Easy Homemade Browning Sauce Recipe for Stews

Browning sauce is a 2-ingredient, rich, smoky sauce that is used to flavor Jamaican, Trinidadian and Caribbean stews, soups, pelau, and even in rum cake.

To make browning sauce, brown sugar is melted and caramelized on low to medium heat until it becomes frothy and dark before water is added to stop it from burning. This all takes 10 minutes to make.

browning sauce dripping from spoon

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Ingredients for browning sauce

For this recipe, you will need:

  • brown sugar: I usually use Demerara brown sugar for this recipe but white sugar can work as a substitute.
  • boiling water: the water here should be very hot. Lukewarm or cold water will cause the sugar to clump together and it’ll take longer to make the sauce.

You can skip this recipe and purchase Caribbean browning sauce at your local Caribbean and Asian markets or on Amazon. Here’s a great brand: Spur Tree Jamaican.

Does browning sauce have a taste?

Browning sauce has a smoky, molasses-like taste and, when used in small amounts, there are hints of sweetness. But, if too much browning is added, the food can develop a bitter taste.  

What is the purpose of browning sauce?

Browning sauce adds a beautiful depth of flavor to meats, stews, soups and rice dishes due to its molasses-like, smoky taste. Alongside Caribbean green seasoning, browning adds great flavor to brown stew chicken and Trinidad chicken pelau.

The dark sauce also acts as a coloring agent and infuses a deep, dark brown color to the food. It is even added to cake, especially black cake or rum cake.

How to make browning sauce (video)

How to make browning sauce [steps]

This recipe requires 2 parts sugar to 1 part boiling water. Scale up this ratio to make a larger batch of the sauce if you like.

Step 1: Place a small pot on low heat and allow to heat up. Once it is nice and hot, add the sugar.

brown sugar added to pot

Step 2: Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. You will see the sugar in contact with the pot begin to melt. Stir to ensure even heating.

melting sugar for browning sauce

After another 2 minutes, all the sugar crystals should fully melt. Look at that caramelized sugar! If you scale up this recipe, it’ll take longer to reach this point.

caramelized sugar for sauce

As more heat is added, the sugar will become frothy and you will see puffs of steam (be careful they can burn).

bubbling caramelized sugar

It is time to stir continuously now – everything moves quickly from this point (in one minute, you’ll be done!). You will notice the color of the sugar turns from light caramel to dark brown. If it begins to smoke, lower the heat or lift the pot off the stove.

Step 3: When the sugar becomes dark brown, remove from the heat and add the boiling water carefully. It will sputter so be cautious. You can add a tablespoon or two of water first before pouring the rest in.

add water to browning sugar sauce

Step 4: Stir a couple more times and set aside to cool. Use immediately or bottle the browning and store in the fridge for later. It can last for months in the fridge.

finished browning sauce

What is a substitute for browning sauce

In T&T, roucou is used as a substitute for browning sauce. Roucou is an red extract made from the pigment of achiote or annatto seeds. It can be added to marinades or poured in while cooking.

Browning sauce recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Browning sauce (for stews)

Browning sauce is the secret to many Caribbean stews and dishes. It is made by burning sugar before adding liquid to stop the cooking so it is a two-ingredient sauce. It adds this delicious smoky, molasses-like taste.
Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: browning sauce
Servings: 8
Author: Ros Singh


  • ½ cup brown sugar (organic)
  • ¼ cup boiling water


  • Place a small pot on low heat and allow to heat up.
  • Add sugar to the pot.
  • Stir occasionally to ensure even heating.
  • Stir more often when the sugar is fully melted.
  • When the sugar becomes frothy and turns from light brown to dark brown, add water (carefully).
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Use immediately or bottle and store in the fridge.

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