Simple Syrup

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!

simple syrup in a mason jar on a blue and white kitchen towel

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.

a glass of sweet tea with ice

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.

  1. Place water and sugar into a blender.
  2. With the lid on tightly, blend well.
  3. Store in a covered jar or dish.

3. By shaking

You can also make it by hand, by shaking it in a jar.

  1. Place water and sugar into a jar.
  2. Put the lid on tightly.
  3. Shake hard until the sugar has dissolved. Voila!
  4. Store in an airtight container.
closeup of clear simple syrup

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.

You can even use it in baked goods, like this cotton candy layer cake.

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 simple syrup with herbs and spices, try out different sugars or just keep it plain. Store it in a jar until you need it! (via feastandwest.com)

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.

a pitcher of iced tea and a jar of simple syrup

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.
a mason jar of sugar syrup with a copper spoon on a white background

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.

a jar of liquid sweetener with a pitcher of sweet tea

Step-by-step instructions

Here’s how to make simple syrup on the stove.

an empty pot over heat

Place a pot over medium heat.

pouring water into a saucepan

Add 1 cup water.

a black measuring cup pouring sugar into a pot of water on the stove

Add 1 cup sugar.

a wooden spoon stirring sugar into water in a stainless steel pot

Stir together sugar and water.

a wooden spoon stirring sugar and water together on the stove

After a couple minutes of stirring, the sugar will dissolve.

simple syrup boiling in a stainless steel saucepan

Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

two cinnamon sticks infusing in cinnamon syrup in a saucepan on the stove

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.

simple syrup being poured into a jar

Once cooled, pour into a mason jar. Seal the jar and refrigerate up to one month.

sugar syrup pouring into iced tea to sweeten it

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.

Pure honey brings in the taste of citrus and flowers. Try it in the honey peach old-fashioned or the honey lemon whiskey sour.

Maple syrup brings in the pure, sweet flavor that we love on our pancakes. Try it in a maple manhattan or a maple old-fashioned cocktail.

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.

Pure sugar and sugar cubes can also be stirred into a cocktail. However, they work best in warm drinks like tea, coffee or a hot toddy.

a jar of cinnamon sweetener next to cinnamon sticks on a wooden coaster

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.

jar of simple syrup for iced tea

Simple Syrup

Yield: 1 cup
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Simple syrup is an easy-to-make ingredient that's imperative for dozens of cocktail recipes.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar and water until dissolved.
  2. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Let cool completely.
  3. Transfer to a glass jar and seal tightly with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. 

Notes

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!

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

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #feastandwestrecipes!

 

Video by Chris Henry Co. 

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