Jaggery is a natural sweetener made from sugar cane juice or palm sap, commonly used across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Jaggery can taste similar to fresh cane juice, maple syrup, caramel, or [molasses](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/a-guide-to-cooking-with-molasses), depending on its contents. The unrefined natural sweetener comes in various shades, including light amber, golden brown, and dark brown. \n\nJaggery goes by many names: “gur” in Urdu, “gud” in Hindi, and “vellam” in Tamil. Palm jaggery, made from palm sap of trees like the date palm and the toddy palm, is less sweet than sugar cane jaggery and is more difficult to find outside its native region.\n\nYou can find organic jaggery powder (or small-shaped cones and caps) online or in Indian grocery stores. Here are some common ways to use the unrefined sugar:\n\n1. __In desserts and confections__: Jaggery is a main component of ladoos (or laddus), simple Indian sweets made from a blend of basic ingredients like atta (whole-wheat flour), nuts, dried fruits, sugar, and [ghee](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-ghee-plus-how-to-make-easy-homemade-ghee), found in casual and ceremonial settings. In Myanmar, jaggery is combined with [tamarind](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-tamarind-how-to-use-tamarind-paste-and-6-easy-tamarind-recipes) pulp to make candies.\n2. __In breads and rice__: Use jaggery to make meethi roti, a sweetened whole-wheat flatbread, or gur ki kheer, a sweet dish made with rice, raisins, and milk. \n3. __In savory dishes__: The complex sweetness of jaggery provides balance in savory stews like moong dal (lentils) or spiced sauces, like [Thai curries](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/thai-peanut-curry-recipe). \n4. __In Ayurvedic medicine__: Jaggery is a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. These health benefits have made it a mainstay in Ayurvedic medicine, where it appears in tinctures and recommended in balancing foods for certain doshas (bodily elements that influence wellness). In places like India and Sri Lanka, eating jaggery is thought to aid digestion and contribute to general wellness.\nThough they’re often made from the same base ingredient, there are a few key differences between jaggery and other sugars:\n\n- __Flavor__: Like its Latin American counterpart, panela, known as piloncillo in Mexico, jaggery has a milder, brighter sweetness than white or brown sugar. This sweetness lends itself to a wider variety of dishes and preparations, where its fruity, earthy flavor can help round out a recipe without necessarily making it sweet.\n- __Molasses content__: The easiest way to distinguish between jaggery and refined white sugar or brown sugar is by the molasses content in the final product. When sugar cane juice is boiled, it produces a liquid byproduct known as molasses. The removal of the molasses during the refining process results in sucrose, or white, granulated sugar. When making jaggery, the molasses byproduct is not separated or removed; the sugar cane juice or palm sap is boiled down into a concentrated paste and allowed to dry.\n- __Nutritional content__: Thanks to its minimal processing, jaggery is rich in vitamins and minerals, like potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium, unlike refined sugar. \n\nWith its powder-fine consistency and deep molasses flavor, jaggery is a pantry powerhouse.