little, and keep stirring it until the charred sugar is thoroughly mixed in the water. Your browning sauce is ready to use. You can save it in an airtight jar or bottle.

Salted Browning Sauce Recipe

Salted browning sauce has a distinct but great taste. Here’s the recipe for salted browning sauce.


1 cup cane, table, standard, or granular sugar

½ cup hot water

1 teaspoon table salt

Step 1: Melt the sugar

Heat the sugar over low heat in a saucepan or frying pan. Keep heating the sugar until it begins to melt and forms a dark-brown syrup. Keep stirring to avoid sugar from sticking to the pan. When the sugar starts to smoke, turn down the heat a bit.

Step 2: Slowly Add water

Remove the pan from the stove and carefully add boiling water to the syrup. Cold water isn’t recommended as it’ll solidify the melted sugar.

 The pan will steam and sputter but keep adding the water and stirring until the half cup is empty.

Step 3: Add salt

Once the pan has sufficiently cooled, add a spoonful of table salt to the brown liquid. Stir well before removing the paste from the pan and storing it in an airtight container or bottle.

Essential Notes for Making Homemade Browning Sauce

  1. You can use molasses, table sugar, brown sugar, or caramel color to make browning sauce. Each base ingredient would result in a striking outcome in terms of flavor and color.
  2. You can add salt or water instead of cooking oil, with varying but satisfying results.
  3. Always add hot or boiling water to the burnt sugar. Cold water will cause the sugar syrup to clump and get hard.
  4. Keep the stove on medium-low heat. High heat will cause the syrup to burn, dry, and stick to the pan.
  5. Keep the fan on while the sugar smokes to seal the full smoke inside the sauce and prevent it from escaping.
  6. Don’t add more than one teaspoon of water at a time.

What are the Best Browning Sauces?

If you have no time to make browning sauce at home, you need an expert’s advice on the best browning sauce. To help you pick browning sauce yourself without regret, we’ve reviewed some top-rated browning sauces for our readers. Here’s our selection of the best browning sauces currently and broadly available:

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in this section are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.

Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce

Kitchen Bouquet is a trusted and reputed name when it comes to condiments. The Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce is specifically designed for meat, gravy, and stew. 

The bottled sauce is known as the “browning agent” as it’s mainly used as an ingredient rather than a topping. As for the elements, the sauce contains water, a caramel color, a vegetable base, and less than 2% of spices, salt, and sodium benzoate as a preservative.

Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce has a bitter taste and dark brown color. Brushing the Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce on top of the meat imparts a brownish hue and gives the meat a well-roasted appearance. 

You can use it to add color and flavor to gravy, soups, and marinades. However, it’s mainly used to darken the color of meats cooked in the microwave, electric grills, and slow cookers. Kitchen Bouquet sauce is very helpful in browning these foods’ dull, grey appearance.

One of the most appealing things about the product is that, as of February 2006, it’s free of any trace of gluten. Another thing to note is that the sauce contains negligible amounts of sodium: about 30 mg per tablespoon.

Kitchen Bouquet sauce is shelf-stable, so you don’t need to keep it in the refrigerator. You can store it in an airtight container beside other seasonings and condiments in your kitchen or pantry.

GRACE BROWNING Sauce (Jamaican Sauce)

This Caribbean-style Jamaican product only consists of cane sugar, caramel, water, salt, and sodium benzoate (preservative). You can use it to enhance the flavor and color of your fruit cakes, spiced buns, steaks, and seafood. Since 

Grace Browning sauce contains a preservative, so you don’t need to refrigerate it. Even after opening, there’s no need to keep it in a cool place. It doesn’t go rancid because it has no vegetable base, herbs, or spices.

The sauce has a non-descriptive, bland taste; not salty, not sweet, not bitter. That might be part of the reason you can use it on cakes.

The sauce is thick, rich in texture, and black in color.

It would be best if you didn’t add too much of it to your food. Otherwise, you’d have a black, bitter outcome.

This product is your way to go if you want a simple, Caribbean-style browning sauce.


Is browning sauce the same as brown sauce?

The terms browning sauce and brown sauce are used interchangeably for the same thing. However, they don’t always mean the same thing. 

The answer to this question also varies based on who you ask.

In Caribbean islands such as the West Indies, browning sauce solely refers to burnt sugar.

On the other hand, products containing a vegetable base, molasses, spices, salts, and preservatives are also sold as browning and seasoning sauces, especially in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

It’s important to emphasize that browning sauce and brown sauce are sometimes used interchangeably and can sometimes mean two different things. 

It’s hard to draw a line between the two as sugar or molasses are the main ingredients of any browning sauce or brown sauce. The two have the same dark brown color and usually a bitter-sweet or bland flavor.

Is browning sauce the same as molasses?

Brown sugar has its characteristic brownish color due to the presence of molasses. Brown sugar is refined or partially refined sugar consisting of sugar granules and residual molasses. Brown sugar is also produced by adding molasses to the granular white sugar. Browning sauce (sometimes called browning) essentially means burnt white or brown sugar. Since coarse sugar is more accessible than molasses, homemade browning sauce is usually obtained by burning white or brown sugar. 

