Learn how to make simple syrup at home ... it couldn't be faster or easier! You only need two ingredients and five minutes to make this basic sugar syrup that's a must for cocktails, coffee, tea, lemonade, and more.
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Simple syrup is an essential ingredient for many cocktails and coffee drinks, but you can use it to sweeten everything from tea to lemonade, too. It's even used in baking and other recipes.
You'll sometimes see this liquid sweetener called sugar syrup, bar syrup, or coffee syrup. But whatever you call it, this is one recipe that's super helpful to have in your back pocket.
Keep reading to learn how to make this sweetener at home ... you only need five minutes and two ingredients!
Why make your own simple syrup?
While you can buy it, there are a few reasons why it's better to make your own:
- It's super quick and easy! No need to run to the store, when you only need five minutes to make it at home.
- You only need two ingredients (sugar and water), and you probably already have both on hand.
- It's much cheaper! Why pay $10 for something that you can easily make for pennies?
- You can add your own flavorings. Customize the basic recipe however you want using herbs, fresh fruit, chilis, vanilla, and more. Check out my tips below!
Simple syrup is a sugar syrup that's made with two very basic ingredients:
The standard ratio is 1:1 ... one part water and one part sugar. Once you know that, you can make this sweetener in any quantity—from small to large—that you need.
This traditional and versatile recipe calls for granulated sugar, but you can get creative by using different sugars and by adding flavorings (and I'm sharing some variations below). The core recipe is extremely straightforward though, which means you'll never be tempted to buy a bottle again!
How to Make Simple Syrup
This sweet syrup couldn't be easier to make! You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Combine sugar and water. Start by combining equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan. For this recipe, you'll use one cup sugar and one cup water. However, you can cut the recipe in half, or you can double or triple it, depending on how much you need.
- Heat. Place the saucepan over medium heat, then warm the ingredients, stirring constantly until the liquid becomes crystal clear. It should only take about two to three minutes total, and you do not need boiling the syrup.
- Cool. Once the liquid is clear, remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the syrup cool completely before using.
And that's all there is to it ... so easy, right?
How to Store
Store the finished syrup in an airtight container in your refrigerator. I usually keep mine in a mason jar, although a bottle with a spout is even more versatile and less messy for pouring. The sweetener will keep for about one month in the refrigerator. If you add flavorings, you should use it within one to two weeks.
How to Use
Now that you've made a batch, are you wondering how to use it? You can use this liquid sweetener anywhere that regular sugar might not dissolve well (especially in cold drinks), or in recipes that need a little extra sweetness. Here are some ideas:
- Cocktails - Many drink recipes call for this versatile sweetener. Some of my faves include the Classic Daiquiri, Old Fashioned (try it in this Rum Old Fashioned, too), Paloma, French 75, Irish Iced Coffee, Whiskey Sour, Apple Cider Moscow Mule, and the Margarita.
- Coffee - If you're a coffee lover like me, then you'll want to keep a jar in your fridge at all times! It's the PERFECT way to sweeten Iced Coffee (or Instant Iced Coffee), lattes, Iced Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso, and more, and you can easily get creative with flavorings to liven up your morning latte, too ... check out the next section for details.
- Tea - Use this sweet syrup to add a touch of sweetness to your fave hot or iced tea.
- Lemonade - There's nothing better on a hot day than a refreshing glass of this tart drink, and it couldn't be easier to make. Whip up a batch in minutes using this easy Lemonade recipe from Simply Recipes.
- Soda - Make your own homemade soda by combining sparkling water with a berry or citrus-infused sweetener.
- Compote - This scrumptious Mixed Berry Compote is made with a brown sugar syrup. Serve it over ice cream, waffles, or pancakes.
- Fruit Salad - Add extra sweetness to your fave fruit. This would be especially delicious if you flavor it with mint and / or lime.
- Baking - You can also drizzle it over cakes and cupcakes before decorating. It will keep them moist and enhance the sweetness of your favorite treats.
Tip: Want to substitute this syrup for granulated sugar? One tablespoon of simple syrup equals about two teaspoons of granulated sugar.
Once you've mastered the basic recipe, you can experiment with other sugars and flavorings. Here are some ideas to inspire you:
- Brown Sugar - Using brown sugar will give your syrup a richer, more caramel-y flavor. Try my Brown Sugar Syrup for the recipe.
- Demerara / Turbinado / Raw Sugar - Like using brown sugar, these sugars will color the sweetener a light brown, and give it a richer flavor.
- Rich Simple Syrup - This version has a higher ratio of sugar to water, resulting in a thicker, sweeter syrup that's popular with bartenders. To make it, combine two parts sugar with one part water (for example two cups sugar and one cup water), then heat until the sugar is dissolve, as directed below.
- Honey - Preparing this recipe with honey will add a delicious complexity to drinks and recipes, like the popular Bee's Knees cocktail. There are many different varieties of honey and each will add a unique flavor, so you can experiment to find your fave.
- Maple - You can either use maple syrup as-is in your drinks and recipes, or prepare it using a 2:1 or 1:1 maple syrup to water ratio. Try it in an Old Fashioned.
- Vanilla - This variation is perfect for coffee and can be prepared by stirring two to three teaspoons of vanilla extract into the finished recipe, or by steeping a split vanilla bean in the syrup as it cools (strain before storing).
- Lavender - Add a subtle floral vibe to your next cocktail or coffee drink by steeping culinary lavender in the syrup (use ½ cup lavender buds in the recipe below). It's especially tasty in a London Fog (Earl Grey tea latte) or a Lavender Latte.
- Citrus - Infuse your syrup with peels and / or juice from lemons, limes, oranges, or grapefruit for a bright, citrusy treat.
- Fruit - Add one to one-and-a-half cups fresh fruit along with the other ingredients for a delicious treat, then strain out after the syrup cools. Try this unique Rhubarb Syrup ...it's perfect for spring drinks. The Raspberry Syrup is used in this Raspberry French 75 is one of my favorites, too!
- Herbs - A handful of fresh herbs makes a wonderful addition, too! Try adding rosemary, mint, or basil to your next batch.
- Spices - Steep your favorite spices, like cinnamon or cardamom, for a delightful warm flavor. Try my favorite Cinnamon Brown Sugar Syrup in your morning coffee ... yum!
- Chilies - Add a little kick with the addition of fresh or dried chilies. This Spicy Paloma is a delicious cocktail flavored with a jalapeño-infused version that spicy food lovers will adore!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Stir have questions about this bar staple? Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions:
No, you do not need to boil simple syrup. Just heat the sugar and water over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture becomes clear. In a pinch, you can even make it with hot tap water ... so long as you don't mind a little extra stirring.
Plain syrup will last about one month when stored in the refrigerator. Flavored syrups should be used within one to two weeks.
While it's okay to leave simple syrup out for an evening while making drinks, it will last longer if refrigerated when you're done.
Simple syrup is used for sweetening drinks, such a cocktails, hot or iced coffee, iced tea, and lemonade ... basically, any drink that you'd normally add sugar to sweeten. You can also use it for baking and in other recipes.
Yes, you can buy simple syrup. Look for it in the liquor aisle (often near mixers). If you can't find it there, search for around other sweeteners (like honey or agave) or in the coffee section. You can also purchase it on Amazon.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring constantly, just until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. (Do not boil.)
- Remove from heat, then cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator.