Demerara Simple Syrup

Give your coffee, tea and cocktails a little sweetness with Demerara Simple Syrup! It adds hints of brown sugar, toffee and caramel to every sip.

demerara syrup in a bottle

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Demerara Simple Syrup recipe

Demerara syrup is an ingredient you see added to craft cocktail menus from time to time, and sometimes even for sale on the shelves of specialty food shops. But what is it?!

A simple syrup made with demerara sugar and water, this syrup adds unearths more flavor in a drink. It can also be drizzled over pancakes and ice cream.

Try it in a spirit-forward cocktail like the old-fashioned or something light like a gin basil smash.

Below I’ll explain how to make your own demerara syrup, where to buy it, what to make with it and how to substitute it.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Demerara syrup is a lovely addition to so many drinks and desserts. Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Demerara sugar is easy to find but can be substituted easily.
  • It’s incredibly easy to make. All you need is 10 minutes over the stove, max!
  • This sweet sugar syrup is incredibly tasty with a major depth of flavor. It works its magic in all kinds of drinks.
a bottle of demerara simple syrup next to a bowl of sugar

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener made from sugar and water. These two ingredients make a sweet syrupy substance that stirs into cold drinks with ease.

Regular simple syrup is made with granulated sugar, but it can be made with another type of sugar such as brown sugar and demerara sugar.

This caramel syrup cooks sugar into caramel, then water is added to make a sweet syrup that can be mixed into coffee drinks.

Simple syrup can also have other flavors added. For example, vanilla extract is added to this vanilla syrup for flavor or for this mint syrup, mint sprigs are added to the mixture while it’s hot to absorb the essential oils and scent.

About demerara sugar

Demerara sugar comes from sugar cane. It is a type of raw cane sugar that is only minimally refined. This sugar has a natural, light amber color with a subtle molasses and caramel flavor.

Demerara has larger sugar crystals than typical white sugar or brown sugar.

It is often used to decorate cakes, muffins and cookies, but can also be added to drinks like tea, coffee and cocktails.

Demerara sugar is often confused with brown sugar and other types of raw cane sugar, such as turbinado or muscovado.

These sugars are similar, but go through different refinement processes and have different origin stories.

According to Spiceography, demerara sugar hails from Guyana, a former Dutch and British colony in South America that was known as Demerara. Turbinado has Portuguese origins and muscovado is from the West Indies.

Today, the name demerara does not refer to the Dutch colony at all, but rather to the production method. Most demerara-style sugar available today comes from the country of Mauritius in Africa.

measuring cups with demerara sugar and water


You only need two ingredients to make this simple recipe: demerara sugar and water.

Below, I’ll explain where to get demerara sugar, but let’s talk about the water element quickly first.

For the best simple syrups, I recommend using filtered water rather than tap water for a purer taste and a longer shelf-life.

However, you can use bottled water, water from your fridge or tap water.

For the best consistency of syrup, you will need one part water and one part sugar. In other words, equal parts. However, you can make a rich demerara syrup with either 1.5 parts sugar to 1 part water, or 2 parts sugar to 1 part water for an even thicker syrup.

Where to buy demerara sugar

You can purchase demerara sugar from most specialty grocery stores. It will be in the baking aisle, but may be in an international section instead.

Some big-box grocery stores will carry it, but you’re more likely to find it at higher-end shops. I recommend calling ahead to ask.

You can also purchase demerara sugar online.

If you can’t find demerara sugar, don’t fret — you have a few options.

a bowl of demerara sugar cubes

Substitutes for demerara sugar

If you can’t find demerara sugar, no sweat. You can use either muscovado sugar or turbinado sugar instead — either would be a great substitute in this basic simple syrup recipe. (Turbinado sugar is also sold under the brand name Sugar in the Raw, and sometimes is called raw sugar.)

Brown sugar will also work. However, keep in mind that all of these sugars undergo different refinement processes and contain different amounts of molasses.

They may taste slightly different, though it will be marginal. Any of them will taste fantastic in a drink or drizzled over a dessert.

You could also substitute maple syrup, which works wonders in cocktails like this maple manhattan or maple old-fashioned.

A last resort is to buy demerara syrup, which you can find online or at specialty shops and grocery stores. However, it’s much less expensive to make yourself.

How to make Demerara Simple Syrup

Making demerara simple syrup is similar to the process for making brown sugar syrup.

  1. Pour demerara sugar and water into a small saucepan.
  2. Turn up the heat to medium-high and stir until the sugar dissolves. Don’t let it boil.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. You can use it immediately if desired. Let the remaining syrup cool completely before storing in a food-safe, airtight container like a mason jar.
demerara sugar in a bottle

Cocktails with Demerara Syrup

Demerara syrup works especially well in tiki drinks, but it can be used in other types of cocktails as well. Here are a few to try:

Mix it into an old-fashioned cocktail to bring in flavors of toffee and butterscotch along with bourbon.

Add it to an Irish coffee (hot or iced coffee) to give sweetness to the strong coffee flavor.

Summer in a glass is the classic tiki drink, the jungle bird, with pineapple, lime, rum and bitter Campari.

The demerara dry float is a tiki cocktail with demerara, passionfruit and rum.

Try a bright and fresh-tasting cardamaro smash with lemon, mint and amaro.

This pineapple old-fashioned cocktail uses a pineapple-infused demerara syrup and tiki bitters.

You can even add it to homemade liqueurs like this homemade allspice dram.

Stir it into a warm Bourbon Hot Toddy in the wintertime.

a jar of demerara syrup next to a bowl of sugar cubes

Uses for Demerara Syrup

Other than stirring it into a cocktail recipe, there are some other ways you can use this demerara syrup. Use it to bring caramel notes and molasses flavor to all kinds of drinks and desserts.

For cocktails, it will work wonderfully in cocktails made with barrel-aged spirits, especially because of its dark amber color.

  • Stir it into hot or cold coffee drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos.
  • Try it in black tea such as earl grey. Or mix it into green tea or rooibos tea.
  • Use it to sweeten a big pitcher of iced tea or lemonade.
  • Sweeten a refreshing cocktail like a mint julepmargarita or mojito.
  • Pour it over pancakes or even ice cream.

More simple syrup recipes

You can use this demerara syrup recipe as a base for these simple syrup recipes:

demerara sugar in a bottle

Demerara Simple Syrup

Yield: 6 ounces
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Use demerara simple syrup to sweeten coffee, tea and cocktails. This liquid sweetener carries notes of caramel and molasses flavor.
5 from 53 votes
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  • ½ cup demerara sugar
  • ½ cup water


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine demerara sugar and water. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Do not let boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Store in a mason jar for up to one month.


If you can’t find demerara sugar, you can use either muscovado sugar or turbinado sugar instead. Brown sugar will also work.
However, keep in mind that all of these sugars undergo different refinement processes and contain different amounts of molasses, so the flavor could be slightly different, though marginally.

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nutrition information

Yield: 6 ounces

amount per serving:

Serving: 1ounce Calories: 67kcal Carbohydrates: 17g Sodium: 1mg Potassium: 5mg Sugar: 17g Calcium: 3mg Iron: 0.1mg
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