It’s important to note that browning made by burning brown sugar is superior to browning made by burning white sugar in terms of quality, taste, and color.

You can also make browning sauce by boiling and subsequently burning molasses. It would be interesting to note that browning sauce serves mainly as a topping on baked or cooked foods.

If you want to add a browning agent to your food before it’s cooked, you don’t need to burn molasses to achieve a paste or sauce. Just directly put a measured and carefully calculated amount of molasses in the food while it’s being cooked. 

You can choose between dark and light molasses based on the type of food you want to brown. Dark molasses intensify the flavor and yield a much stronger, rich brownish hue.

Is the Gravy Master browning sauce?

The Gravy Master is browning and caramelizing seasoning sauce. But as the name suggests, it’s a bit more than browning sauce. 

Homemade browning sauce solely consists of burnt sugar and doesn’t contribute much to the flavor of the food. The primary purpose of browning sauce is to impart a distinct, brownish hue to the food. Gravy Master, on the other hand, is browning and seasoning sauce combined.

The Gravy Master’s ingredients include Caramelized Sugar, Caramel Color, Water, Hydrolyzed Soy & Corn Protein, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt, And Spices (Onion, Celery, Parsley, And Garlic).

As you can see, Gravy Master is a concentrated blend of various herbs and spices besides cane sugar.

Gravy Master is a perfect browning and seasoning sauce and has no preservatives.

What’s the difference between soy sauce and browning sauce?

Soy sauce is a traditional Chinese condiment made from fermented soybeans, roasted grain, salted water (brine), and Aspergillus oryzae molds. Soy sauce has a strong umami flavor.

On the other hand, browning sauce is made by burning sugar or blending caramel color with seasonings and a vegetable base. It has a bitter-sweet or sometimes bland taste.

While soy sauce is relished primarily for its flavor, browning sauce is added to gravy, stew, and meat for its color. Soy sauce has a clear, reddish-brown color, unlike browning sauce, which has a dark brown and sometimes blackish color.

Is Worcestershire sauce the same as browning sauce?

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment made from molasses, sugar, salt, vinegar, anchovies (a small, common forage fish), garlic, tamarind extract, chili pepper extract, and some undisclosed natural ingredients. Worcestershire sauce has a strong umami flavor.

Because of molasses’ presence, Worcestershire sauce can be used as a browning agent. However, the taste would be different from homemade browning sauce.

What Is a Substitute for Browning Sauce?

Soy sauce and instant coffee granules are two excellent substitutes for browning sauce. 

Based on your recipe, you can also use Grace Browning, Gravy Master, Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce, Jamaican Browning, or Caramel Browning as a browning agent.

Where can I find browning sauce?

You can find browning sauce in nearly all grocery stores in America, England, Ireland, West Indies, and Jamaica. Two of the most popular browning sauce brands are Gravy Master and Kitchen Bouquet.

If you can’t find browning sauce in your local grocery store, you can order one online on Amazon.

However, it’s interesting to note that the best browning sauce is DIY or homemade browning sauce. And besides, it’s super easy to make.

You can make homemade browning sauce by burning white or brown sugar or molasses. You can also add water, salt, vinegar, spices, and a vegetable base if you like the taste based on dishes you generally make.

What does browning sauce taste like?

The browning sauce has a somewhat smoky, molasses-like flavor. If added in a moderate quantity, the taste can be sweet. It gives off a bitter taste and can ruin your dish when added too much.

A store-bought browning sauce can vary in taste and color. Finding a traditional Caribbean-style browning sauce in a grocery store is never easy. 

They’re primarily sold as browning and seasoning sauces and contain many additives and preservatives. Additives, such as herbs and spices, alter the product’s taste.

Store-bought browning sauces usually have a non-descriptive, bland taste.

Is Maggi a browning sauce?

Maggi is fermented wheat protein and has a rich, meaty, savory, umami-like taste. Maggi also contains many spices, glutamine, sugar, and caramel color. It can be used as a browning agent, but it’s very different from a purebred browning sauce.

What is browning for cakes?

Homemade browning or burnt sugar syrup serves as a topping on cakes and ice creams. Browning gives cakes a more aesthetic appearance and enhances the product’s taste. You can easily make browning sauce for your rum cakes by burning sugar and adding hot water.

Final Thoughts

With varying flavor profiles, browning sauce can be the best thing to color your recipes. You can use additional flavor by combining it with other ingredients like vegetables, chicken, meat stews, spices, or your favorite herbs to make your own browning sauce that is gluten-free and stabilizer-free. 

Cashmere M
Cashmere M

Cashmere M is a passionate culinary explorer and food writer with 25 years of home kitchen experience. This blog is a treasure trove of her insights into worldwide cuisine, cooking techniques, and expert knowledge of kitchen tools and gadgets. What's more... she's always seeking the healthiness of ingredients before putting them on her plate because she believes what you eat creates your internal environment: either healthy or unhealthy. So, to her, food isn't just a passion; it's a lifelong journey to taste and healthiness that you're welcome to join.

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