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What are Sugar Cubes?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sugar cubes are small cubes of sugar, often sold in boxes, and thought more convenient than using standard granulated sugar because they can be picked up by hand, and hold their form until mixed into liquids. They also provide an excellent way to control sugar consumption since the amount is always the same in one cube. Each cube is approximately equal to one and a half teaspoons of sugar and has approximately 25 calories. This can sometimes vary; some may be equal to one teaspoon and contain about 15 calories.

Jakub Krystof Rad invented the first sugar cubes in the 1840s at a sugar refining plant in Dacice, a small Moravian town in what is now the Czech Republic. These early cubes were made primarily of beet sugar, and in modern times, either beet or cane sugar is considered acceptable. A combination of sugar crystals and sugar syrup are mixed together and placed in molds until dry. They are hard enough in dry form to retain their shape, though excess handling may cause them to break or crumble at the edges. Even packaging of the cubes can cause a bit of breakage, especially to the bottom layers of cubes.

You can use sugar cubes as replacement for sugar in hot drinks, though they’re not as equally well adapted to use in colder drinks. There is, however, precedent set for placing cubes of sugar in cold drinks, especially alcoholic ones. The Victorians used to drop the cubes into alcohol, allowing them to gradually dissolve. This tradition remains among some people. For instance in the classic film Moonstruck Loretta and her father toast her upcoming wedding with champagne into which sugar cubes have been dropped. Some champagne cocktails are a mixture of sugar cubes, champagne and other alcohols or juices.

Sugar cubes aren’t just for consumption; they can be used in a variety of ways in large or small food based decorations. A sugar cube can become a block of ice in a gingerbread house with a Nordic front yard scene, or it can be decorated to make a wrapped present in similar or Christmas oriented scenes. Food designers who work with sugar come up with many different applications for the sugar cube, and these can be impressive in their creativity: not only sweet but imaginative too.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By leiliahrune — On Dec 22, 2010

@empanadas - I have used the C and H brand sugar cubes before and they work great as far as construction goes. You would think that it wouldn't matter as they are all made in the same fashion, but I think C & H is a brand that is truly used because it is easily dissolved in hot liquids... like tea.

By empanadas — On Dec 21, 2010

@bbpuff - I actually home school my children and not too long ago this was their choice of project when it came to understanding the construction of things. I think it was science related, actually. They chose to use two different types of cubes, with domino sugar cubes turning out to be sturdier.

By bbpuff — On Dec 20, 2010

@win199 - Sugar cubes are also good for use in construction. I don't remember what grade I was in (it must have been middle or high school), but I was required to build something from sugar cubes (maybe it was build something period and I CHOSE sugar cubes?). Anyway, I build a fantastic castle complete with ice skating pond and it turned out great. What it says in the article about excessive use or handling is true. Oh, and a castle is much more difficult than learning how to build an igloo out of sugar cubes. ;)

By win199 — On Dec 17, 2010

@olittlewood - Yes, there are also brown sugar cubes. I have never understood the usefulness of sugar cubes and have never really had an explanation of their use. I like the fact that this article discusses some of the possibilities beyond just using them to sweeten tea.

By olittlewood — On Dec 09, 2007

aren't there also brown sugar cubes?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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