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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!
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:
- 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.)
- 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.
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.
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.
- Herbs: Infuse herbs for Lavender Simple Syrup, Rosemary Simple Syrup, Basil Simple Syrup or Mint Simple Syrup
- Roots: Opt for a spicy ginger zing with Ginger Simple Syrup
- Spices or extracts: Add spices for Pumpkin Spice Syrup or Vanilla Syrup
- Cider: Use apple cider for Apple Cider Syrup
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:
- 40 Great Cocktail Recipes You Should Know
- Classics like the Whiskey Sour, Daiquiri, Mojito, Cosmo, French 75, Gin Fizz, Gin Gimlet, and Tom Collins
- Browse all our Gin Cocktails, Vodka Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails, Rum Cocktails, Tequila Cocktails, and Champagne Cocktails
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.Print
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!
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
- 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
Keywords: How to make simple syrup, simple syrup