Basil Simple Syrup

Basil simple syrup adds the distinct aroma of fresh Italian herbs to cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. This delicious herb-infused sweetener is easy to make and mix into your favorite libations.

basil simple syrup on a wooden board

Now that the weather is warmer, the distinct herbal aroma of sweet basil wafts across my nose every time I open the door to my patio.

My herb garden is in full swing, with fresh green leaves eager to be torn and tossed on pizza, mixed into mint juleps and tucked into drinks as garnishes.

Not to mention all the simple syrups.

Basil simple syrup recipe

Basil simple syrup is one of my absolute favorites. It’s delicious in a twist on the classic mojito or to bring more flavor to a drink such as these strawberry basil margarita or classic Moscow mules.

Sweet, aromatic and slightly peppery, this delicious and easy syrup has a fresh, pleasant taste that lends itself well to summery cocktails.

You can even use it to sweeten non-alcoholic drinks like lemonade, as my friend Tanya does in her strawberry basil lemonade.

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a jar of basil syrup on a wood board with fresh basil

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup is a key ingredient to sweeten drinks and desserts. Also known as sugar syrup, basic simple syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water to form a liquid sweetener.

It can be made with any type of sugar — even honey — and flavored with fresh herbs, spices and fresh fruit, such as pumpkin, cinnamon and lavender to give drinks and desserts a wonderful addition of flavor.

While simple syrup is most often used for sweetening drinks like lemonade, iced tea and cocktails, it has other uses as well.

Bakers will use simple syrup to moisten cake layers before decorating them. This easy syrup can also be used as a dressing for fruit salad or drizzled over the top of vanilla ice cream.

a basil plant in a terracotta pot with a jar of basil simple syrup

Ingredients

You only need three simple ingredients to make this basil syrup recipe. Add these items to your shopping list to grab at the grocery store or the farmers market:

Sugar

Use granulated sugar (AKA white sugar) or cane sugar to make this sweet herbal syrup. This will give your syrup a clear color, which means its color won’t interfere with the color of your drink.

Honey or brown sugar can be used, but keep in mind that it will have a darker, more caramel-like color.

Water

Use as much water as you use sugar unless you like a thicker syrup. If you like thicker syrup, try a 2:1 or 1.5:1 sugar to water ratio.

Filtered water is my preference for mixing drinks to keep them tasting pure. (We use this Soma water pitcher.)

You can boil the water first to use in your syrup to eliminate impurities. (I don’t like to boil my syrup because you lose out on water that evaporates.)

ingredients for basil syrup

Fresh basil

Known for its role in Italian food, basil is a fragrant herb used in recipes like basil pesto, bruschetta and margherita pizza.

You’ll want to pick up fresh basil leaves at the store or feel free to use your own basil — whatever type of basil is growing in your garden will work!

You may use a number of varieties of basil plants in your syrup, including:

  • sweet basil
  • genovese basil
  • thai basil
  • lemon basil
  • purple basil

Basil is usually available in plastic clamshells or sometimes you can buy a whole basil plant to use in your cooking. Be sure to save a few leaves to use as a garnish for your drinks!

If you like you can use basil flowers to add a wonderful floral note to your syrup, or you can keep it to just the leaves.

Dried basil will work, but keep in mind that it does lose its potency, so be sure to smell it before you use it. Use 2-3 teaspoons of dried basil in this recipe.

basil leaves infusing in a bowl of simple syrup

How to make basil syrup

This simple recipe can be made in under 10 minutes. Your rosemary simple syrup will come together in just few steps:

  1. Measure equal parts sugar and water. (I use one cup sugar and one cup water.)
  2. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir them together until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat. No need to boil it!
  4. Add your basil leaves while the mixture is hot.
  5. Let the basil steep for 15 minutes, or until the syrup has the strength of basil flavor you love. You can even leave the basil in overnight to impart more flavor. Discard the leaves when you’re done with them. (If using dried basil, use a fine-mesh sieve.)
  6. Let the mixture cool down fully to room temperature, then pour it into a mason jar or bottle. Store syrup in the fridge or use it in drinks immediately!

Flavor Tip: Just before dropping it into your syrup infusion, hold your basil leaves in one hand and clap your other hand on top of them to “spank” them. This process helps to release the essential oils and fragrances for a more aromatic syrup.

a wood board with basil leaves and a jar of syrup infusing

Basil Cocktails

This fragrant basil syrup is a fantastic addition to lots of recipes for refreshing cocktails. Try one of these delicious ideas for this beautiful homemade sweetener:

For starters, use basil syrup anywhere you’d use mint syrup, such as in a julep. The basil julep is a fun twist on the classic mint julep recipe that you can make with this syrup.

Basil pairs well with fruit, too. These frozen strawberry basil daiquiris are delicious for celebrating summer or Mardi Gras. These raspberry basil champagne spritzers will make great drinks for celebrating anything.

Citrus is perhaps where basil shines the brightest. A basil gimlet made with a hint of citrus and gin will taste just like summertime. Herbal limeade brings in the flavors of mint, basil and rosemary with lime juice for a tasty spring sipper.

a jar of basil syrup on a wood board with fresh basil

Basil Simple Syrup

Yield: ¾ cup
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Infusion Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Fresh and summer, this basil simple syrup is a lovely way to dress up drinks and desserts.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 20 leaves fresh basil

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Do not let boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add the basil leaves. Let rest for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Leave in longer for a stronger flavor. Discard the basil.
  3. Store in a mason jar for up to one week.

Notes

Fresh basil is recommended. Use any variety, such as sweet basil, Genovese basil or Thai basil. Dried basil will work, but keep in mind that it does lose its potency, so be sure to smell it before you use it. Use 2-3 teaspoons of dried basil in this recipe.

Just before dropping it into your syrup infusion, hold fresh basil leaves in one hand and clap your other hand on top of them to “spank” them. This process helps to release the essential oils and fragrances for a more aromatic syrup.

Use granulated or cane sugar for a clear syrup (best for cocktails like a mojito). Brown sugar or honey may be used, but they will have a darker, caramel-like color.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 65Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g

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