How to Make Simple Syrup—Yes, It Really Is This Simple!

If you find yourself reaching for bottles of simple syrup in the store, stop! Making your own is cheap, fast and the easiest kitchen trick ever.

Sugar syrup in a glass bowl on a white wooden background, simple syrupAnna_Pustynnikova/Shutterstock

There must be valid reasons for buying bottled simple syrup. Maybe you want the cocktail recipe printed on the label. Or you’re putting together a gift basket for your friend’s home bar. Or…you don’t have a way to boil water.

After that, it’s hard to think of a reason. Simple syrup is one of the easiest things in the world to make and making your own is cost-effective—the ingredients cost only about 25 cents (when the cheapest bottle of simple syrup is around $5, that’s a staggering retail markup). Plus, premixed, pre-bottled syrup often has added stabilizers, and if you’re interested in keeping your syrups as, well, simple as possible, homemade is the way to go.

What Is Simple Syrup?

Simple syrup is basically liquified sugar that is used to sweeten both hot and cold drinks (especially cold, so you don’t have to struggle with granulated sugar that stubbornly refuses to dissolve). It’s commonly stirred into coffees (like this refreshing coconut cold brew), cocktails and lemonades.

Simple syrup is also a nice little extra drizzled over a bowl of fruit, and a quick fix to a dry cake—just drizzle a bit of syrup over a slice of cake, and let it soak in.

How to Make Basic Simple Syrup

Basic simple syrup is just equal parts water and sugar. That’s it. You can make a rich syrup using a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water; it’s more concentrated, but it’s the same process. You can also use brown sugar (which will give a slight molasses flavor to the syrup), demerara sugar (for a caramel-y taste) or honey (for either all or half the sugar). Going the sugar-free route, you can use the same process with Stevia; just know that your “syrup” will be much thinner—more watery than syrupy.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Step 1: Boil

Pour the sugar and the water in a small saucepan, stir to combine and then bring to a boil over medium heat. (Some people bring the water to a boil first and then add the sugar, but it doesn’t really matter.)

Step 2: Simmer

Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. This will take about five minutes.

Step 3: Cool

Turn off the heat, cover the pan and allow the syrup to cool.

Editor’s Tip: To infuse simple syrup, remove the saucepan from the heat source. Place your desired flavorings, like herbs or fruit, into the pan and cover. Once the syrup has cooled completely, remove the added ingredients.

How to Store Simple Syrup

To store simple syrup, pour it into a lidded glass container and place it in the refrigerator (because yes, simple syrup needs to be refrigerated). Basic, unflavored simple syrup will last about 3-4 weeks. Next, check out our favorite bar carts for every style.

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Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.
Christina Herbst
Christina is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in content creation and SEO optimization. She enjoys trying out local foodie restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on.