Every cocktail maker needs to know how to make simple syrup. It’s always a good idea to have a jar on hand to mix into cocktails, to sweeten iced tea or coffee, and to bake into desserts. You can flavor sugar syrup with herbs and spices, try out different sugars or just keep it plain. Store it in a jar until you need it!
Learning how to make simple syrup is incredibly easy! And if you ask me, every cocktail maker and baker needs to know how to make it.
Simple syrup recipe
Also known as sugar syrup, simple syrup is a key ingredient in many a cocktail. Depending on the recipe, it’s as essential as booze and bitters!
It’s fantastic for beverages because the sugar is already dissolved, so the sweetener just mixes right in.
And it’s called “simple” for a reason. Anyone could make it. Seriously.
And because of that, it is most certainly not worth the $14 to buy it at a specialty store.
If you own a measuring cup, a spoon, a pot and sugar and have running water, you can easily learn how to make sugar syrup.
How to make sugar syrup
There are a few ways to make this easy cocktail sweetener. It can be made on the stove, in the blender or by shaking it.
1. On the stove
Making this easy sweetener on the stove is an excellent choice, especially for infusing other flavors.
Throw the sugar and water into a pot, dissolve the sugar and bring to a low boil, then remove from the heat. It really is that easy. (You also do not have to let it boil at all, if you prefer. Simply dissolve the sugar and you’re done.)
Once cooled, transfer the mixture to a mason jar. You can keep it in the fridge for up to one month in a sealed container.
2. In the blender
If you don’t want to wait for hot simple syrup to cool down, you can use a blender to agitate the syrup and force the sugars to dissolve faster.
- Place water and sugar into a blender.
- With the lid on tightly, blend well.
- Store in a covered jar or dish.
3. By shaking
You can also make it by hand, by shaking it in a jar.
- Place water and sugar into a jar.
- Put the lid on tightly.
- Shake hard until the sugar has dissolved. Voila!
- Store in an airtight container.
How to use simple syrup
Simple syrup can be used in a number of ways. It works really well in cold drinks, so you don’t have to stir sugar around until it dissolves.
- Use it to sweeten coffee, especially iced coffee.
- Mix it into iced tea to make sweet tea.
- Stir it into cocktails (and mocktails) like the classic old-fashioned cocktail.
You can even use it in baked goods, like this cotton candy layer cake.
The ideal ratio
When it comes to simple syrup, you can have a lot of fun with ratios, which affects the consistency and therefore the sweetness.
I usually make a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. It’s a similar consistency to water, so a little bit goes a long way in sweetening your drink without diluting it.
Also, if you boil a 1:1 syrup, some of the water will evaporate, resulting in a thicker consistency.
However, you can make a thicker, sweeter “rich syrup” that won’t cause as much dilution. Either a 1.5:1 ratio or a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water will make it more viscous.
These keep longer than a month because the sugar acts as a preservative. When mixing drinks, you can use a little less rich syrup because it is a lot sweeter.
How to flavor simple syrup
Want to make it your own? That’s easy too. This easy sugar syrup is really customizable. Grenadine is a common variation that shows up in lots of cocktail recipes.
Experimenting with infusions is one of my favorite ways to mix new flavors into my drinks. You can use most fruits, herbs and spices as infusions.
Here are a few quick ideas:
- Cinnamon syrup uses cinnamon sticks. You can also use other whole spices like star anise, nutmeg or peppercorns.
- Pumpkin syrup brings in pumpkin puree and spices. You can also use this recipe to make similar syrups with other fruit purees.
- Mint syrup gets infused with fresh mint sprigs. You can also make it with basil, rosemary or thyme, or just about any herb you can think of.
- Cranberry syrup is made with fresh cranberries, but you can also try it with other fresh berries, peppers or any type of fruit.
- Vanilla syrup uses vanilla beans or vanilla extract to make this recipe sweet and spiced.
Simple syrups with other types of sugar
Another way to change up your syrup is to try different kinds of sugar. I typically go for white sugar or brown sugar, but you can also try turbinado, muscovado or demerara for a richer taste.
Honey syrup is made with honey instead of sugar. It’s a delicious switch-up for regular sugar.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even use a soda to make a cocktail sweetener. This Cheerwine syrup is delicious in cocktails.
Once you learn how to make this cocktail syrup, you’ll be on your way to making amazing cocktails at home! Life will definitely be sweeter.
Here’s how to make simple syrup on the stove.
Place a pot over medium heat.
Add 1 cup water.
Add 1 cup sugar.
Stir together sugar and water.
After a couple minutes of stirring, the sugar will dissolve.
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
If you’re adding an infusion, like cinnamon sticks or herbs, add them while the mixture cools down so the heat can release the oils. If you add them while it is on the heat, the raw ingredients may cook too much.
Once cooled, pour into a mason jar. Seal the jar and refrigerate up to one month.
Frequently asked questions
What is simple syrup made of?
Simple syrup typically is made with equal parts sugar and water. The sugar is dissolved in the water to make a sweet syrup.
What can be substituted for simple syrup?
You can use a number of pantry staples as a substitute. Honey, maple syrup and agave nectar are all liquid sweeteners you can use instead of sugar syrup.
Agave nectar is also an easy liquid sweetener. It pairs well with tequila, which also comes from the agave plant. Try it in classic margaritas.
Does simple syrup need to boil?
No, it doesn’t. You simply need to dissolve the sugar in water, which can be done with or without heat.
If you’re making it on the stove, boiling will evaporate some of the liquid making it into a thicker syrup.
How long does simple syrup last?
You can keep it in the fridge for up to one month in a sealed container.
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar and water until dissolved.
- Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Let cool completely.
- Transfer to a glass jar and seal tightly with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
You can use other kinds of sugar such as demerara, raw cane sugar, brown sugar. You can also add infusions such as mint, basil, cinnamon, vanilla, citrus zest — the pantry is your oyster here!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 97Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 0gSugar: 25gProtein: 0g
Video by Chris Henry Co.