Homemade browning sauce is made with brown sugar and water, simple to make and great for adding flavor to a variety of both savory and sweet dishes. This simple sauce will add smoky and slightly sweet notes to any dish.
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My pantry is never without a bottle of this best Jamaican browning sauce, ready to add real depth of flavor to the dishes I like to cook at home. It works well with braised oxtail and in stews. However, I also like to add it to rich and fruity Jamaican cakes.
A homemade Jamaican browning sauce is a great alternative to store bought sauces. There is no salt or unnecessary preservatives or additives in this sauce. Just some brown sugar and water which makes it a budget friendly option too.
In this post I explain what browning sauce is, how simple it is to prepare, and how you can use it.
What is browning sauce?
Jamaican browning sauce is a sauce made by caramelizing sugar until it’s rich and deep in color, then adding some water to it. You can also add a touch of salt to the sauce if you wish.
Browning sauce is used to flavor and season food and should not be confused with brown sauce, which is more of a sweet/savory condiment.
What does browning sauce taste like?
This sauce has a rich, deep smoky and slightly sweet flavor. It can be added to both savory and sweet dishes. Try adding a little to anything from stews and braised meat dishes, to spiced ginger cakes. Just don’t be too heavy handed, as it can taste bitter.
With only 2 ingredients, here’s what you will need for this recipe:
- Brown sugar
- Warm water
How to make browning sauce?
Place brown sugar in a small non-stick pot over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the brown sugar starts to melt. This should take about 4-5 minutes.
Once the brown sugar has melted, continue stirring consistently until it gets very dark, almost black. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
Once the sugar is dark, remove it from the heat and pour in the water, and stir. Allow the mixture to rest for about 5 minutes to cool down. Use in recipes or store for later use.
Can I adapt the flavor of the sauce?
When making your own browning sauce it all comes down to personal taste. Here are some suggestions of how you could adapt it.
- Add a touch of salt (I don’t as I like to use it in sweet ginger cake as well as savory dishes).
- Swap the water for some beef, chicken or vegetable broth for a real savory flavor.
- If you don’t have brown sugar, swap it for some white sugar.
How to use browning sauce?
I love adding this simple sauce to a variety of both savory and sweet dishes. Think of it as a seasoning, rather than a sauce, adding a hint of smoky, sweetness, and dark color. Try it in my Jamaican Oxtail recipe, my Brown Stew Chicken, or Brown Stew Fish. For a sweet twist add it to my Jamaican Black Cake, and it would also work in deep, rich ginger or rum cakes too.
- Do not walk away from the pan when making this sauce, otherwise you risk the sugar burning and sticking to the pan.
- In order to avoid burning or damaging your cookware, I strongly suggest using a nonstick pan. It will also make cleaning up afterwards a whole lot easier.
- Take care when adding the water to the molten sugar to ensure you don’t burn yourself.
Browning sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator, this sauce will keep for up to 6 months.
This homemade browning does not contain salt. You can season the sauce with a pinch of salt if preferred.
More Sauces & Seasoning Mixes
Homemade sauces and spice blends are a simple way of packing real flavor into our food, elevating it from good to great. Here are some of my favorite recipes for you to try.
- Homemade Remoulade Sauce
- Sweet Onion Dressing
- Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Apple Pie Spice Blend
- Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
- Chicken Seasoning
- Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- Homemade Taco Seasoning
If you have tried this homemade browning sauce recipe or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below.
Homemade Browning Sauce
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup warm water
- Place brown sugar in a small non-stick pot over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the brown sugar starts to melt. This should take about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the brown sugar has melted, continue stirring constantly until it gets very dark, almost black. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
- Once the sugar is dark, remove it from the heat and pour in the water, and stir. Allow the mixture to rest for about 5 minutes to cool down. Use in recipes or store for later use.
- Browning can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months in an airtight container.
- This homemade browning does not contain salt. You can season the sauce with a pinch of salt if preferred.
- In order to avoid burning or damaging your cookware, I strongly suggest using a nonstick pan.
Sunday 8th of January 2023
I've tried this a few times and every time I pour in the water the mixture suddenly turns hard, it does not remain a liquid.
Sunday 8th of January 2023
Hi Joel, sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like the heat is too hot when browning the sugar, getting the mixture closer to candy. I'd suggest lowering the heat.
Thursday 13th of October 2022
I'm curious how a recipe that calls for ⅓ cup of water and ⅓ cup of brown sugar yields 1 cup of sauce.
Thursday 13th of October 2022
Hi Frank, that was an error. We typed it in wrong. It yields a little less than 1/3 cup.