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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
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Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener used in many cocktail recipes and coffee drinks. Did you know you can make it homemade in just 5 minutes? As two certified mixologists with 300+ cocktails under our belt, we quickly realized homemade simple syrup was an important skill to master. Here’s how to make simple syrup using a formula so easy you can memorize it.

How to make simple syrup

Simple syrup provides a clean, neutral sweetness to drinks from the whiskey sour to a latte. If you’ve got granulated sugar, water, and 5 minutes, you can make it at home. The concept is to take equal parts sugar and water by volume (a ratio of 1:1) and heat them until the sugar dissolves and a thick syrup forms. Here’s what to do:

  1. Add equal parts granulated sugar and water to a saucepan and heat over medium heat. (Use ½ cup each sugar and water to make ¾ cup simple syrup, or 1 cup of each to make 1 ½ cups syrup.)
  2. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat before it simmers (or when the temperature reaches 140°F).
  3. Cool to room temperature before using. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for 1 month.
Simple syrup recipe

Simple syrup variations

There are several ways to vary the standard simple syrup recipe to flavor cocktails and coffee or tea drinks in different ways. Here are a few options:

  • Rich simple syrup: Make rich simple syrup in the same way as simple syrup, but use a ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. This makes the syrup even sweeter and more powerful without diluting the flavors of the drink. It has a richer, rounder mouthfeel than a standard simple syrup.
  • Brown sugar syrup: Make brown sugar syrup using the same method and brown sugar. This syrup has molasses and caramel notes, and works well in bourbon and whiskey drinks like a whiskey sour.
  • Demerara syrup: Make demerara syrup using demerara sugar, which adds a nutty, caramel flavor layer to drinks.
  • Honey syrup: You can use natural sweeteners like honey to make a honey syrup using the same formula. Using straight honey in cocktails is difficult because it doesn’t dissolve well in its raw form. (Use it to make the Bees Knees or Gold Rush.)

Other natural sweeteners

There are a few natural sweeteners that work in cocktails and drinks without having to make a syrup:

  • Maple syrup: You can use pure maple syrup as a substitute for simple syrup in cocktail recipes. It adds subtle flavor notes of vanilla and caramel that make most drinks taste even better! Contrary to what you might think, it makes drinks taste sweeter but doesn’t infuse maple flavor (you’d need maple extract for that). Try it in this classic Whiskey Sour for an enhanced flavor.
  • Agave syrup: Agave syrup also works as a substitute for simple syrup in cocktails and coffee and tea drinks. If the bottle is labeled as agave syrup (not agave nectar), you can use it as a 1:1 replacement. Light agave has a clean, neutral flavor, amber agave has notes of caramel, and dark agave has more intense caramel notes.

Simple syrup FAQ

Here are a few commonly-asked questions we’ve been asked regarding simple syrup.

  • How much simple syrup does 1 cup sugar make? Use 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to make 1 ½ cups simple syrup. Simple math would calculate 1 cup plus 1 cup would equal 2 cups syrup. However, 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? Homemade simple syrup lasts 1 month refrigerated in a sealed container.
  • Can you use other types of sugar for simple syrup? Use granulated sugar for the most straightforward, clean sweetener. Or, use brown sugar, demerara or muscovado sugar to make syrups with each using the same 1:1 formula.
How to make simple syrup

Flavored simple syrup

Simple syrup can also be infused with herbs, spices and other flavors to add other notes to drinks. You’ll make the simple syrup, then let it stand at room temperature with the flavoring agent. Filter it out, and it becomes a tasty infused syrup you can use in drinks or give as gifts. Keep in mind, homemade infused simple syrups lose flavor faster than purchased bottles.

Cocktails and drinks that use it

There are so many cocktail recipes that use simple syrup, it’s too many to count! Here are a few of our favorite drinks that use it:

This recipe is…

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

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Simple syrup

How to Make Simple Syrup


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  • 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 a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat before it simmers (or when the temperature reaches 140°F). Cool to room temperature before using. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for 1 month.
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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15 Comments

  1. Tess H says:

    Can you freeze simple syrup?
    I’d like to pre-prep some cocktail ingredients ahead of holidays to have on hand for quick use.( Ex: I freezecitrus & other fruit wedges & slices). Thank you






    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Simple syrup lasts for 1 month refrigerated, so there is no need to freeze it!

  2. bob ruppell says:

    My first taste of a Mai Tai was around 1964 in Hawaii. I was hooked. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to gather the ingredients.

  3. Michael choji says:

    Very concise explanation

  4. Tammy Adkins says:

    I was wondering if there is a way to use artificial sweetener to make simple syrup?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tried it!

      1. Lee says:

        Hey so just been looking at your recipes for sodas thanks for posting much appreciated 🤗
        these days it’s nearly impossible to just find some good old fashioned sugar. (things like aspartime and all the other toxic and unnecessary additions bar sugar,citric acid or any other naturally occuring flavors seem to be about 95,%,of all drinks and I mean all seem to have some unnecessary chemicals.
        there are enough to choose from so it must be a profit margin thing as to why they replaced sugar)
        i dont get why they gotta add so much unnecessary stuff.
        when it’s simply not needed they could use instead of all the man made toxic chemicals they decided to replace relatively harmless additives with relatively harmful ones! (excuse the long rant )
        I’m basically gonna start making my own.
        reading the back of a simple fanta I feel like I need a chemistry degree.
        so my question is a simple one,is there a whole pile of difference in the finished product between sugar syrup and just chucking powdered sugar?
        I would make the syrup if my oven was not on the blink.
        Thanks again for posting,this website is exactly what I had in my mind when typing.






        1. Alex Overhiser says:

          Hi! When you heat the syrup is dissolves fully, which makes for a nicer finished product.

  5. Wanda Nowicki says:

    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

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I would choose agave! I’d just do 1/2 ounce agave syrup.

  6. Ben J Wemhof says:

    WELL DONE ENJOYED YOUr WEB-SITE. great info and simple

  7. Glenda Fusco says:

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

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! We haven’t tested it so I’m not sure. Sorry!

  8. Jahn Ghalt says:

    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. Sonja Overhiser says:

      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!