White sugar, or granulated sugar, is a sugar that can be made from sugar cane or sugar beets, and is usually what recipes mean when they call for “sugar.” It also has a list of other monikers, including table sugar, common sugar, or regular sugar. White sugar is good for making cocktails and desserts, as it dissolves quickly, much like our self-control around both of those tempting indulgences (via Food52).
According to Cook’s Illustrated, natural cane sugar is made from sugar cane, and unlike its polished contemporary, is not as refined. Some find the taste of cane sugar deeper than white sugar, and cane sugar also has larger crystals and is more golden in color.
The main consideration for substituting cane sugar for white sugar is its color, as cane sugar’s darker color might make it hard to hit the sweet spot on the color spectrum for some recipes. Cook’s Illustrated found that cane sugar might discolor lighter-colored drinks when used as a substitute for white sugar (murky Tom Collins, anyone?) and that cane sugar’s darker color might pose a problem detecting color changes while making caramel sauce. The sweet news is that for the most part, white sugar and cane sugar can easily be used as substitutions for each other in recipes. Meaning you don’t have to run to the store if you have either in your cabinet, which leaves more time for savoring your sweet creations!