Homemade browning sauce is the key ingredient to some of the most iconic Jamaican recipes. This dark, savoury sauce adds colour and a depth of flavour to Caribbean stews, gravy, meat dishes, and desserts. Made in less than 15 minutes with just two simple ingredients, you can elevate your meals with the best homemade browning sauce.
Browning sauce is a staple in the Jamaican household. There’s always a bottle in the cupboard or fridge. If you love cooking at home, this is just as essential as your salt and pepper. Once you know how to make Jamaican browning sauce from scratch, you won’t have to worry about running out or it not being available in stores.
Table of Contents
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Quick and Easy – there are no complicated steps; just brown sugar, water, and some stirring.
- Better than Storebought – it’s cheaper than buying browning sauce at the store. It’s tastier too! Homemade browning sauce is thinner and less syrupy and bitter than the concentrated storebought stuff from Grace and Kitchen Bouquet brands. Plus, you don’t have to worry about additives, preservatives, or sodium.
- Always in Stock – You’ll never have to be in the process of making a Jamaican dish and realize you’re out of browning. Keep brown sugar in your pantry and you’ll always be able to make this multipurpose brown sauce.
What is Browning Sauce?
Browning is simply charred brown sugar. It’s made by adding brown sugar to a hot sauce pan, and cooking until caramelized or browned. Water is then added to make a sauce used in many recipes mainly as a colour enhancer. It adds a deep brown hue to Caribbean dishes. Hence, the name.
It is a natural food colouring sourced from a blend of caramel, vegetable concentrates, and seasonings. It’s commonly used in Caribbean households.
What does Homemade Browning Sauce Taste Like?
Browning has a subtly sweet and smoky flavour. Keep in mind, this is not used as a primary seasoning but as a way to enhance the colour of meats, stews, and cakes.
What You Need to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)
- Non-Stick Saucepan – use a non-stick saucepan for easy, minimal clean-up.
- Wooden Spoon – for mixing ingredients.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Brown Sugar
- Boiling Water
How to Make Homemade Browning Sauce
Step One: Add Brown Sugar to a Pan
Add brown sugar to a small non-stick saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Continuously stir with a wooden spoon once the brown sugar begins to melt into a dark syrup-like consistency.
Step Two: Stir
Continue stirring, until the sugar becomes very dark brown and frothy, then remove from stove.
Step 3: Add Boiling Water
Carefully, add the boiling water to the saucepan, and stir until combined. Set aside, and allow the mixture to cool. Then, pour into an airtight container and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for future use.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
This homemade browning sauce recipe is super straightforward but some people may alter it a bit. It all boils (haha) down to your personal taste. That’s the beauty of making this yourself!
- Add a little salt – I didn’t add salt to my sauce because I like for my browning sauce to be very versatile. By omitting salt, I can use this in sweet or savoury dishes. Besides, you can always add salt to the recipe you are using the browning in. But if you want to use salt, add one teaspoon to the sauce after it has cooled and then stir.
- Use stock instead of water – If you know exactly what you want to use the browning for, it may be convenient to add a veggie, beef, or chicken stock. If you do this, I would use it exclusively for gravy, meats, stews, and soups; not desserts.
- White sugar – In a pinch, you can use white sugar instead of brown sugar.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
Wondering how to use browning sauce? A little bit of homemade browning sauce goes a long way! Use it in your favorite Jamaican recipes:
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Don’t use Cold Water – the sugar won’t dissolve and will clump instead.
- Heat Level – keep the heat on medium-low/low while making the browning to avoid burning the sugar quickly.
- Smokes Before Dark in Colour – if the sugar mixture begins to smoke before it turns dark in colour, turn the heat down to low or remove it from the heat for a while (ensuring not to cool it off too much).
- Colour – don’t let the sugar turn too black as this will result in a bitter-tasting browning sauce.
- Adding the Water – take care not to burn yourself with the steam as the sugar will steam or sputter up when adding the hot water.
- Watch the Pan – this recipe is quick and can burn easily so don’t walk away or leave the pan unattended.
- Keep the Fan On – as the sugar melts, there will be some smoke so turn the fan on to prevent the kitchen and the rest of your home from getting too smoky.
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
Absolutely! Make this ahead to save time when preparing your favorite meals and desserts.
Store homemade browning sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a substitute for browning sauce?
Dark molasses can be used as a substitute for browning sauce. It has a similar consistency and flavour profile.
Is brown sauce and browning sauce the same?
No. Browning sauce is primarily intended to darken food. Brown sauce is a sweet and savoury condiment.
Is browning sauce the same as Worcestershire?
No. Worcestershire is a fermented condiment made of complex flavours. It includes vinegar, anchovies, and tamarind. Browning is a simple sauce with a totally different taste and purpose.
Interested in more Condiments, Marinades and Seasonings? Check These Out!
- Jerk Seasoning
- All Purpose Seasoning
- Seasoned Salt
- Jamaican Pickled Vegetables (Escovitch Sauce)
- Homemade Tzatziki
- Easy Instant Pot Apple Butter
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Homemade Browning Sauce
- Non-Stick Saucepan
- Wooden Spoon
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup Boiling Water
- Add brown sugar to a small non-stick saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Continuously stir with a wooden spoon once the brown sugar begins to melt into a dark syrup-like consistency.
- Continue stirring, until the sugar becomes very dark brown and frothy, then remove from stove.
- Carefully, add the boiling water to the saucepan, and stir until combined. Set aside, and allow the mixture to cool. Then, pour into an airtight container and use immediately or store in refrigerator for future use.