All you need is sugar, water, and 5 minutes to make this popular cocktail sweetener. Here’s how to make simple syrup at home!

How to make simple syrup

Simple syrup is a sweetener that’s often used in cocktail recipes and coffee drinks. Did you know you can make it homemade in just 5 minutes? Here at A Couple Cooks we’ve turned into semi-professional mixologists, with a long list of 300+ cocktails under our belt. We quickly realized homemade simple syrup was an important skill to master. Here’s how to make simple syrup: it’s so easy you can memorize it!

How to make simple syrup

If you’ve got sugar and 5 minutes, you can make simple syrup! There’s really no skill involved here, so let’s get right to it. It’s a formula you can memorize and make on repeat:

  1. Place equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. To make ¾ cup syrup, use ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water.
  2. Heat over medium and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Resist the urge to simmer! Simply dissolve the sugar.
  3. Cool to room temperature. That’s it: you’re done! Cool to room temperature before using.
Simple syrup recipe

How much simple syrup does 1 cup sugar make?

Use 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to make 1 ½ cups simple syrup. You’d think that 1 cup sugar plus 1 cup water would be 2 cups syrup, right? But the chemistry of dissolving sugar makes the final product equal ¾ the volume of the added quantities of sugar and water.

How long does simple syrup last?

Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. (We use a mason jar with a lid.) It lasts for about 1 month.

Can you use other sugars in simple syrup?

You can! Using brown sugar makes brown sugar syrup, which works well in bourbon and whiskey drinks like a whiskey sour. Demerara sugar makes demerara syrup, which adds a nutty, caramel flavor layer to drinks. You also can use natural sweeteners, like making a honey syrup.

How to make simple syrup

Is there a naturally sweet simple syrup?

There is…it’s pure maple syrup! We love using maple as as sweetener for our cocktail recipes instead of simple syrup: in fact, we often prefer it! It gives a gentle sweetness and adds a bit of flavor nuance, almost like adding an aroma or essence like in bitters. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t taste like maple. Make sure to use “pure” maple syrup and not the imitation variety that uses artificial ingredients. (Try it in this Whiskey Sour recipe!)

What cocktails use it?

So many! Too many to count, really. So here are some of our favorite collections of cocktail recipes:

Simple syrup flavors

Once you’ve learned to make the classic version of simple syrup, you can try infusing other flavors with herbs and spices! Here are some flavor variations:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Simple syrup

How to Make Simple Syrup


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: ¾ cup 1x

Description

Yes, it really is that simple! All you need is sugar and 5 minutes to make this popular cocktail sweetener. Here’s how to make simple syrup at home!


Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water

Instructions

  1. Add the sugar and water to saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved (don’t bring to simmer) for 1 to 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature before using. Keeps in the refrigerator for 1 month.
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: How to make simple syrup

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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7 Comments

  1. Well Done to touch on the “physical chemistry” of simple syrup. My first foray into simple syrup was inspired by Wayne Embury’s “Fine Art of Mixing Cocktails” – 3rd Edition, which was reprinted about 12 years ago.

    I took this opportunity to fetch my copy to refresh – Embury did indeed call for a 3:1 Sugar:Water proportion (!) “boiled vigorously” and cooled.

    (he prefaced this with a confession that he had “abandoned the agony of softening and muddling loaf sugar (sic) in making Old Fashioneds”)

    (Edition 1 was published in 1948. One supposes loaf sugar was then more common – this wiki entry implies that it is different than “cube sugar”):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugarloaf#Contemporary_availability

    I am no chemist – so have not measured the volumes resulting from various sugar/water combinations. However, I did note that Embury’s 3 cups sugar to 1 cup water nearly filled a gin bottle – perhaps yielding 24 fl. oz. (and how much was left in the pot?”)

    I have also noted that such a rich concocotion, stored at room temp, eventually forms crystals. This also seems hostile to molds and other spoiling organisms.

    (have you noticed spoilage in a 1:1 combination – or have you merely repeated the obligatory “refrigeration” excess that seems part and parcel with virtually all current cooking advice?)

    I would also be interested in discovering the differences between “British lemonade” and American – perhaps you have some insight on this (?) see my other comment at “Homemade Sparkling Lemonade”.

    Best Regards

    Jahn Ghalt
    jahnghalt@yahoo.com

    PS – feel free to add me to your spam list

    1. Hi Jahn! We store our simple syrup refrigerated which is our recommendation. It lasts for a few months with no crystals (but we use it faster than that.) We replied to your other comment re lemonade on the Sparkling Lemonade post!

  2. In your daiquiri recipe , can I use Stevia for the simple syrup and if so, would that mixture last more than a month ?

  3. Saw your pear cocktail recipe. I want to make it but prefer not to use simply syrup.
    Will maple syrup work in that particualr drink? And if so how much maple syrup per cocktail?
    Alternatively would agave work? Or an agave simple syrup? If so –again–how much agave to water?
    Thank you