Learn how to make simple syrup for mixing your own fabulous cocktails and cold drinks! An essential ingredient for home mixologists and bakers, it is endlessly versatile and so easy to make.

Simple syrup in a small yellow saucepan with a wood handled spoon.

Welcome to your ultimate guide to simple syrup! You’ll find that there are unlimited uses for this easy but essential ingredient. Don’t buy pricey bottles of flavored syrups. It’s so easy to make your own, adding your own special touch with herbs, spices, fruits, or other flavorings. 

Overhead view of simple syrup ingredients: sugar in a sauce pan, water in a measuring cup.

About simple syrup:

Simple syrup is a key ingredient in cocktail recipes. Simple syrup is “liquified sugar”, it stirs in easily and won’t settle on the bottom of drinks like sugar does, undissolved, leaving your drink unsweetened. Infused or flavored simple syrups are used to add flavor to cocktails, cold beverages, hot beverages, and more. Plain simple syrup is an essential ingredient for an old fashioned or other drinks.

Cocktails aren’t the only place for simple syrup!  Substitute flavored simple syrup for plain sweeteners to add unique and interesting layers of flavor. Try flavored simple syrup in coffee drinks just like coffee shops. Stir a spoonful into your tea. Add it to your favorite vinaigrette. Put cinnamon infused simple syrup on your oatmeal, or add your favorite flavor to a smoothie. 

Bakers use it, too, to add flavor to and preserve baked goods. A baker’s secret for cakes: Brush or drizzle simple syrup over cake layers before frosting to add and preserve moistness. Try it on loaves of quick bread or muffins, too. It soaks in and won’t be visible but adds so much flavor and moisture.

Just be careful not to soak the cake/bread –a thin coating brushed on is perfect! Try drizzling it lightly over pancakes or waffles instead of traditional maple syrup.

Water and sugar mixed together in a small light yellow saucepan to make simple syrup.

What is simple syrup made of?

Now you’re probably wondering how to make simple syrup. It really is very simple: sugar and water combined in a ratio of 1:1, that is, equal portions of sugar and water.

Start with one cup of water and one cup of granulated sugar. Boil the two ingredients together until the sugar is completely dissolved, about five minutes.

It’s so easy! You’ll end up with approximately one cup of simple syrup. 

Overhead view of ingredients to make flavored simple syrups: sugar, water, ginger, lime, mint, and lemon.

How to make flavored simple syrups:

Listed below are just a few easy ways to flavor simple syrup. Be creative! My mom loves this cracked black pepper simple syrup in her favorite drink, a Greyhound, turning it into a “Dalmatian”.  Or try a whole vanilla bean for vanilla simple syrup, perfect for baked goods or coffee drinks. Try a ginger cinnamon mixture like in this apple cider mocktail.

Overhead view of a sauce pan full of water, sugar, and lemon slices.

Citrus

Add 1 lemon, lime, or orange, sliced (leave peel on) to sugar and water. Perfect for tea, cakes, or drinks like the “Perfect” Margarita by Practically Homemade. 

Overhead view of a sauce pan full of water, sugar, and ginger slices.

Ginger

Add six or seven quarter-inch rounds (slices) of fresh ginger root. Simmer and strain. Make refreshing ginger lemonade (by The Spruce Eats).

Overhead view of a sauce pan full of water, sugar, and mint leaves.

Herb

Add a half cup (or more, it’s up to you) of fresh mint leaves and simmer. Try Blueberry Mint Iced Tea or Watermelon Lemonade

Other possibilities: basil, lemon verbena, rosemary, eucalyptus, thyme, fresh bay leaves. You won’t need as much of the stronger flavored or woody herbs. 

Cinnamon

Simmer two cinnamon sticks for cinnamon infused simple syrup. Try it in cider, with apple brandy, stir it into coffee, or brush it on carrot cake muffins.

Jalapeño

Add one sliced jalapeño pepper (seeds and ribs are fine!) to the sugar and water, simmer, and strain. Make a (slightly) spicy jalapeño margarita (recipe by Love and Lemons).

Overhead view of a sauce pan full of water, sugar, and lime slices.

Storage Tips

Store simple syrup in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator. If you have a canning jar with a lid, that’s perfect. Recycled jars are great, too, as long as you have a lid that fits tightly. 

How long does simple syrup last?

Refrigerated simple syrup should last up to a month. Here are some tips on how to store it:

  • Tip #1: Use a very clean jar! Sterilize the jar first by filling it with boiling water and emptying it right before pouring in the simple syrup. Or run jar through the dishwater on sterilize cycle. 
  • Tip #2: Adding one tablespoon of vodka to the mixture will extend the shelf life to 3 months.
  • Tip #3: Flavored syrups have a shorter shelf life than plain simple syrup.
  • Tip #4: Increasing the ratio of sugar to water to 2 parts sugar to 1 part water will extend shelf life up to 6 months. With this 2:1 ratio, it is called “rich simple syrup.” Keep in mind, you won’t need to use as much since the syrup will be more potent.

How can you tell when simple syrup goes bad?

If it appears cloudy, has mold around the edges, or smells bad, discard it. 

Simple syrup in a small yellow saucepan with a wood handled spoon.

How to Make Simple Syrup

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Learn how to make simple syrup for mixing your own fabulous cocktails and cold drinks! An essential ingredient for home mixologists and bakers, simple syrup is endlessly versatile and so easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Optional add-ins:

  • 1 sliced jalapeño pepper
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 6-7 quarter inch rounds fresh ginger root
  • 1 lemon, lime, or orange, sliced (leave peel on)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Add optional flavoring ingredient. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Turn heat down, maintaining a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Allow mixture to cool, about one hour. Strain.

Notes

  • Store leftover simple syrup in a covered container in the fridge.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 38Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 0g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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