By Vanessa Greaves

Capture the essence of summer in herbal simple syrups to flavor your drinks and desserts all season long. I'll show you how easy they are to make, using five common garden herbs and one item from your pantry.

Lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, basil, and mint for simple syrups. | Photo by Vanessa Greaves

How to Make Herb-Infused Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is what you get when you simmer sugar and water together. Add a handful of herbs to the mix, and you're taking it from simply sweet to fragrant and subtly tinged with herbal flavors. You can use herb-infused simple syrups in everything from cocktails to cakes.

For herbal syrup, you'll follow the basic instructions for making simple syrup. I used the ratio of 1 cup water to 1 cup white sugar, and added freshly picked herbs from my garden; the amount varied depending on the herb. For example, I found that 1/4 cup fresh rosemary was plenty, but I needed a full cup of basil to make a basil simple syrup to my liking. Your mileage may vary.

Photo by Vanessa Greaves


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup to 1 cup fresh herbs, washed (depending on the recipe)


1. Combine water, sugar, and herbs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let syrup steep, about 30 minutes.
2. Pour syrup into a sterilized glass jar through a mesh strainer to remove herbs. Let cool; store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Tips for Simple Syrup Ingredients

  • Use organically grown herbs to avoid pesticides and contaminants.
  • Wash herbs thoroughly to remove soil and the itty bitty critters lurking in the nooks and crannies. You'd be surprised what rinses out from the most pristine-looking cuttings.
  • I used white sugar because I like the way the herbs give a pale green tinge to the simple syrup. If you choose to use raw sugar, your syrup will take on a more amber tone.

Tips for Making Herb-Infused Simple Syrup

  • Sterilize your glass jars(and lids) before filling them with syrup. This helps the syrup last longer in the fridge.
  • Strain out all of the solids before stashing the cooled syrup in the fridge, otherwise you could encourage mold and off flavors to develop.
  • Make small batches so you can get through a whole jar of simple syrup within a month.

5 Herbal Simple Syrups to Try

Here are easy recipes to get you started.

Photo by Vanessa Greaves

1. Rosemary Simple Syrup
Like the essence of a pine-scented hot summer's day distilled into syrup form. Heavenly in drinks and sorbets.

2. Basil Simple Syrup
I grow three different kinds of basil in my garden for subtle flavor variations. Use this to sweeten Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade.

3. Lavender Simple Syrup
The floral undertones play well with citrus. In other words, your lemonade needs this.

4. Lemon Verbena Simple Syrup
The aroma is as refreshing as the taste. Crush the leaves to make your whole kitchen smell amazing.

5. Mint Simple Syrup
Like the basil syrup, you can get lots of flavor variations. Try pineapple mint, chocolate mint, peppermint, spearmint, apple get the picture.

Ideas for Using Herb-Infused Simple Syrups

  • Double a recipe to churn into a sorbet.
  • Use it to sweeten iced tea or add a new dimension to a pitcher of lemonade.
  • Brush it between cake layers to add moistness and flavor.
  • Use it alone or with yogurt to dress fruit salads.
  • Mix it with sparkling water or tonic for a refreshing homemade soda.

Get ideas for using flavored simple syrups in cocktails and mocktails.