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Piloncillo Vs Jaggery: What’s The Difference?

Sugar is produced from various plant sources including sugar cane and sugar beets.

It is then refined through a industrial process to remove molasses and other impurities.

Traditionally produced sugar is minimally refined, and therefore some of the molasses are still present unlike in refined sugar where the molasses are removed.

Jaggery is a popular type of unrefined sugar produced through a traditional process.

Piloncillo is a similar unrefined sugar produced from sugar cane through a similar technique as jaggery.

Jaggery and piloncillo are both categorized as a non centrifugal sugar. They are so similar that it could be difficult to tell them apart.

However, there are slight variations between both unrefined sugars which we are going to discuss in this post.

Difference between jaggey and piloncillo

Jaggery is commonly produced in Asia and Africa while piloncillo is made in Latin America

Also, jaggery could be produced from either sugar cane or palm. Palm jaggery could be made from date palm or toddy palm. It is more preferred  and also more difficult to find.

Piloncillo on the other hand is made from sugar cane alone.

These sugars are usually molded into so many different shapes. For piloncillo, it is often characteristically shaped into a cone shape.


Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that is produced in Asia

It is particularly popular in india where they are sometimes known as “gur”

Jaggery could be made from palm or sugar cane juice. These give two types of jaggery known as sugarcane jaggery and palm jaggery

How jaggery is made

The sugar cane is cut and pressed either mechanically or by hand to release the juices.

For palm jaggery, the sap of the palm tree is tapped.

These juices are boiled in a large flat pan. As moisture inside evaporates, it leaves behind a dough.

The leftover dough is placed inside molds or containers and left to cool, it acquires its shape from the containers. 

Uses of jaggery

Jaggery is used in numerous ways in various recipes. It can also be used as a refined sugar substitute. They could also be used for both sweet and savory dishes.

In india, jaggery is used to make local candies, they are also used to make desserts


In Latin American, piloncillo is produced from sugarcane through a similar technique as jaggery.

In mexico this same sugar is known as panela.

How piloncillo is made

They are made from sugar cane juice and they can be light and dark varieties based on the type of cane sugar they are made from.

It is essentially made using the same basic processes as jaggery.

The sugar cane are mechanically pressed and boiled while the fibers are used as fuel.

The cane juice is boiled until a thick dough is left.

When the juice has been boiled down to concentrate, it is placed in cone shaped molds where it derives its popular cone shape

Piloncillo could also be in blocks, granulated and in liquid form.

Uses of piloncillo

Piloncillo could be used in sweet and savory dishes.

They are flavorful and they are used in sauces, beverages and pastries.

In conclusion

An important step when producing refined sugar involves spinning them to remove molasses in a process known as centrifuging.

Non centrifuged including jaggery and piloncillo are produced from sugar cane and palm through traditional process which do not involve centrifuging

The juice or sap are not spun to remove molasses.

Unlike refined sugar which is white and concentrated with sucrose, These sugars have a lesser percentage of sucrose than refined sugars and a darker color.

Also, due to the minimal processing of the cane or palm juice, jaggery and piloncillo has more of other nutrients than refined white sugar. Even though jaggery has to be consumed in large amount to get a substantial amount

There are also many traditionally produced unrefined sugar similar to Jaggery and piloncillo found all over the world and produced using different techniques