True to its name, simple syrup is so simple to make. And yet, homemade simple syrup can seem intimidating if you haven’t done it before! Today, I’m sharing a basic recipe describing how to make classic simple syrup to sweeten your cocktails, coffee or tea, or any other beverage, really.
In its most basic form, simple syrup requires just two ingredients, sugar and water. Plus, it’s ready in just a few minutes, and you’ll be one step closer to enjoying your drink when it’s done. Cheers to that.
The beauty of making your own simple syrup is that you can make it more than just sweet, if you wish. You’ve seen me take advantage of this opportunity in a number of drinks made with simple syrup over the years. So below, you’ll find some fun variations to flavor your simple syrup with fresh herbs and other seasonings. Off we go!
How to Choose Your Sweetener
You can change the flavor of your simple syrup by thoughtfully selecting your sweetener. Keep in mind that if your sweetener is dark, your simple syrup will be on the darker side as well. Also, choosing a liquid sweetener (like honey) will yield more simple syrup, since sugar is reduced in volume when it melts.
Plain sugar yields a perfectly neutral simple syrup that will sweeten your drink without imparting additional flavors. Sometimes that’s just what you want!
Brown sugar would be almost maple-like, and I imagine it would go well with coffee or bourbon. Coconut sugar would be similar, though more intensely flavored.
Honey is my favorite sweetener for simple syrup. Honey’s fragrant, floral qualities go especially well with gin, tequila and vodka-based drinks. Straight from the bottle, honey doesn’t mix well with cold drinks, but turning it into simple syrup solves the problem.
Tempted to use maple syrup? Great idea, but you can just drizzle it straight—no need to dilute it with water. Since it’s more concentrated, you may only need half as much maple syrup as simple syrup. I love to use maple syrup in whiskey drinks!
Recipes Made with Simple Syrup
Easy Simple Syrup Flavor Variations
We can impart extra flavor to our simple syrup by steeping herbs, spices, and more in the mixture. Just add them before warming the mixture, and leave them in until your simple syrup has cooled to room temperature. If you’re interested, I’d pick one, or maybe two, flavorings that will complement your drink.
Fresh mint, rosemary, thyme or lavender make lovely simple syrups. Have you ever had mint simple syrup in a creamy iced coffee? No? You’ve been missing out!
Whole cinnamon sticks, cloves or nutmeg will infuse your simple syrup with warming spices. These would be great options during the holidays.
Citrus or Ginger
Citrus zest (orange, lemon or lime) or slices of fresh ginger will liven up your simple syrup. If your drink is already citrus-forward, including a citrusy simple syrup will take it to the next level.
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 7 minutes
- Yield: ¾ cup 1x
- Category: Cocktail component
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: N/A
- Diet: Gluten Free
Make this simple syrup recipe and enjoy cocktails at home! Simple syrup is so easy to make. Recipe as written yields ¾ cup (made with sugar) or 1 cup (made with honey). It can easily be scaled up or down to suit your needs; just use equal parts water and sweetener.
- ½ cup sugar or honey
- ½ cup water
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar (or honey) and water. Warm the mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until the sweetener is fully incorporated and the mixture is clear (it’s done when you no longer see any sugar granules or swirls of honey). No need to cook it any longer at this point.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Use as needed. Store any leftover simple syrup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Change it up: Before warming, add fresh herbs (mint, thyme, lavender or rosemary), or whole spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves or nutmeg), or strips of citrus zest (orange, lemon or lime), or several slices of fresh ginger. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before removing your flavoring agents.
Alternate mixing options: You can also make simple syrup in the microwave (use a microwave-safe bowl large enough to contain the mixture if it starts bubbling). If using honey, you can just pour very hot water into the honey and stir until blended. Or if you want to use some muscle, shake sugar and water together in a mason jar until the sugar fully dissolves.