As piloncillo is sometimes referred to as Mexican brown sugar, it is easy to think the two are the same. But these sugars are actually very different. Piloncillo is pure sugar with no additives, while brown sugar is made from refined white sugar. And though both are offered in light and dark varieties, what creates the two shades of brown in each sugar is very different. Blanco piloncillo is made from green sugarcane, while oscuro is made from purple sugarcane. Light and dark brown sugars, on the other hand, are distinguished by the amount of molasses added.
Their taste also differs: Piloncillo’s flavour is more intricate than brown sugar, with a deeper richness and more complex flavour profile. The texture of the two sugars is dissimilar as well; piloncillo is very hard, and brown sugar is soft and pliable.