web analytics

What is pearl sugar?

Pearl Sugar

Pearl sugar is a type of specialty sugar that is often used in baking in Scandinavia and a few other countries in Northern Europe. The sugar is not completely round, like real pearls, but it comes in large round-ish chunks of sugar. The most remarkable thing about this type of sugar is that it doesn’t melt easily when exposed to moisture or to high heat, meaning that you can mix it into some cookies for a little crunch or sprinkle it on top of a cake and the sugar will stay put (and stay very visible) as you bake. Pearl sugar can be found in different sizes, varying primarily by brand. Some are the size of large sea salt flakes, while others are more like peas or macadamia nuts. For me, the smaller sizes tend to me more versatile because they can double as sprinkles for baking.

At a glance, pearl sugar resembles sugar cube pieces. Sugar cubes are compressed blocks of sugar that are designed to dissolve easily in hot liquid. The individual grains of sugar are not held tightly together. Pearl sugar is much more heavily compacted, which is why it does not melt easily during baking. Mixing pearl sugar into baked goods will give them soem extra sweetness and crunch. Sprinkling it over the top of a bread or pastry will do the same, and will also give your baked good a nice finishing look.

You won’t find pearl sugar in just any market – not unless you live in Scandinavia, Belgium or some other country where it is commonly included in goodies – but you can find it at some specialty cooking stores, like Sur La Table, and at Scandinavian import stores, like the food section at Ikea. And, of course, you can also find it online.

Share this article

  • Kara
    February 23, 2010

    Oh this is interesting, I’d never heard of this type of sugar before. Lately I’ve been using organic sugar I find at our local store, but it’s a bit pricey (but then again, it doesn’t clump up and become a royal pain like the cheap stuff).

    Might have to give this a try!

  • joyosity
    February 23, 2010

    I bought some intending to use it to make real Belgian waffles, but now I’m wondering what else I can use it in. I’ll have to look up those special Swedish cinnamon buns recipe!

  • Leonie
    February 23, 2010

    Here in the netherlands we use it on top of something call ‘sugarbread’. It’s a sweet bread with cinnamon and sugar. We also have special gingerbread with a topping of pearl sugar.

  • Kathryn
    March 11, 2010

    I had never heard of pearl sugar before – nice article and thanks information. If I ever run across a recipe that calls for “pearl sugar” I won’t be scratching my head or frantically searching (and probably not finding, especially since it is popular in a another country, not in the US) to find out what the heck it is.

  • Rene
    December 15, 2011

    If you are in Australia you can get it here:
    Swaffles Pearl Sugar
    They supply it in different sizes for both decoration as well as Liege waffles.

  • rosemaryandthegoat
    February 25, 2013

    We spent two weeks in France last year. In Provence our little bakery just a block from our house had the most wonderful pastries. A few had this sugar on top and it did add a nice chunch especially to the cream puffs. I could not find it in our tiny grocery next to our house there but now I know where to buy it.

  • […] grams turbinado sugar, or pearl sugar if you […]

  • […] the icing-laden sticky buns of the U.S., Swedish cinnamon buns are most often sprinkled with pearl sugar that adds a nice crunch. You can also find them with slivered almonds on the top. The typical form […]

  • Waffles
    January 29, 2013

    […] savory ones, are made with a leige waffle base. They’re like regular waffles, but made with pearl sugar. The pearl sugar doesn’t melt as easily as regular sugar, so it makes the waffles crunchier. […]

  • A Belgian Memory
    March 30, 2013

    […] that they were sampling last night. They were the Liège variety of waffles, which are made with a pearl sugar mixed right into the dough. The result is a slightly denser, slightly sweeter and slightly doughier […]

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *