How to Make Simple Syrup

If you are crafting cocktails, sweetening drinks, or poaching pears, you can use simple syrup. All you need are water, sugar, and a pot to heat them.

Simple Syrup is perfect for sweetening cocktails such as a Hemingway Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour, or Mint Julep. Or, stir it into ice-cold lemonade or brush it on your next pound cake for extra sweetness.

If you are crafting cocktails, sweetening drinks, or poaching pears, you can use simple syrup. All you need are water, sugar, and a pot to heat them.
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Simple syrup, or sugar syrup, can be a baker’s best friend, a bartender’s secret weapon, and an iced tea drinker’s dream come true. And it’s absolutely easy to make on your own, right this very minute.

When it comes to simple sugar, you don't have to buy an overpriced bottle at the store; it can be made inexpensively at home with just sugar and water.

Need to make a large batch of simple syrup for a party punch? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

Why use simple syrup?

Unfortunately, sugar crystals don’t dissolve very well in cold liquid. Anyone who has ever dumped a spoonful of sugar into a glass of iced tea, only to watch it swirl around the bottom of the glass like sand, can attest to this!

Basic science tells us that the solubility of sugar increases as the the temperature of water increases. Simple syrup, my friends, is just that: water and sugar, heated together, to make the sugar dissolve more effectively in the water.

The result is a concentrated, sweet syrup that easily dissolves into beverages and cocktails. It can also be flavored and used to moisten and flavor sponge cake layers and hundreds of other desserts.

If you’re crafting classic cocktails, sweetening your morning cappuccino, or spicing up a spongecake, it’s important to know how to make simple syrup. I have recipes for basic and extra-rich depending on your taste, and all you need are water, sugar, and a pot to hold both.

How do I make simple syrup?

When you make homemade simple syrup, you can adjust the ratio of sugar to water to best fit your needs.

  • The ratio for Basic Simple Syrup is 1:1 (one part sugar, one part water), perfect for cocktails, iced tea, or iced coffee.
  • The ratio for Rich Simple Syrup, a more concentrated type of sugar syrup, is 2:1 (two parts sugar, one part water).

Whichever type of syrup you need, the sugar and water is simmered briefly in a saucepan on the stove until the sugar crystals dissolve.

Note: 1 cup sugar + 1 cup water does NOT equal 2 cups simple syrup! The sugar dissolves and you'll have about 1 1/2 cups simple syrup.

To get the amount you need, you may need to make extra syrup. But that’s okay, because properly stored, simple syrup lasts a long time.

This isn’t a boozy strawberry slushy out of a machine; the Hemingway Daiquiri is as crisp and cool as it gets, made with rum, lime, and grapefruit-- shaken until icy.

How to make (bartender-style) Basic Simple Syrup:

For a lighter style bar simple syrup just right for beverages:

  1. Combine equal parts sugar and water together over medium-low heat in a saucepan.
  2. Stir until just dissolved, then allow to cool before using.

How to make Rich Simple Syrup:

If you're planning to use simple syrup for baked goods and cakes, you may need a denser syrup. In that case:

  1. Combine two parts sugar and one part water together over medium-low heat in a saucepan.
  2. Stir until dissolved, allow to simmer for about ten minutes, and allow to cool before using.

When making rich simple syrup, the added cooking time helps prevent the syrup from forming sugar crystals over time.

How to make Demerara syrup:

Demerara syrup, which has a slight caramel flavor and is often used to make fabulous cocktails, follows the same recipe for Rich Simple Syrup, but is made with Demerara sugar, also known as turbinado (or sugar in the raw). Demerara sugar is minimally processed and has a richer taste; the syrup is tinted brown, too.

How to make flavored Simple Syrup:

Once you've mastered simple syrup, it’s fun to infuse the syrup with fruit, herbs, or spices to add another layer of interest to any recipe. You can (and should) get as creative as you like!

A few things to keep in mind when flavoring sugar syrup:

  • Add the ingredients while the syrup is hot, and allow them to steep in the syrup until it cools.
  • Once the syrup is cool, strain out the ingredients. The syrup will stay fresh longer without them.
  • I like to keep my flavored sugar syrups uncomplicated by just adding one ingredient at a time; however, sure-fire flavor combinations like lemon peel and ginger are delicious, too.
  • Flavored simple syrup should be stored in the refrigerator and be used within two weeks.

Some flavored simple syrup ideas:

  • Herbs: a sprig of rosemary, basil or mint leaves from the garden, or fresh thyme
  • Spices: a cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, bay leaf, cardamom, fresh ginger root, even a bag of tea
  • Citrus peel: lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine
  • Flowers: rose petals, lavender flowers
  • Fruit: fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries

What is simple syrup used for?

A basic sugar syrup has infinite uses. It can be used to sweeten or flavor cold beverages like:

Sugar syrup is an easily blended sweetener in mixed drinks, and a crucial ingredient in hundreds of classic cocktails, especially the Hemingway Daiquiri, a Whiskey Sour, and a classic Mint Julep.

Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve had a Whiskey Sour cocktail; if so, it’s definitely time to revisit this old-school classic, made only with the freshest ingredients. And the best part, for me? The drink was first mentioned, way back when, in a Wisconsin newspaper.

You can also brush simple syrup on baked goods such as:

How to store Simple Syrup:

Because I use heat to make simple syrup, these recipes have a decent shelf life, when prepared and stored properly.

  • Basic simple syrup: 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Rich simple syrup: up to 6 months in the refrigerator
  • Demerara syrup: up to 6 months in the refrigerator
  • Flavored simple syrup: 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator

Always store leftover syrup in a sterile container, such as a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, in the refrigerator.

Should I refrigerate simple syrup?

Almost always, yes. Store the simple syrup:

  • In a sterilized, airtight container
  • In the refrigerator
  • For 2 to 3 weeks
5 from 1 vote

How to Make Simple Syrup

If you are crafting cocktails, sweetening drinks, or poaching pears, you can use simple syrup. All you need are water, sugar, and a pot to heat them.
Course Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword simple syrup, sugar syrup
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Servings 12 (1 oz/2 tbsp each)
Calories 65kcal
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do no boil). Remove from heat and cool completely. 
  • Pour into sterile container and store covered in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups simple syrup.
To make Rich Simple Syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do no boil). Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. 
  2. Pour into sterile container and store covered in the refrigerator.
To sterilize containers:
  1. Fill a jar or bottle with boiling water. Cover the lid with boiling water, too. Discard immediately before filling with syrup.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbsp | Calories: 65kcal

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  1. Phil

    Perfect.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Glad you you liked it Phil!

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